Crinoline Period


The Crinoline Period (1850-1869) is named after the major fashion innovation of the era, the cage crinoline In the past, women had to wear many petticoats to add fullness to their skirts. They were heavy and unclean as they dragged in the dirt when walking. The cage crinoline, which was a series of concentric whalebone or steel hoops sewn onto tapes that supported the fabric of the dress, was very popular with women because it was lightweight, unlike clothing in the Romantic era. The silhouette for women during this era was a narrow waist, very full skirt, and fitted bodice with dropped sleeves. Coal dyes were invented during this period and new colors such as mauve became available as well as deeper and brighter shades as seen in these images.

Two Women, Magasin Des Demoiselles, June 25, 1850

Two Women with girl in Confirmation dress, Magasin Des Demoiselles, April 23, 1854

Bride and Two women, Le Moniteur de la Mode, date unknown


Two Women, Les Modes Parisiennes, 898, date unknown

Anais Toudouze is the artist of this fashion plate. Two women are taking stroll attired in the latest fashions. The outfit of the woman in the grey dress is standard for this time period, consisting of a fitted basque over a full, multi-flounced skirt. The bodice has dropped shoulders with the armhole seam placed low on the arm. The sleeves are bell-shaped, ending with removeable lace undersleeves. The dress of the woman on the right is simpler and she is wearing a shawl in the new brighter shades now available. Both women are wearing gloves and bonnets decorated with feathers or flowers.

Both women are wearing two piece outfits in the new, brighter colors. The basques fit the bodice snugly and extend past the waistline. The skirts are full and appear to be made of taffeta. Both women have pagoda style sleeves with detachable lace undersleeves. They are wearing day caps tied under the chin with ribbons. The young girl is in white Confirmation garb and is also wearing a cage crinoline to support the volume of material of her dress.

Jules David, the artist of this fashion plate, depicts a bride accompanied by two women. They all have the same silhouette: fitted bodice, full skirt, and bell-shaped sleeves with lace undersleeves. They are sporting the popular hairstyle of the era, which was parted in the center and drawn in waves over the ears. Bonnets tied with ribbons complete the look.

Compte-Calix created this fashion plate which is an excellent example of the back view of women’s’ dresses during this time. Although undated, this is an example of late Crinoline Period because of the excessive width of the skirts. The women almost look like pyramids, because the skirts have become so voluminous. In fact, some skirts were up to fifteen feet in circumference during this era. They were also lined with a band around the hem to help prevent it from becoming stained.


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