Hoop Skirts' Contentious Past; How Big WERE Those Things?

JPK Huson 1863

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church.jpg

" Curious effect produced by a fashionable lady, walking down the aisle at church ", caption. Men put their hats, brim up, next to their pews, Sundays during church. Swept away by wide skirts, another guy has had enough.

No one is attacking this iconic image, or what it represents to anyone, personally. It does pay to keep an eye on History, however. Some of it is a little different than you may imagine. Sometimes, it's presented hysterically, too.

There's a thread or several on dangers attached to ' crinolines ', or now interchangeably, ' hoops '. The term ' crinoline ' morphed through time anyway, arising from a stiff, coarsely woven petticoat pre-dating Civil War era fashion ( by how long, no idea. ). Since a fairly brief fashion intermission occurred during our Regency era, give or take, during which ' hoops ' as an extravagant fashion statement was ridiculed, ' crinoline ' may have been slowly morphing behind everyone's backs. From full-ish, itchy petticoat- horsehair has been mentioned - to wire structure.

patent hoopskirt.jpg

They were still at it, in 1876- from the first, articles I can find by 1854. Not many, by 1855 it's quite a discussion. Then ' Kaboom ', between advertisements and objections, ' Hoop Skirts ' hove into view. Below- one of the first derogatory cartoons, 1854. NYPL.

child crin.jpg


Here's the thing? Not to give the idea that females should dress themselves in order to please male eyes any steam, but men mostly disliked ' hoops ', hoop skirts, crinolines or anything which intruded on their lives, wives and social fabric to the extent as did our crinolines. The fashion rage continued, which was just, plain weird. Historically, dressing in an ' alluring ' manner, to catch the male eye, was accepted. Ouch but true. To have stood firm in the face of male disapprobation, clinging fast to an outrageous fad meant we were at least willing to please ourselves. It's something? Really, a lot of men found them intrusive, outrageous, unattractive and terribly concerning as a death toll mounted.

One history , published at the time, states circumference at first introduction was 9 yards around, fashion taming itself later down to 7.
hoop1.jpg

From Godey's, earlier, you can see the space demanded.

Well, by the 1860's a triumphant Demorest's ( Quarterly of Fashion.... ) ran an article, partially repeated here. It was a HUGE industry! There's a photograph of working women, not one in a hoop, making these in a warehouse somewhere. They do not seem glamorous or fashionable, just working hard.
dem1.JPG

....... Opening paragraph, you get the idea and last.....
dem2.JPG


Society tried, in futile efforts to counter the long, long lasting fad.

1855 paper 1.JPG

Snip from an alarmed man, 1855

Last person on the planet not to support us, especially given there's another 60 years before we got to vote, but good points, all. Houses were built, doors and stairways extra-wide, chairs constructed, to accommodate- fashion!

crin24.JPG

One man wrote how much it irked him to have his thighs stabbed, which seemed fair. Hoops and crinolines were glued together variously- all a tad precarious, all tended to break.

This is awesome. Trust a Brit! In 1858, one man had had enough.
1858 crinoline poem uk.JPG


child crin cartoon.jpg

Things did get out of hand- this was pushing it, as cartoons do, but not by a lot.
kid 35.jpg


You know, beyond how much they were disliked for their role in plain, old taking up space, they were genuinely very, very dangerous. Already did threads on it, so will not repeat the tragic news stories. That we continued this crazy craze so long is still baffling. Like why the mold grows back, behind the fridge, when you've just cleaned the darn thing yesterday, it may remain one of our eternal mysteries.

concert.jpg


https://civilwartalk.com/threads/blackened-hoops-in-the-rubble-wars-feminine-cost-the-arsenal-
disasters.139430/#post-1671782

https://civilwartalk.com/threads/victims-of-fashion-in-print-the-crinoline-wars.134098/#post-1529714

https://civilwartalk.com/threads/hoops-crinolines-and-cages-oh-why.125234/#post-1347186
 

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I ran into two people who patented cage crinolines. One was W.S. Thomson in 1856 patented crinolines in 1856 in the U.S., England and France. The other person is a Frenchman R.C. Millet in Paris, in April of 1856 and in England a few months later. Thomson's was the largest firm manufacturing crinolines with factories in the U.S., France, England, Belgium and Germany. The London plant had 1,000 works and produced 4,000 crinolines a day. Actually it was called a Skirt Manufactory. Sources say the largest size a crinoline reached was 6 feet in circumference in 1860, and they declined in size from that time. Another source said 6 yards.

