"Layer Upon Layer"
TOPIC NUMBER SIXTEEN
There are quite a few videos posted on YouTube, etc. of [retro] fifties era fashions (recreated), especially from Germany. While they are great to watch, somehow they don't really capture the true feeling of the magic era. Firstly, the petticoats do not match the intricate designs of the true 1950's creations. Secondly, one sees the models walking and flaunting the petticoats, something no young girl would have done in the 1950s. Those of us old enough to remember the magic era, recall that the whole charm and thrill would be a sudden glimpse of yards of frilly net and lace when a girl sat, or a sudden gust of wind revealing the delicious frilly confection a girl was wearing beneath that bouffant skirt. The exception to this rule would be the dance floor, but again, no girl would do a 'cancan', just give us guys the fleeting glimpse as she spun and twirled her skirt and petticoat out horizontally. Do others agree with me?
Suggested by Joe A.
|30 Nov 13
post reminded me that that is what my sister called hers:
bouffant slips. They were NOT as huge as the square dance
petticoats of today. I remember wash day and the old
wringer washer. Mom used to use a porcelain-lined baby
bath tub filled with a starched concoction, and my sister's
petticoats were the first to take a dip in there after the rinse
tub. Then the white shirts.
|29 Nov 13
I was also lucky enough to live through this time but, in retrospect, I didn't appreciate just how lucky I was! Petticoats were often referred to as 'bouffant' slips to distinguish them from normal straight slips or petticoats - either full length or waist length. Ornamentation was the norm. Lace and ribbons. There has been what appears to have been a coordinated push in the past ten years by the garment industry to bring this style back into fashion. This has been through the large number of shows where petticoats feature. Who knows how much influence The Pond has had on this popular return?"
ED: We suppose NONE of us realized how lucky we were! As for the contemporary "resurgence," it is nice, but certainly they are not as elaborate (almost artistic).
|28 Nov 13
'Crinoline', in English, refers only to the multiple petticoats worn under costume gowns - from the Victorian and earlier periods. In the 1950s and 60s women referred to 'petticoats' or 'slips' - both terms were freely used. I asked a girlfriend back in (I think) 1958 what she hoped to get for Christmas. Her answer: a 'sticky-out petticoat'. She referred, of course, to the then-fashionable stiffened waist slips. In fact, our friendship was only a temporary affair and I never found out if she got one. She did, though, tell me that she would wear it under a new dress 'to make it all flare out' and she hoped she would be able to wear it later in the year under her school summer dress. There was some doubt about that because, apparently, the school tried to stop the girls from wearing the big net petticoats, but she thought the stiffened one she hoped to get would be allowed.
"I learned from another source that the multi-layered net petticoats were regarded as too bulky for school use, but the stiffened nylon (paper nylon) ones did a similar job but could be flattened down more easily, and so were easier to manage in the confines of the school classroom and corridor."
ED: In English, "crinoline" is indeed a reference to horsehair and cage devices of the Victorian era; however, in the US, it came to also be the term used for a stiff petticoat. In the UK, "crinoline" was never used to describe such. "Sticky out" is kind of cute.
|28 Nov 13
I believe this with showing the petticoats is something imported from square dance, where it is as it should? Here in the UK, ladies showing their petticoat were told 'Charlie is dead.' It was so embarrassing to show the petticoat, the message was coded. My grandmother always asked my grandfather to have a check before they went out. It was not a petticoat, but a slip.
|27 Nov 13
As Crinolyn has stated, it was definitely a 'no no' to show petticoats - I always remember my mother asking me to check the hem of her skirt or dress every time before leaving the house, to make sure that the hem was hiding her underclothes and that no petticoat lace was apparent.
"I was only five when she started to ask me to check. For a time I told her the truth, with subsequent adjustments made so that decorum was achieved; however I found the whole idea of glimpses of lace petticoat so enchanting that, after a time, I would tell her that nothing was showing when in fact there was a glimpse of lace hem peeking below the hemline. I would then walk behind my mother while she was shopping, inhaling the delights of seeing glimpses of lace petticoat as she walked, or when her hem bounced, or when a breeze lifted her skirt. I never tired of watching for the next exposé and sadly would do so today but for the lack of petticoat hems to be seen. Oh well!!!
|27 Nov 13
Geoff in Australia
to all, I agree with all the comments re the display of petticoats.
In the fifties and sixties the general rule was to have the skirt
inches longer that the petticoat/s. Just last week I saw the
two opposites: One a young girl — teenager, early twenties —
wearing a red floral dress with about two to
three inches of black net showing below the hem. The other was
magic. She stood out in the crowd — a red dress well 'pouffed
out' and the occasional flash of white net
as the skirt kicked up just enough. I should have dragged out my
camera, but I was not quick enough to think of it.
|26 Nov 13 Crinolyn
"Looking at this photo, it seems that there is a father and four daughters in school uniforms. They appear to be carrying lunches and books, maybe waiting for a school bus? It is supposed to be from 1963.
"True, they did NOT show petticoats. One phrase of the time; 'Pinky's out of jail' meant your slip is showing! OR: 'Snowing down south' = you are showing your petticoat below your skirt (most slips/petticoats were white at the time). OR: 'Charlie's dead.' OR: 'It's raining in Paris.' Bottom line is that it was a no-no."
|25 Nov 13
Seems like one of the big charms of petticoats in 'The Era' was knowing
they were there, but having to work to get a peek. Yep, the girls
tried hard not to put
ED: We personally heard the term 'crinoline' used a lot, more than 'petticoat,' along with the other terms mentioned above now and then. In Britain, our understanding is that the term 'crinoline' was never used. Correct us if we are wrong.
|24 Nov 13 Marilyn
I totally agree. Girls in the fifties went to
considerable trouble to make sure the crinoline or petticoat was not
visible. It was a source of embarrassment if
|24 Nov 13
Era petticoat rules:
1: The petticoat must never be longer than the skirt. The same length or up to 1" shorter is okay.
petticoat must never be darker than the skirt. White
works with everything, black only works with a black
"Something I've never seen at Halloween: An orange top, black skirt, orange petticoat."
|23 Nov 13
This is pretty obvious to those of us who lived though The Era. but perhaps not to those who are younger. Such inauthentic, inappropriate displays of petticoats are supposedly meant to titillate, when , as you say, the magic was in a glimpse of their unintended display. Furthermore, many times such retro fashions are shown with the petticoat sticking out from the bottom of the skirt (below the skirt), something one would NEVER do during The Era.
Return to Pettipond Reflections Start Page
Return to Petticoat Pond's Main Page