"Bouffant Girl" memories and commentary about growing up in the fifties


 I was privileged to wear some of Tessy's 50s collection for a brief time. It brought back memories. I was fortunate that my family was quite well off so,
as a girl, I enjoyed having lots of skirts, dresses and petticoats. Tessy's collection reminded me of how beautiful most of those early petticoats were.
I have never seen a petticoat manufactured today that looks anything like the beautiful petticoats I used to wear in the 50s and early 60s.

Two basic groups of bouffant girls
    In the nineteen fifties we were all raised to be ladies and we mostly turned out that way, but in many different degrees. Among the girls that regularly wore petticoats, there were a variety of personalities and attitudes concerning the bouffant fashion, so what I am about to tell you did vary in degrees.
I think that I can safely say that there were two very distinct groups.
     The first group of girls considered their petticoats to be nothing more then underwear. Their choice in petticoats was generally more on the practical side. Pretty was nice, but not necessary. This type of girl mostly wore a white petti and they were always very guarded with their skirts. They were petticoat girls mostly to be fashionable.
    The second group of girls, of which I belonged, didn't feel that way at all. They considered their petticoats to be a part of their skirts; the pretty part. We loved the feel and the sound they made and the subconscious idea that our petticoats were attracting attention to our legs.

A true story

    There was a girl in the eighth grade named Viola, and her last name was impossible to spell or pronounce. Viola was a girl of the second kind. She was a bouffant queen and there always seemed to be a contest going on between her and her girlfriend, Marie, as to who had the biggest skirt.  Viola was flamboyant. She loved the beauty of her petticoats and, although she made sure her skirt hem passed her petticoats, she was not afraid to show pouf, and often did.
    The old school rooms had seats and desks that were permanently attached to the floor. Because of this, petticoat girls had their own way of seating down in a lady-like manner. But Viola had more skirt to deal with. She would grasp her petticoats through her skirt with both hands, and in one lightening move, she would lift her petticoats up and over her desk and sit quickly in her seat. She would then push her crinolines down around her legs. I know! It was not very lady-like, but it worked for Viola. It was a move that a few lucky boys who were fortunate to be sitting in strategic seats really enjoyed. I heard reports that she often showed a lot of her thighs alone with the occasional flash of her panties. This was all framed in a shower of petticoats and only lasted a few seconds.
I believe there was a mention of the cancan some time back. Boys of The Era didn't know this, but back then the cancan was a naughty little fascination of quite a few schoolgirls of the era. The idea of wearing all those pretty and colorful petticoats and doing such a naughty, teasing dance was tantalizing and thrilling!  Girls always love and need attention. We like to be looked at because we're pretty, but also we like to believe we can sexually excite as well. It's just the way we're made. I do not know of any girl, back then, that actually played out their cancan fantasy, but I know that somewhere some girls did. However, get a few of us girls together, and if there were no boys around, a cancan dance would often break out and believe me, it was a regular giggle fest.

School dance 1958

A seventh grade boy,  Dan I think his name was,  was sitting on the grass at the edge of the school playground and he was leaning against an old maple tree. He was sitting alone and far from where the other boys were playing ball. He told me that a girl in his class named Cathy came over to where he was sitting and she began bop dancing, apparently to a rock and roll song in her head. He said that she would twirl her petticoats out as she danced and, as she danced, she would move closer to where he was sitting. She never looked at him, just danced. Then he said she twirled around and around really fast exposing her panties, after which she stopped and left him alone. He asked me if I knew why Cathy did that.  So I asked him, "Are you going to the school dance next Friday?" He replied, " I don't know." " What do you mean, you don't know?" I retorted. He said that he hadn't asked anyone.  "Well," I told him, "there's your answer." He gave me a puzzled look, so I said, " Cathy wants you to ask her, fool!"

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There was a Lot of talk here, on The Pond, about petticoats and slips showing. I don't disagree with any of the things said, but the reason why it was a no-no was a simple one. My skirt was pretty. My petticoats were pretty. My petticoat passing my hem was just sloppy; and no girl wants to look sloppy. At least that used to be true.
But petticoats were designed to be pretty because petticoats were made to be seen and enjoyed. But how can you see my petticoat hidden under my skirt? Let's see.
Some girls wore so many petticoats that they could not sit without putting them on display. Bending over will display them if viewed from behind. Bop dancing will definitely display them and a bit more!  A windy day will do the trick.
I was up on a stepladder one day at high school, helping other girls put up decorations, when Mr. N****** walked in and came over to my ladder. Well, that was another way to see my petticoats, wasn't it?  And my thighs as well. And maybe my panties. I don't know how naughty he was, but in the fifties nobody was arrested for such a thing.  A screech and a giggle and a gathering of our petticoats was all it took. And we were not traumatized by it. We just told other girls what he did and we all have a good giggle fit.  Life was better back then.

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Hollywood never seems to get the fifties right.  Often they will dress all the girls bouffant.  Other times they would all be dressed in pencil skirts. The truth is, it was simply a mixture of all different styles of dresses and skirts.
I believe the more prosperous a community was, the more you saw bouffant. If you saw a class picture of some poor West Virginia coal region you might not see a single bouffant girl. It's not that petticoats were all that expensive, but rather they were considered a needless expense where money was tight.  But a party was a different thing entirely.
When a little girl of the 50s was asked to a party if was not necessary to ask what she should wear. She put on a party dress and, without doubt, it was always bouffant. Those dresses, compared to what the older girls were wearing, were quite short. But we were little girls and if our panties occasionally showed it was all right. Some party dresses had a skirt that was so bouffant they had a tutu appearance, but this was not commonly worn. I kind of liked that style, myself but I didn't wear it as well. Mothers were still in charge after all.
I liked our shorter dresses back then but, as I grew older, I wanted to dress more like all the teenage girls I saw. But still I wanted a bouffant party dress, just not as short as I wore when I was eight or nine.  I was fortunate to live in an affluent neighborhood, so the girls all had the best of dresses. Birthday parties were all the more fun, with pretty dresses all around. Pinks, whites and yellows; solid, paisley or polka dot.  Robin's egg blue or bold reds and all shades of green. And they were all puffed out with petticoats. It was heavenly !

