Crinolines or Cages
For two hundred years fashionable clothing designs included a restrictive, uncomfortable corset as a necessary undergarment.
Fashion designers used reeds, leather, bones, wood and/or metal to create a fashionable shape.
During the latter twenty years of the 18th century and the first two decades of the 19th century, clothing designs provided comfort and promoted the natural human form as fashionable.
During these forty years, women chose to wear the soft cotton, wool or silk voile chemise, tied simply under the bust, with a ribbon or sash.
During the 1820s the fashion gurus of the day reconsidered this choice. It could have been the fall in the manufacturing sales, which caused the return of garments requiring yards and yards of fabrics. Whalebone and horsehair sales were down as well, therefore businesses and workers were suffering also.
Prior to 1828 there were only one or two patents taken out for corset design, by 1848 there were sixty four.
New corsets were made stronger and firmer, to enable tighter lacing to create a wasp-waisted, female silhouette. The new corsets of the 1830’s were always white, seamless, with a Jacquard weave and long tapes laced at the back.
The fabric originally called crinolaine, woven with horsehair, was used first for officer’s collars/uniforms and then for civilian collars.
Once it was found useful for petticoats to support the fashionably growing skirts, more tiers of frills were added.
During the mid 1850s numerous layers of cotton petticoats were used in stead. These were originally heavily starched before someone had the idea of sewing in whale-bone; two commodities of the time easily and cheaply procured.
The term Crinoline became the name of the swollen shape of the skirt, even when the original fabric was not used in its making.
By 1856 metal hoops re-appeared and instead of them being suspended on whale-bone, they were formed into a metal cage of similar shape to those used to house canaries.
One has to remind oneself that this is the beginning of the ‘Romantic Period’