|HOBBLE SKIRT ORIGINS IN THE 1880S|
In modern Western fashion history, narrow skirts appeared in the early 1880s, combined with the bustle to give the gown a slimmed down look. This change was in effect for only a few years, the skirts having widened somewhat again in the latter 1880s.
|HOBBLE SKIRT FASHIONS FROM THE EARLY 1910s|
The term 'hobble skirt' came into popular use in the early 1910s, when a European fashion trend started by French designer Paul Poiret introduced long skirts that were narrow at the hem, thus 'hobbling' the wearer. Some attribute one of Poiret's inspiration to Mrs. Hart Berg, the first American woman to join the Wright Brothers in air. To keep her skirts from flying out of control while airborne, she tied a rope around them below the knees (Katherine Wright, sister of the flight innovators the Wright brothers, also did the same shortly afterwards).
|MRS BERG'S FLYING COSTUME|
For a short while, the tighter the skirt, the more fashionable it was. This also brought about accessories such as the hobble garter (you can see one in tbe PBS series The Manor House) designed to limit the wearer's stride so that she would not cause the skirt to rip. This trend died shortly afterwards due to the impracticality of such a garment, particularly with the introduction of cars (the skirts making getting in and out of
one a bit of an adventure).
|PENCIL SKIRTS OF THE MID CENTURY|
Long tight skirts would however surface occasionally throughout the century, such as the pencil skirts seen above. Often during fashion shoots the skirts were pinned behind the model to make them appear as tight as possible. Hobble skirts also emerged as a fetish fashion, as seen in the issues of such 1950s fetish publications
like John Willie's Bizarre and later Exotique.
|MODERN WEDDING GOWNS (courtesy of THEKNOT.COM)|
Today, the hobble skirt is still a popular item among fans of fetish fashion, as well as some of the highly fashionable, thanks to modern designers such as Karl Lagerfield. The modern hobble skirts are generally ankle-length and narrow all the way down, often made from materials such as latex and PVC. The long tight silhouette has also remained a popular one among eveningwear and formal attire, both in straight and mermaid (straight to the knees then flaring out) versions.
What's so special about it? Many people find hobble skirts attractive because they restrict the wearer's steps, making leg movements more deliberate, showing off the wearer's lower body while covering it at the same time, much like the corset does for the upper body.