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A petticoat is a women's undergarment, generally designed to be slightly stiff, so that it will inflate skirts or dresses worn over it.  Petticoats and pantaloons have been in existence since at least the 1500 's. A woman wearing a petticoat has full, flounced skirts, along with the illusion of a slim waistline. Petticoats have been included in women's undergarments for centuries, waxing and waning in popularity. They are unlikely to disappear entirely, as full skirts and petticoats keep returning in the fashion cycle. Most large department stores carry petticoats, as do specialty stores, particularly stores which carry bridal fashions.

Women's fashion has included a petticoat or pantaloons since at least the 1500's . Women of all classes would have worn petticoats to inflate their skirts and enhance their privacy, especially in eras where women's underpants were still rare. The petticoat was typically made of a stiff material, so that it would prop up over skirts, or multiple layers of petticoats made from soft fabrics would be worn. The sheer volume of the multiple petticoats would certainly give overskirts more volume, but it was undoubtedly very hot, especially in the summer.

At a minimum, women usually wore at least three petticoats. In some eras, they were designed to be entirely invisible, hidden under the wearer's long skirts. In other instances, the bottom of the petticoat was meant to stick out, and it would be ornamented with lace, ribbons, or embroidery. In other eras, the front of the petticoat was designed to be visible through an open-fronted gown, slits in a dress or skirt, or looped skirts. These petticoats were, for a time, replaced with metal cage hoops  that were symmetrically shaped. later, in the mid 1800's the shape became fashionable to have a bustle effect in the back, and a flatter look in the front of the skirt. All the while, the "appearance" of a slim waist and a lengthening of the torso was achieved.


In 1860 there were four significant facts that would seriously affect the future of fashion.  First of all,  the sewing machine had just been been invented, second clothing in the future would become couture design led, third synthetic dyes would now make it possible to create intense colors, and finally  in 1860 the crinoline domed petticoat skirt silhouette had a flattened front and began to show a dramatic leaning toward the back of the garment

Charles Worth felt that crinoline skirts were unattractive, even though he was associated with it, as he had manipulated the style, as a result the shape soon changed to a newly trained, soft bustled version, which only the very rich found to be practical.

This dress was designed by Charles F. Worth for Empress Elizabeth of Austria and painted by Winterhalter in 1865

Isaac Singer sewing machineIsaac Singer Machine

Sewing machines did not go into mass production until the 1850's, when Isaac Singer built the first successful commercial machine. Singer built the first sewing machine where the needle moved up and down rather than the side-to-side and the needle was powered by a foot treadle. Previous machines were all hand-cranked.

The New Princess Line 1866

Near 1866 the new Princess gown had  changed the line of fashion dressing. This Princess gown was cut in one piece and had a  number of joined panels fitted and gored from the shoulder to the hem which gave the figure shape through the seaming.

The Gabriel Princess gown had  a small very neat white collar was mainly made in gray silk and followed the fuller skirt lines of the era. This is the dress that is  often used to depict the constrained buttoned up repressed governess character of Jane Eyre in films. Later on, the  Princess styles became slimmer and much more form fitting. Sleeves in day dresses were very often a banana shape.

Soft Bustle Fashion Silhouette 1867-1875

With 1867 came the  the fullness bunched up to the back of the skirt creating a polonaise style, crinolines petticoat and cages suddenly disappeared evolving into tournures or bustles. The bustles supported accentuated drapes on the hips.

 By 1869 this frilled horsehair tournure dress improver also known as a  bustle was the undergarment to own to achieve the fashionable silhouette of the day.

Petticoats and crinolines that are colored / bright colors, are the most popular wedding accessory to date. A peek of fun wedding theme color from beneath a wedding gown is high fashion. Some Brides decide to dye their own petticoat or crinoline, but that gets so messy.

Petticoats and crinoline slips for brides, wedding dress tea length petticoat to go under. Crinoline 50's style to go under dress







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