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#1
Old 08-27-2010, 11:27 AM
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Ladies - were Poodle Skirts commonly worn in the fifties?

The classic 1950's costume is the sweater, poodle skirt and white bobby sox. Plus a pink kerchief around the neck or tied in the hair.

You can buy the costume at Amazon. I really need to order this outfit in red for my lady.
http://amazon.com/Complete-7-Pie...ref=pd_sbs_a_5
http://amazon.com/Womens-Costume...ref=pd_sbs_a_5

Sadly, old pictures of clothing don't seem nearly as attractive.
Two ladies in bobby sox
http://deltagamma-fw.com/images_past4/bobbysox.JPG

here's a vintage poodle skirt photo
http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2664/...bf27266322.jpg

Was the sweater/poodle skirt everyday wear or mostly for dances?

What age group usually wore this look? Early teen? High School? College?

What was worn the most in the 50's? Feel free to link to pictures.

Last edited by aceplace57; 08-27-2010 at 11:32 AM.
#2
Old 08-27-2010, 12:01 PM
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This is too precious not to share.

http://amazon.com/Poodle-Onesie-...923392&sr=1-58
#3
Old 08-27-2010, 02:42 PM
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My mother claims to have worn them; she graduated from high school in 1959. She also had a closet full of flats in every color, she said, to match all her skirts. She also wore cat-eye glasses. She also claims that many of these skirts had little chains attached to the dog's collar, that you could hold I think. Maybe they were fastened to the skirt somehow.

My personal belief that it was an odd enough fashion to have survived in the collective memory. There were probably no more or less common than any other style that came and went during that era.

Sadly I have no pictures on me. I'm not sure if I've actually seen many photos of my mom in the '50s. Her wedding photos are pretty cool though, with her Joan Crawford drawn-on eyebrows.
#4
Old 08-27-2010, 03:06 PM
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I asked my mom and she said they couldn't afford a poodle skirt back then. She mentioned they required three layers of petticoats to get the right shape.
#5
Old 08-27-2010, 03:27 PM
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My understanding is that the poodle skirt was actually a fad of the late 40's, along with the bobby socks. The girls wearing them were the ones screaming at "Frankie" Sinatra, not Elvis.

There seems to be a lot of non-information out there, but here's at least one source not merely repeating the myth. That doesn't mean, of course, that they weren't still around for a better part of the 50's, but I'm skeptical.

The fact is that much of the image we have of what the 50's were like in America is a pleasant pastiche of various memes that spanned chiefly the mid-40's to mid-60's. And it has been argued that the whole thing was kicked off by Sha Na Na. It was the late 60's, and what with all the tensions and unrest, a number of Columbia students built a musical act out of a new myth of a golden past, a time before hippies when youth movements were about fun rather than who's burning who's villages.

And lots of other people, it seems, also wished the 50's could rescue them from the 60's. Things were simpler back then, people were happy. Well, no, not really. It was actually the era that brought us the nuclear Sword of Damocles, Korea, civil rights struggles, McCarthyism, The Problem that Has No Name, The Man in the Grey Flannel Suit and The Beat Generation. Less turbulent? Maybe. But for this reporter born in the 70's, it seems like it was just differently turbulent. The point, though, is that people wanted to believe there had been a simpler past, and when you're bullshitting yourself, you're not too nitpicky about the details.
#6
Old 08-27-2010, 04:16 PM
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I'm from the Midwest and we were always late to adopt the styles popular on the coasts. I do remember people in high school wearing that style of skirt (usually made of felt and cut in a full circle. That's why they needed "can-cans" to flare out properly.) but I'm unsure if I can remember any which were decorated with poodles. They may have been difficult to find and too expensive for the modest community where we lived.

There were other motifs which were also popular on the skirts. Music notes or forty-five rpm records come to mind.

Can-can was what we called the very full, very stiff ruffled petticoats and it was a fad to wear several at a time. Our skirts flared out to our elbows. When we sat down we had to hold our skirts down. Hilarious.

