Not all nineteenth century women's underwear was plain and white; sometimes a woman chose to wear much more dramatically coloured and patterned underclothing, even though it would usually remain entirely hidden to the rest of society. This waist petticoat from about 1880 post-dates the full crinoline and bustles, and it would have been worn with one or two other petticoats to provide sufficient layering for a slightly bell-shaped skirt.
Although such a petticoat was a staple of later nineteenth century women's clothing, and worn across society, this is a mass produced garment as we can see by the stamp on the inner waistband: "The Improved Crescent, Best British Manufacture". It is made of striped brushed wool on a cotton jersey ground, and has a scalloped flounce to decorate and to give extra weight to the hem. Its colour and pattern were probably intended to tempt a shopper into a rather novelty-purchase.
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