Hoop skirts were around for a surprisingly long time considering how impractical they were. From the 16th to 19th centuries, women used these undergarments to give the appearance of tiny waists and ample buttocks.
However, large hoops were very inconvenient for the wearer. They were heavy, and could do damage to the tops of the hips where they rested. They also impeded women’s ability to sit down, walk through doors and generally go about their daily business. On some occasions, these fashion statements could even prove deadly. In 1863, a fire broke out at a church in Santiago, Chile. The women’s hoop skirts blocked the exits as they attempted to escape, and between 2,000 and 3,000 people died. On several occasions women were also blown off piers, bridges and even cliffs as their skirts caught the wind. Ouch.