ED: We are glad Allison addressed two areas we thought have been neglected:  The Hollywood treatment; and the party dress situation. 
Jed Clampett (Beverly Hillbillies) oft times said to Elle Mae: "Go put on
a nice party dress for our guests here."  We always looked forward to that!
Pertinent, but not the best, video

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Skirt Flirting

What is skirt flirting, you may ask. This is something that I believe was automatic with some schoolgirls back in The Era. Again, not all girls were flirts; just some. But this is about the ones that did. If a boy has noticed you, it is, most likely, because you've been skirt flirting with him. But a skirt flirt must be subtle, clever and sly. We girls had a dilemma back then. It was called our reputation. We wanted to show off a bit. We knew we had pretty legs and our petticoats were pretty, but with a future husband on our minds, we had to be careful not to appear easy... or worse, look like a slut. We thought it would ruin our chances. It didn't, of course , but we all thought it would, so we were careful.
A few ways to skirt flirt without being obvious:
I liked gently rubbing my skirt and petticoat on my thighs. I think there were other girls that did the same, but not sure. It could be my original. Anyway, this was most effective if your petti was paper nylon and made that delightful sound. But the idea of a girl moving her petticoats up and down her thighs, even a little bit, always got the boys' attention.
Lifting yourself up from your seat, just a bit, and adjusting the position of your bouffant skirt also grabbed the boys' eyes.
When talking with other girls, grabbing a handful of your petticoats through your skirt and gently waving it about. Your petticoats will show if done right and the boys will watch you and not the other girls.
When talking to a boy seated across from you, play with the hem of your skirt. Lift it a bit and spread it out. This will appear to be a nervous habit to the boy, but it will be hard for him to hide the fact that he can't stop looking at your knees.
The ultimate skirt flirt is dangerous. You must do it in an innocent way and be prepared to react. You sit across from a boy you want to attract and ask him if he would help you with your shoe. You have already prepared your shoe by putting a good knot in the lace. So you ask him if he can get the knot out. He says yes and before he reaches down for your shoe you lift your foot up to him. He now can see up your petticoats. You aren't sure how much he can see but the view will have a reaction for sure. Now it is important to act like you don't realize he can see up your skirt. After a few long seconds you react. A shriek followed by the pushing together of your petticoats, followed by a giggle. You have done it and your reputation is intact.  You will stay on his mind

ED: We remember the 'inadvertent' way a girl would drape her skirt/pettis slightly across you lap when she sat next to you, say, in a car or on a couch.  Wow!  Accidentally.  Right.  <whew>  Just the memory.

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  End of The Era


By the beginning of the 1960s things were starting to change, and fashion was one. The petticoat had run its course and was now being identified with the 1950s. Petticoats were still worn by schoolgirls in 1960, but, by 1961, they were in decline. The fashion industry was looking for something new and our new first lady was leading the change. The tailored look was taking over.

But what about us schoolgirls? Some girls refused to let go of bouffant. I was one of them. I loved the look and I didn't take the change well at all. The one thing about the change I did like was hem lines. They had risen to just below the knee, a length that I thought was perfection. But it was not long before they started to rise again.
So what replaced bouffant for the teenage girl? Dull and boring did. Even pencil skirts were gone. The boys that were pencil skirt fans were disappointed by its demise but ..and I do believe this ...they were not as disappointed as the boys who were bouffant fans. Both were left with nothing to look at but dull straight skirts with little flair or style. This was the common look for girls from 1962 through 1965. In '65 the mini was introduced in America and we all know what happened then. But I was still young, so I embraced the mini skirt. At least they had some style and flair.
So what became of bouffant? It never completely left us. Party dresses, especially for young girls, still included bouffant. Dance dresses still included bouffant. Cocktail dresses still included bouffant. As a matter of fact, I remember my mother wearing bouffant dresses to cocktail parties even into the 1970s.
Will bouffant schoolgirls ever return? The fashion might, but that, flirty, giggly, 1950s schoolgirl will never return. 

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Car Dating in The Era


Let's see.. It was a song called "Summer Nights", in the movie, Grease. For those of you who haven't seen it, it was sung by two separate groups. One group of high school boys and the other, a group of girls. In the song the John Travolta part was bragging about the girl he met that summer, the Bouffant Girl named Sandy. The girl group was doing the same, as Sandy told about the boy she met. There are two lines in the song that always made me smile because they were so true. The girls are saying, " Tell me more, tell me more, like does he have a car?" And the boys were saying, " Tell me more, tell me more, did you get very far?" That about summed up car dating in The Era. But there were more fun details as well.

