The Mythical Shelf Bust~ Vintage Fashion Terms Defined

The shelf bust. A term now commonly seen referenced in describing a myriad of bust treatments on vintage dresses and gowns, yet often misused. I've searched online for a proper definition, consulted my FAIRCHILD'S DICTIONARY OF FASHION (a must have for all sellers and collectors of vintage!), but to no avail. The definition can only be given by example.

As simple as the name implies, the shelf bust treatment quite literally gives the appearance of shelving one's assets! The dress above, contributed by Maggie of MAG'S RAGS makes it as clear as black and white. Often a support system is sewn into the construction, alternately the dress is snug against the bust behind the piece that comes out giving the illusion of support. Seaming just below the bustline is not a shelf bust (and is often merely an empire waist). So there you have it! Thanks Maggie!