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

Mrs. V

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#21
Hoops skirts, back in the day were considered by some to be quite scandalous..you were practically naked underneath them. Oh sure, you had a privacy slip on over your open crotched bloomers, and a slip over the “contraption”...but without 20-30 petticoats, how could you be considered dressed? (No wonder gals drowned in 2 inches of water)...

I do know that how full your “bones” were depended on how tall you were. I’m short, so my hoops are smaller..otherwise I would look like one of those toilet paper covers with the dolly on top!
 

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JPK Huson 1863

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#22
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....

Oh, I do realize it's opinion but seems a sound one. I have hundreds of era photos, women in the era in various settings. Goodness. Quite a few are women living with their husbands on military posts during the war. Hoops? Most are wearing them. Thinking of the travel there, living quarters, war time conditions- it took a LOT of effort to include one of those things. Add to that, a very vociferous public campaign was waged against them and almost daily you'll find some death in a newspaper with a woman's hoops, the cause. So it does seem crazy?

Not too far off, on the female craze binding feet. No one go up a wall, please. How mobile was either one? Kind of hobbled, either way. Attached to females of our species, it's never what you'd call a good thing.
 

JPK Huson 1863

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#23
I do know that how full your “bones” were depended on how tall you were. I’m short, so my hoops are smaller..otherwise I would look like one of those toilet paper covers with the dolly on top!

OH good grief, Mrs. V, I nearly spilled coffee! You're hysterical!! I'll bet you look just fine- Mary Todd was petite and we have photos of her in hoops looking nothing like anything perched on my toilet tank.
 

JPK Huson 1863

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#24
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.

Ah! Thank you! That's pretty amazing, isn't it? ' Crinoline ' ( from what I can read, out of era publications, no expert here or trying to be ) seems to have begun as exactly what you described- fabric, become the elaborate, wire, ' hoop ' forms ( various ) - then back to scratchy petticoats? Interesting!
 

AnnaLee

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#25
I do know that how full your “bones” were depended on how tall you were. I’m short, so my hoops are smaller..otherwise I would look like one of those toilet paper covers with the dolly on top!
HA! I'm 5' 8" so I certainly would look like a freek. So glad we don't wear those contraptions any longer.
 
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#27
Great post Annie. My favorite part is the poem! Wearing a crinoline is baffling.. along with the corset. What dangerous things crinoline were, it makes one at risk for tipping over when dancing, which I have managed to do (quite gracefully)... and not just once! Thank goodness for bloomers!
There was also a danger of catching fire, sweeping too close to the flames of the hearth... just like fanning the flames to increase oxygenation to the fire! Poof!
This season we shortened the circumference of my crinoline and I discovered much better balance with a 7 foot circumference. I cannot image trying to amble gracefully let alone dance the Virginia Reel in a circumference of 6 yards! I am going to put my jeans and sweatshirt on and go for walk!
 
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#29
Actually, despite the exaggerated cartoons shown above, most cages ranged from 90" to 110" in circumference. Since skirts ranged in circumference from 150" to 180", a smaller cage provided sufficient poof for most people.

Yes, they do take some practice for us moderns to get used to! And they shouldn't be worn around an open fire, without a bucket and a wool blanket handy. "Drop and roll" doesn't work with hoops. Factory girls and nurses were usually not allowed to wear them while on duty. (Anyone remember the first episode of "Mercy Street," where the fashionable southern gal kept bumping into beds with screaming patients?) Actually, most utilitarian dresses back then were lightweight wool, thus relatively fireproof. Unfortunately, now the lovely prints that back then were available in wool and silk are now available only in quilting cottons.

As I've mentioned before, the advent of the cage in the mid 1850s was actually quite liberating. It saved the weight, laundry, starching, and ironing of half a dozen petticoats--only two were needed with the cage. Dress reform advocates in the era approved of the cage, because it made the skirt plus underpinnings so much lighter.
 

Mrs. V

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#31
Ah. @Mrs. V , I see you were already here! Thought I'd bump this one, and another on the tragic aspect of wearing them.
Yup, can’t get rid of me! Hahahaha!

Actually wanted to say that my crinoline needs to be rounder. Going to see if I can make that happen this next week when I visit my folks. My Mom sews, and she is going to pin up my bodices to make them fit a bit tighter as well. I like my crinoline, and I’ve worn it enough that I enjoy the sweep of the skirts when I wear it.
 

Mrs. V

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#32
Side note: hoops can and will hit you in the face.

As I try to navigate around BEFORE my next event.

Humph. *dark scowl at skirt.
At the Ball I went to, there was a gal who capzised during one of the dances. She was, um. Quite Zaftig, one moment she was moving to the left, the next she was stumbling and down. Very scary to see. And a good reminder to wear a privacy petticoat if you are wearing split pantilets! (What has been seen cannot be unseen! Gah! Where’s the eye bleach!)
 

Northern Light

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#33
At the Ball I went to, there was a gal who capzised during one of the dances. She was, um. Quite Zaftig, one moment she was moving to the left, the next she was stumbling and down. Very scary to see. And a good reminder to wear a privacy petticoat if you are wearing split pantilets! (What has been seen cannot be unseen! Gah! Where’s the eye bleach!)
You made me laugh so hard, I disturbed the dog who was sleeping on my lap. He was not amused!
 



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