The scarves worn around the neck or on the head were a fluffy transparent type of material cut square and not much more than a foot wide. If it was worn on the head the kewl thing to do was to tie the knot to balance on one's chin, not under it. Like a drum major!

One high school sophomore with a small, receding chin adopted this style and I remember watching her and being mystified about how she could keep it from slipping off. Me, a lowly sixth-grader without older siblings, checking out the "big kids" and trying to get my look together for high school.

This also reminded me of the bangs style of that time. The girls would set them in pin curls (a spiral of hair held with a bobbypin overnight.) They looked like a series of commas parading across the forehead and were worn with a ponytail.

My husband's cousin still wears her hair this way and rolled-down bobby sox. Guess she's savoring the best days of her life. We say, "Poor Cousin Barb. Stuck in the Fifties."

Oh, and don't forget "going steady" completed the costume with a male friend's class ring on a chain around the neck.

Last edited by Tethered Kite; 08-27-2010 at 04:20 PM.
#7
Old 08-27-2010, 04:29 PM
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My mother had one, and she had a not-quite-middle class upbringing in West Virginia.
#8
Old 08-27-2010, 06:16 PM
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I'm sure if I dug around long enough I could find a photo of my sister (class of 1960) wearing a poodle skirt outfit (without the poodle, of course, that was just a bit too precious) complete with saddle oxfords, as well as my other sister (class of 1961) wearing a prom gown with enough petticoats to look like Glinda the Good Witch. And I don't need any photos to remember riding between them in the back seat of our 1956 Mercury, being smothered by their crinolines.

However, most of that stuff was trending out even by the mid-50s.

Here are some class photos from 1955 and 1960. Note that the skirts are still full, but without nearly as many petticoats.
#9
Old 08-27-2010, 06:52 PM
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About as common as Nehru jackets in the 1960s--you'd see them, and probably remember them when you did, but it wouldn't be all that often.
#10
Old 08-27-2010, 07:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Tethered Kite View Post
There were other motifs which were also popular on the skirts. Music notes or forty-five rpm records come to mind.
My mom once mentioned she had a poodle skirt, but not with a poodle on it. It was some other animal, I think she said it was a flamingo but I'm not sure.
#11
Old 08-27-2010, 07:21 PM
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I remember poodle skirts from the mid-50s, around '54-'57, as well as other skirts that required lots of petticoats. I always picture them worn by the prettiest, most fashion-conscious girls. But the straight, below-the-knee skirt, usually black, remained in style, even into the 60s.

Pink and charcoal-gray (almost black) were the cool colors in the mid-50s, for boys too. Most boys had a couple of pink shirts and charcoal-gray slacks.
#12
Old 08-27-2010, 07:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Tethered Kite View Post
I'm from the Midwest and we were always late to adopt the styles popular on the coasts.
Quoted for truth! An aunt from Seattle sent me a blouse for Christmas in 1961 or 1962. What made it special was that it had no collar -- we'd call it jewel neck now, not sure what it was called then. It was at least a year before those blouses showed up in the stores in Iowa. Oh, and the blouse came with matching capri pants. I didn't wear them because even though they fit at the waist and hips, I thought they were too short.

Some of my classmates had poodle skirts, junior high, late 50's. They didn't survive to high school in the early 60's, I think because by then everyone was wearing hip-stitched skirts, either flared or pleated, or straight skirts.

Tethered Kite's post sent me right down memory lane. Can-cans!! I was jealous of a friend who had five. I only had two.

Last edited by AuntiePam; 08-27-2010 at 07:31 PM.
#13
Old 08-27-2010, 07:31 PM
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Pink and charcoal-gray (almost black) were the cool colors in the mid-50s, for boys too. Most boys had a couple of pink shirts and charcoal-gray slacks.
Can we thank Elvis for that? Those were his favorite colors, but I don't know if he started the fad or followed it.
#14
Old 08-27-2010, 07:31 PM
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Okay, you need to be asking the OLD ladies. (Raises hand.)

When I was in grade school, and I'm thinking 1959 or so, poodle skirts were a HUGE fad, and a lot of people had them, and a lot of girls would get together and wear their poodle skirts on the same day.