Sports cars

I think this just may be a limited experience. It's because where I lived more boys had better cars then in other parts of my city and other places. What I'm saying is, there were more boys with sports cars where I lived. Some of those cars were very small as well. Well there was this one date I remember. I was surprised to see the little foreign car he came to pick me up in. I still can't tell you what it was, but when I got in and sat down in that little seat my bouffant skirt was all over the place. That boy, after opening the door for me, (remember that?) came around and opened his door. He hesitated when he saw his gear shift hidden under my skirt. I knew it was covered, but I made no attempt to pull my petticoats in. My skirt looked so good flared out like that. Anyway, I wanted to see what he would do about it.

He looked in pain for a bit as he stared at my skirt. Then he made his decision. He told me my skirt was covering his gear shift and could I move it. So I did, but I was disappointed. He was a gentleman, I thought, but a coward as well. No, we didn't always like gentlemanly behavior. We were more sexual then that. Why didn't he move my petticoats himself?
Now, as a contrast, I will continue. It was about a month or so later when I had my second sports car date. This kid had a Corvette!! I love Corvettes! Needless to say, this teenage girl was impressed. Ten points to start! However, it was my bouffant skirt again. It covered his gear shift as well. But this time would be different. He started his car and, without hesitation, he grabbed the knob of his gear shift right through my skirt and petticoats. He never missed a gear! It was so strangely tantalizing! Finally, I asked him if he wanted me to pull in my skirt. He said no. He knew where the gears were.
He just made another ten points with me!

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More car dating

 Sports cars were a treat, but most times it was a sedan. Some of you will remember bench seats. You never find this anymore and I sometimes wonder why. Never mind. Bench seats were both wonderful and threatening on a car date. We could get close to our date if we wanted to and he could get close to us if he was parked and wanted to. But they always wanted to! And it was all too easy with a bench seat. So you see, it depended on who you were with as to the merits of the bench seat.

Out of gas

You know, I've never experienced this. No date I ever had parked his car and announced he was out of gas. I sometimes wonder if it was an invention of Hollywood. But if it did happen, it would mean only two things to us girls: "I'm out of gas, let's make out;" or, "I'm out of gas, Sorry. We'll have to walk back." The second boy is an idiot and you never go out with him again. First boy: ... well, it depends on how we feel about him.

Drive-in movies

We had one of these only a mile and a half from were I lived, so you know, "Mr. bench seat", wanted to go there often. Needless to say, it could be a tense situation or an exciting one. So most girls, back then, knew what movies were playing at all times, and where they were playing. This is because some boys would ask you out to a movie. If you asked what's playing, you had better know if it was in the drive-in or the brick and mortar building before you said yes. It made life easier, and may have kept an unwanted hand from exploring under your petticoats. All in all, I still liked drive-ins...and warm wanted hands.

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And more car dating

We were very superficial creatures; teenage girls. So what was important to us? Our hair, our outfits, our shoes? They were all important! But when it came to car dating, it was our image we fretted over. No girl of the Era wanted to date a guy that drove an unacceptable vehicle. A cute guy with an unacceptable vehicle was a vexing problem for the girl that dated him. She really didn't want to be seen riding in that Studebaker or that Hudson. And if he had a Nash, it was like the end of the world!
A girl friend, back then, was dating a boy who luckily drove an acceptable car. It was a white Ford convertible with red interior. I can't remember the model, but it was a pretty car. My friend's name was Sharon and she was, like me, a bouffant girl. She told me that she once, or more then once, dressed to match the car. She bought a plain white circle skirt with a red blouse. Under her skirt she wore bright red petticoats and at least three of them. She must have been quite a sight, sitting in that Ford. I wonder what her boy friend thought about it? She was his doll with the classy chassis in his cool Ford chariot.
I was lucky. I remember being seen in a Thunderbird and a Corvette. Those were my favorite cars. But I never dressed to match those cars like Sharon did. I wanted to stand out, not blend in. And I made sure that on the second date my outfit didn't clash with his interior. Don't laugh. It was important to a superficial doll of The Era.

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Petticoats, panties and...

There were a great many sexually naive high school girls in the nineteen fifties. These girls lived in their own world with friends that were like themselves. But then there were the more naughty girls. Naughty like me. There was a slang saying among naughty girls back then: "He's a three 'P' man.  He'll give you the scramble egg treatment." But here I will only talk about two 'P'. On second thought, a bit of three 'P'.

It was around 1969, and I was working in a law office in New Haven. I was having lunch in a downtown luncheonette when I ran into a guy that I knew in the sixth, seventh and eighth grades. I remembered him because he was so funny looking back then and still was. Okay, not nice. Anyway he knew me when I was always bouffant but now, in a mini skirt, he could not help but talk about my transformation. He told me about something that happened in the eighth grade. I was surprised that he remembered and that I had forgotten about it, but soon I knew the reason why.

We were all (the whole class ) walking down the street, and I can't remember where we were going, but I do remember a bit of horse play. This guy, whom I have just re-united with in that luncheonette, was the one that was picking on me and teasing me. I was mad and I was kind of in his face and I was walking backwards when I tripped and fell on some uneven pavement. I blacked out for a moment when my head hit the pavement. When I came to, Patty was helping me up. I had noticed that the boys had become very quiet, but I thought they were just concerned and I thought nothing of it. Besides, my head hurt. But that day in the luncheonette, I found out the reason why they were so quiet. It seemed I was knocked out a bit longer then I thought. When I fell, my petticoats flew back and they made a circle with my skirt and petticoats over my face. I was fully exposed with my panties in the middle of the circle. He said the boys were all around me and stared until Patty pushed her way in and pulled my petticoats down. He told me I was wearing pink nylon panties and the boys could see my bush through the thin material. Well I was flabbergasted ! I never knew this! No wonder he remembered that incident! <Giggles>

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The French Connection (Part One)

No, not that old movie. I'm talking style here. In The Era, Paris was THE place!  We knew our petticoats, pencil skirts and party dresses, and just about everything we adored was a product of a French designer. Whether it was true or not, we believed it. To us, it was the capital of style, elegance, romance, and that naughty but nice dance called the cancan. For the teenage girl, who loved her clothes, Paris
was like a dream.
It was morning and a gaggle of us teenage schoolgirls were gathered under the arch as we always did shortly before the start of the
school day.

