30 July 2016

Origin of the farthingale

Two extremely corpulent ladies, who were much incommoded by their embonpoint, had caused to be made for them under petticoats mounted on hoops, which they only wore in the privacy of their own apartments. One summer evening, however, they were tempted to take a stroll in the Tuilerics so accoutred. In order to avoid the remarks of the mob of footmen at the gates, they entered by the orangery, but lords and ladies are not less curious than their lacqueys. As soon as the pair appeared they were surrounded. The numbers rapidly increased ; they had barely time to retreat behind a bench, and but for the protection of a musketeer they would have been smothered or crushed to death by the pressure of the crowd. The poor women reached home more dead than alive, believing they had caused a great scandal. Far from that, they had set the fashion to the Court as well as the city.

—from A Cyclopaedia of Costume or Dictionary of Dress, Including Notices of Contemporaneous Fashions on the Continent ; and A General Chronological History of the Costumes of the principal Countries of Europe from the Commencement of the Christian Era to the Accession of George the Third by James Robinson Planché, Esq.

Either that (says the book), or it came from England; or maybe Germany. Or the theatre. Nobody really knows.

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