A peek into our collections, one object at a time

Hoop Skirt

February 14, 2012

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Hoop Skirt, c. 1870
Smithsonian's National Museum of American History

Hoop Skirt, c. 1870

Caged crinoline, also known as a hoop skirt, was the most distinctive silhouette of the late 19th century. This photo shows a hoop skirt, named because of its series of concentric hoops of whalebone or cane. It replaced the popular petticoat of the late 1500s to mid 1800s.

Multiple petticoats were sometimes worn to create the full, dome-shape, small-waist silhouette popular in women’s fashion through the mid 1800s. During the late 1800s, hoop skirts like this one lightened the weight of multiple petticoats by creating the same fashionable silhouette but with fewer layers. It only required one or two petticoats worn over the hoop skirt.

Unlike shaping undergarments before the 19th century, hoop skirts were worn by women of every social class.

In 1846, David Hough Jr. introduced the first hoop skirt in the U.S.

The hoop-skirt form, like the bustle and corset, gives insight into the complexities of dress in the 19th century.

This item is one of 137 million artifacts, works of art and specimens in the Smithsonian’s collection. It is not on display.

For more info, visit http://americanhistory.si.edu/