Which Hoops?? Help!


After some more vascillating I have decided to stick with the pocket hoops – and to also revert to my original time span of 1750-75.  Seems like I had it right in the first place, D’oh!

Let me tell you why I have decided this – and feel free to counter, I will listen.

I found two sets of pocket hoops at the Museum today.  They were both given dates of c. 1746-1760.  I have been skeptical of the dating of artifacts there already, so I was not about to take this just at face value.  There were also question marks beside each date: 1746?-1760?  Very helpful indeed. 

So I started looking hard into some other books.  Turns out that Norah Waugh herself suggests in Corsets and Crinolines that pocket hoops were worn from mid-century to 1775, and that the oval kind were discarded for all but the most formal occassions thereafter (p. 47).  What this spcecifically refers to is unclear – I think what she means is that the really hugely crazily wide panniers of the 1740s survived only in highly formal/court dress.  More modest oval hoops were surely not dropped as of New Year’s Eve 1750.

I also looked at the Cunningtons’ book The History of Underclothes, where they suggest pocket hoops were used as early as the 1740s (p. 60).  My own feeling is that this is a little early, however it does support the notion that the 1750s is a reasonable date by which to see them.

The solution I am currently considering is making the pocket hoops, and in the exhibition displaying an image of the oval variety with label copy on its presence and position.


What do you think?




I’ve been debating back and forth about this with myself for a little while now and am having a hard time deciding.

Should I make pocket hoops, which I’ve done before (albeit mostly by machine), and seem easiest/quickest:


Or should I make an oval hoop petticoat (as yet untried, and more complicated if the example I saw at the V&A in Feb is any indication, but seemingly more widely used):


Please send in votes to help me with this dilemna!


  1. Delly Bean Said:

    Despite the complication and the bite into your time, my vote is for the oval hoop if it was more widely used…is there any indication of its use in Canada versus that of the pocket-type?

  2. Kate Said:

    Gotta go with Delly on this one – it may be more complicated, but if it was more widely used, then it is certainly a more representative sample of the fashion in the period. As a historian/museologist, you don’t want to show off something just because it’s the “easier” option when it’s counter to what your aims and objectives are (which is showing the attire that is most representative of the period, right?). Have you done research into periodicals and advice literature from the period to see if they give any indication as to which was more common? That’s one of the catches of history – survival of evidence can be a bit sketchy. Perhaps the oval hoop has survived in more cases because it was worn less frequently, subjecting it to less wear and tear? Perhaps your exhibit could feature sketches or photos of the other alternatives, like the pocket hoops – after all, you do want to broadly educate people with regards to the fashion trends at the time, but if these items were less common, they shouldn’t be the focus of your exhibit.

    Ok, done now. 🙂

  3. brocadegoddess Said:

    Lots of food for thought there Kate, and good advice too! It does *appear* that more oval hoops have survived, which of course can be misleading. I will have to do some digging into in the matter before I make my final decision.

  4. Julia Said:

    From an interpretive point of view, the oval hoops will allow you to talk about the evolution of hoops from Tudor times, and then into the Victorian era, but the pocket hoops will let you talk about pockets, which have some fascinating social history angles (I think Barbara Burman is the one who did the most work on this). As for being more widely used, I can think of equal numbers of visual sources for either, so it’s a toss-up in that direction, too.

  5. Kate Said:

    Well, if pocket hoops didn’t exist per se before your period, then you can always exhibit them with focus on their invention and the innovation of your period, even if they weren’t necessarily most common. 🙂

    I guess it’s the literary historian in me that’s still wondering if you’d be able to find mentions of them in advice literature, periodicals, womens’ magazines (such as they were) etc. from the 18th century. I know the U of A has a subscription to Early English Books Online, which might be useful… Or it could totally not.

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