When I was a kid, I always wanted one of those cakes with the doll sticking out of it. You know, the kind where the skirt is made up by cake and the doll comes out the top. (Here’s a picture, for those of you who weren’t doll obsessed children in the early 90’s) Now, whenever I see the dresses of the mid-1860’s when the hoop was at its widest, I think of those doll cakes. Of course, all fashion is about swings. A item of clothing reaches its most extravagant and then slides out as something else enters to replace it, just as the length of shirts have gone from belly-shirts to tunics in the last fifteen years or so, the hoop skirt’s width moved from all around towards the back until it eventually transformed into the bustle. By the mid-1870’s, it was hard to see how it had ever once been a full hoop skirt.
The advantage of such a wide skirt is that it calls attention to a tiny waist and the women of this ear were well aware of the allure of that feature, so belts were much in vogue. Curves has traveled back in time for a moment, to embrace this gown from 1861.
Now, I knew I couldn’t fit Curves in period hoops and the size of the skirt on the same image, so I put the paper doll in a modern set of underwear. Perhaps, she is a Civil War re-enactor. That gets me out of the whole- why isn’t she wearing a corset and hoops and all the things a woman in 1860 wore under her dress.