Petticoat: A History

Pettiskirts, usually called petticoats, have been used for hundreds of years by women underneath their dresses. In the 1500s women wore full pettiskirts to make their waists look smaller than it actually was. They also wore beautifully designed pettiskirts when they had open-fronted dresses to show them off.

Petticoats were a popular choice during the Renaissance. Multi-layered dress styles offered a few pettiskirts to be worn at the same time. Wool pettiskirts became fashionable during Wales in the 1700s.

Lace petticoats were worn in the 18th Century. Elegant designs were mostly worn by the wealthy class. Lace pettiskirts were worn with corsets, and women at the time had a tendency to faint because of lack of air and the heaviness the pettiskirts provided.
Pettiskirts were also a popular Opera choice. Extended frames were built to make Opera singers skirts appear even fuller than previous pettiskirts. The full bodied effect quickly gained popularity in Europe and America.

Opera pettiskirts were a popular choice in America in the 19th Century. Movies such as The King and I and Gone With The Wind give good examples of this type of style. Full framed petticoats gave a very wide, full effect on the bottom of skirts, making waists continue to appear tiny.

The Flapper movement of the 1900s stalled the petticoat movement. Pettiskirts were worn with slender dresses and skirts, so they were made out of sheer material. Pettiskirts became even less popular during the great depression and World War II.

They became popular again during the 1950s. Multiple layered petticoats were worn to add movement to poodle skirts. Pettiskirts were very popular during this time, and could be found in a variety of styles and designs.

During the 1920s the flapper movement started. Smaller pettiskirts were worn to work with more slender dresses and skirts. Sheer underskirts were popular during this time. With the Great Depression and the shortage of materials during World War II, pettiskirts fell out of favor again.

Petticoats lost their popularity with main stream design after the 50s. During the 1970s ruffled pettiskirts became a popular western wear item which was worn underneath prairie skirts. Today, pettiskirts are most popular with bridal and formal wear.

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