When lovely Woman stoops to Crinoline,
she ceases to be Woman, and becomes a Monster.
"Crinoline for Gentlemen". Punch, 31st October 1857, 183.
Crinoline was a truly vital part of the clothing of nineteenth-century upper-class women. Their distinctive bell-shaped dresses supported on metal cages or whalebone petticoats can easily be spotted today in numerous period paintings, early photographs and costume movies. The trend, which originated in the 1840s, ran strong until the 1860s when dresses gradually grew flatter at the front and on the sides while being more protruding in the back, decorated lavishly with successive layers of fabric.