Colletta ( I hope I'm spelling her name correctly) was a genuine French girl. Back when she first came to our school, she had been in this country for only five years, I think that's right. Colletta spoke good English and fluent French. I was taking French in school, as were some of the other girls, so we were lucky to have Colletta in our group.
On one particular morning, Colletta wanted to show us something, but she didn't want to show it in so public a place, so we all left the Arch and went to the back of the school building by the parking lot. Colletta, who always carried a bag, (not common for schoolgirls of The Era ) reached inside and pulled out the prettiest pair of panties we'd ever seen! We all gasped! It was what is know as 'flutter style'. It was small compared to American-style panties. The top part was satin pink with tiny bows about, and the short flutter leg openings were all white lace and very high-cut. It was true Parisian haute couture. Colletta said it was from the House of Dior. We were all so impressed !!!! Colletta said her family had many fashions sent here directly from France. We were impressed again, and jealous. I spoke up and asked if she could get some of those panties for us. I wanted a few pair so badly! However, not all the girls wanted to wear that style because it was very sexual, and if they thought it was okay their mothers might have a different idea. But, still, I wanted a pair so badly that I didn't leave her alone. I had money saved, so Colletta got me several pair. I thought I would wear them under my party and dance dresses, but I couldn't wait. I wore a pair to school the very next day. I will tell you about my experience next time I write.  

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The French Connection (Part Two)

I was excited!  How many teenage girls of the era get to wear Parisian haute couture?!  Sure, nobody will see my panties, but just knowing I was wearing such glorious lingerie was a joy. Oh yes!  I will be showing them at the next dance. In those days I could twirl my petticoats pretty high; especially close to the right boys.
What to wear?  I would love to put on my peach party dress, but I'm going to school, so that was out of the question.  It seemed nothing that I would wear to school really measured up.  I think I should re-think this. That's enough, I'm wearing them! I chose my lacy white petticoats to wear under my green skirt, and my blouse was white as well. I waited till the last to slip my French panties up and under my petticoats.  It was a very sensual feeling, and I looked at myself in the mirror as I held my petticoats high.  How delicious they looked ! The silky top was a pale green and the ruching lace was pure white. The first thing I noticed was how comfortable and different they felt.  They were tighter, but softer in a certain place and so delicate in another. The second thing I noticed was that the flutter lace made me feel more exposed than my traditional panties. A feeling I must adjust to.  So... OFF TO SCHOOL!

It was silly but I felt like shouting, "Hey, you want to see my panties?!"  But it was a feeling, not an utterance. So I want to express to you how they feel, but I think that only another girl will understand.  But I will try. I believe that after a full day of wearing my new panties, I have come to the realization that these panties were designed to be sensual as well as sexy-looking. The feeling that I got from the way the silky material moved across my sensitive lips is too naughty to describe. I realized it must have been designed that way, and I found myself moving about my seat and hoping nobody would notice. I liked it !!!!! Can't wait for the next party, or the next dance.

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A short autobiography relating to clothing and petticoats

   Growing up in the 1950s was an experience I'll always treasure. It was truly the feminine era. It may have been a man's world, but we girls were the starring attraction. Pretty dresses, pretty petticoats, it was a magical time for me. Most girls loved pretty clothes in those days, but I think I was extreme. In school I was very protective of my dresses. I would always sit on the school steps during recess. I would take paper hand towels from the girls room and put them down on the steps. Then I would scoop my dress and petticoat and sit on them so the steps wouldn't get my dress dirty. Is that extreme, or what?!
     I was a petite girl. I'm still petite. If I were to describe myself, I guess I would be that little Irish girl next door. I have an older sister, Susan. Susan is five years my senior, and built tall and slim, so I never got any hand-me-downs. That was a good thing, for all my clothes were new! I was so lucky that I grew up in an affluent neighborhood. My mom loved to buy me pretty clothes, because she loved my enthusiasm for fashion.
    Girls back then could sense a kind of power that we had over the boys, especially when we wore our petticoats. As we got older we understood that the power was our own femininity. The tease of a girl's pretty legs disappearing under clouds of crinoline and lace could reduce certain boys to Jell-O, and we knew it. We knew that boys loved and tried to peek up our skirts, and this was okay with girls that understood why, and didn't take offense... and that was more girls then you realized back then, I'm sure.
     By the middle sixties, the petticoats had disappeared from the stores. I think the fashion world was just desirous of change. As a teenage, I went along with the mini skirts. I liked mini skirts, all right, but there was always something missing. I missed the femininity of the lace. I missed the bouffant look and feel of my crinoline. I missed that delicious tease that made the boys go wild. When the seventies came alone...well, I don't even want to talk about it. UGH! But there was hope in the eighties. By the middle eighties, pretty dresses for the young had made a come back. Some of them even had simple crinolines. I purchased a lot of dresses back then and I still have some of them today. I don't wear them anymore; I'm much too old for that, but I don't have the desire to get rid of them. So I keep them, and maybe my nieces will like them and wear them again for boys to enjoy.
     You will see some pretty dresses on some of my picture CDs, in addition to some retro dresses and skirts from the fifties and early sixties. But most important are the petticoats from Tessy's collection. I get a thrill knowing that you will be enjoying my pretty dresses and skirts and the beautiful petticoats from Tessy's vast collection. You will even get many naughty peeks up my skirt. Many!

