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What is a Hobble Skirt?

See our range of made-to-measure Hobble Skirts

A Hobble Skirt is a long, narrow skirt which is intentionally designed to shorten a woman’s stride below the knee, literally “hobbling” her legs. Hobble Skirts emphasize her figure and impose an elegantly restrained and very sensual way of walking. Indeed, where genuine Hobble Skirts are concerned, "The Walk is The Look".

Sarah of RoSa in 1950s style calf-length hobble skirt with kickpleat in black twill suiting 

Whenever fashion rediscovers the Hobble Skirt, it quickly becomes an essential item in the repertoire of every woman who knows how to dress for maximum effect.  

Historical Hobble Skirts

The term "Hobble Skirt" originates from around 1910, when the revolutionary Oriental-influenced creations of designers such as Poiret, Worth, Lucile (Lady Duff-Gordon's label) and Paquin introduced the fashionable Western woman to skirts which were narrow enough around her legs to reduce her stride. Hobble skirts, and the manner in which one had to walk when wearing them, were soon found, by those of more refined taste, to be extraordinarily attractive - enough so to be worth a little inconvenience on the part of the wearer.

(If you're in any doubt how stunning a vintage-style Hobble Skirt looked, there is a scene in the movie "Funny Girl" filmed at a railroad station in which tall, raven-haired actress Bettina Linke perfectly and authentically demonstrates how attractive not being able to walk quickly because of one's Hobble Skirt can be.)

Please bear in mind that two of the famous, original Hobble Skirt-era designers were women. The suggestion by some fashion historians that women, at the height of the suffragette movement, were somehow forced against their will by male dress designers to struggle around in restricting skirts is completely wrong. It was generally accepted as the fashionable silhouette of the day and women loved to wear it - possibly as an ironic comment on their role in society.

Paul Poiret's boastful claim, in his autobiography, to have "shackled" women's legs should not be taken literally. No designer can compel women to wear the garments he designs. Women decide to wear clothes because they consider them to be the height of stylish dressing. If a woman has to walk or behave in an unusual way when wearing certain clothes, and it is generally accepted among her peers that this looks good, she will continue to enjoy doing so with confidence.

Women will happily change the way they have to walk in order to enjoy a new fashion. Hence the recurring popularity of extremely high heeled shoes, which can also be very challenging to wear, but remain desirable among women who understand how best to present themselves.

Archive photos and film clips from the first Hobble Skirt era show groups of women at society events, teetering elegantly along in their immense, impractical hats and restricting hobble-skirted outfits, dressing to please themselves and each other - irrespective of baffled male opinion, which seems to have been equally divided between those who believed fashionable women had finally taken leave of their senses, and those who thoroughly enjoyed watching them wriggle along in the new styles.

The Hobble Skirt should therefore be viewed, not as a symptom of male oppression, but as a statement of feminine power and independence in women's struggle for emancipation and control in the battle of minds of the early Twentieth Century.

Hobble Skirt c.1910

Hobble Skirts, since their reintroduction in the late 1940s by Jacques Fath and others, have been a recurrent and influential theme in women's fashion but, because of their esoteric nature, the really desirable, extreme versions have always been difficult to find outside the realm of Haute Couture.

Now, thanks to RoSa Shoes, the made-to-measure "Little Black Hobble Skirt" Collection offers you the opportunity to enjoy a genuine Hobble Skirt of your own !