Having to sometimes wear pantyhose is a small price to pay compared to what women used to have to do for the sake of fashion.
Hoop skirts, or the Spanish originating farthingale, dominated women’s fashion for almost 300 years. Hoop skirts would be covered in petticoats and provide shape to a woman’s gown. The hoops on these skirts would often be made from Giant Cane, whale bone, rope, or metal. Talk about uncomfortable.
Hoop skirts were also also an indication of wealth. The wider the hoop skirt, the wealthier you were. A lot of homes in Richmond during the 1800s actually had to widen doorways so that more affluent guests could fit through the door. For royalty, the width of the skirts were mind boggling, as seen below with the gown from Elizabeth: The Golden Age.
Other costumes from Hollywood Costume that show the extremities of the hoop skirt include Barry Lyndon, Dangerous Liaisons, Marie Antoinette, Anna Karenina, and Shakespeare in Love.
– Vera Magdeeva, VCU Fashion Senior and Communications Intern