If you didn't have a poodle skirt, any skirt worn with a couple of crinolines would do.

These crinolines were everyday clothes for some people, but not for most of us--the crinolines were itchy when you sat, but a lot of fun when you were walking, even more when you were dancing.

In the 60s, when I was in high school, we had a sock hop that we considered retro, and a lot of people were talking about reconstructing the poodle skirt, but as a retro thing.

Other quick fads I remember: "Twist" shirts and shirts with Ben Casey collars. I had a twist shirt--everybody did--but I was too slow on the Ben Casey thing and by the time I got mine, they were O-U-T. The poodle skirts were like that. Very quick.

Right before the hula hoop, in my neck of the woods.

One of the very cutest Halloween costumes I saw last year was a woman wearing a poodle skirt, along with her poodle, who was wearing a person skirt.

Last edited by Hilarity N. Suze; 08-27-2010 at 07:33 PM.
#15
Old 08-27-2010, 11:31 PM
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Originally Posted by Hilarity N. Suze View Post
Other quick fads I remember: "Twist" shirts and shirts with Ben Casey collars. I had a twist shirt--everybody did--but I was too slow on the Ben Casey thing and by the time I got mine, they were O-U-T. The poodle skirts were like that. Very quick.
What's a Twist shirt? Anything like the twist shirts I just googled? If so, I don't remember those at all but they're everywhere now.
#16
Old 08-28-2010, 12:03 AM
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I believe they were also called "circle skirts".
#17
Old 08-28-2010, 02:26 AM
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I asked my mum when I saw them on "Laverne & Shirely" if she had one. She they wore them in the early 50s and she had one but didn't wear it much. She would've been in Milwaukee at that time and as others have said, fashion trends ususally gets to the Midwest of the USA last
#18
Old 08-28-2010, 02:46 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ellen Cherry View Post
My mother claims to have worn them; she graduated from high school in 1959. She also had a closet full of flats in every color, she said, to match all her skirts. She also wore cat-eye glasses. She also claims that many of these skirts had little chains attached to the dog's collar, that you could hold I think. Maybe they were fastened to the skirt somehow.

My personal belief that it was an odd enough fashion to have survived in the collective memory. There were probably no more or less common than any other style that came and went during that era.

Sadly I have no pictures on me. I'm not sure if I've actually seen many photos of my mom in the '50s. Her wedding photos are pretty cool though, with her Joan Crawford drawn-on eyebrows.
My mom graduated in 1955 or maybe 1956? (I was born in 1959, so that's pretty close). And she spoke fondly of poodle skirts when I was in HS and we did "50s days". There's also a smashing picture of her in a tight sweater and long fitted skirt when she was young. Some of those outfits were very stylish. I think it's just that the girls in the OP's authentic fashion shots aren't all that attractive overall.
#19
Old 08-28-2010, 03:54 AM
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Originally Posted by AuntiePam View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hilarity N. Suze View Post
Other quick fads I remember: "Twist" shirts and shirts with Ben Casey collars. I had a twist shirt--everybody did--but I was too slow on the Ben Casey thing and by the time I got mine, they were O-U-T. The poodle skirts were like that. Very quick.
What's a Twist shirt? Anything like the twist shirts I just googled? If so, I don't remember those at all but they're everywhere now.
After a quick google I failed to find one of what I remember. The thing was that it was meant to be worn untucked--that was what was new about it. I have no idea why we called it a twist shirt--this may have been some local thing that didn't get widespread attention. It certainly died out quickly enough.

The Ben Casey-inspired shirts were also worn untucked, but they were meant to look like the kind of white shirts doctors wore (duh!), hence easier to describe.
#20
Old 08-28-2010, 08:38 AM
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Originally Posted by Hilarity N. Suze View Post
After a quick google I failed to find one of what I remember. The thing was that it was meant to be worn untucked--that was what was new about it. I have no idea why we called it a twist shirt--this may have been some local thing that didn't get widespread attention. It certainly died out quickly enough.
I wonder if your Twist shirt have been what we called "angel" blouses? The blouse was waist-length and very full. It sorta looked like a full skirt, only it was a blouse. They only lasted one season -- very impractical, a slight breeze could make it fly up over our heads.
#21
Old 08-28-2010, 09:13 AM
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OMIGOD! I just had an image of the black & white photos my mother took of me and my sister in our poodle skirst on the first day of school, I think I was going into 2nd grade, which would make it 1960!

