"clad in a crinoline"
English fashion-plate (1858) illustrating the use of the crinoline
Public DomainEnglish fashion-plate (1858) illustrating the use of the crinoline - Credit: unknown


The crinolinewhich was to some extent a development of the farthingale,  was an item of Victorian ladiesware from the 1830s onwards.

It began life as a stiffened petticoat made out of a material called crinoline, a mixture of linen and horsehair. However, from the 1850s onwards, as the number of petticoats needed to achieve the desired effect increased, the cage crinoline was developed; this was a steel, dome-shaped hoop which was worn with just one light petticoat.

Interestingly, although crinolines inevitably reduced a woman's manoeuvrability and retricted her access to narrow spaces, they also gave greater freedom of movement to her legs and were less hot and stuffy than the layers of petticoats worn previously.

The popularity of the crinoline began to wane towards 1870 when the bustle became all the rage.

Click here to see a cage crinoline of 1858