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History of Women’s Fashion & Dress: The Crinoline Period C.1850-1869

The crinoline Period (1850-1869)

Jahanara Akter
Lecturer, KCC Womens College,
Khulna, Bangladesh

Historical Background:

The age crinoline, the major fashion innovation for women in the1850s. During Romantic period, women used to wear Layers of petticoat, sometimes they are use up to six Layers of petticoat. The increasing width of women’s skirts had led to the use of more and more stiffened petticoat. When the hoop skirts of the 18th century were revived to hold out these voluminous skirts, the editor of peterson’s Magazine hailed its revival in September, 1859.This skirts look like a farthingale. But at this time women started wearing farthingale again. The farthingale had changed, its name was called “crinoline”. This was made out of still. A crinoline is a light still frame work covered with fabric to distend a skirt.

Queen Victoria's family c. 1846
Queen Victoria’s family c. 1850

Women’s costume:

                                 Some woman’s costumes are described in below:

1. Undergarments:

Name of costume



a. Chemise Cotton or linen A short sleeve, knee length garments, short and full; without much decoration.
b. Drawers Cotton, linen or flannel Knee length drawers were trimmed at edges with tucking, lace or embroidery. In winter some women wore colored, flannel drawers for warmth.
c. Camisole Cotton or linen This waist length a garment was shaped to figure had short sleeve and buttoned down the front.
d. Corset Women were shaped with gores of fabric and inset gussets of elastic. After the introduction of the crinoline, corset shorted, when the crinoline declined, corsets become tighter.
e. Hoop (case crinoline) cotton Steel hoops were sewn onto tapes or fabric skirt. Shapes varied with changes in the fashionable silhouette: 1850s round, 1860s flatter in front and fuller at the back.
f. Petticoats cotton, flannel A single petticoat decorated with lace, embroidery, or small tucks was placed over the hoop. Additional layers, flannel petticoat worn in winter.

2. Day time dresses:

Name of costume



a. Bodice Silk, wool, cotton fabric are used. Bodice shaping was often achieved through curved seams in back, darts in front. Armholes were placed low on the arm. It is attached by button or hocks.
b. Neckline

Neck lines were high, without attached collars and usually finished in bias piping. Removable, washable collars (and cuff) were usually worn with daytime dresses.
c. Sleeves

Most common sleeve styles they were use such as: bell-shaped, pagoda shaped, double-ruffles, close sleeve, men’s coat sleeve etc.
d. Blouses

Separate blouses were worn with skirts.
f. Skirts

In1860s skirts were pyramid shaped.

3. Evening Dress:

Name of costume



a. Neckline Different types of fabric use. Different in dresses worn for evening. In the evening time they also wore daytime dresses.

Most evening dresses had “off the shoulder” neckline, either straight across or with a dip at the center.

b. Sleeve

They use short sleeve, straight sleeve and sleeveless dress.
c. Skirts

Double skirts might have decorative effect created by looping or puffing up the outer layer. Skirts were trimmed with artificial flowers, ribbons, rosettes or lace.

4. Outdoor garments:

  • Sleeve:   sleeved, fitted and unfitted coats of varying lengths.
  • Mantle:   Three-quarter length coat fitted to waist in front, full at the back, with long loose sleeves.
  • Shawl-mantle:  Loose cloak, reaching almost to the skirt hem.
  • Talma-mantle:  Full cloak with tasseled hood or flat collar.

5. Hair and head dress:

  • Hair:  Women generally parted their hair in the center and drew it over the ears smoothly or in waves or plaits back of the head.
  • Head coverings:  Small muslin “day caps” with long lappets or ribbons which were still worn by some older and married ladies. Hair nets, of colored silk snoods and bonnets, small hats, flat crowns continued to be worn.

6. Foot wears:

  • Stockings:   These were made of cotton or silk, with white the preferred color, but colored and plaid stocking were also worn.
  • Shoes: For daytime square toes, low heels, rosette trimming over the toes in some styles. Evening shoes were often colored to match the gown.
  • Boots: Boots were cut to above the ankle and closed with lacing, buttons or with elastic sides.

7. Accessories:

  • Gloves:   Generally gloves were short and fitted for daytime. In the 1860s gloves were long and elbow length, were worn with evening dress.
  • Cuffs: They were wide cuffs.
  • Hand carried accessories:  Among the popular hand carried accessories were handkerchiefs, folding fans, small muffs etc.
  • Jewelry:  Bracelets, earrings, brooches (safetipin) and necklaces, stones, colored glass etc.



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