Denise responds to above:

"Reading Allison's latest story about Car Dating brings to mind two memories of my own: 

"In the mid 80s I started
dating a sweet gal who was quite a bit younger than I and within the first couple of months told her about being a crossdresser. She was pretty much okay with it so far, as she didn't immediately go running away. 
"One evening I talked her into going to a movie at one of the few drive in's that remained open at the time.  AND, got her to wear one of my full skirts with a very full petticoat under it.
What a thrill it was in the mid 1980s to go on a date to the movies with a girl in a 50s style skirt with petticoats!  I vaguely recall that the movie was one of those Kung-Fu types, which we really didn't watch, nor did we care
what was playing.  :-) 

"Another time was a few years later with another girlfriend, who actually
met me when I was dressed as a girl, and was more my age.  We would often both dress up in outfits with
in the evenings. I got a chuckle out of a response one time when I asked, 'How in the world did you girls ever go to the bathroom in the 50s with all those petticoats on?'  She
said, "We just swished 'em up and plopped down."  Made it sound so easy - I never did quite master that! 

"Ahhhh, the memories!  Thanks, Allison and everyone else!"


"It was fun all right. When I was a little girl the stores were full of pretty stuff. The only problem was making up my mind! I guess I drove my poor mother crazy trying to decide on what petticoat or pettislip to wear with my new dress. I also drove her crazy picking out that new dress!!!!!  In the end it was always my mother that made the decision. That was okay with me, because I loved everything she picked out anyway!   Easter was really fun because I got all new stuff. I mean EVERYTHING! ...Gloves, hat, shoes and of course, the new dress and matching crinolines. Oh yes, pretty undies too."

The diaphanous dress
So, .. how many of you are hitting  I'm sure a lot of you know what 'diaphanous' means but for those of you who don't, I will save you the time... Diaphanous: "Very sheer and light; almost completely transparent or translucent."  Better known as a see-through dress.
If a dress is so see-through that light shines through it, revealing the girl beneath, it's diaphanous. Also known as "sheer," "transparent," or just plain "sexy," but the word diaphanous is so much classier.
I say sexy, because on a lady wearing a diaphanous cocktail dress with the right undergarments, her transparent dress was a very sexy sight.  But what about little girls? More diaphanous dresses were made for little girls back in the Era than any other female group. I've often thought about that. Seemed odd.
A diaphanous dress requires the girl wear a full length chemise underneath her dress. The dress color tints the chemise but the chemise is the star of the show. All the diaphanous dresses I've seen were full skirted which were cut to contain a petticoat with an attached chemise bodice. These were pretty undergarments and were meant to be a part of your dress. However, because they were part dress, part underwear, the diaphanous dress became a controversial garment for young girls.  Some mothers thought they were pretty and a young girl is innocent enough to wear them. Others thought they were too provocative for a young girl to wear. Me? I just liked them.

I can't remember the girl's name so I'll just call her Mary. She was in the seventh grade at the time and the poor girl was dumb as a stump. Well the story I was told was this:
It was her 12th birthday party, and for her birthday, her mother gave her a diaphanous dress. Her mother was excited and wanted her to try it on so Mary went into her bedroom to change.  Her mother knew she had several chemises she could wear, but when Mary re-appeared her mother was in shock!  Her dress fit perfectly and she looked sweet in her new dress, but she wore nothing underneath!  She was a big hit with the party goers, especially the boys, as she was naked under her dress. Well she did have her panties on.  Her mother quickly took her into her bedroom and explained the dress to her.  Poor dumb Mary was so embarrassed!

