Fashion repeats itself, and supporting skirts from beneath - whether by a farthingale, hoops, or a crinoline, depending on the century - is a style that keeps coming back. We've featured it here on the blog many times, including here and here.
But until I came across a tearsheet from a 1938 Fall Fashion issue of Life Magazine, I'd no idea that hoops had also had a brief resurgence for evening wear in the late 1930s, an era that I'd always thought was defined by slinky, body-conscious bias-cut gowns. (This tearsheet was part of an amazing exhibition, RetroSpective, currently on display at the Museum at FIT, New York - I'll be writing more about this exhibition next week.)
The editorial copy in Life describing this "new" fashion in dance frocks, above left, is amazingly snarky, even for fashion reporting, including this gem: "American women, notoriously hippy, are expected to pounce upon the bell-shaped silhouette. The nipped-in waist, the wide-spreading skirt, are perfect camouflage for excess pounds below the waist...." And this was from a mainstream American magazine!
Victorian ladies in their crinolines, as well as this poor 18th c. lady betrayed by her hoops. It made me think of what a 2013 fashionista would face if the cycle of fashion brings back hoops again: imagine wrestling the things through a modern airport security check, or onto a stool at Starbucks. But you never know....
Click here to read the entire feature on Fall Fashion, available online courtesy of GoogleBooks - including what must have been a pretty racy photoshoot of a model in a revealing black hoop petticoat and corset.
Below: "What Every Girl Should Know About Wearing Hoopskirts", illustrations from Life Magazine, Sept. 5, 1938.