from The Century Dictionary.
- noun A bustle, usually in the shape of a pad or cushion, intended to give the desired curve to a woman's hips and back.
Sorry, no etymologies found.
Arrière-pensée we have seen used, with comic intent but sad effect, for a bustle or dress-improver; and, with sad intent but comic effect, for an afterthought; it is better confined to its real meaning of an ulterior object, if indeed we cannot be content with our own language and use those words instead.
Foreign Words. 1908
The crinoline had not quite reached its full circumference, and the dress-improver had not even been thought of.
The Old Wives' Tale Arnold Bennett 1899
Hotel is of a sort of Doll's House order of architecture, splendid front, no depth to speak of, and built on so steep an ascent that it is hoisted up at the back like a lady's skirt by a dress-improver.