Sunday, 8 March 2015

Confessions of a Serial Petticoat Wearer

If you ask a lot of people what the first image that comes to their mind when you say vintage women's fashion is, a lot of people will conjure up the image of the New Look dress shape... big skirts, full petticoats and nipped in waists.  I love this shape, I wear it 80% of the time, I own a dozen petticoats in different shapes, colours and designs to get the right shape.  However, before we carry on, love this shape though I do, don't forget this is not the only way to "go vintage" (or wear clothes as in my mind you shouldn't compartmentalize your style just wear what you enjoy... but that is a whole other blog post and I will refrain for clambering on my exceptionally high horse of that particular topic).  Vintage encompasses styles from the flapper era, utility dresses from the 1940s, bias cut evening dress, androgynous evening wear of the 1930s, 1960s mini skirts, floaty maxi dresses, wiggle dresses, right up to the lumberjack shirts of the 1990s (too recent in my actual lifetime for me to enjoy- although I enjoy seeing how it is styled differently this time round)... that is the joy of vintage you can choose from so many styles.  Anyway, back to the point in hand- massive skirts, I mean door wedgingly wide skirts, created with the powers of one (or more) petticoats and underskirts.
First of all if you skirt is full skirted or semi-full (ie. circular or very nearly) then you can wear a petticoat/crinolene under it.  Obviously you don't have to and that creates a different look, but if you choose to you can do it in a range of ways, so here are a few tips from a serial petticoat wearer- me.

Single Petticoat
With a lot of dresses, including the reproduction ones we have in store, one petticoat is usually enough.  A simple 2-3 tier petticoat will do the trick to create a full look.  You have a couple of choices on the look here, longer petticoats can poke out below the dress, which some people like, however I have always preferred a shorted petticoat which peeps through when you walk or spin, but when stood still you cannot see it.  I also have a single tier petticoat which you would think has little or not impact on the shape of a dress but it definitely gives it a softness and shows off the shape of the skirt, although will not create the traditional "New Look" shape of eye balling popping enourmous skirtness (skirtness (noun) : made up word created by blogger with inability to correctly form a sentence).

Colour Contrast
One of the things which can be beautiful about a petticoat is mixing the colour up, so if you ave a black dress, you can wear the brightest colour petticoat you can find to give a hint of colour and character to your outfit... especially if you are out dancing it is beautiful when it swishes round.

Layering petticoats
I have several dresses which are enourmously full and with these it is great to create a full shape, to do this I start with a knee length 2 hooped petticoat, which has no tiers that keeps the shape and then on top I add one of my usual petticoats to give a softer shape (otherwise you can see he hoops and you loose the added aesthetic appeal of the petticoat.  Or alternatively I layer with two standard petticoats but in the summer that can be a bit on the warm side so the hoops give you the added bonus of coolness!!

It may sounds strange but believe me there are pitfalls to wearing petticoats and they are not necessarily what you would expect.  I have experienced all of these at one time or another

- The waterfall effect- the dress is too long for the petticoat and you have a weird over hang... at which point probably best to do without the petticoat or find a longer one.

- Velcro.  Yes- velcro.  I cannot tell you how annoying this is when wearing a petticoat.  you may know I am a mum and have two small children, both of whom have velcro up shoes.  You can imagine the scene, lean down help them with their shoes stand up with shoe attached to petticoat.  But same applied to stray nails, bag buckles, boot hooks and more,  Be warned, you are bigger and floaty so these little fiddly things catch on your petticoat.

- Which brings on to my next point- doorways/small gaps.  Wearing a huge full skirt shows you how small some doors or corridors really are!!  You have to squeeze through somewhat!

- Appearing arrogant. You may appear arrogant or just plain. rude because you have absolutely no concept of the fact you are in someone's way with your skirt so when you don't move you have to be asked, making you appear incredibly rude!

- And on the same note, you're a lot wider so watch out for cups on side tables.  The stains on our front room carpet attest to my spillage of numerous glasses of wine or cups of tea simply by turning too fast and whipping them with my petticoat!! You have been warned!
Perhaps don't go too wide: definitely has its pitfalls.....
- Children using them as wedding veils, to become islands, as super hero capes, to hide in, to fight with, pretend they are animals etc.  Hide them, hide them well from children. And animals (perfect self proclaimed cat bed s watch out)

- Wearing them is addictive.  Now this is a warning, I don't know why but once I started wearing petticoats, hoops and crinolines it became addictive.  Wearing full skirted dresses without them just didn't cut it any more.  The petticoat collection grew and the desire to find a perfect and enduring petticoat became obsessive.  The first couple I got just didn't cut  it so I became a woman on a mission, now owed three of the same petticoats with wired hems to keep the shape, double full layers 

Caring for Petticoats
- Do not hang your crinoline/petticoats up for prolonged periods as it will lose it's shape quickly.  

- Wash petticoats in cool water and cold water soap, and top drying tip.... get a gold umbrella and pop your wet but neatly straightened out petticoat on top of it to dry.

- If you want to freshen it up a bit and have a dryer op it on the fluff cycle.  I find leaving it in the garden on a  mildly breezy day has a similar effect. NB- neighbours do not appreciate errant petticoats landing on their cat be warned and take appropriate action to avoid.

- Store your petticoat in a bag or a box on the wardrobe floor.  And always air it after wearing before you put it away.

So there you have it my tips (good, bad or boring) for the petticoat wearer.  Enjoy! If you are looking for a full petticoat we sell them in store for £20 (or online plus P&P) and hooped petticoats can be ordered at request.


  1. The thought of a cat setting up bed in one or ending up wearing one fresh from a garden airing had me chuckling!

    Really would love one, something to stick on my shopping list :)

  2. Fashion boots are the perfect fashion accessory, whether you opt for high-heeled, fur-lined, tasseled, and flat, all are good pair of boots can set you ahead in the fashion stakes. Most wanted hat

  3. I wear short knee length petticoats under all my skirts every day and it make a person feel extra feminine for sure.

  4. I love seeing ladies in frilly petticoats (such as square dancers. THey are so powerfully and uniquely feminine.


Thank you so much for your comments, it is very much appreciated. we read each and every one of them. x