Petticoats, how many do I need?

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Heather
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Petticoats, how many do I need?

Postby Heather » Thu Nov 12, 2009 9:51 am

I ran across a fun article in the December 1864 Petersons magazine. Titled Health Department, page 460.

The premise of the article is the amount of weight women wear in their dresses and how bad it is. I will not quote the entire article, but hit the highlights here.

How to dress healthy..... The first thing that needs to be done is, to lessen the size of the ridiculously large hoops which still continue too much in fashion, and make it necessary to put so extravagant a quantity of material into skirts and everything else worm over them.

Many lines here about how ugly and troublesome large hoops are.
Then a few lines to say why hoops are better than the multitude of petticoats worn in the 1840-50s.

It was in those days no uncommon thing for young women to wear five, six, or even seven petticoats, one of which was often made of heavy muslin, and another of thick, starched, corded muslin. This mass of petticoats was not only very injurious because of its weight, but also because it, being gathered closely together at the waist, gave the lower parts of the body much more clothing than the other parts of the fram, and so kept it very unhealthy warm. With hoops however, two thin, light petticoats are sufficient for all reasonable purposes. ( a few line of tirade about currently large hoops again) The petticoats may still be further lightened by "goring" them, so as to leave only just enough fullness at the top to hang easily over the hoops. Then, of course, no more petticoats should be worn than are absolutely necessary. Only one over the hoops, and a very thin, light one under them, should be worn.

A few lines about the ills of heavy petticoats. Then on the hoops themselves.

A Skeleton-skirt made of very thin, light, flexible steel is the best. It should be lined on both sides for about twelve inches at the bottom, to prevent the hoops from catching to scrapers, omnibus-steps, and similar things. Very serious accidents have happened through neglect of this precaution.


The article ends with a discussion of light dress and petticoat fabrics which should be worn, instead of the fashionable "reps" "droguets", lindsays, and other materials.

I have to assume that most of the article deals with things that people are not doing, but rather "should be doing". But I thought it worth stating anyway, as someone out there had to be following this advice.
SarahS
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Re: Petticoats, how many do I need?

Postby SarahS » Sat Mar 27, 2010 9:33 pm

While it doesn't discribe the number of petticoats worn at one time I thought this discription of what should be in a bride's trousseau interesting there are more petticoats than anything else except stockings.

From The art of dressing well: a complete guide to economy, style and propriety of costume
by S. Annie Frost, 1870:

Six tucked and trimmed skirts, and six plain skirts. The tucked skirts should be made of the fine skirt cambric, and the tucks may vary according to the taste. A pretty set is made of one, with a broad hem rid five very narrow tucks close above it; one, with
broad tucks alike to the waist; one with groups of five narrow tucks and an insertion of cambric embroidery between (this must be finished by cambric edging to match); one with narrow tucks to the waist; one with graduated groups of narrow tucks eight, seven, six five, four and three, with a space between the width of the group below it; and one with a row of tucks running up and down set in between two tucks running lengthwise above and below it. Plain skirts are made of fine shirting muslin with a broad hem, and should be two inches shorter than the fine skirts worn above them. All skirts will wear longer if a trimming is set on the edge. Goffered ruffles are worn, and there is a great variety of pretty edgings for skirts. Six short tucked skirts, and six short plain skirts. In the present fashion of dress these required to be gored to be worn under the short walking-dress. They may be made like the long ones in other respects. Two Balmoral skirts, one rather dressy, and one plain for stormy weather. The best material for the latter is waterproof cloth, trimmed with rows of skirt braid. Three embroidered flannel skirts, and three plain flannel skirts. The first may be embroidered in fine white embroidery silk, or with white silk braided braid. They should- not be hemmed, but finished by scollops in embroidery silk, or bound with fine flannel binding. The plain skirts should be bound simply, and plaited on a waistband. There is a fine linen thread used for embroidering flannel that washes better than silk, and fine linen braid has the same advantage over silk braid, but they are not so handsome when first worked.

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