The 1880s in fashion, in western countries, witnessed the come-back of the bustle. A complete, curved outline with slowly widening shoulders replaced the elongated, lean line of the previous decade. Stylish waists were low and petite beneath a full, low bust hold up by a corset. In the year 1881, the Rational Dress Society was established in a reaction to the excessive of stylish corsetry.
Like previous decades, men in 1880s continued to wear the three piece suits, known as ‘ditto suits’ that consisted of a sack coat with corresponding waistcoat, as an informal wear. They still wore the cutaway morning coat along with a shirt and an ascot tie while attending formal occasions. However, the set of a dark tail coat and trousers with a dark waistcoat, a white bow tie and a shirt with winged collar was treated as the most formal evening wear.
During mid-decade, a more comfortable formal coat came into fashion – the dinner jacket or tuxedo with a shawl collar and 1 or 2 buttons. Dinnerjackets were suitable while "dressing for dinner" with family or at a men's club outside. The Norfolk jacket, made of strong tweed or similar fabric, was used mostly whilegoing out for shooting and similar outdoor activities.
In winter, 1880s in fashion saw men wearing velvet or fur collars, and calf-length overcoats.
Similar to previous decade, women in 1880s stressed more on the back of the skirt. The completeness of the skirt slowly rose from behind the knees to below the waist. Looped, decorated skirts were worn over underskirts of different designs. Women in 1880s wore long, jacket-like fitting bodices known as basques as daywear.
Sleeveless, low-naked evening gowns were worn with elongated over the elbow or shoulder-length gloves of superior kid leather or suede.
Alexandra, Princess of Wales had set a trend of wearing choker necklaces and ornamented collars. However, she wore such type of costumes to hide a scar on her neck.
By this decade, most of the working class people even shepherds had started wearing jackets and waistcoats in fustian and corduroy trousers. They had given up their smock frocks. In case of women, hunting costumes were more fashionable. They consisted of decorated ankle-length skirts worn with boots. While going out for travelling or walking, women wore long jacket and skirt with small hat and bustle. Long coats were worn by travelers to keep their clothes protected from dirt, rain and stain.
The1880s in fashion saw women pulling back their hair at the sides and wearing a lowknot or bunch of ringlets. Later the hair was taken up to the top of the head. Fringe or bangs were considered fashionable all over the decade, normally curled or frizzled over the brow.
Bonnets were designed in such a way that they looked like hats, but for their ribbons fixed under the chin; both had wavy brims.
Upper class men in 1880s used top hats as a formal wear. In casual occasions, they wore bowlers and soft felt hats of different shapes. For nauticalpastime, men in 1880s wore flat straw boaters.