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The Crinoline - the Dress That Killed Over 3000 Women

Plamena M.Plamena M.

The crinoline was an ideal during the Victorian Era. The characteristic women's dress with hoops designed to hold out the skirt was extremely widespread. It was worn by both maids and aristocratic women.

The unique dress was iconic for an entire era. Unlike the so-called farthingales or hoop skirts, the crinoline was worn by all women of all social standings. It was not a symbol of social status in any way. In those days, it became a common subject for caricaturists, who often depicted maids wearing crinolines, much like the ladies they served. This led to disapproval among the upper class.

Crinoline structure

Besides among the rich, this fashion quickly became a subject of discussion among Western media - the reason for this being the many problems associated with this type of clothing. The major ones were the size of the crinoline and the difficulty in actually putting it on and wearing it.

During the 50s and 60s of 19th century England, over 3000 women lost their lives in fire-related crinoline accidents. As impossible as it may sound, it's the truth.

One accident involved the death of a 14-year-old girl - the servant of a wealthy family. The story of her passing was reported in the local paper. Her dress had caught on fire as she was attempting to reach several spoons above the fireplace. The girl died after suffering agony for hours on end, resulting from her serious burns.

Crinoline Dress

One of the cases of mass death took the lives of between two to three thousand people in 1863. A church in Santiago, Chile caught fire. Panicking, those inside kept bumping into one another, the flames quickly jumping from one person to the next, not to mention that crinoline dresses were highly flammable.

However, the dangers of crinolines were not limited to fire. People would accidentally step on the dress or worse - it would get caught underneath the wheels of carriages. Wind could also fill up a crinoline with air and toss a lady about. All of these problems eventually led to the crinoline dropping out of fashion trends and being thrown out of every lady's wardrobe.