The hoop skirt and its development within the history of costumes.

The American Duchess Guide to 18th Century Dressmaking: How to Hand Sew Georgian Gowns and Wear Them With Style by Lauren Stowell (Author), Abby Cox (Author).

Lauren Stowell and Abby Cox of American Duchess have endeavored to make the impossible possible by bringing historically accurate dressmaking techniques into your sewing room. Learn how to make four of the most iconic 18th century silhouettes―the English Gown, Sacque Gown, Italian Gown and Round Gown―using the same hand sewing techniques done by historic dressmakers.

The different forms of the hoop skirt in three Centuries.

Depending on form and epoch, a distinction is made between Verdugado, Panier, Crinoline or Bustle, Tournure (cul de paris). The hoop skirt first appeared in Spain around 1470 as a bell-shaped verdugado (Spanish for “guard of virtue”). Towards the end of the 16th century, a conical outline emerged from this in the Spanish costume. Almost simultaneously, an independent, barrel-shaped variant (Vertugadin) was developed in France, which can be seen on several portraits of Queen Elizabeth I.

Less wealthy women wore “women’s bacon” as a substitute. It refers to a ring-shaped bulge that women tied around their hips under their skirts. The “women’s bacon” was a flexible, light tube that was placed under the upper skirt to achieve a cylindrical skirt silhouette. In France it was also called vertugadin en bourrelets (guardian of virtue bulge), because under the part partly stuffed with tow the consequences of a pregnancy, also as a result of missteps, could be concealed for a long time. In the first decades of the 17th century, hoop skirts went out of fashion again. An exception is Spain, where a broad-oval shape developed, which is known from Velázquez paintings.

Hoop, skirt, costume, clothing, Rococo,
Hoop skirt. Costume Epoque de Louis XV. Le Musée cosmopolite.

In France and the rest of Europe the hoop skirt did not return until around 1715. At first short and conical, it became dome-shaped and extremely sweeping a little later. This early form was very similar to the chicken baskets (i.e. dome-shaped cages) used at markets at the time, hence the name panier (French “basket”). Even before the French Revolution, the hoop skirt was no longer used in bourgeois clothing as a result of the orientation towards English fashion and was replaced by the Cul de Paris, a cushion placed at the back. Only in the formal and courtly spheres did he survive until the Revolution, in the English court gala even until the early 19th century.

Note:  Cashmere silk mantle embroidered. Ladies Journal 1833.

After 1830, the crinoline (Italian-French crin, actually “horsehair fabric”) experienced a renewed renaissance in crinoline fashion, initially as an underskirt made of woven fabric reinforced and shaped with horsehair, which replaced the previously customary wearing of several fabric petticoats. After experiments with whalebone and inflatable rubber hoses, an English construction made of spring steel bands became generally accepted from 1856 onwards. Despite the relatively large amount of steel used, it was still cheaper than the horsehair models, but above all it was easier to shape.

Wild, Roses, Illustration,

Around 1868 the crinoline reached its most luxuriant width with a hem circumference of six to eight meters.

Around 1870 the crinoline was replaced by the bustle or cul de Paris (French: Tournure for “turn”), which no longer enclosed the entire abdomen, but only built up the skirt above the buttocks with the help of half-frames made of steel, whalebone and/or horsehair. After a short break around 1880, it returned around 1883 as a “second bustle”. Around 1888 the hoop skirt finally disappeared from fashion. Since then it has been used almost exclusively for wedding dresses.

Bustle, Cul de Paris,Tournure, Fashion, skirt
Cul de Paris. Woman from Munich in 1880.

The hoop skirt reverberated again in the 1950s – but without hoops – with the petticoat, which again gave the skirts a distinctly bell-shaped silhouette.

The hoop skirt has dominated three different eras in European fashion, each of which is shown here in five examples. The middle figurine shows in each case the climax, to which the gradual puffing up of the hoop skirt rises, only to fall off again in the last figurines.

Note:  Ghimney sweep. Germany 19th century.

The hoop skirt in the age of the Spanish fashion (Renaissance) 16th century.