Baby Sitting
   For a great many girls of The Era, baby sitting, or as we called it, 'watching the rug rats', was a common way for a high school girl to make a little money. I was one of those girls, and I got my entire record collection thanks to baby sitting. I've always liked children, so it was an easy occupation for me. That is, most times.
  I lived in an affluent area, and with the shows in New Haven, the house parties, the cocktail parties and what-not, there was plenty of work to go around. The other nice thing is, the affluent always give great tips!
   I had my favorite kids who I sat for, and some that were just okay, but there was this one boy who I have never forgotten. His name was Jack, and he was unbelievable.
   I did not know his family. The woman on the phone told me I was highly recommended. They lived at the top of the hill in a beautiful teal blue house. I was greeted at the door by a man dressed in a dark charcoal gray suit, cut so well it must have been Italian. He was a pleasant, well-mannered, gentleman. His wife made her appearance wearing a beautiful, strapless, cocktail dress of champagne pink and black. It was very bouffant, and I complimented her on it. She tersely thanked me. The man of the house took me over to where a well-mannered thirteen year old boy was sitting. "This is my son, Jack," he instructed. "Make him happy this evening and there will be an extra twenty dollars for you."
   I couldn't believe my ears! Twenty dollars back then was a lot of money! I could buy that party dress I saw, and with enough left over for a couple of petticoats!!! This was going to be easy! Whatever this kid wants to do, we will do it!
   I got the usual instructions, and out the door they went.
   Jack stayed quiet until he heard his parents car leave. Well, this is "confessions of a bouffant girl" so here we go.
   Now, I must paraphrase because it's way too long ago to remember exact words, so I will just give you the gist of it:
   "So, Jack, what would you like to do? " 
   He smiled and came over and sat down next to me. He began feeling my skirt pressing on my petticoats. He asked me how many petticoats I was wearing.  I told him two. Then he asked me if he could see them. I was surprised by his forwardness but, remembering the twenty dollars, I thought there was no harm in it.  I pulled my skirt back and showed him my pretty petticoats. He glared at them, then he asked me, "What color panties are you wearing?" Wait a minute! Did he say this kid was
    "Make him happy and there will be an extra twenty dollars for you"
    Well, I thought, what the heck; it's just a color. "White," I told him.
   "Are they nylon?"
   "Can I see them?"
   "NO!" I told him.
   "Come on, Allie! I want a look."
   "NO! You little brat!"
   He got mad and started to pout. I saw my new party dress and crinolines fly out the window. What to do? It was driving me crazy. Then my greed got the best of me
and I got up from the couch and stepped up on the coffee table.
   "Well, go ahead." I told him. "Have a look."
   He smiled broadly and quickly looked up my petticoats, pulling them out for a better view. I kept thinking, party dress, party dress, party dress as he stared up my petticoats. Then I felt his hands on my thighs moving up to my panties. I screamed and jumped off that table.
   "That's enough!" I shouted.
   "I just wanted a feel..."
   "No! No feel!"
   "Come on, Allie! Let me feel them."
   I sat back down on the couch and, before another word was said, little Jack's hands were up my petticoats. I pushed him away. His face was lit with excitement.
   "No more of that!" I said. "You do that again and I'm calling your parents and telling them what you've been doing."
   He began to pout, but I didn't care anymore. No twenty bucks, no party dress and no new petticoats. I was resigned. I put on his television and found something he liked. He stayed, watching all evening until his parents came home.
   When his father asked him if he had a good time, he enthusiastically said, "Yes, Dad!"
   I got my twenty bucks. 

