Sunday, July 22, 2018

From the Archives: What Every Woman Should Know About Wearing Hoop Skirts - in 1938

Sunday, July 22, 2018
Susan reporting,

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 this feature 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.


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!

I also loved how these small, sarcastic cartoons that illustrate the perils of wearing a hoopskirt in the 1930s were so similar to the challenges facing the Victorian ladies in their crinolines, as well as this poor 18th c. lady betrayed by her hoops. It made me think of what a 2018 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.
Top: "A hoop hangs under this black taffeta dress with blue ruchings", photo from Life Magazine, Sept. 5, 1938.
Below: "What Every Girl Should Know About Wearing Hoopskirts", illustrations from Life Magazine, Sept. 5, 1938.

4 comments:

Mary Jean Adams said...

For all their challenges, I'd still opt for a hoop skirt over a mini skirt.

Regencyresearcher said...

In 1957 there was a brief resurgence in short hoops. The skirts were ankle length and the hoops were more crinolines with flexible hoops sewn in -- and not as wide as the long ones. They were hard to keep down; hard to sit in. The ladies of the 18th and 19th centuries grew up with them so learned early how to handle them-- saw their mothers and older women wearing them -- women who could advise about the proper way to walk, sit, and move.

I wonder if the resurgence of the longer hoops in the late 30's had any connection to the filming of Gone with the Wind?

Eric Stott said...

I'd say that you're right on the nose with the Gone with the Wind idea!

Anonymous said...

go look at the cover of the Life at the link Bobby Rigges is in there too. Plus Queen Vickey

 
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