I also ran into this interesting link: https://mansionmusings.wordpress.co...crinoline-w-s-and-c-h-thomsons-skirt-factory/
 

Mark F. Jenkins

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My date for my senior prom wore a hoop skirt that was, if not quite as big as some of those illustrations, still pretty substantial. Fortunately I picked her up in an Oldsmobile Delta 88 that had room for it.

Dancing with her wasn't as challenging as I thought, though; you just step forward and push it out of the way. However, the gent does have to make sure he's keeping a sufficient distance open behind the lady during the dance...
 

JPK Huson 1863

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One would have to purchase nine tickets in order to sit in a play/ opera house

Ha! One article grumbles about having to buy 2 tickets, per crinoline clad lady, to theaters, etc.? No idea if that was true ( have a healthy respect for era papers sometimes trending towards being kinda anti-female ), but makes sense?
 

JPK Huson 1863

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It appears they fly in a windstorm?

WELL, the cartoon of course overdoes the idea but found a few crazy stories! They floated, for one thing. One of the other threads contains a story about a woman being saved from drowning. Her skirts/hoops filled with air and she bobbed around for awhile, before someone fished her out. Another, a woman was hit by lightening and her hoops grounded the charge. She lived, although ( I think- been awhile ) her male escort suffered injuries.
 

JPK Huson 1863

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Too big!
Thanks for sharing the insanity of another age....

We nearly always did so well, across the board, you know? Women held so much together without the power to do so, and faced challenges which would flatten most, today. THIS baffles me, and that is why. It's like mass hypnotism possessed us or something. No matter the dangers, or how much men, who were supposedly the point in those days, of being attractive, complained, or how uncomfortable and inconvenient it was to wear these crazy things..... we just would not let go!
 

JPK Huson 1863

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Imagine back then with no OTC deodorant...certainly helpful by keeping anyone that smelled, especially in summertime, from invading your personal space! :bounce:

You would know this- or Mary Dee or Shannon- was that what all those ' handkerchief ' scents were intended, please? So many, many advertisements for them, for sale, have always wondered if the purpose was to cover up inevitable results from wearing far too much fabric in far too warm a climate? Hang on, think one actually features women, wearing hoops! ( she said, diving into old files.... )

Ah ha! Extracts and hoops!
add harry2crop.jpg
 

WJC

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We nearly always did so well, across the board, you know? Women held so much together without the power to do so, and faced challenges which would flatten most, today. THIS baffles me, and that is why. It's like mass hypnotism possessed us or something. No matter the dangers, or how much men, who were supposedly the point in those days, of being attractive, complained, or how uncomfortable and inconvenient it was to wear these crazy things..... we just would not let go!
Thanks for your response.
It was a different age. Perhaps I am being to hard on the people of that time, trying to impose upon them my idea of beauty and fashion. But for me, the only thing fashion practice more insane (and far, far worse) than those huge hoop skirts has to be the old practice of binding the feet of noblewomen in China. That practice, starting in early childhood, deformed the feet to the point where women could not move about without help. Yet it was seen as attractive....
 

AnnaLee

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Thanks Annie for the posting. Amazing with what women will put up with in the name of fashion. I remember wearing crinolines in the late 50's (I was 9-10- y.o.)to make your skirt/dress flare out. They were scratchy and uncomfortable to wear. Fortunately the style didn't last long.
 



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