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Crinoline Crises The crinoline made its first appearance in the 1840s. With its excessively large skirt, the crinoline made women's waists appear comparatively small and, as a result, allowed for corsets to be loosened. Considering the low comfort-level of the corset, this could be considered a good thing. But crinolines were lined with bands or braids of horsehair ("crin" is French for horsehair) and hemmed with straw. Worse than the rashes women must have suffered from wearing crinolines, was the fact that they easily caught fire from candles, grates and carelessly tossed cigarettes. Some Historians say the improvement in crinolines came with the 1856 patent of the "Cage Americaine" crinoline – a cage-like frame of steel and/or whalebone hoops, often measuring 10 yards around. Crinolines became nearly obsolete in the late 1860s, when bustles replaced them. Truthfully, the bustle was just another form of the crinoline, but with the rows of whalebone running only from the sides round the back, grossly accentuating a woman's derriere and making it extremely awkward to maneuver. In 1887, a Lillie Langtry lent her name to a bustle with springs, which folded up when a lady sat down. It was even said to spring back to its normal position when she rose again! Lead Astray In the late 16th century, the paler your skin was, the better. Tanned skin meant a life of hard labor working outdoors. The aristocracy, therefore, went to extremes to achieve a porcelainwhite complexion. Among the various powders and ointments used to create pallor, the most popular was ceruse, a mixture of white lead and vinegar, which was applied to the face, neck and bosom. Once the ideal shade was achieved, delicate blue lines were added to imitate veins and add to the general effect of the delicacy of the skin. Unfortunately, the lead in the white base would poison the wearer slowly, causing skin lesions, rotting teeth, hair loss and, eventually, death. The use of poisonous makeup continued into the 17th century, when beauty was seen as fleeting. The effects of these products on the skin, coupled with poor health and hygiene, often meant a woman was thought past her prime at 20 and old at 30. Wig Out By the mid 18th century, powdered wigs were a part of daily life, and they became excessive in both height and decoration. The lack of general hygiene at the time, however, meant the wigs often became infested with lice and even mice, resulting in the necessity for scratching sticks.

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