Although I have never had the desire to wear them myself, I have always been a great lover of "can-can 'petticoats. I love to watch those old 1950's musicals. My favourite, "Silk Stockings," where Cyd Charisse dances around in what has to be the most exquisite can-can petticoat ever made! My first real experience with petticoats occurred in 1960.

Although I grew up in the 1950s, I never really remember ever enjoying more than the odd fleeting glimpse of petticoat lace here and there. In 1960, I was just nine years old. I had a pretty seventeen year old cousin who lived round the corner. She would often come to visit our grandma, who lived with us. I loved it when she came, as she always wore bouffant dresses, obviously supported by masses of "can can" petticoats, judging by the lovely swishing noise when she walked. I loved to answer the door when she came to visit, so that I could follow her up the stairs, sufficiently far behind to glance up and catch a brief glimpse of her petticoats. On that particular Sunday, she had come for lunch, and her dress was exceptionally bouffant. As I followed her up the stairs I caught a glimpse of  her legs emerging from the most incredible "froth" of frills.

Later, after lunch, my cousin was seated on an armchair in the corner. She had fanned out the back of her full circular pleated skirt behind her, but had done it in such an expert way, that not the slightest glimpse of petticoat lace was visible! I in the meanwhile was playing some sort of game that required me to crawl along the floor (remember, I was only nine,). I had crawled unobserved into the corner behind my cousin's chair and happened to look up!

I remember my mouth dropping open in wonder! As I was now behind my cousin's chair, I was treated to a wondrous display of my cousin,s petticoats, and no one knew I was there! I had never seen a girl's petticoats in such detail before, and I sat there enraptured for a full 5 minutes. The petticoats were simply gorgeous. What seemed like countless layers of pink pleated nylon tulle, three rows of pink shiny ribbon, all decorated round the edge by a delicate cream coloured lace that was gathered to give a much frillier effect.
I particularly loved it where the petticoats were gathered so that the lace was like a creamy froth of frills.
As I looked up, my cousin suddenly looked down, saw me and smiled. I went bright red! I quickly crawled off ant went up to my room.
About 10 minutes later there was a knock at my door. It was my cousin, asking to know what I had been looking at! Seeing my fear, she smiled, sat me down beside her on my bed and told me she knew I had been "peeking at her petticoats" I was speechless. She laughed, and said she hoped I thought they were pretty, because she had only bought them last week and they were very expensive! To my delight, she then lifted the edge of her dress and began to show me the exquisite petticoats in all their frilly glory. She explained that the petticoat was in fact only one layer, more than 100 yards of tulle, but was all pleated and gathered to give that delightful multi layered effect. She then kissed me on the cheek and left. 

Unfortunately, about six months later, petticoats went out of fashion!
While I'm on the subject, does any one remember a movie about a young girl being held hostage in a room with a man?  The girl was wearing a bouffant dress, and about a third of the way through the movie, she removed the dress and spent the rest of the time in her very, very full and frilly can can petticoat! Does anyone remember such a movie or did I dream it?!
Also, does anyone have copies of adverts from the late fifties for a detergent called "Stergene?" The ads. featured great pictures of pretty girls wearing petticoats


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