Girls' Dress Styles: Hoop Dresses

Figure 1.--This CDV portrait shows a girl in a moderately hooped dress. The hoop was to give a full skirt look. The hoop skirt was a fashionable style and working women did not usually wear them. They were also less common for girls. Click on thevimage for more information bout the children here.

The hoop skirt dress is one of the most destinctive dress styles. Not all women wore hoopdresses even when they were theheughtbof fashion, we bekieve in the 1850s and 60s. The hoop was a fashion item and very impractical. They were worn with fashionable dresses. Women did not wear them for everyday where unless they were high society ladies that could afford sevants to do all their work. Women would certainly wear hoop skirts to paties. Working women were less likely to wear hoop dresses, especially occupations requiring unrestructed movement. Women were restrictedcin job opportunities at the time, but most Americans lived on farms and the hoop skirt was certainly not suitable for farm work. Cooks could not wear hoop skirts because of the danger of fabric catching fire. The fashion at the time was for full skirts. Women tried to achieve this by adding extra petticoats. This coukd become quite bulky. The hoop avoided this problem. With a hoop only two petticoats might be required. Hoops were shapped with boning a term derivedcfrom the whale bone (baleen) used, but oither materials might be used as well, including watch-spring steel, steel bands. or rattan for lower-cost hoops. One petticoat was worn underneath the hoop for modesty ake as hoops might rise up when the indivual sat down or bent over. The scond petticoat was worn over the hoop to hide the boning and provide a smooth line to the skirt. Actually the hoop dress was not an easy dress to wear. Women and girls in particulsar had to practice. Girls wre less likely than women to wear hoop dresses. They would bot have wirn them to school, but many girls did not go to school in the mid-19th century. Girls from affluent families might wear hoop skirts for special occassions. I'm not sure at what age a girl might begin wearing a hoop skirt. While younger boys at the time commonly wore dresses, as far as we know, they did not wear hoop dresses.


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Created: 9:23 PM 9/14/2008
Last updated: 9:23 PM 9/14/2008