Full Skirts of the 1950s

Written by pharaba witt
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Full Skirts of the 1950s
The poodle skirt is one of the most iconic skirts of the 1950s. (Hemera Technologies/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images)

In the 1950s, women of the United States typically wore only skirts and dresses in public. While some women wore trousers for working in factories or in the yard, the standard appearance required a dress look. The poodle skirts and bobby socks of the age are remembered as well as the crinoline puffed dresses of Donna Reed. There were a number of options when it came to making a personal fashion statement with your skirt.

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Gored Skirts

Gored skirts were used in the early 1950s to create a flattering look on the top while still producing a flowing, full skirt below. Instead of using a circle cut to produce the skirt shape, multiple triangular shapes are sewn together. This allowed the material to be adjusted more specifically to the wearer's dimensions and can be done in long or short versions. There were multiple ways of doing the gored skirt. Six-gore and eight-gore were both very popular. If you were building a skirt with only two pieces, oftentimes pleats were added in order to give the skirt a flattering line in the front.

Circle Skirt

The circle skirt is what most people think of in terms of the poodle skirts of the 1950s. These skirts are designed as two half circles or one giant circle, depending on the length you need and the size of your waist. Unlike a gore skirt, which is flat at the bottom, a circle skirt has a bit of a rounded edge, making it hang in waves. A single waistband is added after the inner circle is cut out to finish the top of the skirt. A small slit can be added for a zipper should you have issues getting the skirt past your hips, but you can also put it on overhead to avoid the additional zipper or buttons.

Flared Skirt

Flared skirts encompass both circle skirts and gored skirts but offer options when it comes to the detailing. You can build a straight circle skirt with flares at the bottom by sewing a seam from the top in the front centre of the skirt. The seam ends just past the crotch, allowing the material to then fall naturally into a flare. There was also a flare put in the back of a longer circle skirt reminiscent of older fashions and most often used for formal dresses. Flared gore skirts often had more than eight gores or pieces. This gave the skirt an even more fuller appearance. Hoops or crinoline were added underneath the skirt to give it greater lift. By today's standards, a simple circle skirt is a flared skirt, but that was not the case in the 1950s.

Slim Pleated Skirt

By the late 1950s, slim, pleated skirts were rising in the fashion world. These skirts still went below the knee and became known as the "wiggle skirt" due to the form-fitting design. The skirt came in a few different styles. One had long seams all the way around, flaring just above the knee to the bottom. Others were pencil straight skirts with minor pleats in the front in order to give you room to sit. Some of the slim skirts had an overlapping slit up one side, making them the beginnings of a wrap around skirt.

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