French Robe à l’Anglaise, 1785–87
In eighteenth-century dress, the torso was encased by layers of quilted linen and boning that constitute an exaggerated exoskeleton. An inevitable consequence of this redefinition of the torso is an emphasis on the hip and bustline. By mid-century, especially in France, the style was for the bust, veiled by lace or a sheer mull fichu, to emerge above the top line of the bodice.
source: MET Museum