When did women start to wear the crinoline?
The Crinoline Period in western women’s fashion runs from 1850-1869. Though similar constructions to the hoop skirt/cage crinoline were used to hold out elaborate skirt styles (such as the panniers used to support wide mid-18th century court mantuas,) their general revival began when the increasing bell or dome-like shape of skirts from the end of the Regency up to the beginning of Victoria’s reign required many more layers of petticoats to hold out their shapes, which became oppressively heavy for women to wear and move in comfortably. That’s where the cage crinoline came in. Crinoline itself was a stiff petticoat fabric used in conjunction with the hoops or cage network of tapes, bands, and wires worn beneath the full skirts, and eventually the term came to encompass the whole structure.
In the late-Georgian and Regency periods, slimmer skirt styles meant that fewer petticoats were required to create a distinctive shape much beyond the natural lines of women’s legs. On the screaming edge of fashion, drapings of the lightest muslins even had the opposite problem to the Crinoline Period women: in an effort to get the sheerest effect, some women courted constitution-ruining chills and reputation-ruining scandal by wearing very few or no petticoats. Perhaps not such a a big deal in Southern Europe among dissipated aristocrats, but the cooler, damper climes of the English would not suit such extremes of fashion, at all!