1860s Looped-Up Walking Skirts

In the 1860s, walking skirts were sometimes looped up to be shorter and therefore more practical, as well as to protect the skirt from mud and dirt. Drawn-up skirts revealed the outer petticoat which – formerly plain – became coloured, striped (called a Balmoral skirt), or embroidered as a consequence. Usually looped-up skirts were worn over a hooped Balmoral petticoat, but this photograph shows a lady without hoop skirt. Looped-up skirts were worn for walking, at the seaside, for travelling, and for sports such as : croquet, ice skating, hiking, mountaineering, and glacier excursions.

1860s Looped-Up Walking Skirts
-> my mid-Victorian day dress

Skirts were looped up with different devices. Often they had rings and cords inside, as in this 1862 sheer dress. They could have separate skirt holders through which parts of the skirt would be drawn. There was also a separate belt with eight cords and clasps which could be used with any skirt that opens in front. For skirts with back closure, a small, hidden opening must be added in front. The belt could also have cords with loops at the end, which fasten to buttons which are sewn inside the skirt near the hem. The Porte jupe could just consist of some tied ribbon or cord. In this 1862 advertisement a new invention with elastic is praised as practical and cheap. The skirt could also be lifted on the outside with ‘pages‘ or with embroidered bands which button onto the skirt. For dressier wear the skirt elevator could be a gold clasp or two brooches which are joined by a gold chain.

Skirts could be drawn up à la Porte-jupe Watteau or Porte-jupe Pompadour. Here’s an 1863 description of the Jupe Pompadour: ‘Two rows of rings are sewn at regular intervals on the inside of the skirt; through these rings pass cords, fastened to the bottom of the dress, which come out at the top of the skirt. By these cords the skirt can be drawn up in graceful folds to any height. With this Jupe should be worn the colored or Balmoral skirts […] Some are elegantly braided and trimmed with velvet, others are of black material, with bands of scarlet cloth pinked on each edge and stitched on them. Again we see them alternately striped with black and white, with a deep Grecian design embroidered in black.’ (Godey’s Lady’s Book, 1863)

2 thoughts on “1860s Looped-Up Walking Skirts

    1. The pattern for the cotton morning dress I drafted myself, but it’s based on one dress pattern from the book ‘Period Costume for Stage & Screen: Patterns for Women’s Dress, 1800-1909’ by Jean Hunnisett.

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