The details: The virtues of crinolines

I enjoy browsing older periodicals—looking at the layout, the illustrations, the style of writing, and especially the advertisements. What are the selling tactics? How are capitalization and punctuation used? What about the accompanying images?

crinoline advertisement from Le Follet 1863

This crinoline advertisement, from an 1860s copy of the French fashion magazine Le Follet (this is the British edition), points to some essential undergarment features, given the fashion of the day: “The Sansflectum is particularly adapted for the sea-side, as they will not rust; the Gemma for the ball-room, on account of its wonderful flexibility.” (Click through to see a larger image.)

In other words, these crinolines offer form and function.

Fashion plate from Le Follet. Relax and enjoy the sea breeze, knowing that your crinoline will not rust. —SMR

Hubbell’s, the maker, notes that the crinolines are patented—such a detail lends at-a-glance credibility and/or authority, regardless of whether it’s deserved.

Then there’s the bold, all-caps guarantee: “THEY NEVER LOSE THEIR SHAPE.” Clearly an important characteristic of a quality crinoline. Does that make a Hubbell’s crinoline an investment purchase? Should I expect to pay a premium for this kind of quality?

Fashion plate from Le Follet. Enjoy freedom from fashion faux pas. Your crinoline was made with ballroom dancing in mind. —SMR

Then there’s the implied purpose of a crinoline: “By their peculiar make, a Dress is seen to much greater advantage than with the ordinary shape.” It’s all about showing off—and Hubbell’s crinolines are designed to do so particularly well.

Of course, at 2.5 to 3 yards round, “in accordance with the prevailing fashion,” I’m rather grateful that crinolines and such are no longer part of a woman’s wardrobe.

What about this ad stands out to you?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *