We tend to think of petticoats as something from a bygone era, and they’re certainly not something you ever see in stores anymore, but in my life and in my wardrobe they play a prominent role. They really make a difference for so many of my favorite outfits. I got many confused DMs last week when I posted myself wearing the Adidas ripstop skirt I have been talking about so much. “Why does your skirt look so different than the one on the website? It’s so floofy!” The answer to that question is petticoat magic! Pop a crinoline under that Adidas skirt and suddenly it starts looking pretty major. Petticoats have transformative powers, as I will demonstrate in this post. Read on below…
Above is the outfit where I am wearing my Adidas ripstop skirt with a crinoline underneath, and here you can compare it to the skirt product image shown online without a petticoat. It makes a big difference! The petticoat was super necessary.
You can read all about the long, deep history of petticoats and underskirts around the internet if you’re so inclined, but modern day versions aren’t anywhere near as encumbering and scratchy as their hooped and horsehair predecessors. Cotton and nylon petticoats abound in the second-hand market and I get by just fine and very comfortably with one midi-length cotton-tiered petticoat by Laura Ashley and another soft rust-colored nylon square-dancing crinoline that hits at the knee, pictured below. I wear these petticoats all the time, wearing them under my CP Shades Julia dress, a Chantal Thomass silk ruffle skirt, a Molly Godard bubble skirt. In the winter, these petticoats provide surprisingly good insulation under an airy dress (I swear!).
I do recommend having one longer length petticoat and one slightly above the knee petticoat. If you’re committing to the lifestyle, you’ll need options. Here are some before and after pictures of some clothes that I like to wear crinolines and petticoats under. You can see now how incredibly necessary these petticoats are to the full effect of the outfit.
Wearing a CP Shades Julia dress with a vintage cardigan and Hereu loafers. I used my rust colored shorter crinoline underneath.
Above wearing a Molly Goddard skirt with knit camisole and Zara heels. Here I am wearing my Laura Ashley petticoat underneath!
And my Adidas skirt in ballet pink. I am wearing it with a teddy sweatshirt by FromBeginning and Rene Caovilla heels. I am wearing my Laura Ashley petticoat here, it was a little long for this skirt but I just rolled the waist band.
Does this help demonstrate the of the power of petticoats? Hopefully you’re ready for your own. Witchy ladies may like to go for a true 1900s petticoat, which you can find plenty of on eBay and Etsy. I think a wiser and less creepy option would be to invest in a new petticoat from one of the retailers below.
Malco Modes has been making petticoats and undergarments since the 1920s and their petticoats are all handmade in the USA. This is a company that knows petticoats, and if you search for 50’s petticoats you’ll find many vintage ones by Malco Modes. Malco Modes have a fantastic array of options to choose from, have adjustable waist sizes, and range from $40 and up. They have an array of styles to choose from, and I think the two best options would be the knee-length Zooey petticoat and the slightly longer tea-length Cosette petticoat. They come in a variety of colors. Fun and nice to support a business with roots in petticoat history! They even come with a mesh lingerie bag so you can wash them safely.
A cotton petticoat is breezy and comfortable, and the weight of gathered cotton give them a beautiful hang on the body. The petticoat above comes The Petticoat Boutique, a custom retailer on Etsy who makes these cotton petticoats in a variety of lengths. You could order a longer one and a shorter one. Keep this in mind if you are ordering one of their petticoats: Knee-length petticoats are about 20-23 inches long and tea-length petticoats are about 25-28 inches long. They also offer plus-size petticoats under this listing. Pricing starts at 36 dollars.
You can also find plenty of vintage petticoats online. Below I’ve included a round-up of petticoats I found on Etsy, for the shoppers who prefer to go the second-hand route.
Such an interesting post! I love your approach to fashion and I’m happy to see you’re posting more often. Love from Spain ♡
I *love* petticoats and often wondered where you get yours! I live in Australia so I’ll think I’ll check out the cotton option.
I’ve been getting into linen & smock dresses & basically picnic at hanging rocks vibes. But I was wondering where to get a petticoat because I want to invest in a longer dress. But they need petticoats to look good.
Anyhow, I can’t imagine how stressful it is to live in the USA right now. I realise you don’t discuss politics much here (cuz it’s a style blog). But I loved hearing your views when you did an interview with Jenny Mustard.
Oh my gosh, these are amazing! Now I want!
Jane, I am living for your blog updates! I used to own a petticoat only once, when the majority of my wardrobe was 50s vintage or repro, but never ended up wearing it, because it was a cheap scratchy fabric that was uncomfortable and I didn´t have the courage! But I may have to try a less puffy cotton petticoat. Looks like a great alternative and seems to me take a look more modern than full on 1950s bopper.
I’ve been reading this blog for years already. I really liked it in the past, but the evolution it’s taking makes me like it even more! Keep the great work and you deffinitely got me thinking about getting petticoats!
Contrary to popular modern beliefs, undergarments were not encumbering or scratchy, the way modern bras are not encumbering or scratchy! In fact, it was sexist men who complained about women’s undergarments, like corsets and hoops, and would mock both in cartoons. I find the link between fashion and social history fascinating.
Thank you for sharing the petticoat love. They are a great way to add warmth and drama to an outfit!
Hello Jane. Have you watched The Queen’s Gambit on Netflix? I think that you would be delighted with the styling of the main character. Besides, the plot of the film is very interesting.
Greetings Justyna :).
I’m a nut for petticoats, and I have never once thought to layer with my CP Shades Julia dress, but the way you’ve done it looks excellent. I’ll give it a try, too. My petticoats are old (and short!) American Apparel (RIP) pieces, and lately, I’ve been dying for a longer one from Maison Fifi Chachnil, they’re just a bit pricey. I’m sure worth it, though, if worn a lot.