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I Love Circle Skirts — But Not Sock Hops!

By , 17 August, 2009, 4 Comments
Vintage Velvet Circle Skirt

Vintage Velvet Circle Skirt

If you love & want to wear vintage circle skirts, like this 1950’s black & red velvet circle skirt, but you don’t want to be asked where the local sock-hop is, here are a few notes on making vintage circle skirts relevant today & not a costume on parade:

* The only bad thing about retro poodle skirts & vintage circle skirts is the very thing that makes them so fabulous — all that fabric. With so much fabric, you’ll be tempted to wear a crinoline to give circle skirts their due; otherwise, the patterns, appliques & details will be lost in the (however luminously sequined & beaded) folds. Yet wear a full crinoline most any place these days, and you’ll find yourself facing questions about sock hops and costume parties *sigh*

But remember, what truly separates the poodle skirt from a circle skirt is the volume of the crinolines &/or petticoats. You can wear vintage circle skirts with more subdued (traditionally slimmer, but proper lengthed) slips, for a softer look (and do lots of twirling, curtsying, and anything else to create interest in that beautiful skirt). You can do this — just look at Audrey Hepburn!

Audrey Hepburn Wearing A Circle Skirt In Roman Holiday

Audrey Hepburn Wearing A Circle Skirt In Roman Holiday

* If you love a circle skirt, but it’s the shorter, more square dance variety or otherwise requires a fluffy feminine crinoline, then save it for more formal occasions — or mix it in with more modern & casual pieces (tee-shirts, bolero jackets, really big & wide belts) for an 80’s re-do (we did this in the actual 1980’s too!)

* Look for longer length skirts, especially if you are tall &/or fuller-figured. Short full skirts, plumped with a crinoline or hanging in folds, will make you look plumper around the hips by bringing the eye “out” rather than in a line down. Plumper from skirts equals frumpier and out-dated, so avoid it.

* Do tuck your blouse or top into the waistband of the skirt. This emphasizes your waist, drawing the eye in and down, helping to create a generous hourglass figure.

* If your blouse is just a hair too short to remain tucked in, or it’s so bulky looking when tucked in that it’s a distracting mess, you can smooth it over the waist of the skirt and use a wider belt to “join” the ensemble as well as accent your waist. As a general rule, however, do not do this with tunics or other very long tops as the tunic or top will press the circle skirt down, causing a second “ripple” in the skirt, ruining the full skirt’s lines.

Melina Mercouri, Never on Sunday, 1960

Melina Mercouri, Never on Sunday, 1960

* Circle skirts are not yesteryear’s “broomstick skirts” or other long skirts designed to be layered with tunics, as mentioned above. So also avoid long or oversized jackets or blazers.

* Sweaters, both the traditional feminine cardigan & tight-fitting sweater girl varieties, can be worn with circle skirts. If the former, avoid bulky, over-sized, &/or long sweaters which will hide your waistline; if the latter, remember the rules for tops & blouses: tucked in or belted, please.

* Do not wear with socks & saddle shoes or tennis shoes; this makes the outfit look like the old bobby soxer costume. Instead, opt for flats (with or without hosiery), kitten heels (with stockings or pantyhose), or, for that retro 80’s style, with granny boots (as shown below on Pony from Pony & Pink) or lace-up ankle boots and brightly colored socks.

Pony Wearing Vintage Pink Circle Skirt

Pony Wearing Vintage Pink Circle Skirt

Even high heeled stilettos can, depending upon the material of the skirt, the occasion, and the shoe itself, can be an incredible combination for the fashionista who is willing to draw attention to herself.

Just remember that unless your fashion trademark is wearing saddle shoes, avoid the saddle shoe re-do.

* Mix in pieces & accessories from all time periods. A bold Bakelite brooch from the 40’s pinned to a classic white tee & 80’s booties; a 50’s pin up sweater, 80’s Madonna bangles, vintage patent leather peep-toe Mary Janes from the 60’s, and a cloche hat from the 30’s; whatever you’ve got in your closet, dear *wink* (Just like Doe Deer!)

Doe Deer Vintage Circle Skirt Ensemble

Doe Deer Vintage Circle Skirt Ensemble

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4 Responses {+}
  • Desiree

    it never occurred to me to wear a crinoline in real life. might be something to think about.

  • thatgrrl

    I love how much information you found out about the circle skirt. I like them too and didn’t know most of this. I really like the designs with something other than poodles. I thought before that it would be a lot of fun to decorate them that way.

  • Jaynie Van Roe

    Desiree, try a crinoline once & you’ll be hooked — my problem is not enough places/occasions to wear such pretty things 😉

    ThatGrrl, you can get “plain” circle skirts in sold colors (or make them easily) and decorate them as you’d like! And thanks for appreciating my research 🙂

  • Daniel

    I love circle skirts, and Lucy dresses. To bad they stopped making them!

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