Imagine this for one moment. It’s 1888. A young woman, from a wealthy family, stands motionless in front of her bedroom mirror in only her undergarments as her handmaid scurries around the room, gathering the woman’s best party clothing.

Retrieving the young woman’s bustle from the cedar wardrobe, the handmaidruns over to attach the framework around the wealthy woman’s waist. Glancing over at her handmaid, who has busied herself with gathering upher mistress’s black formal party dress from the bed, the woman lifts her arms in anticipation of the heavy fabric’s descent over her head. In old-fashioned times, the bustle was a type of framework women wore under their dress in order to shape the skirt and keep the dress’s heavy fabric from dragging on the ground. Throughout the years, however, bustles have risen up from lowly skirt shapers and morphed into the stunning garments we call bustle skirts. A popular piece in burlesque fashion today, a modern bustle skirt puts a sexy twist on the classic historical garment.

There are several variations of the modern burlesque bustle skirt. Some are designed with the old-fashioned framework in mind: Extremely short in front and almost floor-length in back. Others are designed more like a peacock tail, with only a thin strip of fabric in the front and then a thick ruffly back that extends down to the knee. Bustle skirts are almost always made from layers of satin or tulle ruffles and are available in a large selection of colors ranging from sheer white to shocking red and purple to haunting black. No matter what event you’re going to, there’s a bustle skirt design out there waiting for you.