Around the 1850s, skirts expanded to their maximum size. During this Victorian era people were very prude. The hoop skirt was the sartorial expression of Victorian prudery. It stopped men getting to close to her. The 'Crinoline' shaped this large skirt. In the 1850s they wore the 'Cage Crinoline and in the 1860s it changed into another shape: the Elliptical Cage Crinoline (less round on the front). The erogenous zone was the shoulder. A ball-gown mostly had off shoulders sleeves to seduce a man...
Note: Amelia Bloomer pushed for dress reform - against this large, wide Crinoline. She and her (few) followers did something shocking, they wore a sort of a billowy harem pants (Bloomers) with shorter knee-length jackets. Go feminism!
This period also marked colonizations by England, Spain and the Dutch. Of course this imperialism influenced fashion, like the Pagoda dress - it had flounces, based on a building in Asia. Other imperialist fashion items were the Paisley pattern and facial hair of men (huge moustaches, whiskers and/or a beard) - both influenced by India.
In America, the 1860s marked the time before the American civil war. Their fashion was quite the same as European fashion, but with more flounces and lace. (all done by slavery of course...).
Did you see the movie 'Gone with the Wind'? Besides its great story, it has a beautiful representation of fashion during this period! Make sure you watch it :)
Go check out Margo's beautiful drawings and read more about their beauty rituals!
In two weeks we will post about the 1870s - 1890s, till then!
OK, go back
Book : fashion design 1800-1940 (The Pepin Press)
Book : Fashion - Volume I + II (Taschen)