This section is from the "A Complete Dictionary of Dry Goods" book, by George S. Cole. Also available from Amazon: A complete dictionary of dry goods and history of silk, cotton, linen, wool and other fibrous substances,: Including a full explanation of the modern processes ... together with various useful tables.
Bustle. Derived from busk, which in the 16th century is described as being a "flexible strip of whalebone or other stiffened material, used by fleshy women to keep their stomachers down, and to stiffen their stays;" also a "quilted or plaited thing to keep the body straight." Bustles have been worn of various shapes and dimensions, at different periods, since 1841. At present they consist of a sort of a pad or wire spring, worn by women for the purpose of improving the figure, causing the folds of the skirt to hang gracefully, and preventing the bottom of the skirt from interfering with the feet in walking.