For those who don’t know what a petticoat is: In historical contexts (sixteenth to mid-nineteenth centuries), petticoat refers to any separate skirt worn with a gown, bed gown, bodice or jacket; these petticoats are not, strictly speaking, underwear, as they were made to be seen. In both historical and modern contexts, petticoat refers to skirt-like undergarments worn for warmth or to give the skirt or dress the desired fashionable shape. Basically it gave/give your dress or skirt that extra poof.
As you all can imagine there are a huge number and variations on the market with different styles, fabrics, price and color. I would love to tell you that you don’t have to spend a lot of money for a good petticoat but I found that the more you spend the more you get in quality and poof.
The wind blew very hard that day and snatched her petticoat away! – Gustave Flaubert
The most common petticoat used for vintage and retro outfits are a square dancing and a-line. A square dancing petticoat is a huge fluff to the side while the a-line builds to volume at the bottom. You could get a bell shaped petticoat but this would be more suited for a Lolita style and not retro.
This is a hard netting petticoat and is the most common used during the 50’s. It gives a wonderful poof but its also very uncomfortable to wear and if its not the right length to you skirt or dress it will leave the fall very uneven. If using this I would recommend a slip or underskirt.
This is a very modern choice that gives the same fullness as the crinoline but is much more comfortable to wear.
This is by far my favorite. Its gives the best poof and is very comfortable. For a day to day wear this would be perfect. If you aren’t much into a skirt that would take ridiculous amount of space on the bus then this might no be for you. It also gives a lovely volume when you go dancing.
As you can see on the pictures above a petticoat forms the skirt/dress and gives it a bit more of a fluffy shape.
When it comes to color I would say think before buying. I myself have the common colors like black, white etc. But how often would you use a bright pink or green petticoat? They are lovely don’t get me wrong, but they also take a lot of space, believe me. Are you looking for a first petticoat I would recommend a white or a black. Something that could be matched with more outfits in the long run.
In the next episode I will talk about what to think about before buying a petticoat and how to wash it to not destroy it!
Part 2 can be found here: Petticoat school – Part 2