By 1855, the cage crinoline, or hoop, had swayed on to the scene. Skirts expanded to their maximum size. Women were delighted to wear the cage; it gave relief from the weight of numerous petticoats and from the plethora of undergarments that needed to be washed.
The hoop was popular almost universally and was worn by ladies, maids, the middle class, and shop girls. Women working in fields and those scrubbing floors were among the few exceptions.
Cloaks and mantlelets (short, loose sleeveless cloaks or shawls) 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 also for their ornamental possibilities.
Written by The Vintage Fashion Guild