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November 17, 2015


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J. Waligorski

The girl's hoop petticoat of c. 1863-65 really confuses me. It has a bustle pad, it is elongated rather than a bell shape and has an opening in front? Are we sure this is not a maternity hoop? Everything about it just seems odd, but of course I don't have access to the provenance. Can a curator speak to this item?

FIDM Museum

Hi J,

Thanks for the question! We consulted our Curator, and here's what he had to say: All hoops opened at the front waist; they had to in order to slip them over the wearers' shoulders or pull them up over the hips/abdomen (which were plumbed-up due to skin/fat/muscles being pushed down by the corset). Also, the pad is not a bustle. Bustle were used to extend the dress outward from the body and support massed fabric gathered at the back. A small bum-pad was use to keep the hoop from tilting forward on the body. The pelvis is angled forward (easier to see from the side) and the pad was used to balance the hoop structure. Similar pads were used in the 1890s when skirt shapes returned to the full, gored design, but without hoops to sustain them. A pad was used to keep the fabric from collapsing against the wearer's legs at back and to help give a graceful line when seen from the side.

The girl's hoop is probably closer in date to the late 1860s when hoops lost their bell shape, becoming flatter in the front and more conical.

Hope that helps!

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