Crinoline Nonsense


This isn’t exactly a history myth that is widely repeated in museums or tours, but it will appeal to those of you with a keen sense of the ridiculous. Here’s a link to Laurie Hackett’s blog where she discusses an 1858 photograph she came across while researching crinolines, or hoop skirts. The caption stated that women had to remove their crinolines before getting into public transportation. Really?????


10 Responses to Crinoline Nonsense

  1. No, crinolines tie at the waist underneath other layers, they could not be removed in public, but they fold up easily when you sit.

    For daily wear there were more narrow hoops than those in satirical photos.

  2. Mary Gough says:

    Are hoops (as shown in the photo) the same things as crinolines? I think of crinolines as being fabric and therefore, “squishable.”

  3. Joanne Miley says:

    Just a note. My understanding of hoop skirts and crinolines is that they are very different. Hoop skirts are indeed made of hoops, bone or wood, but crinolines are stiff petticoats made from a gauze like material heavily reinforced with starch or something that makes it almost rigid. We used to wear crinolines once in a while to puff our dancing dresses and I did wear one under my wedding dress in 1946.

  4. Betty Wilson says:

    You are right, Joanne… crinoline is a stiff like but thin material… This comment gave me a good laugh about ladies having to remove them before getting on public transportation! 🙂 ha!
    Maybe they did exist, but I had never heard of a collapse-able hoop skirt… oh how my mother HATED those stiff petticoats we wore under our ‘squaw skirts’ in the 50’s! 🙂

    • Susan Peden says:

      Cage crinolines are the correct name for the metal hoops suspended by cotton twill tapes. they can tie, button or hook closed at the waste. Some have a gap in the section where you would sit! The fabric crinolines,netting, I remember as a kid in the 1950s are a later version for making your circle skirt puffy!

  5. Bart says:

    The photo is appears to be a steroptican card and obviously in jest….. I actually own a set of hoops that I found at an Estate sale two years ago (couldn’t resist the final day mark down to $4) and they seem to be quite collapsible,

  6. Jessamyn says:

    Crinolines were originally stiffened petticoats made of a mixture of horsehair (in French, crin) and linen (line). However, when hoops replaced them in the 1850s, the old name got applied to the new product, so from a mid-19th-century point of view a hoopskirt and a crinoline are the same thing.

    As Bart says, this is part of a large array of humorous stereo cards that made what were then obvious jokes. Even if bus conductors would have liked to insist that women remove their hoops to board a tram, the garments were worn between layers of petticoats and would have required extremely inappropriate exposure to remove in public!

  7. I’m so glad you’re debunking this photo. It’s clearly one more in the seemingly endless parade of 19th c. cartoons and photographs mocking women in hoops & crinolines. There’s no way it’s a serious image – and yet it keeps appearing on countless blogs, tumblrs, and Pinterest boards as a “true” representation from Victorian times. Oh, those zany folks from long ago….!

    • Mary Miley says:

      Well, I can’t take credit for debunking the photo (I did no research at all). I am merely pointing to Laurie Hackett’s blog where she debunks it, thus giving me a week’s break in the relentless pursuit of myths!! 🙂

  8. I am just surprised women in crinolines rode public transportation. How could they navigate their way or sit? Brave souls! LOL

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