By 1855, the cage crinoline or hoop had swayed on to the scene and skirts expanded to their maximum size. Women were delighted to wear the cage as it provided relief from the weight of numerous petticoats and the plethora of undergarments that needed to be washed.
The hoop was worn almost universally and could be seen on ladies, maids, the middle class and shop girls. Women working hard in fields and those scrubbing floors were some of the few exceptions.
Cloaks and mantlelets remained fashionable for practical reasons – they were the only outerwear capable of covering the triangular silhouette. Shawls worked wonderfully spread out over the width of the hoop and were popular for their ornamental possibilities as well as their functional role.
Written by The Vintage Fashion Guild