Fatal Fashion: The Hoop Skirt

Many people associate the Victorian-era hoop skirt, also known as a crinoline, with romantic images of Southern belles and extravagant balls in candlelit ballrooms. Most, though, would be surprised to find out that this iconic fashion was incredibly dangerous. In fact, it was directly or indirectly responsible for thousands of deaths.

A look back at fashion history makes it easy to understand why the crinoline became so popular. Before its invention, the layers of petticoats worn by women, combined with tight corseting, could be literally stifling to their wearers. In contrast, the crinoline was much lighter and cooler as it required fewer petticoats.

eafitzsimons.files.wordpress.com

Ladies of all social classes could be seen sporting the new skirts soon after their invention in the 1850s. As with many fashions, things quickly got out of hand. The circumference of the hoops grew from a few manageable feet to up to fifteen feet wide. They often required women to walk through doors sideways and sometimes made it physically impossible to sit down.

Crinolines were also flammable. Women who inadvertently got to close to a fireplace or candle would be rapidly engulfed in flames. In one two-month period in England, nineteen women died in this manner. At the Continental Theater in Philadelphia, nine ballerinas died when one of their skirts bumped into a candle. The fire quickly spread among the dancers’ skirts.

A particularly deadly incident occurred in a church in Santiago, Chile in 1863. A gas lamp caught fire and was spread throughout the church by the crinolines the ladies wore. Escape from the flames was made more difficult by the fact that the wide skirts made exiting the church difficult. Over 3,000 people died in the church that day.

Fire wasn’t the only hazard presented by the crinoline, either. The hoops were easily caught up in carriage wheels, causing women to be dragged to their deaths. High winds could catch the skirts and knock women over. If the women were knocked into a busy street or into a body of water, the results could be deadly. Several factories had to ban their workers from wearing crinolines because so many workers were injured or killed when they got caught in machinery.

According to the New York Times, by 1864 over 40,000 women had been killed by the deadly crinoline. This number does not even take into account the number of non-lethal injuries sustained by fashionable, hoop-skirted women.

It is little surprise, then, that the popularity of the crinoline was short-lived. By the late 1870s it had fallen out of fashion. It was briefly revived in much smaller form as a support for the newly trendy bustle in the late 1800s. Smaller, safer crinolines were occasionally worn by the fashionable until the flapper obsession with more comfortable dress finally killed the crinoline for good. Now, the only place to see these deadly skirts is in a museum or on a costumed historical re-enactor.

Next Article
ADVERTISEMENT
  • Kangaroos Act Drunk And The Reason Is Very Sad

    Southeastern Australia is seeing an increase in drunk acting kangaroos, they are indeed all acting wonky and tipsy. Hopping around with no clear path or destination in mind, it looks like they have been drinking heavily at the local pub. Local footage has been published recently onto the internet and...

    Read More
  • Beef Jerky Causing Hallucinations

    A new study has found that people eating beef jerky could be more likely to end up with bipolar disorders. The cured meats like pepperoni and salami can develop mania which is the mental state that causes mood swings. In fact, they are also subject to causing confusion and a...

    Read More
  • Hire An Ambulance In Moscow To Beat Traffic

    If you are making enough money in Moscow and don’t want to get stuck in traffic jams then fear not there is a solution. Wealthy Russian residents are hiring ambulances with luxury interiors to speed them from destination to destination. These “Ambulance Taxis” are an easy way to beat the...

    Read More
  • The Wallet Lost In A Plane Crash Returned 30 Years Later

    Walking up high in the Andes, crossing over glaciers, would not be the sort of place you might find a lost wallet. Climbing up with the air thinning, Ricardo Pena saw some blue material frozen in the ice. It was a jacker, he quickly pulled it out of the snow and saw a wallet tumbled...

    Read More
  • The World’s Biggest Cave Could Fit A Skyscraper

    If you ever get a chance to visit Vietnam, make sure to plan a visit to the Son Doong Cave: the world’s biggest cave. Located near Laos to Vietnam border the Hang Son Doong even has a free-flowing internal subterranean river. In Vietnamese, if you translate the name then you would be left with “cave...

    Read More
  • Brain Scan Shows That Dogs Really Are Man’s Best Friend

    Humans and dogs have lived together for over 30,000 years, so it is only natural that they became best buddies. At least that is what most people refer to dogs as man’s best friend. Over the years we can definitely confirm that dogs have become more popular and even more beloved. In the United States,...

    Read More
  • Renaissance Books That Will Actually Kill You

    Reading is good for you, that is what your parents and the school has always taught you. There are, however, some books in the world that you will want to avoid at all costs. Recently some Renaissance manuscripts were discovered in a school library that was poisonous. In fact, you could die just by reading...

    Read More