About four years ago when I started getting heavily into wearing vintage I remember a few people asking me if I'd every wear a poodle skirt, my response: an emphatic "no!" At the time I was pretty much into 1920s, 30s, and 40s looks exclusively so I just was interested in sporting 50s fashions. Plus, I viewed the poodle skirt as overly costumey. Whenever I did online vintage fashion searches the only poodle skirts I saw where in repro shots of people pretending to be 1950s teens. The poodle skirt, it seemed, was the ultimate 1950s Halloween costume, but not really an authentic vintage look. I started to wonder if many girls in the 1950s had actually worn poodle skirts, or if the prevalence of the trend had been greatly exaggerated in memory.
The reality is 1950s girls did wear poodle skirts, though perhaps not as often as people today might think they did.
The real 1950s trend wasn't just for poodle skirts, it was for fun circle skirts with a wide range of cute and kitschy apliques. The genius behind the design was Julie Lynne Charlot
a model, actress and singer. In the late 1940s she designed her fun, easy to make skirts from one giant piece of cloth and started adding one of a kind adornments. Initially Charlot made skirts for herself, but they came out well she took them to a boutique and was soon selling them. Her skirts where easy to make, as Charlot was not an accomplished seamstress, and she was immediately copied by home sewers and other designers. The novelty skirt craze was born. Teenage girls loved the playful french poodle, incidentally one of the most popular breeds in the 1950s, but there where many other appliques from to choose from:
The point was for the skirts to be fun, comfortable, twilrly, and unique. Charlot's creations were all slightly different so that no two ladies had an identical skirt.
Charlot's modern counterpart is Girl in a Whirl, a dog loving designer who sells her wares on face book, and the lady who made me re-think my no poodle skirt stance. I was first shown one of her skirts over a year ago by a fellow vintage lover who sent me a link to her creations. I thought hmmm that is interesting and forgot about it. Gradually, though I started getting more into 1950s looks. I took another look at Girl in A Whirl's page and realized that she doesn't just make poodle skirts, she makes everything skirts! This woman can seriously put anything you imagine onto a gorgeous 1950s style circle skirt and all of her skirts are unique! Dogs are one of her most popular choices and she has made skirts featuring many breeds. In fact pug skirts seem to be her biggest seller.
After I got Mr. Tuvok last year I really wanted a pug and poodle skirt so I contacted Girl in A Whirl and we started chatting. We decided on a simple grey skirt with a fawn pug and a black toy poodle. In no time at all I had my perfect skirt. So cute and comfy and not too costumey at all, in fact I wear this skirt to work very often, its become one of my staples. The sturdy cotton fabric means it works in warm and cold weather, which I love. Its very full so you can wear a petticoat underneath, as I did in these pictures, but if petticoats aren't your thing you don't need one. I find they really complete the 1950s look though.
Like my darling pets this skirt, just couldn't be cuter.
I particularly love the red ribbon detail she used on the leashes. Just like Juli Lynne Charlot's creations, this skirt of one of a kind.
I paired my skirt with an old navy cardigan, a swell dame 1950s style sleeveless blouse, my 1950s poodle purse, some gold tone poodle pins, and a poodle pendant that the lovely Jessica from Chronically vintage sent me when I purchased another item from her etsy shop.
Maybe it is a costumey outfit, but its a costume I love wearing. Lesson learned, never say never!
In fact I loved my skirt so much that I ordered another, non-dog themed, circle skirt from Girl In A Whirl for my birthday this year. I'll share pictures soon!
Novelty Circle Skirt: Girl In A Whirl
1950s Style Blouse: Swell Dame
Cardigan: Old Navy
Bakelite Bangle: Thrifted
Gold Tone Poodle Pins: Thrifted
Poodle Purse: Etsy, but I can't remember the seller
Shoes: Crocs Ballet Flats from Amazon
More reading on poodle skirts:
Chronically Vintage Fear Not The Poodle Skirt
Poodle Skirts: Their Origin and Influence The Poodle and Dog Blog
1950s Skirt History: Vintage Dancer
Interview with Juli Lynne-Charlotte The Vintage Traveler