Thanks for the memories of that first day at school.
When poodle skirts really ruled.
They may have been in fashion, but I felt like a fool.
#22
Old 08-28-2010, 09:40 AM
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From looking at photos of the era and talking with my mother (who was born in 1933, so a little old for the poodle skirt fad), it seems to me that very full skirts, particularly circle skirts, were very much in fashion for much of the 1950s. For every day most women would wear a normal slip underneath, but for dances and dressy occasions they might well use a crinoline or stiff petticoats to make the skirt stand out. Applique was also trendy during that era, and poodles were the popular dog of the day (like the Scottie dog was in the '30s). Put them all together and the poodle skirt, a circle skirt with crinolines and an applique of a popular motif, and you have an emblem of the '50s. But its popularity as an emblem today seems to be much higher than its popularity as a fashion choice then. Poodle skirts were popular, but if you took a time machine back to a random school dance in 1950-odd, you might or might not see one.
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#23
Old 08-28-2010, 11:31 AM
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I would love more than anything to have one with an Apple logo!
I had a cheap costume 2 years ago and I replaced the poodle with a Boston terrier! If the quality wasn't so poor, I could definitely see myself wearing one!

My mom is from Mexico. She had one. It was her favorite skirt because of the crinoline under skirts. Hers had a 45, not a poodle.
#24
Old 08-28-2010, 11:59 AM
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My older cousin Sue (must have been 17 or 18) had one, in the late 50's (I was a child, but I remember the late 50's and I remember my other cousin David being encouraged to imitate Elvis after he (Elvis) appeared on the Philco TV). Cousin Sue's skirt had a scottie dog, in fact she had scottie dog pins, a scarf, and a stuffed toy scottie dog on her bed. Cousin Sue was held up as the Height of Fashion to us younger kids and actually took me and her little sister shopping for saddle shoes.
#25
Old 08-28-2010, 05:53 PM
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After a quick google I failed to find one of what I remember. The thing was that it was meant to be worn untucked--that was what was new about it. I have no idea why we called it a twist shirt--this may have been some local thing that didn't get widespread attention. It certainly died out quickly enough.
WAG: Perhaps they called them twist shirts because you could do that torso twisting dance in them without having to worry about your shirt pulling out of your waist band?
#26
Old 08-28-2010, 06:09 PM
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I know my mom had one, but not with a poodle. A Scotty dog I think? They didn't have to have poodles, or even applique at all, but applique was popular.
#27
Old 08-28-2010, 06:35 PM
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I remember wanting a poodle skirt like anything in 1959 when I started kindergarten and saw older girls wearing them. This was in a NYC suburb, so not exactly out in the sticks. I never got one, but I did wear full skirts with crinolines for church on Sundays, or other dressy occasions.
#28
Old 08-28-2010, 07:23 PM
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If you go here and look in the 1930s to the modern era section, there are quite a few '40s/'50s dresses with the full, crinolines. No poodle skirts, though.
#29
Old 08-28-2010, 07:24 PM
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WAG: Perhaps they called them twist shirts because you could do that torso twisting dance in them without having to worry about your shirt pulling out of your waist band?
Sounds good to me. The ones we wore were kinda like this.
#30
Old 08-28-2010, 07:32 PM
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WAG: Perhaps they called them twist shirts because you could do that torso twisting dance in them without having to worry about your shirt pulling out of your waist band?
Sounds good to me. The ones we wore were kinda like this.

Those look more like late sixties, to me.
#31
Old 08-28-2010, 11:42 PM
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Sounds good to me. The ones we wore were kinda like this.
I do like that blouse!

