The variety of the human form is one of its chief delights and wonders, but occasionally, that form does not meet with the historic aesthetic. Such is the sad, sad case for many in my family: we lack buttock projection. Oh, we’re blessed with breadth of hip! But there is no projection. Indeed, a side shot of the Back 40 resembles this:
Now, for the mid-century era, wherein a nicely rounded Back 40 is really required to produce the nice effects of fashion, this sort of formation is not terribly useful.
Using the Four Progressive Questions, we can turn to period solutions for this problem! Dressmaking manuals and notes mention “skirt improvers” and “bustles” and “light padding” to “give a good set to the skirts”. In practice, what we need is a fake bum, a faux rump, an artificial Back 40.
Here’s a close-up of the Faux Rump in position, but on the outside of the clothing:
In reality, this waistband-with-attached-and-stuffed-faux-bump arrangement is worn over the corset and (in this case, as she’s dressing in 40s fig) corded petticoat, with two petticoats and the dress skirt over the top. When worn with a hoop, it sits best if worn over corset and under hoop, with the hoop and all petticoats balanced over the extra projection.
Let’s compare the two side-views, With and Without:
Go ahead. Embiggen those by clicking. It’s pretty dramatic, with With after the Without! Even the horizon view gets a nice boost:
Since it’s the Clark Cottage, this also happens:
(Mouse over the images for clever captions.)
You’ll find notes on creating a bustle pad in The Dressmaker’s Guide; if you or someone you love is afflicted with a distinct Lack of Back 40, please consider adding a bustle, fauxrump, or other useful bits of padding to assist their basic mid-century fashion aesthetic!