 Amusement park memories

  The summer that I remember, was a hot one. In two short months, Janet and I would be back in high school , but we were in no hurry; it was summer and time to have fun.
   Rye Beach Amusement Park, back then, was a short train ride away but I never went until that summer when my mom treated me and my friend, Janet, to a full day of fun at that well-known amusement park north of NYC. The bouffant style was soon coming to an end, but I refused to let it go. As you know, I loved the look. So it is, without a doubt, that I was wearing a bouffant skirt that day. There, in my opinion, is nothing more comfortable on a hot day then a nice full cotton skirt, and with some layering of tulle underneath. It was like natural air conditioning. Your legs feel almost naked. Janet wore that pretty summer sundress that I loved. I was always jealous of that dress. Her dress was white with small polka dots. So how could I remember that detail from so long ago? Janet had a Brownie camera and still has some pictures in her scrap book. The dress had an elasticized camisole top with a full circle skirt. Janet wore a petticoat of sheer rayon netting with two layers of crinoline netting underneath. I thought it was too fancy for the park, but Janet wanted to wear it. She looked so cool and comfortable.
  We left home early so we could have a full day at the park. Mom drove us down to the train station and read us the riot act. We knew that if we wanted to do this again then we had better not mess up. We both wore watches so we wouldn’t miss our train back. After a short ride on the train, we got on a bus that shuttled from the train station right up to the amusement park’s main gate. It was easy! We were through the gate by 9:30 in the morning. We didn’t eat much breakfast that morning because we knew we would be tempted by all the cotton candy, corn dogs, popcorn, hotdogs, pretzels, and lots of other great junk foods. Janet and I could eat lots of junk, back then, and never gain weight. I wish I was still like that.  
      Because we were early, the park wasn’t too crowded. We walked around for a while just to see where all the rides were and, yes, to let the boys see us. We were getting a lot of attention from the boys that worked there and we loved it. Back then, if a girl looked pretty, the boys would always let her know it. We loved that! The boys would whistle at us and make silly wolf noises. If you are old enough to remember, and you were one of those boys back then that whistled at the pretty girls: thank you! We lived for it! Whatever happened to that? Fear of the PC police, I guess. It’s so sad.
   After trying a few rather tame rides, Janet wanted more excitement.
  “Come on Allie. Let’s try The Cyclone.”
  I was always a little afraid of roller coasters, but Janet wouldn’t let me alone until I agreed to ride it. Janet ran for the entrance, dragging me along.  “I’m coming, I’m coming! Let go!”
  “It’s coming to a stop. I want to get on line before the line gets too long!”
  “All right, I’m coming.”
  We still had to wait a bit, but we were in front of the line, so Janet was happy. When the ride reopened we got in the first car. Janet thought we were lucky, but I don’t like the first car. If you’ve ever rode the first car, then you already know why. The attendant pulled the bar down across us and I grabbed onto it for dear life. The long slow noisy ride to the top of the first peak was the part that made me the most nervous. We were so high and you had time to think about what was coming. Janet was excited and couldn’t wait but I just wanted to get it over with.
  As we went over the top I couldn’t see anything under us, then the sudden fall, and my stomach felt like I shouldn’t have eaten that hot dog. Our skirts and crinolines were flying back in our faces. I held on to the bar with a death grip. When we bottomed out it felt like an elephant was sitting on my head. Up we went again, then we were thrown to the side as we went around a curve, then plunging down again, then up to the right, then back to the left, then down and back up and, on and on we went. By this time it seemed like I would be on that thing all day, but, suddenly, we leveled out, and the cars slowed. There were people standing in line on the platform watching us coming in. My skirt and crinolines were blown back, exposing my legs for all the boys to see. I would’ve pushed my skirt back down, if I hadn’t still had a death grip on that bar. Janet let go of the bar near the end of the ride and she arrived at the station looking like a lady.
  After the cars stopped I finally let go of the bar and got my skirt back under control. The attendant pulled the bar back up and we left the car with wobbly legs. I didn’t feel so good, so we sat down for awhile until I regained my ladylike composure.
  “Wasn’t that fun? Why don’t we do it again!”
  “ No! Once is enough for me!”
  "Okay, what do you want to do next?”
  “Let’s just walk for awhile.”
  “Okay, let’s go over to the pavilion and listen to the band for awhile. I'll bet there's a lot of boys over there.”
  Well that sounded like a lot more fun than that torture machine called The Cyclone.
   The old pavilion must have been built at the turn of the century. It was a very large building painted a dark green, and there was a wide porch that ran all the way around it. Inside was a large dance floor and bandstand. I was told that during the late thirties, and all through the forties, some famous big bands had played there. As we approached, we could hear a rock and roll band playing.
  “Allie, let’s get a Coke.”
  The line at the concession stand was short, so we hurried over and got on it. We were just in time. A large group of teenagers from the pavilion hurried over and got on line behind us. One really cute boy smiled at us and said, “ Hey dolls! What’s your names?”
   “I’m Allison and this is my friend, Janet.”
   “I’m Pete. You dolls here to dance? It’s a really cool band.”
   “We might.”
   “Hey, I know the guys in the band. They’re good friends of mine. You want to meet them later?”
   “I don’t know.”  Janet sure had a way with words. I spoke up.
   “We just got off The Cyclone. We want to rest for awhile and listen to the band.”
   “I guess The Cyclone was too much for ya!”  He and his friends were laughing. Janet looked peeved.
   “Allison didn’t like it, but I thought it was fun!”
   “Hey, I was teasing, okay?  Hey, did you girls try The Rotor?”
   “No what is it?”
   “It’s a really cool ride. Even Allison will like it.”
   I didn’t like that remark. Janet looked interested.  “What is it?”
   Before Pete could answer, we were up to the window.
   “Can I help you?”
   “Two Cokes, please.”
   We took our drinks and headed for the pavilion. As we walked away, Pete shouted, “Maybe I’ll see ya later. Hey, try The Rotor. It’s fun!”
   I enjoyed the rest and listening to the band, but I could tell that Janet was getting restless, so I thought we’d better have some fun.
   “What do ya want to do, Janet?”
   “The rotor. I want to try The Rotor.”
   “It’s not going to make me dizzy, is it?”
   “You heard Pete. It’s a cool ride! Come on, let’s go.”
   We walked around, looking for The Rotor ride.
   “It’s over there, Allison! I see it!”
   We saw a large building that was shaped like a big cylinder. It had a stairway going up to the top of it and a large flat front where the line was forming. It looked like we would be entering at the bottom so I wondered what the stairway was for. When we got closer, I could see what looked like seats with a railing going completely around the top. I saw people up there looking over the railing down into that cylinder thing.
   “The line's moving, Allison! I don’t think it will take long!”  Janet was excited.
   As we waited on line, I looked at all the pictures painted on the front of the rotor ride building. It was pictures of people supposedly riding inside the rotor. The people seemed like they were in distress! They looked like they were falling! I was getting nervous. Just then I heard girls screaming inside.
   “Janet, I don’t like this thing. Let’s go.”
   “You don’t even know what it is. Pete said it was cool. I want to try it.”
   “All right.”
   I was very nervous. Soon we were entering through a door at the bottom. I saw that we were inside a big cylinder that had no top. In the center was a column with a hand railing around it. We were instructed to hold onto the railing. Then the floor started to rise like an elevator and as we got closer to the top I could see the railing and all the people up there in sort of a gallery looking down at us like we were on exhibition. The floor stopped rising about eight feet from the top.
   “Hey look, Allison! It’s Pete!”
   I looked where Janet was pointing and saw Pete. He was up in the gallery and he had a big grin on his face. I couldn’t help but think that he had been up there waiting for us. He looked like he was going to enjoy watching what was about to happen to us. I was really nervous. Just then, we were instructed to stand against the cylinder wall. The wall was padded with a rubbery like material. Janet and I stood with our backs against the wall and when everyone was in place the rotor started to spin.
   “I’m getting dizzy, Janet!”
   “Don’t be a baby. This is fun!”
   The rotor spun faster and faster and we became pinned to the wall. I couldn’t move! My skirt and crinoline were pressed tightly against the wall and across my legs.
   “I don’t like this!”  I cried out loud.
   Then the floor dropped away! It dropped ten feet or more! Janet and I both started screaming! But we didn’t fall! We were pinned to the wall and couldn’t move!
The rotor continued to spin at a fast pace, then it started to slow. It was slowing just a little bit at a time. Gravity started to take over and I felt myself starting to slip down the wall. I could see the girls on the other side of the rotor. They were slipping down the wall, but their skirts were not! I looked down at my own skirt and saw that my skirt and crinoline was still pressed tightly against the wall! Gravity was pulling me down out of my clothes! I tried to push my skirt down but it was impossible! I could see the girls on the other side of the cylinder. Their legs were being exposed more and more as they slipped down the wall. I saw a lady struggling to push her skirt down as her stocking tops and garters came into view. All the girls that were in skirts were screaming! My crinoline was bunching up around me. I tried and tried to push my skirt down but I couldn’t. I heard Janet screaming,
   “Allison, my dress!” I looked at Janet and her dress and her lovely crinoline was almost up around her waist.
   “I can’t get my dress down! What do I do?” All I could think was I hope she wore pretty panties.
  “Pete, that rat! He knew this would happen to us!”
 As the rotor slowed even more, we continued to slip down toward the floor. Our thighs were now completely exposed and we knew our panties would soon be next. I tried to raise my legs up and turn on my side but it didn’t work. I looked over at Janet and her crinoline was over her head. Janet was completely exposed. She tried to cover her panties with her hands. We knew that Pete was up there enjoying every second of our plight, and it made us so mad! My blouse was pulled out of my skirt and my bra was exposed. My crinoline was up over my head and I knew my panties were exposed. I had no choice but to do what Janet was doing. I tried to cover my panties with my hands. We could hear the men in the upper gallery cheering. When we finally reached the floor, I fell over. I was pushing my skirt and crinoline down and tried to get my blouse pushed back inside my skirt. 
   “I’m so dizzy, Janet! I’m going to kill that Pete!”
   We were quite wobbly and extremely embarrassed as we stumbled out the door. All we wanted to do was find a place to sit and recuperate. After that experience, we decided that if we ever got our composure back, we would go back to the pavilion. We thought that men had designed that ride for one purpose only, to get the girls' skirts up, but looking back, I have to admit it was fun.
   We felt better after a brief rest, so we went back to the pavilion and had fun dancing with the boys for the rest of the afternoon. We never ran into Pete again. I think he was avoiding us. I wonder why?
   It was getting late, and we had to leave and catch our train. It was a fun and exciting time, and these memories of my crinoline days will always stay strong in my mind.

