Victorian Porte Jupe Skirt Lifter – 1860s Looped-Up Walking Skirts

Victorian Porte Jupe Skirt Lifter 1860s Drawn Up Walking Skirt

In the Victorian era, especially in the 1860s, walking skirts were sometimes drawn-up or looped-up: This made the long, voluminous Victorian skirts shorter and therefore more practical. It also protected the hem of the skirts from mud and dirt.

Because the drawn-up skirts revealed the outer petticoat which was formerly plain the new petticoats were now often colorful, striped (called a Balmoral skirt) or embroidered. Colorful striped petticoats were known as Balmoral skirts which were very popular around that time.

Victorian drawn-up walking skirts were worn for walking, at the seaside, for travelling, and for sports such as : croquet, ice skating, hiking, mountaineering, and glacier excursions. By the way, looped-up skirts were usually worn over hooped Balmoral petticoats: here, however, is a Victorian photograph of a lady without a hoop skirt.

In the Victorian era, skirts were drawn-up or looped-up with different devices. Often they had rings and cords inside as in this 1862 sheer dress. 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)

Victorian walking skirts could have separate skirt lifter (dress holder) through which parts of the skirt would be drawn. Victorian skirt lifters could be as simple as some tied ribbon or cord like this ‘page’ in Godey’s Lady’s Book. Here’s another ‘page‘, one which buttons onto the skirt and another consisting of embroidered bands. For dressier wear Victorian skirt elevators could be a gold clasp or two brooches joined by a gold chain.

Victorian skirt lifters could also be a separate belt with cords and clasps: This could be used with any skirt that opens in front. For skirts with back closure, a small hidden opening was added in front. The belt could also have cords with loops at the end which fasten to buttons that are sewn inside the skirt near the hem. And this 1862 advertisement praised a new skirt elevator invention with elastics as being practical and cheap.

And on my instagram account I shared other ways how Victorian women – especially Victorian working class women – looped-up their skirts to protect them and make them shorter and more practical.

2 thoughts on “Victorian Porte Jupe Skirt Lifter – 1860s Looped-Up Walking Skirts

    1. I drafted the pattern for the cotton morning dress 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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