1950's Fashion Highlights: Circle Skirts

Oh, the iconic poodle skirt! How can we not think of this when we think of the ‘50s. The poodle skirt is a variant of the circle skirt. Nowadays, we think of the circle skirt and it doesn't feel all that distant in our time and space (especially when you think of Grease!). These full swinging skirts were often in patterned fabrics and decorated with appliques and lace. A garment as simple as this, you might easily assume that it's just always been, but the story is much cuter!

The story goes that in 1947 in the United States, Juli Lynne Charlot, a united states singer, actress and designer, got the idea after stressing out about what she would wear to a last-minute Christmas party. She didn't have much money to go out and buy one but she did know how to sow a little. After giving it much thought, she made the game circle skirt herself out of felt. Once she wore it to the party, it was an instant hit!

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Juli Lynne Charlot

As the skirt gained traction, she was asked to make a dog-themed skirt. I guess dogas have always been popular. Her first design was different from the one we know and love today. Originally, the skirts would have three dachshunds and these dachshunds would have distinct personalities. The first dog would be a flirty girl, the second dog would be a snobby girl, and the third dog would be a male attracted to the flirty girl dog. However, due to the leashes being tangled, the male dog would be stuck next to the snobby girl dog. This may seem like a lot of thought into a skirt design but she wanted her er designs to tell a story and be "conversation starters", so much that she made sure clothing store salespeople knew the stories printed on the skirt, just in case a customer would ask.

A poodle skirt & matching collar in the permanent collection of The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis.

The history of this skirt is quite interesting and just like it carries a lot of history, there’s a lot of ways in which you can style one of these skirts. Some folk might think that you’d only use one of these skirts if you’re dressing up for Halloween, but it's a fashion staple! If you own them in any neutral colors like black, white, gray, or any in-between, it can be paired up with any top. It’ll look like you have a new dress every day!



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Designers are always making the most out of classic fashion pieces. For one, if you take a look at the beautiful black and white skirt in the image above, it definitely doesn't look like your typical 50s poodle skirt. The geometric print on it gives it a modern flair which is sure to elevate any outfit. You can pair it with an off-shoulder long-sleeve black top but it would look just as lovely with a scarlet top or a silver one. Since the skirt is black and white any color would surely look amazing with it!



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You could also find yourself with a tartan skirt with green and red in the pattern. This one is more of a statement skirt because of the colors. This means that your best bet is to stick to neutrals or any top in red or green. Find complementary colors and avoid heavy prints on your top. However, I think anything from a tank top to a frilly blouse would look good with this skirt!


If you're in the market for some circle skirts, here are some sustainable recommendations: Floral Skirt (Plus Size!), LuLaRoe Patterned Rose Skirt, Blush Color Mini Circle Skirt, and a Classic Polka-Dotted one!


Now that you have a few ideas on how to style circle skirts, go try it out! You don’t have to wait for Halloween to wear one of these traditionally feminine items. Grab your pumps or your converse and I'm sure you’ll look stylish for days! Tell us how it went on Twitter or tag us on Instagram!