In regard to the above, Micael points to a section of our "Exposed Without Recourse" feature, which relates embarrassing GG experiences, especially, in this case, that of Yvette.

...and a link to a page all about The Rotor and its history; he also adds this enlargeable photo:

Allison sends this picture of the Coney Island Rotor, similar to the one described above

"A bouffant girl trying to hold her skirt down. No date,
but the hair and skirt looks like '59 to '62

... and this one of a girl trying to turn so she can get control of her skirt.
"Not bouffant, but funny anyway."


ED:  In the Carnival Section are several pictures of blown-up skirts at carnivals in The Era


School Photography.... bouffant style 

We've all had them. Those ubiquitous school pictures from grade school through high school. I never liked having my picture taken.  My husband, who is a photographer, told me it was because of hard light and nail down. He explained to me what that meant, but this is not a school of photography so it simply means, school photography is done fast and easy.  No attempt was made to make you look good. There was, however, exceptions.

My mother was a bit of a snob. When it came to school pictures, she insisted on using a photographer of her choice. This was a photographer that was well know to the families that live in our neighborhood. Pricy but excellent!  So it was my turn for pictures. I was sixteen and Mom wanted portraits for her home and albums. My older sister had her pictures done by this photographer and she warned me about him. When it came to photographing young girls, he was lascivious. My sister complained to Mother about him, but my mother got mad at my sister for saying those things about him. How dare she criticize this great artist! Okay, so it looks like I was on my own. Well, he lived up to his reputation. Both of them. Great pictures and fast hands.

A friend of mine told me about the photographer that took her grade school graduation picture. An eight grade class which he filled the front row with bouffant girls. She told me how he would ask the girls in the front row to stand up, one at a time, so he could adjust their dresses. He would scoop the girl's skirt with both hands and flare the petticoats out so the girl's dress looked its best as she sat down.  Nothing wrong with that, is there? AH, but every time he did this he gave the girl's bottom a feel. The girls either gave him a dirty look or they giggled. There were more giggles then looks.

There was no arrest and no lawsuit. The six o'clock news did no cover it. All there was was a giggle and a memory.  Life was good back then. 

Full skirts and the wind

Schoolgirls of The Era all seem to have these kinds of stories. I'm talking about the group of girls that were teasers and knew the power of their legs to excited men and boys. The kind of girl that screams when her skirt and petticoat blows up in the wind. Did she scream from embarrassment ? No. The scream was to alert any boy near by so he won't miss a thing. The flash of thighs was good, but the flash of panties was better.

"Stay away from the Fulton building if you're wearing a full skirt," Peggy tells her friend, Karen.

"How come? " Karen asks.

"There's a strange wind that whips around that building and it'll blow your skirt up!"

"Did it happen to you?" Karen inquires.

"Yes, and there were lots of men around that building and they were all watching me!"

So was Peggy warning Karen about the Fulton building? I mean, was she really warning Karen? Peggy told Karen and other girls her skirt- blowing story for one reason only. It was a naughty thrill.

I had a couple of skirt blowing stories myself. Maybe more then a few. These experiences did vary. Not all were thrilling. Those we kept to ourselves, but the thrilling ones were delicious.

Later spurious additions:

[Sep '16] "Just thinking -I was thinking about some of the things we wore back in The Era. Like a bracelet sweater. Hard to find one these days. And they don't make rocket [bullet] bras anymore. I thought they were attractive. And what happened to wide cinch belts for skirts?  And penny loafers. They were a girl's security on a date. I wonder if any of The Pond's visitors would even know what I'm talking about.

"And I wonder if they all realize how we loved the way our petticoats made our waists look smaller. That was a big thing."

"Also, I love this quote from The Era: 'Having the wrong clothes is one of the keenest tortures to which an adolescent girl can be subjected.'
Educational psychologist, Leta Hollingworth "


Siobhrá D. adds:

"The penny loafers could hold a dime for the phone call home for someone to come pick you up if your date fell flat."


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