10.16.2011

How to wear a petticoat.

Photobucket

I've decided this will be petticoat week, sound good? 

 Ok. Lets get started. 

 Here are some answers to some frequently asked questions, basically how to wear the correct petticoat with the correct dress or skirt. 

 Many petticoats you may find today are square dance petticoats. These modern petticoats meant to be worn under short and full square dance dresses, and are in turn, very short and full. These are something you want to avoid under your average 1950s full skirt, because even though they have the effect of fullness at the top, the base has an undesirable waterfall effect that causes a break at the skirt. This one is actually not as full as many square dance petticoats, but conveys the general idea: 

Photobucket

Below we have a layer by layer look at the correct way to add fullness to a full pleated skirt. This dress is from the early 1950s, and has a longer and fuller skirt. At a glance it would seem a very full petticoat is underneath the frock, however, there are in fact three double layer petticoats stacked on one another: 

Photobucket
Photobucket

Now, I should note that an authentic 1950s look would not have the petticoat peeking out the hem. It can be a cute look if an inch is below the skirt hem, but personally I prefer the traditional way, completely covered. Part of the allure of a petticoat is to have it hidden under a skirt until you step just right or sit just right so that a little bit shows. But again, that's just my personal taste :) 

Photobucket

Next up we have a late 50s/early 60s dress with a semi full pleated skirt. This one is shorter and less full that the previous dress. 

Photobucket

Only a single, one layer petticoat is required to add a bit of fullness. 
 
Photobucket
Here is an example of being a little too ambitious with petticoats. Adding too much underneath, with a less full skirt can cause a muffin. As you can see the skirt is too narrow for so full of petticoats, and looks stretched out. Photobucket

And last but not least, the circle skirt. This is a pretty little felt dress with a full circle skirt, which can handle many petticoats. Two of my shorter and fullest ones seem to do the trick: 

Photobucket Photobucket
Photobucket

So there we have it. I hope that helped you out if you have some petticoats and weren't sure how to wear them, or are looking to start your own collection. And just for fun, here are some petticoat tips, and examples of various other petticoats, as you can see, there are many styles, lengths, and shapes! 

Stay tuned this week for petticoat inspiration and a Doris Petticoats review! 

Petticoat tips

Be sure your petticoat sits on your natural waist. Not too tight, but snug enough so that it doesn't slide down. Hiking up a petticoat all day kind of ruins the elegant effect. 

Sometimes when I want a certain color under a dress, but the petticoat is too long, I safety pin it to a long line bra. Front, back, and sides. 

Hand wash petticoats in warm water with dish soap, rinse, and lay out to dry. 

If you take an uncommon size, look for a petticoat that has an elastic casing, so you can adjust it to custom fit you. If the elastic is sewn to the fabric, it's much more difficult to adjust.

Minimal space, maximum petticoats? Hang them from a secure hook on the ceiling. 

If you don't have access to a fabric steamer to get some wrinkles out, hang the petticoat in the bathroom while the shower is going a few times. The steam should help work out some major wrinkles. 

Photobucket

All petticoats and dresses part of my collection and are not for sale. Black petticoat borrowed from Twila Jean, Studio courtesy of Urban Eccentric Vintage. Gray petticoat courtesy of Doris Petticoats.

48 comments:

Sarah said...

Best Monday surprise to come home to!!! This post is fantastic; it's answered so many of my questions (and one's I hadn't yet thought to ask). Cannot wait for tomorrow!
:D
xox
Sarah

p.s. I'd love to hear more about where you buy your petticoats and if you had to pick only one style, what would it be?

art deco dame said...

good tips!I have had a hard time replacing my well fitting petticoats after losing so many from borrowing them out to me that never return them

Solanah said...

Sarah, I mostly just find them an various vintage a antique stores, I think the full longer ones are my favorites :)

Solanah

Redhead Sadie said...

Lovely tutorial! I love me my crinolines and wear them as much as I can. Interestingly enough, I recognize the fabric of the dress in the first picture-I have 12 yards of it! I found it at an estate sale a few months back and it is SO neat to see it made up like that into a dress. Do you know if the picture is dated?

Solanah said...

Oh how cool! Yes the image is from 1960, I posted a few pics from the same publication here:

http://vixenvintage.blogspot.com/2011/02/mccalls-pattern-magazine-spring-1960.html

─░pek said...

This is very useful, thank you. I myself also don't enjoy the peeking out petticoats even though ladies seem to be very attached to the look. I think it looks messy but like you said, personal taste!

