Petticoat school – Part 1

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.


Soft netting

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


49 thoughts on “Petticoat school – Part 1

  1. slfinnell says:

    Oh you have certainly opened the wells of memories for me! I used to play dress up in my grandmother’s stash of petticoats with my cousins. We had so much fun. And yes that crinoline can be a bit rough on the skin but at that time, we didn’t even notice. lol

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Rebecca Groshong says:

    I love petticoats! That is actually probably going to be next sewing project, as I am also planning on sewing a rockabilly dress, which absolutely must have a petticoat with it. Although, I do plan on sewing multiple different types/colors/styles of petticoats eventually. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Milky says:

    What a great article! I thought I knew everything about petticoats, being into Japanese lolita fashion, but I learned a thing or two…! XD I had no idea that some petticoats could actually be worn as outer clothing–I always thought they were part of underwear… 😮

    Anyway, lovely photos! The print on your skirt is so unqiue, I love it!
    Have a fantastic day~! ♥
    – Milky

    Liked by 2 people

    • Elin's Era says:

      How nice 😀 yes i myself did lolita fashion when i was younger bit i Always felt like the community was very hostile. If you didnt have a special brand or did sweet lolita you wasnt in the club. I myself did My own dresses and was more Classic. But it could also be the swedish vommunity being a bit :/ against it.

      Im happy i could teach Someone something 🙂 lolita is more of a Bell Than vintage that want it to flair out 🙂

      I find it lovely when Ppl like to dress different and in a way that makes them comfterble.

      Have a lovely day,

      Liked by 1 person

      • Milky says:

        Oh no! I’m so sorry that you had a bad experience with the lolita community 😭 I understand completely—there are many aspects of the community that can be real petty…I’ve never really bothered joining a local community because of it…but I think it’s nice that you grew to having your own personal style, & found clothes that you feel the best in 💕😊

        Liked by 1 person

      • Elin's Era says:

        Indeed 🙂 Shit happens to be honest,. I didnt really care that much but I love tea and the swedish community always had tea parties so I thought that sounded like the place for me. But everyone wasnt welcome. And isnt that weird, lolita is such a small thing and shouldnt ppl be more accepting. And then on the afternoon tea all they talked about was how bad “normal” ppl treated them for dressing like this. Well if ppl is treating them bad why treat other ppl in your own community bad? that doesnt make ppl want to join or understand XD

        I guess i just dont understand some ppl. I never went to a group hang out again after that. I do still talk to most of them.


  4. Laurine Novembre says:

    Great post. I was checking constantly this blog and I am impressed! Extremely useful information particularly the last part 🙂 I care for such information a lot. I was looking for this particular info for a long time. Thank you and best of luck.


  5. stolzyblog says:

    That is interesting. ‘Petticoat’ was one of those words which flitted about in the breeze in my vocabulary without any true references or clear idea as to what the word actually signified — for years. I suppose I’d imagined it to be some sort of obsolete but charming very short outer jacket worn for special occasions. 🙂 There is one other thing about this word & me. About two years ago I learnt a very pleasing little traditional jig entitled ‘The White Petticoat’ — it is great fun to play. I play it on fiddle, but I found a version on the mandolin to provide you an example. Cheers!

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply to grcope Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.