I have a pattern from the Sixties nearly identical. The only difference is that it comes to a vee in front and back. Still wearing the last one I made as it is nice and cool in the summer and gives me those mellow hippy vibes.
#32
Old 08-29-2010, 12:57 AM
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Thanks for posting some great stories about 50's clothing. I found it very interesting.

I recall seeing stars like Donna Reed and June Allyson wearing petticoats and a full skirt in movies from the 50's. At the time I didn't know what made the skirt form a perfect bell shape. Thinking back it was a very nice look.
#33
Old 08-29-2010, 01:38 AM
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My mother remembers wearing a poodle skirt (only with a traffic light on it) in third grade, ca. 1956. She lived in semi-rural Arkansas at the time, so it wouldn't have been a particularly fresh fad at the time.
#34
Old 08-29-2010, 09:08 PM
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It's nice living in rural Arkansas: you could be fashion forward by wearing what people on TV did the year before.
#35
Old 08-29-2010, 10:21 PM
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Originally Posted by panache45 View Post
I remember poodle skirts from the mid-50s, around '54-'57, as well as other skirts that required lots of petticoats. I always picture them worn by the prettiest, most fashion-conscious girls. But the straight, below-the-knee skirt, usually black, remained in style, even into the 60s.
.

We all had full skirts with full can-can petticoats in the 1950's - that was the style.

(I still have at least a dozen can-can petticoats in storage)

As far as a skirt with an actual poodle on it, I might have seen one, maybe, I dont know, but if I did, I sure dont remember it. I certainly never owned a skirt with a poodle dog on it, and if anyone did, the "poodle" was entirely incidental.

I think Poodle skirts, skirts with dogs on them, were only popular in fictionalized 1970's television and movies - like Happy Days, American Grafitti, etc.

Last edited by Susanann; 08-29-2010 at 10:22 PM.
#36
Old 08-31-2010, 07:58 PM
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Susanann, here's a tip with Halloween coming up: If you have, or know of, a young girl who is trying to decide what to wear, I used one of my old black can-cans trimmed with pink lace to make my daughter a Spanish dancer for Halloween one year.

I image you could also make a bride's dress, ballerina dress, whatever. Just sew a couple of ribbons to the front and back of the waistbnd for shoulder straps and accesorize with matching lace/ribbons.
#37
Old 08-31-2010, 08:45 PM
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Susanann, here's a tip with Halloween coming up: If you have, or know of, a young girl who is trying to decide what to wear, I used one of my old black can-cans trimmed with pink lace to make my daughter a Spanish dancer for Halloween one year.

I image you could also make a bride's dress, ballerina dress, whatever. Just sew a couple of ribbons to the front and back of the waistbnd for shoulder straps and accesorize with matching lace/ribbons.
Thanks for the suggestions,

.............but I am saving my crinoline can-can petticoats for when they come back in style again.
#38
Old 08-31-2010, 09:54 PM
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As far as a skirt with an actual poodle on it, I might have seen one, maybe, I dont know, but if I did, I sure dont remember it. I certainly never owned a skirt with a poodle dog on it, and if anyone did, the "poodle" was entirely incidental.

I think Poodle skirts, skirts with dogs on them, were only popular in fictionalized 1970's television and movies - like Happy Days, American Grafitti, etc.
Depends on what is meant by "popular". The poodle skirt (or the Scottie skirt or the 45 rpm record skirt) was a fad, and it was definitely popular. Otherwise you wouldn't see them on Happy Days or American Graffiti. But they weren't so widespread (ooh, a pun) that every girl had one, but they were popular.

Now bobby sox and saddle shoes, probably 75% of the girls had those.

I think part of the reason we all didn't rush out and buy a poodle skirt was because the skirt was distinctive enough that people would remember when you last wore it. That was important -- not wearing the same outfit twice in a week, or even twice in two weeks. Saddle shoes and bobby sox -- you could wear those every day -- but not a poodle skirt.

I remember one outfit my mom bought me -- a quilted circle skirt, white with black somethings on it (puppies, maybe?), and a matching blouse. It was so loud, I think I wore it twice. I liked it and it was comfy, but everybody noticed. "Oh, you're wearing that cute [black & white thing] outfit again!"