My favorite is the last felt dress with full petticoats, it looks absolutely lovely. Oh my love for circle skirts... Also petticoats are lifesavers for girls like me who have large hips. For some reason, I don't like these circle skirts' look on me without adding some volume.

(Maybe someday tips about how to dress in vintage for the ladies with wide hips, if you have any? I know I would read that.)

Have a great week!

xx

Bombshell Bettie said...

I love layering petticoats. That layered lace one is KILLING ME by the way. So gorgeous! Are those all from your personal collection? (other than the black) I really love that powder pink one. I have the perfect dress for it..hehe.
Such a lucky lady.
I could really use a small scale crinnie like that. I've got 6 in my personal collection right now. But i only wear 1 of them a lot. Its not a traditional tulle one, its made of layers and layers of nylon. Its the most comfortable crinnie ever. Love it.

Paris W said...

That is seriously freaky! About a week ago I started writing a draft on how to wear petticoats! I absolutely adore your blog, and am so glad that I found it!


http://likemynewsuspenders.blogspot.com

Charlotte said...

So glad you posted this, and I hope ebay sellers take note - I'm so fed up of seeing 50s dresses hung on mannequins with too-short petticoats!

xx Charlotte
Tuppence Ha'penny Vintage

Betina, Styled Our Way said...

Such a great tutorial. Just what I needed. Now I have to find a gorgeus petticoat.

Kitty Lovett; The Unadulterated Cat said...

I love petticoats. I have so many. I have a hellbunny one, black with purple trim, that is huge. I usually wear it with a black slip under it.

I also have a floor-length one that was once white but has since turned some kind of....pale purple colour. XD and I have matching hoops for that one.

Jo Waterhouse said...

Great post! It's one of my pet peeves to see the wrong size petticoat used especially one that's too short, so the dress is all sad and flat at the bottom!

Amg-Arts said...

Love!

Laurence said...

My favorites peticoat are these ones:
http://www.ebay.com/itm/NEW-PETTICOAT-W-LACE-CHOOSE-COLOR-STYLE-SIZE-/400224925778?pt=US_Slips&var=&hash=item9bffb134bc
To wear 50's skirt, lace at the bottom is better and those are really soft you can order in many colors, lenghts or fullness.
They fit all my vintage dress... the only problem is that they are quite hot in summer.

Moira said...

Good lesson, I always feel embarrassed for girls I see wearing the waterfall effect.

Sean MacKenzie said...

I love this. I have a few 50's style dresses, I believe them to be modern, 90s at the least. And I would love to have at least a med fullness for them. And I know it's not your taste, but I think it's adorable to see a little peakaboo affect to the crinoline petticoat.

Jul said...

Lovely and very useful tutorial! You made me want a petticoat :)
Life is a romantic poem
Last days for joining my giveaway!

looloolooweez said...

What a wonderful little tutorial. I have a couple of tea-length petticoats, but they came wadded up tight in sealed plastic packages, and they won't loosen up no matter how long I hang them. Do you have any tips for getting the unwanted wrinkles out of these sorts of crinolines?

Ms.Tips said...

This is a very good post, Solanah! I love the striped one!!

Tanit-Isis said...

Lovely post---you have so many beautiful petticoats. I just nabbed what I think is one of the square-dance ones at a thrift store last week. Fortunately I don't have vintage-length skirts and it's perfect for my around-the-knee circle skirts, although I haven't had the guts to wear it out of the house yet. I have heard that 1" shorter than the skirt is the length to go for for a petticoat...

Shishi said...

I love petticoats, but I find them impossible to store. Three or for seems to take up an entire closet. How do you store them?

Solanah said...

Shishi, I hang them from hooks on the ceiling.

looloolooweez, use a garment steamer to steam out all the wrinkles. If that's not available, hang them up in the bathroom for a few showers so the shower steam can do a little work for you.

Bombshell Bettie, yeah, all but the first black one, I have few more, but I figured these all represent the different styles :)

French Press VINTAGE said...

adorable!!!!! I'm sharing this link on my shop's facebook ...

Amber Blue Bird said...

I am actually in the market for a petticoat and have a few that I am watching on ebay. I thought I should go with the square dancing ones because they seemed so much fuller but obviously I was wrong. thanks for saving me from a bad purchase!

Who Moved my Birkin said...

I love petticoats!! I can't wait to rock them this fall!

Peachy Keen said...

