You would think that with the nineteenth century only 200 years past or less, we’d know all about how everything was done. Oh, certainly we have diaries and books written from the time that tell us how people traveled or made political decisions or baked a strawberry trifle. We know when battles were fought and kings married. But for an author writing about young people during that time, we’re left with a whole list of things to wonder about.
Like bustles. The farther you go in the period, the more elaborate they become. What started out as a small pad over your behind, tied on around your waist, became cages that stuck out behind or on the sides or all around. Did you ever wonder how people sat in those things? I mean, when you have a wire cage going from your waist to your toes, that can’t be easy, right?
Turns out it can. Those hoops may not have drifted sideways or down (or your dress would have collapsed), but they lifted up! So when you had to sit, you simply sat and they folded up behind you like an accordion. When you had to go through a narrow space, you picked up the top edge and lifted and everything folded up as well. Neat as you please.
I’m so glad to learn that whoever invented the things actually put a little practicality behind them. Pardon the bun er pun.