This marvelous collapsible hoop was invented in 1947 by real-life Southern Belle Mary Clayton of our own Decatur, Georgia. Mary wanted a lightweight, travel-friendly crinoline to fill out her Gone With the Wind style dresses and skirts. This minor masterpiece of engineering collapses down to just 8" wide to fit neatly into its own hat-box style carrying case. The case has a secret center compartment to hold your necessities.
The hoop opens to your choice of easily-adjustable shapes and widths. The top tier is rather high in our photos, but can be moved up or down along the cotton webbing to the most flattering position. You can make a slim, wide, or enormous hoop, create a bustle, or even side panniers. Each individually adjustable tier has two leather straps to lock the hoop into a number of positions (see photos). The lower tier expands to a maximum circumference of 90".
The cotton webbing straps can also be used to lengthen and shorten the hoop to work with skirts of varying lengths, although it's ideal for a tea-length or shorter dress, unless you are quite petite. Made with some serious ingenuity in the U.S.A.
We spoke at length with Mrs. Clayton's friendly and gracious grandson-in-law, who continues to help run the family business. He said he is always happy to hear that one of Mary's creations has survived, and that they are getting more and more difficult to find. He said that this version of the hoop, with opaque plastic parts, is one of the earliest and rarest. The majority were made later, of clear plastic.
The Belle o'the Ball Collapsible Skirt Hoop was featured in the June 9, 1952, wedding issue of Life Magazine, in this March 25, 1948 article from the Lexington, North Carolina, Dispatch, and is in the permanent collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
See a photo of Mary Clayton and read her story in her own words, here.
Labels: Belle o'the Ball - Clayton Mfg. Co. Atlanta
Fiber/Care: plastic, cotton webbing, metal hardware, original instructions say it can be washed
Condition: Strong, wearable and fully functional. The original instruction sheet is missing, but you will need only a few minutes to figure out how to adjust and wear this hoop. The box has some scuffs and cracks, but it's intact. The cotton webbings are not pristine. One of the leather straps on the lower hoop seems to have a misplaced nubbin. You may be able to move that misplaced nubbin back to the correct spot, but we found that the hoop worked fine and maintained our adjustments with only one "lock" on the lower hoop.
skirt adjusts to fit waists 22-32"/55.5-81.25cm,
maximum length approximately 31"/78.5cm,
box is approximately 8" wide x 4" high
(BDV SKU: 00553-001)
Note: International buyers are responsible for any taxes or import fees. BDV has no way to predict or estimate these costs.
The ball gown shown is for inspiration only. It has already been sold.
~ Proud member of the Vintage Fashion Guild ~