Historic Petticoat

For centuries the petticoat has existed. Women wear the petticoat as a fashionable undergarment. It can be made with one or multiple layers of fabric.

The original purpose of a petticoat was for privacy because women did not have underwear in the beginning. The pettiskirt also allowed the women to have the latest in fashion. Pettiskirts would give the allusion of smaller waists and larger busts.

Several fabrics were used to make pettiskirts. Because the wealthy had money, their pettiskirts were made of more expensive fabric like silk. The middle and lower classes wore pettiskirts made of cotton fabrics. All of the classes in the winter would wear wool pettiskirts for added warmth.

Since 1585 the pettiskirt has been in fashion. Pettiskirts and shoes are the two pieces of clothing that have lasted as fashionable throughout time. Pettiskirts were elaborate and visible under front-opened skirts in the sixteenth century.

The pettiskirts lasted through the 1600s and into the 1700s. In the 1700s the rural areas used them for added warmth and wore them with long jackets. In America and Europe they were more elaborate and were made with lace and worn with silk gowns.

Pettiskirts jumped in and out of fashion in the 1800s. Less elaborate and narrower skirts were fashionable in the beginning of the 1800s, so pettiskirts were not fashionable. The waltz brought back pettiskirts with the dome shaped dresses. Then again in 1860 the pettiskirts were no longer a fashionable item. The fashion then was the “Gibson Girl” look, which was a long narrow skirt and a white blouse.

The pettiskirt jumped in and out of fashion in the 1900s as well. Pettiskirts started out popular, but the Great Depression put a hold on them. Pettiskirts started to come back, but then World War II happened. In the 1950s short pettiskirts were in style.

Even though pettiskirts are still worn today, they are not in great demand. They are worn on occasions like formal dances or the bride of a wedding. Most formal dresses come with a sewn in pettiskirt, so they are not a separate item. Females that like to square dance wear short pettiskirts too.