What are Hoop Skirts

Hoop skirt consists of a petticoat and made with castings to hold stiffening material. This gives woman’s lower body shape like large triangle. Skirts having nylon hoops are lightweight. They are worn even today most commonly under wedding gowns.

For a lady in mid 19th century, dressing up was more laborious than it is today. In 1840’s and 50’s, they started adding an undergarment, full length, similar to nightgown; later starched petticoats, five or six or at times seven, just to create a bell-shaped silhouette; then a corset followed by corset cover. So if a woman had to dress for the day, she would have to wear a series of things; dress, collar and chemisette or cuffs; under sleeves in case if sleeves were open.

It was 1850’s when caged crinoline was invented. This invention brought about a revolution in women’s fashion. The caged crinoline came to be known as the hoop skirt. Series of concentric hoops present in the skirt gave it the name. This gained popularity because it lightened the weight of multiple layers of clothing they otherwise had to wear. Also it was much more cooling since women would only have to wear one petticoat underneath and one petticoat over the hoop skirt.  

The first one was slim but full. The reason for wearing this was Modesty. However, the second one had to be worn over the hoop. This was worn so that the dress wouldn’t appear lumpy or bunched. It worked by smoothening lines. Hoop skirts were trendy among the elite classes. They appeared in various events in American history.

The crinoline has its share of disadvantages though. The diameter of the hoop skirt would be very wide. This made hoop skirt cumbersome. Also it became difficult for women to get in and out of carriages and also get though doors. Woman had to be really careful that they did not knock out objects as she would pass by them. This was a negative aspect of this clothing because one can’t always keep caring about such things while walking.

The hoopskirt was very light in weight. This advantage also became a problem in gusty winds as the hoopskirt would then act like a parachute and may knock down the wearer. It would be more embarrassing if the wind would blow up the dress and expose the wearer’s bare legs.

Sitting down in hoop skirt needed a lot of practice.  If not done properly, the entire framework would fly up. The skirts also had to be lifted to avoid water puddles and filth on the roads. Because of all these disadvantages, healthcare professional were prohibited from wearing hoop skirts. Since, it would be impossible for them to attend to patients.



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