Back to Underwear

Crinoline 1864 (1953.432/2)
Crinoline 1865-1870 (1961.8)

It is not clear who first introduced the cage crinoline although its invention has been attributed to the English couturier Charles Frederick Worth working in Paris. His most prestigious client, the Empress Eugenie, is said to have worn one on a visit to Queen Victoria in 1855, and it is recorded that Queen Victoria pronounced them to be "indelicate", refusing to wear one. Surviving photographs of Victoria suggest otherwise however, and certainly, the crinoline was an undersupport worn universally by women throughout society in the later 1850s and early 1860s.

Cage crinoline petticoats were made of narrow parallel bands of metal, often watch spring, fixed in a bell-shaped structure with tapes or fabric. The metal frame was far lighter to wear than several layers of cotton petticoats and still created a full rounded silhouette. However it was difficult to manage without having accidents when doing housework, travelling, or coping with the weather, and it provided rich amunition for lampoons in magazines like Punch, with cartoonists poking fun at its impracticality and clumsiness.

Full item descriptions:

"evening dress & crinoline" [1953.432/2], Bradford, B M
"crinoline" [1961.8]

Related Themes:

Bustles & Skirt Pads
19th Century Women's Fashion