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Posts tagged ‘circle skirts’

OMG Vintage Moment Of The Week – For Fashion & Purse Lovers!

By , 15 January, 2010, 2 Comments

This vintage black wool circle skirt by Madalyn Miller features a working purse applique!

Vintage Madalyn Miller Circle Skirt With Purse

Vintage Madalyn Miller Circle Skirt With Purse

The cream wool felt purse with silver and black detail work has a working gold clasp that opens up, making it a functional vintage purse!

Working Felt Purse Applique On Vintage Black Felt Skirt

Working Felt Purse Applique On Vintage Black Felt Skirt

Available for sale at, and photos from, Wear It Again Sam Vintage Clothing.

Madalyn Miller Original Label

Madalyn Miller Original Label

“Billowy Circular Skirts” Of 1952

By , 26 October, 2009, No Comment

In Rebecca’s Fashion Trends From 1952 post (at her fabulous b.vikki vintage blog — you’ve got to go see it!), she’s posted some beautiful scans of “billowy circular skirts” that are “made to be worn with or without the ruffled petticoats, so popular this season,” which were circle skirts designed by — you guessed it! — Juli Lynne Charlotte of California. (Note that in this one issue of Jet Magazine, Charlotte is both “Juli Lynne” and “Juli Lynn” — something that seems to have been a chronic problem, despite the designer’s fame. For the record, the designer’s labels read “Juli Lynne Charlotte.”)

Circle Skirts, Jet Magazine, 1952

Circle Skirts, Jet Magazine, 1952

Juli Lynne Charlotte Circle Skirts, Jet Magazine, 1952

Juli Lynne Charlotte Circle Skirts, Jet Magazine, 1952

Vintage Mexican Circle Skirt Set

By , 9 October, 2009, 2 Comments

My circle skirt addiction might wane if I stopped spotting such beauties as this 1940’s Mexican circle skirt (and blouse).

1940's Hand Painted Mexican Circle Skirt & Blouse Set

1940's Hand Painted Mexican Circle Skirt & Blouse Set

This vintage hand painted dress set was made in Mexico by Mocambo in the 40’s. Along with a fabulous hand painted geometric design, the circle skirt has sashes that wrap in back, then the front to tie in a knot — and has hook and eyes to keep the sash in place.

Shake That Circle Skirt!

By , 28 September, 2009, No Comment

I know you’ve quite possibly been getting dizzy from all the circle skirt & Vertigo posts of late (and I promise other stuff is coming soon!), but I couldn’t help but show you this darling vintage powder compact with artwork by Hilda Terry. Look at her shake that circle skirt! (He sure is lol)

Hilda Terry Vintage Powder Compact

Hilda Terry Vintage Powder Compact

For more on Hilda Terry, visit 8HendersonPlace.com.

Hey, Wallflower Vintage… Here’s Linking To You, Kid!

By , 25 September, 2009, No Comment

Lynn from Wallflower Vintage emailed me to introduce herself and to direct my circle-skirt-loving self to her recent post about a vintage Mexican circle skirt (the skirt is also for sale in her shop!). I have to say that Lynn and her cohorts at the Wallflower Vintage blog are to be much admired (and a bit envied!) for the creativity and effort they put into their blog posts — especially the images. Especially the images and posts where they pair vintage fashions with old pulp novels! I hope they keep that up!

Vintage Fashion Mixed With Vintage Pulps!

Vintage Fashion Mixed With Vintage Pulps!

Circle Skirts Are Conversation Skirts

By , 25 September, 2009, 4 Comments

Another vintage fashion photo by Nina Leen, this one, titled Conversation Skirts, features circle skirts. (I think every mom could use a “play skirt” with trains or cars for occupying little ones!)

Conversation Skirts

Conversation Skirts

Even more fabulous in color!  (Wouldn’t you just love to see more of that weight-lifting one?! )

Fabulous Nina Leen Circle Skirt Color Photo

Fabulous Nina Leen Circle Skirt Color Photo

Circle Skirt Sale

By , 16 September, 2009, No Comment

Thanks to my Shop It To Me Sale Mail, I discovered Ralph Lauren has the Carmen Twill Circle Skirt on sale for just $29.99! I thought I should let you know — just in case you wanted to get a few of these circle skirts and spend the winter adorning them with appliques *wink*

Ralph Lauren Twill Circle Skirt

Ralph Lauren Twill Circle Skirt

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

The Story Of Circle & Poodle Skirts Continues

By , 16 August, 2009, 4 Comments

Continuing the story of the circle skirt… The story began with a simple skirt Juli Lynne Charlot made for a Christmas party (not the actual circle skirt shown here, but how cute is that?!) and the skirts were quickly transformed into a multitude of novelty themes.