Same with a poodle skirt.
#39
Old 09-01-2010, 01:01 AM
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Originally Posted by Tethered Kite View Post
Susanann, here's a tip with Halloween coming up: If you have, or know of, a young girl who is trying to decide what to wear, I used one of my old black can-cans trimmed with pink lace to make my daughter a Spanish dancer for Halloween one year.

I image you could also make a bride's dress, ballerina dress, whatever. Just sew a couple of ribbons to the front and back of the waistbnd for shoulder straps and accesorize with matching lace/ribbons.
Thanks for the suggestions,

.............but I am saving my crinoline can-can petticoats for when they come back in style again.
Well, you're probably wise. I've been around long enough now to see things come back in style a few times. Third time around on the bell bottoms and platform shoes. Though time #1 it was my mother wearing them.

I remember when the hippy clothes came back in style and I'd wander around in the store all forlorn and say, "This stuff all looks so outdated. Got stuff in my attic that looks like this."

And all the young'uns were so enthusiastic about it all.

Unfortunately I was a very slender young woman and after two babies there's just no way to wear them anymore.

The OP mentions how the old styles don't look so exciting but it's funny how, if you begin to see a lot of people wearing them you can change your mind. I remember when platform shoes came back in style and then the padded shoulders and jackets with peplums on them. I made myself an outfit for Mother's Day and when Mom saw me in it she just shook her head and said, "Are they wearing that old-fashioned style again?"

Who knows? Maybe some day we'll see circle skirts with cell phones and ipods on them? Why do I doubt that?

Last edited by Tethered Kite; 09-01-2010 at 01:02 AM.
#40
Old 09-01-2010, 09:10 AM
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This was just posted on one of my favorite sewing blogs--a pamphlet from the 1954 on how to make a circle skirt. Lots of embellishment ideas!
#41
Old 09-01-2010, 11:39 AM
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They were usually worn at sock hops. They were not generally everyday wear. I think they may have been uncomfortable for sitting in a desk.
One fad was brightly colored Levis. They came in many colors like red, blue, white, pink, green and yellow. It had to be Levis. New Levis were so heavy back then that the legs were like hard cylinders when you first put them on. Some people washed them before wearing them to soften them up.
#42
Old 09-01-2010, 12:42 PM
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I would love more than anything to have one with an Apple logo!
This is a fantastic idea. Not just Apple, but any geeky applique in place of a poodle would be nerd-a-licious. I have a V-neck sweater with a Commodore logo on it.

Unfortunately, I don't think CafePress is going to make it possible to design a custom circle skirt anytime soon, but if you have any sewing skill the circle skirt is supposed to be easy to make. Then you can find a patch like this and sew it in. Badda-bing. If I were female, or could otherwise pull off a skirt, I'd probably try it and sew on a Team Banzai patch or something.
#43
Old 09-01-2010, 12:58 PM
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I had a poodle skirt in the late 50's. As a preteen in semi-rural Texas! They weren't worn by everybody throughout the 50's, but they were a widespread fad for a short period. (The petticoats were terribly itchy; one must suffer for fashion!)

Felt is a great medium for do-it-yourself projects, since it doesn't unravel. Just cut out your preferred design. Attach bits of felt or other fabric if you like--the collar for the poodle, the logo for the cell phone, etc. Then sew the assemblage to your skirt (or whatever) using a few simple stitches. Secure the stitches with sequins and/or beads to make things extra festive. Look to Mexico for further inspiration!

Mom had us help her make a Christmas tree skirt; that is a skirt to hide the tree stand, not a skirt with a tree on it. Well, the decorations did include some retro Christmas trees. Plus some white reindeer with lovely iridescent sequins. Easy work for little hands. (I hope my sister still has it.)

Darn, I'm beginning to feel creative....
#44
Old 09-06-2010, 09:50 AM
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Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Cicely, Alaska
Posts: 2,982
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bridget Burke View Post
(The petticoats were terribly itchy; one must suffer for fashion!)
..
That is because you had the wrong petticoats.

The Chiffon petticoats were/are softer than a kitten's fur. So, luxurious!
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