I'm stealing another of my sister's posts, not just because period fashion plates are fun to look at, but her rant about living historians dressing according to one's place in society (their impression, that is), also it brought a few things to mind for me.
One, there are reports of women wearing hoopskirts while working in the arsenals. First off, most of these ladies were the working poor and might not have even owned hoops, let alone worn them to work, wearing them out. Secondly, women and girls were supposedly hired for their smaller frames and could thus be packed in like sardines. I know from personal experience that hoops take up a lot of space.
Two, there is a theory (about which I will post momentarily) that static electricity from ladies' dress material created enough charge to spark the Allegheny Arsenal explosion.
Some food for thought...