1950s Christmas Themed Circle Skirt

1950s Christmas Themed Circle Skirt

Fashion legend says that at some point it was suggested to Charlot that she put animals, including poodles, onto her skirts and that when Charlot did so, the popularity of the circle skirts increased greatly — which has led to the skirts being called poodle skirts.

In fashion reality (or at least by my own personal definition), poodle skirts are different than novelty circle skirts… And fit a different market or fashion niche. As we shall see.

While adult women did wear novelty circle skirts, especially in the beginning,the heavily petticoated novelty skirts (what I call poodle skirts) quickly became not only de rigeur for girls, but seen mainly as a fashion trend for the youth.

The poodle skirt craze among teens is often attributed to those new rock n roll dances; teens found the big circle skirts enchanting while dancing. But it’s quite probable that mom & dad preferred their Kitten to wear a longer full skirt that hid at least part of her figure (especially when stuffed with crinolines and petticoats to prevent anything more being seen) to the more fitted along the hips structured fashions; watch Kitten’s skirt swing, not her hips sway. *wink*

(Of course, the irony was that fuller skirts looked like fuller, more womanly, hips and that boys dreamed of ladies’ underthings, so…)

But let’s not overlook the marketing machine in all of this either…

10 Year Old Girl Wearing Poodle Skirt, Christmas, 1954

10 Year Old Girl Wearing Poodle Skirt, Christmas, 1954

During the 1950’s, companies began to court the youth market as they never had before. This shift in attention to teens had fashions, like the poodle skirts, forcefully marketed to young girls rather than the former long history of marketing fashions to adult women. The proof of this can be seen in the ephemera trail which shows that ads for poodle skirts in magazines published for teens clearly outnumbered those in publications for women (which focused on less voluminous circle skirts).

There were other factors for the popularity of poodle skirts for teens too.

In the 1950’s you also had less of an emphasis on sewing as a skill for women. More ready to wear, priced more affordably, began to edge out the need to know how to sew. Girls still took the sewing classes, but they knew far less & had less interest in sewing as their mothers did. (The difference between my grandmother & mother’s ability to sew may only seem anecdotal; but I assure you, it was happening all over the atomic 50’s suburbs!)

However, the ease of making a circle skirt, and the influx of printed novelty fabrics that allowed one to make a circle skirt without even having to sew on appliques, tempted those teen girls… She could save a few dollars by making her own skirt rather than buying one — do that a few times, and Kitten ends up with more skirts for the same amount of Daddy’s money. *wink*

Also, speaking contextually of women’s lives and fashion at the time, it’s easy to see how such full, un-tailored skirts would seem unfamiliar — perhaps even ill-fitting — to a woman wearing more traditional fashions at the time. Even the full skirted New Look fashions had a more tailored, refined look about the hips (and either had shorter crinolined skirt lengths, or longer skirts with voluminous folds or a softer “outness”), indicating the more mature woman’s sophistication and duties in life as compared to their whimsical, dancing daughters.

Mother & Daughter, Wearing Different Fashions, Waving Goodby To Daddy In The 1950s

Mother & Daughter, Wearing Different Fashions, Waving Goodby To Daddy In The 1950s

Of course, this lack of tailored appearance was part of the design; if circle skirts had required more seams, Charlot never would have made one! (Nor would the idea of circle skirts have been so readily snapped up by the Mexican souvenir making market, which realized a full skirt with a simple waistband, zipper or no, was not only easier & cheaper to make, but required less actual sizes to be made than tailored or more accurately sized skirts — another reason why such souvenir circle skirts with novelty prints or details are still made today.)

1951 Wide Wool Skirt (And Jeresy Top) Ad

1951 Wide Wool Skirt (And Jeresy Top) Ad

All of these things created a schism, of sorts, leaving poodle skirts and circle skirts with more flirtatious petticoats a far more fashionable dress for teens & young women than for their mothers & grandmothers.

In short, the poodle skirt was one of the very first “too young for you” fashions.

Of the authentic vintage circle novelty skirts that remain, the waists are typically smaller & hems shorter; percentage wise what’s left indicates that the fashion was a marketplace primarily for teens and younger women. What this means for vintage fashion collectors and the fashionistas who covet authentic 1950’s poodle skirts & vintage novelty circle skirts is that it’s slim pickings on the full skirts with novelty prints, appliques, embroidery & other details.

