One of the things that costumers like to achieve is a smooth skirt which is achieved with enough petticoats over the hoops. The hundred dollar question is “was the lumpy look truly inauthentic?”
Today, a woman may go for a popular look but not quite pull it off. It doesn’t fit right. She can only afford a poorly made knock off. It doesn’t suit her age/build/style/coloring…. I’d like to argue that this happened 150 years ago as well.
This carte de visite shows a woman (likely from the 1850-60’s) whose hoops are plainly visible under the skirt. It can sometimes be said that nearby furniture pushed the skirt over, causing the hoops to appear but I don’t believe this is the case in this photo. I think this is a case of not enough petticoats to hide them.
So, if you ever look back at your costume photos and see hoops, don’t think yourself (or any other costume enthusiast) inauthentic. Victorians weren’t all perfect Victorians so how can we expect ourselves to be?