Great post, thank you for the tips :)

Jade

http://91peachykeen.blogspot.com

Lillian said...

wow! I love the look of petticoats but seem to have the hardest time finding ones that aren't square dancing ones or made to go under a sexy halloween costume (gross)
Using this I can try to find some that look more like these to find the right ones. So helpful!

tunabake said...

A great post, I own quite a few 50's dresses but have never worn petticoat's under them - I'm on the look out now. Thank you. ^U^

Joni said...

This is a very timely post as I am making up a Fifties dress right this very moment (Butterick 7223). I did an initial fitting last night with my crinoline (a cheap eBay made-in-China square dancing-type petticoat, not one of the vintage lovelies you've shown here, sadly) and ended up chopping about 3 inches off the dress hem to avoid the 'waterfall' effect. I didn't even know the name for it, LOL! So my solution, since I can't afford multiple petticoats, is just to hem my skirts shorter - but all my vintage is sewn-from-vintage-patterns rather than ACTUAL vintage. And I definitely tend to wear my Fifties dresses a bit shorter than they would have been worn in the actual Fifties, but they make me look stumpy if I go for the more authentic longer length. (And I am five-foot-seven so it's pretty hard to make me look stumpy! They must have been drafting patterns for Amazons back then.)

Mabel said...

Do you own all of these??? I'm impressed if so!

Mabel
Mabel Time

ConstantlyAlice said...

Love this post! I'm on the hunt for a petticoat..thinking about making my own :)

Isis said...

Excellent post! Thank you!

Zora said...

I really love this post, (and a lot of others as well!)

I have some petticoats but i didn't wear it at all because i wasn't sure about how to do it correctly. also i like to make a couple of, does anybody knows how much material i need it?

p.s. sorry for my English,i am not using so often.

toridawn said...

So fun! I live in an area where the vintage is always pretty overpriced...I've seen some of the prettiest petticoats and crinolines here go for $80-$100! Is that crazy or is that the going rate up in Oregon too?

Solanah said...

Zora, your English is great! You'll need tulle or nylon, depending on what type of petticoat you want.

toridawn, that's an average for a good, multi-layer 50s petticoat, though here I'd say they're more like $45-90 depending on the volume, color, etc. But if you can find one at an antique store or casual vintage store they may be less, it's the higher end ones that charge more, but you're more likely to find them there, so it's a toss up!

casey said...

Great suggestions, Solanah! :) I've been wearing petticoats of various fullness for quite awhile, but I picked up some good tips from you in this post. Also a reminder I need to beef up my petticoat collection a bit more; my favorite lace one is on it's last legs! :/

theParaders vintage said...

what at lovely post! super informative!

Perdita said...

Oh yes, my pet hate is too-short petticoatage. I'm shameless and would rather have them cheekily peeking than sad and saggy.

Teresa said...

Fabulous post! I'm not a big petticoat wearer myself but I do cringe when I see those short petticoats worn with long dresses.

Shybiker said...

This is such a great post! And so timely. I've been actively looking for petticoats but had no clue how to wear them. Your advice is very valuable. Thanks!

Victoria / Justice Pirate said...

Right on. nice job.

Kezzie said...

Excellent advice! I've had issues with my petticoats in the past not being long enough for a skirt!

Emma Frankland said...

Thank you for publishing such a helpful article - I just know I'll be referring to it again and again! Emma :-)

Marie Williams said...

Thank you so much for such a helpful post! Any advice on buying a petticoat for a sheer dress? I want to buy a sheer red dress, but I'm afraid the somewhat sheer tulle and the solid stripes on most petticoats will look bad.

Ayana Simone said...

This was THE PERFECT entry for me and by far the best I've seen on the subject, my only question if,you can still answer (I know this post is old) what lengths were your two short petticoats used under the circle skirt? :)

Janice Anmary said...

I am a crossdresser who love petticoats! I only have 3 because of space to store them.
If I could wear them 7 days a week I would.

Thanks, Janice

Kathe Jones said...

I love to wear petticoats when I dress as a woman. My favorite outfit always involves a full skirt with a petticoat underneath it. Of course I wear high heels with the outfit so my skirt and petticoat will sway from side to side as I walk in my heels. Petticoats make me feel so feminine.

Lifeful Life said...

Hi, I'm going to be getting a 1950s high waisted circle skirt, and I'm really unsure of what size petticoat to get. The skirt itself is 31 inches long, and I really admire the last look, with the felted dress. The traditional way is exactly what I'm going for.

Please reply back, and let me know what size and kind of petticoat i should get. Thank you!