Vintage Embroidered Circle Skirt

Vintage Embroidered Circle Skirt

But the good news remains that circle skirts are in fact very easy to make. You can purchase a circle skirt pattern, old or new — and don’t overlook making them in Charlot’s original manner either: Just cut a circle from fabric, make a hole in the waist, and decorate!

Still to come… How to wear circle skirts!

Vintage Butterick Circle Skirt Pattern

Vintage Butterick Circle Skirt Pattern

Not Circle Skirting The Origins Of The Circle Skirt

By , 14 August, 2009, 4 Comments

The only thing more fun than vintage & retro novelty print dresses are circle skirts — you may know them as “poodle skirts,” even if the themes haven’t all gone to the dogs.

Vintage Red Poodle Skirt

Vintage Red Poodle Skirt

What you may not know is that the credit for the circle skirt, or at least its popularity, is attributed to one woman, Juli Lynne Charlot. A woman who described herself as “unable to sew” in an interview in a UP article, Girl Who Couldn’t Sew Booms Into Business With Circle Skirt, published in the Toledo Blade, February 25, 1953.

Five years before this article, in 1947, 25 year old Juli Lynne Charlot made a skirt to wear to a Los Angeles holiday party by cutting a big circle of felt with a hole in the middle to fit her own waist and appliqued “whimsical felt Christmas tress” to it to wear to a Los Angeles holiday party. According to that news article:

I cut it out of felt, because I didn’t know how to sew, and that was the only material I knew wide enough to cut a complete circle skirt without any seams.

(Also worth noting, I think, is Charlot’s description of her own appearance. As was the norm in newspapers, from fashion pieces to crime stories, the clothing, hairstyle & appearance of those featured in the stories were greatly detailed. In this case, the now 30 year old Charlot “counters” what the reporter sees with a visual description of her 25 year old self, saying she was “a big girl — I was just plain fat and frumpy when I made that first skirt.” Why is this worth noting? Well, for one it serves as a reminder to read old magazines and newspapers for clues to what was actually worn rather than trusting the ads; two, it suggests that circle skirts are flattering on any figure; and three, it shows Charlot as a rather self-deprecating woman — at least as a young designer.)

Anyway, just one week after the holiday party, Charlot sold her Christmas circle skirt because she needed the money. From there, demand grew. Charlot put herself in “designing school to learn how to sew” as well as managed to save enough money to start her own factory.

Juli Lynne Charlot Label

Juli Lynne Charlot Label

Charlot had orders, but her business struggled to pay the bills. “I can’t do arithmetic. Mother hocked her diamond ring three weeks in a row to help me meet the payroll,” she said in that 1953 interview. Charlot & her factory struggled until, the story goes, an unnamed New York dress manufacturer visited Charlot, found her in tears, and invested in Charlot’s factory, allowing the designer to more successfully continue to make her whimsical & constantly changing felt designs applied on felt (in winter) and poplin (in summer) skirts, like this stunning Parisian themed circle skirt.

Vintage Circle Skirt With French Theme By Juli Lynne Charlot

Vintage Circle Skirt With French Theme By Juli Lynne Charlot

Just one year prior to this 1953 newspaper article, Juli Lynne Charlot designs were so successful that one of them appeared in a national ad campaign for Maidenform bras.

I Dreamed I Went To The Races In My Maidenform Bra Ad (1952)

I Dreamed I Went To The Races In My Maidenform Bra Ad (1952)

Part of Maidenform’s famous & iconic “I Dreamed…” ad campaign, this 1952 ad shows a Juli Lynne Charlot race horse themed circle skirt on a model who has dreamed she was at the races.

In what can only be described by me as a “Holy Crap!” fashion moment, the skirt shown in the ad was available for sale at AntiqueDress.com.

Vintage Juli Lynne Charlot Circle Skirt

Vintage Juli Lynne Charlot Circle Skirt

Speaking with the lovely Deborah Burke, the owner of AntiqueDress.com, I confirmed that the iconic Juli Lynne Charlot horse racing circle skirt sold two years ago for $665. I can only imagine the delight of owing such a special skirt… It’s exactly this the sort of thing that keeps me searching for vintage fashions.

Come back, because I’ve got more to the story of circle skirts comin’ up next week!

Vintage Horse Racing Circle Skirt Featured In Maidenform Ad

Vintage Horse Racing Circle Skirt Featured In Maidenform Ad