The hoop, skirt, Spanish, fashion, Vertugado, Renaissance, fashion, costumes
The hoop skirt in the age of the Spanish fashion (Renaissance) 16th century.
  • a. Burgundy with veil.
  • b. Spanish fashion at the Parisian court. 1580. After Jost Amman, costume book.
  • c. Coronation regalia of Queen Elizabeth I of England. Woodcut 1588. Costume Library Lipperheide, Berlin.
  • d. Spanish fashion in France around 1600 according to a French genealogical book.
  • e. Spanish hoop skirt, gathered. Time of the Thirty Years’ War, 1644, after an etching by Wenzel Hollar.

The hoop skirt in the age of rococo (Baroque), 18th century.

rococo, hoop skirt, fashion, history, pannier,
The hoop skirt in the age of rococo (Baroque), 18th century.
  • a. Lady with apron in 1770. After Bonnard.
  • b. French “Kontusche” in 1720, after Antoine Watteau.
  • c. French rococo, late form in 1770, after a fashion copper by Desrais.
  • d. French dance dress, gathered in 1785, after a fashion copper by Le Clerc.
  • e. Hunting costume after George Morland in the year 1790.

The hoop skirt in crinoline fashion, 19th century.

hoop, skirt, crinoline, fashion,
The hoop skirt in crinoline fashion, 19th century.
  • a. and b. Emergence of the crinoline as a smooth pleated skirt. 1844. Both examples after “Monitor de la Mode”.
  • c. Court toilet of Empress Eugenie. 1850. After a French model lithograph.
  • d. Berlin fashion of the crinoline era. Travel coat. 1858. According to “Gerson’s Fashion Gazette”.
  • e. Fashion of the Wilhelminian period. 1875. After a fashion copper from the costume library of Lipperheide Berlin.


Odine, Nixe, Illustration

Support and Seduction: The History of Corsets and Bras (Abradale Books) by Beatrice Fontanel.

Thoughout the ages, women's breasts have been subjected to the endless whims of fashion. From the ancient Greeks to Mae West and Madonna, this light-hearted book charts the changing shapes of female beauty. The elegant and amusing images - including fashion drawings, paintings, photographs, and film stills - illustrate the often surprising history of the garments women have worn for support - and seduction.

Leave a Reply

The American Duchess Guide to 18th Century Beauty: 40 Projects for Period-Accurate Hairstyles, Makeup and Accessories by Lauren Stowell & Abby Cox.

Seventeenth and Eighteenth-Century Fashion in Detail by Avril Hart & Susan North. From cut and construction to fabric and trimmings.

Auguste Racinet. The Costume History by Françoise Tétart-Vittu.

Racinet's Costume History is an invaluable reference for students, designers, artists, illustrators, and historians; and a rich source of inspiration for anyone with an interest in clothing and style. Originally published in France between 1876 and 1888, Auguste Racinet’s Le Costume historique was in its day the most wide-ranging and incisive study of clothing ever attempted.

Covering the world history of costume, dress, and style from antiquity through to the end of the 19th century, the six volume work remains completely unique in its scope and detail. “Some books just scream out to be bought; this is one of them.” ―

The Fabric of Civilization: How Textiles Made the World Paperback – December 7, 2021
by Virginia Postrel (Author)

From Neanderthal string to 3D knitting, an “expansive” global history that highlights “how textiles truly changed the world” (Wall Street Journal)

Fashionpedia - The Visual Dictionary Of Fashion Design

Fashionpedia - The Visual Dictionary Of Fashion Design

FASHIONPEDIA is a visual fashion dictionary covering all the technical terms from style to material to production with illustrations and infographics. It encompasses rich, extensive information and yet is easy to read. Whether you are an industry insider or a fashion connoisseur, FASHIONPEDIA is all you will ever need to navigate the fashion scene.

Textilepedia. The Complete Fabric Guide.

The Textile Manual is an encyclopaedia of textile information, from material to yarn, from fabric structure to the finishing process. Encompassing practical tips for a range of textiles and detailed visuals, this ultra-accessible manual is the perfect companion for fashion aficionados and aspiring fashion designers.