[Image Above: blog.costumesupercenter.com]
In the 1830s, along with Queen Victoria’s ascension to the throne, bell shaped skirts became all the rage – both in England and across the Atlantic. By 1842, this increasingly voluminous silhouette required a lot of extra support, and women were piling on as many as six starched petticoats (adding as much as 14 pounds) to achieve the “big skirt” effect.
While Amelia Bloomer denounced this and instead advocated a bifurcated garment (bloomers!), other manufactures (all men) began to design and market steel cage frames, which “emancipated” women from the excessive petticoat weight and let the legs move more freely beneath the skirt. This contraption, built of hoops of flattened steel wire, was strong, yet bendable, so the skirt could be severely bent (going through door frames, for example), and then instantly pop back into its original shape. Around 1860, when the crinoline reached its maximum dimensions, it had a diameter of nearly six feet. The only problem was that it could be a little unstable on windy days, so you’d want to rethink leaving your ‘drawers’ at home!
[Image Above: dorlana.blogspot.com]
While I am utterly thankful for Amelia Bloomer, and couldn’t dream of a world without jeans, I must confess that, as impractical and inconvenient as they might be, I’ve had a secret desire to wear dresses with ginormous skirts ever since I was first enchanted by Scarlett O’Hara’s wardrobe in Gone With the Wind. But what do you think, ModReaders? Do you yearn for big skirts (and the hoops that go with them) to make a comeback?