I only got my first petticoat last year - I thought it was going to become a staple part of my wardrobe, but in reality I've probably only worn it a handful of times. For one, I couldn't really justify spending the money on a truly quality one a la Vivien of Holloway, and I feel the repercussions in the form of the horrible scratchiness of the netting. The other problem is that a lot of petticoats are available in similar standard lengths and it turns out my 25" petticoat, at the same length or an inch shorter than a lot of my skirts, has a habit of peeping. I don't really like my petticoats to show. And of course, there's the more knee-length skirts that are shorter than 25" which just don't work at all.
There's also just something a bit fussy about wearing a big ol' net petticoat going about your daily business for me, personally. I'm quite happy to put it on for an occasion, but getting in and out of cars to go to the shops bundled in fluff isn't my thing. That's why when I first got wind of Pinup Girl Clothing's canvas underskirt, I got a bit overexcited. No netting, a short length and promising to add fullness without the fuss, based on the underpinnings Dior designed in the 40s and 50s - it was definitely worth a go. And then I read a review that said it quite literally fell a bit flat. I'd already ordered it by this point so it was a bit late to change my mind, but it made me think that sharing my opinion on how it measures up as a petticoat could be useful.
So, here is my cotton circle skirt, looking limp and forlorn with no puffery beneath it.
Now, let me get something out of the way. I hate ironing but I DID iron this skirt. It's one of those pieces of clothing that wrinkles as soon as you look at it and all of the wrinkles show up marvellously clearly in photos. There was something about the lighting on this day that captured them particularly perfectly. So there.
Anyway, that's what it looks like on its own. And below is what it looks like with my scratchy 25" net petticoat underneath vs with the canvas underskirt.
|Left: Banned 25" petticoat | Right: Pinup Girl Clothing canvas underskirt|
I think we can agree that there is virtually no difference in volume here, right? When I was going through the photos I had a hard time working out where the first batch ended and the second batch began, but what gave it away was the slight differences in the shape of the volume. You can just about see on the right that the underskirt gives a bit more volume at the top of the skirt, whereas the petticoat is more of the regular upside-down triangle kind of volume we're used to seeing from a regular petticoat.
This is probably personal preference, but I prefer fullness that starts on the hips - I think it's just a bit more feminine somehow and makes my waist look smaller. Apart from the slightly different shape though, here are the other things I love about the underskirt:
- It is short (see below for an idea), so it fits under most of my skirts, but the unique shape of it means the volume rolls off the top 'tier' of the fabric, meaning that that tell-tale 'ledge' you can get if your petticoat is too short for your skirt doesn't manifest unless your material is so thin you'll see both layers anyway (serves me right for buying ludicrously cheap ASOS skirts in the sale)
- The shape and the fact it's only two layers of canvas means that it doesn't make contact with you legs in the same way that net petticoats do - this makes it great for hot weather (ha!) and for generally wearing it and forgetting it's there
- I really like how the snap closure means you don't have to step in and out of it - it's a simple thing, but I get in a tangle with my net petticoat trying to get it on 9/10 times
So if any of that sounds like the answer to your skirt problems, it might be worth getting your hands on one. They come in a huge range of sizes, which I also appreciate a lot more than the petticoat 'one size fits all' approach. The only word of caution I would say is that it's never going to give you the fullness a decent quality net petticoat would - and I think the images on PUG's own website are a little bit optimistic. Above is realistic - and as you can see it's not really adding a huge amount more volume than without for this particular skirt, but for others it's much more noticeable.
I'll leave you with an idea of how short it looks on me - and bear in mind I'm 5'1" so I'd expect it'd be a bit more above the knee on taller ladies.
In terms of sizing, by the way, if you fall in-between two sizes like I did, you'll probably fit into both. Choose the size based on where you want the waistband to sit - if that's at the waist, you'll want the smaller size. If you don't mind it being more towards your hips and a looser, more comfortable fit, you'll be good with the bigger one. I do find mine snug, but worth it to get volume from the waist.
And if you want to see this skirt and the canvas underskirt in further action (albeit with the wind severely knocking them out of shape), check them out in this outfit post. Guess what? The skirt still looks really creased.
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