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August 4, 2022

Vintage Portraits of Young Ladies Wearing Dresses With Crinolines From the Mid-19th Century

A crinoline is a stiff or structured petticoat designed to hold out a woman’s skirt, popular at various times since the mid-19th century.

Originally, crinoline described a stiff fabric made of horsehair (“crin”) and cotton or linen which was used to make underskirts and as a dress lining. The term crin or crinoline continues to be applied to a nylon stiffening tape used for interfacing and lining hemlines in the 21st century.


By the 1850s the term crinoline was more usually applied to the fashionable silhouette provided by horsehair petticoats, and to the hoop skirts that replaced them in the mid-1850s. In form and function these hoop skirts were similar to the 16th- and 17th-century farthingale and to 18th-century panniers, in that they too enabled skirts to spread even wider and more fully.

The steel-hooped cage crinoline, first patented in April 1856 by R.C. Milliet in Paris, and by their agent in Britain a few months later, became extremely popular. Steel cage crinolines were mass-produced in huge quantity, with factories across the Western world producing tens of thousands in a year. Alternative materials, such as whalebone, cane, gutta-percha and even inflatable caoutchouc (natural rubber) were all used for hoops, although steel was the most popular. At its widest point, the crinoline could reach a circumference of up to six yards, although by the late 1860s, crinolines were beginning to reduce in size.

Crinolines were worn by women of every social standing and class across the Western world, from royalty to factory workers. They were hazardous if worn without due care. Thousands of women died in the mid-19th century as a result of their hooped skirts catching fire. Alongside fire, other hazards included the hoops being caught in machinery, carriage wheels, gusts of wind, or other obstacles.

Here below is a set of elegant photos that shows young ladies wearing crinolines from the mid-19th century.





























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