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Crinoline 1866 (1947.3709)
Crinoline detail 1866 (1947.3709)

Typically, this cage crinoline is made of a series of metal wire hoops attached by cotton tapes to a waistband. The hoops at the waist hang horizontally but the lower ones are set in diagonally, and cut away at the front. This design would have improved the way the crinoline moved when the wearer sat down or walked up stairs. If all the hoops were fixed horizontally the whole skirt would have swayed, whilst by angling some hoops, the front does not tip up revealing the underwear below. Magazines like Punch had great fun in poking fun at crinolines, particularly as working girls like factory workers and servants insisted on also wearing their "cages".

This example is called the Colby skirt, and the waist band tells the wearer that "In order to secure the perfect working of this skirt it must fit loosely over the hips" and gives the date on which the patent was registered, 6th February 1866. Whereas in the later 1850's skirts were very wide in an equal circle around the body, by the 1860's emphasis had moved to the back with flattening at the front. The crinoline was worn for about ten years, until 1868, when skirts narrowed substantially.

Full item descriptions:

"crinoline" [1947.3709]

Related Themes:

The Cage Crinoline
Bustles & Skirt Pads
19th Century Women's Fashion