TGIFRIDAY FASHION FACT! Several of you have asked me to
talk about the history of hobble skirts. It’s not surprising, since it
is such a controversial garment, even shocking to a modern eye. It seems
to embody the restrictions and oppression women throughout history had
to endure. The name itself flat-out states that it is a garment which
hinders movement. So how did this binding style become fashionable?
start with, what exactly is a hobble skirt? It’s pretty self
explanatory. It is a skirt that narrows at the bottom, forcing the
wearer to take small steps. There were several different types of hobble
skirts. A stereotypical hobble skirt was cinched in at the knees
or ankles. Other styles tapered in towards the hem. Yet they were not always
quite as restrictive as they appeared. Some styles
had hidden pleats or a cross-over design that allowed for greater range
It is believed that the first true hobble skirt was
created by Paul Poiret in 1908 (read his bio here). The rumor is that
he was inspired by Edith Berg, who tied rope around the knee of her
skirt to prevent it from flying up when she joined Wilbur Wright aboard
his plane to become the second woman in history to take flight. However,
the tapered style of hobble skirt likely stemmed from a case of
Bodices and skirts at the time were becoming
more form-fitting, as the exaggerated proportions of the early Edwardian
Age fell aside. The narrow styles were depicted in Parisian fashion
plates and sent across the ocean for American dressmakers to replicate.
It was not uncommon for fashion plates to be slightly exaggerated in
order to emphasize the desired silhouette. As a result, Americans
interpreted the look as much more restrictive than it was intended to
be. However the look came about, it quickly caught on.
thing you should realize about hobble skirts is that they, like many
modern women’s fashions, may not have been the oppressive garments they
initially appear to be. Compare them to stilettos or make-up. Many
people see these things as demeaning or even dehumanizing fashions
inflicted by the patriarchy. Yet many women find them to be empowering.
The interpretation ultimately lies with the wearer. This dichotomy also
applied to the hobble skirt.
The hobble skirt reached peak
popularity in the early 1910s, coinciding with women increasingly
entering the workforce, as well as gaining social and financial
independence, both main rallying points of the suffragette movement
which was in full swing at the time. Of course, women were not about to
wear hobble skirts to the workplace. They were reserved for more formal
occasions, or situations intended to flaunt high fashion. Yet many women
felt that shedding their large petticoats in favor of a style that
emphasized their curves was a sign of empowerment. It didn’t matter that
they had to measure their steps, the scandalous style commanded
attention. Some critics of the fashion saw it as vulgar, while others thought the restrictiveness dangerous. Some proponents took the opposite view and thought that
the limitation of movement would stop women from becoming too wild. It was certainly a subject of dispute.
or not, refined or salacious, there is no doubt that the controversial hobble skirt
was incredibly popular. It became so prevalent, in fact, that public
transportation cars were even modified to be closer to the ground so
that women would not have to take to large a step to climb on. It was
only when World War I struck, and practicality became priority in dress, that
the hobble skirt fell out of fashion. It has not completely
disappeared, though. Just look at the classic pencil skirt, and you will
realize that the descendant of the hobble skirt is alive and well
Have a question about fashion history that you want
answered in the next FRIDAY FASHION FACT? Just click the ASK button at
the top of the page!
Hurrem Sultan was one of the most powerful and influential women in the Ottoman history and a prominent and controversial figure during the era known as the Sultanate of Women. She was “Haseki Sultan” (chief wife of the Sultan) when her husband, Suleiman I, reigned as the Ottoman sultan. She achieved power and influenced the politics of the Ottoman Empire through her husband and played an active role in state affairs of the Empire.
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Vans Syndicate collaborates with auteur, provocateur and skater Harmony Korine. Harmony gained fame as the teenage writer of the controversial HIV-era cult classic film Kids that was set among the burgeoning mid-’90s New York skate scene in which he was immersed at the time. Harmony continues to write, direct and produce a growing body of influential films, books and works of fine art. Harmony created the custom checkerboard print pattern and his artwork is featured in the footbeds on his Authentic Pro “S” and Slip-on Pro “S” styles in canvas and suede.
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There’s something so dirty and raw about this period during Prince’s career, that is such a turn on. I love the Controversy era. The exploration of ones sexuality mixed with the battle of not letting society define who you are, is just so perfect during this time. He wasn’t going to allow anyone to control him or his ideas which is such a liberating thought. In this time and age, it resonates so well with me because we believe we have freedom, but we really don’t. We are truly apathetic and mainstream music echoes that behavior. The controversy that Prince wanted to create wasn’t forced like many modern artists try to evoke today(I don’t need to name anyone in particular, I think we can all think of one) but rather a natural and untamed behavior, that needed to be released. His music was playful and not pretentious which creates a sense of freshness still to this day. He wanted to play with different ideas that created controversy such as politics,religion, sexuality and gender roles but through the ideas of a wild youth that was still discovering itself. Thanks Prince for creating such a great album full of rebellious ideas towards society and its norms and rules.