The Crinolinemania Craze

skirts-ladiesYes, there were many crazes (fads) even in the 19th century, termed the Victorian Era. It was Queen Victoria of England, who took the throne in 1837, ushering in the Victorian period. Crinolines (lighter hoop skirts) were patented in the late 1850s, and quickly gained widespread popularity. The Victorian Era ended in 1901, at which point the throne was held by the son of Queen Victoria, King Edward, creating the Edwardian Era.

The fashion of ‘hooped skirts’ goes back to the ‘panniers’ which were to make large side square dresses, shirts worn by the ladies in the late 1700s. By the first half of the 1800s the skirts became large and round. To make the shirts form a large circle the ladies wore many petticoats (undergarments). The crinolines were core or cage in appearance and made of strong material such as metal. With the crinolines these were hailed as liberating to women because they were so much lighter than multiple layers of petticoats. Crinolines could be smashed and fit easier where as hoops bulge out and don’t give at all.

skirts-black-ladyYet, there were problems with your female ancestors wearing the crinolines or the hoops,some as large as 6 feet in diameter. Just trying to sit in a chair was hard. The very large size of them caused too many women to forget how big their skirts were and they stood too close to a fireplace. The dress / skirt would catch fire and endanger the lady.

Other problems included the aniline dyes used to color fabrics contained arsenic that bled into the lady’s skin causing untimely deaths eventually. Corsets were just as dangerous because women wore them so much and so tight that it would cut off circulation and even break ribs. With their constricted internal organs there could be permanent organ disfigurement and displacement, as well as fainting spells. skirt-crinoline

Fashion changed by the 1870s and into the 1880s with ladies wearing ‘the bustle’ creating a rather large backside. Not as big as the hoops or crinolines created, but care was still needed. skirt-bustle-1875

Into the 1920s a much more relaxed selection of garments for ladies. But the large round skirt did return in the 1950s. The famous ‘poodle’ skirt did stick out a good deal and was made large by the use of petticoats under the skirt and many times also a blowup tube on the bottom edge of the slips.  skirt-poodle

Amazing what our ancestors wore.

Photos: Four ladies in the crinolines and dresses; Every lady wore this style as seen worn by black ladies; the framework of the crinoline; two ladies wearing a bustle in 1875; and Poodle skirt of the 1950s.

Related Blogs:

Fashions Help Date Photos

Tuberculosis Shaped Victorian Fashion

Victorian Photos


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