Time Line of Victorian Skirt Understructure

Note: The Victorian period is considered to be 1837-1901,
the reign of Queen Victoria

There seems to be a lot of misconception about the style and shape of hoops and various apparatuses used to create specific shapes for skirts throughout the Victorian era. Since I too was confused at one point, I began to research the topic and find out as much as I could about it. Below is a collection of diagrams and drawings from the period that might help those who are interested in achieving the correct look.

The origin of the French word Crinoline means horsehair and linen petticoat - 'Crin' being the word for horsehair. Crinoline became the name for any petticoat in the 19th C.

Crinolines in the 1840's were thick and dome shaped. As the decade progressed they became stiffer and crisper. Flounced skirts came in, and the number of crinolines increased. Some were reinforced with cording, some with whalebone, until eventually they were not enough. This resulted in the invention of the cage petticoat 1856.

Cage Crinoline patented in 1856

1856 Horsehair Crinoline

Crinoline and adjustable bustle 1858

Adjustable bustle for crinoline 1858

1858 Dome shaped crinoline

1860 Flat Front dome shaped back

1862 Flat front Elliptical

1864 Flat front elliptical

1866 Flat front elliptical with draw string for lifting

1869 Bustle and crinoline combined

1875 Tournure (bustle) and petticoat combined

1878 Plumet petticoat (flat back no bustle) with detachable flounces

1882 Bustles

1885 Horsehair bustle and ruffled flounce at bottom

1885 Petticoat and bustle

1887 Bustle


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