How to Sit in a Hoopskirt

How to sit in a hoopskirt | 1863 October Godey's Lady's Book

1863 October, Godey’s Lady’s Book

Since I posted How to Sit in a Victorian Bustle, I’ve had quite a number of you pipe up that you wanted to see a video on how to sit in a hoopskirt. Well, my dear readers, you’ve asked for it and now it’s here!

It’s not as complicated as you think, so enjoy this video tutorial with tips for how to sit down when wearing a mid-1850s through the late 1860s hoopskirt. (Please share with your friends and fellow reenactors too. :-) ).

How to Sit in a Hoopskirt |

Sitting in a hoopskirt

See – it’s not hard to sit in a hoop and not have it end up over your head!

Have you had issues sitting in a hoopskirt? End up with the skirts in your face? Knocking over the stool on which you are trying to sit? (yeah… been there…)

Share your sitting story below. :-)


  1. Miss Sheila says

    I learned this the hard way. As I was at a ladies tea, my back facing the entryway. Several ladies came in but not a word was said. One lady come up to me and whispered in my ear I may want to check the back of my skirts or this wasn’t the place to advertize so much. To my horror, one of the lower hoop wires was caught on the back of the chair and flipped my skirt and petticoats up over the back of the chair. Needless to say, as guests walked in, they were greeted with a nice full moon. Now I make sure I am fully covered in back.

  2. Varika says

    My hoops weren’t 1850s, but from what I can tell, the differences between an Elizabethan-era farthingale and antebellum hoops is slight at best–particularly the construction and placement of hoops. (Farthingales tended to form a more conical shape while hoops a more bell-like shape, is what I seem to see in the artworks and construction.) I never had problems with sitting in them, but I can tell you this: never, ever, EVER, EVER make one with an elastic waistband! It was the first costume I’d made completely on my own, and I made SEVERAL mistakes–one being to incorporate the corset into the bodice as per the instructions of the pattern. This wouldn’t seem to be a terrible mistake, particularly for a first-time costumer…except that I had a two-hour ride to get to the Faire, and I couldn’t wear the farthingale in the car. At all. But without a separate corset and bodice, I couldn’t remove the bodice to put the farthingale on. So I thought, hey, elastic waistband, it’ll just slide right up under the corset and I’ll be good to go!

    Theory correct. Worked perfectly. ….unfortunately, I did not particularly account for the weight of the steel hoops over the course of the day, so in addition to having one boob in each armpit thanks to a mis-measurement I didn’t catch in the bodice…I struggled with my hoops gradually getting closer and closer and closer to the ground… ring at a time…

    The following year, I had ripped that damned elastic out and put in a drawstring waist, and was wearing a separate corset and bodice, and THEN my only problem was getting my skirt caught on a large splinter in a doorway and having to stand there, blocking traffic, until my friend could figure out where the door frame WAS in my skirt and free me. Fortunately, most of the crowd seemed to feel this was a great photo op. ;-P

  3. KS says

    I’ve heard that one should never actually take hold of the hoop itself, but of the fabric between the hoops (which is a bit harder). Otherwise you are clearly drawing attention to your undergarments.

    • says

      In this video I’m wearing a cage that actually has no fabric between the hoops. I would think that I’d want to sit down as “normal” as possible and with good movement rather than fumble to grasp a bit of fabric between hoop wires. But that’s just me. Even if you only grab a wire you should not lift the skirt very high.

  4. Josephine Boone says

    Thank you for this informative video! Now the practice of gentlemen holding chairs for ladies makes perfect sense.

  5. Sarah says

    Good video! I’ve been practicing on my own, doing what seemed right, but had no way of knowing how it looked from the front or side (or rear) as my mirror is in a tiny closet! I think I got the hang of it now after seeing you demonstrate. :)

  6. melody says

    I fondly remember the scene in the movie “The King & I ” where Missy Anna puts the Siamese women in hooped ball gowns and the women behave in Siamese manner, by kneeling and touching their foreheads to the floor when the King appears. All their hoops pop up & over their heads like peacocks.

  7. Bhire says

    Prancing about in your undergarments for shame! ;-) J/k I loved the video and greatly appreciate it. I’ve wanted to wear hoops underneath my Elizabethan Garb for years but I’ve always been so terrified of sitting in them. I never knew all it took was a simple lift and sit gently I always assumed there was some sort of strange and complex trickery. I found your video on Pintrest randomly but I do believe you have a new follower. Thank you for posting this.

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