When most people think of a 1950s themed party, the ubiquitous poodle skirt comes to mind. My mother, who was a teenager in the 1950s, said EVERYONE had a poodle skirt. Hers was a handmade one, sewn from pre-printed panels. She said it was black with a printed pink poodle on it. The poodle skirt was so common, she didn’t consider it photo-worthy, so therefore no photos of her wearing it, darn it!
Juli Lynne Charlot is considered the originator of the poodle skirt. In 1947, the 25 year old former actress/singer wanted to an outfit to wear to a Christmas party. Since she didn’t sew, she simply cut a large circle of felt, with a smaller hole in the middle for her waist, and appliqued Christmas trees onto it. Charlot’s mother owned a factory which used felt, so she was able to cut a complete circle skirt without needing any seams. She received so many compliments at that fateful party that she made two more skirts and took them to a Beverly Hills boutique and the rest is history.
Charlot’s first doggie skirt had dachshunds and it wasn’t all that popular, so she tried poodles and bam! The poodle skirt became a phenomenal success. She didn’t limit herself to poodles though. She designed circle skirts with all kinds of themes.
Of course sewing pattern companies took note of the popularity of the themed circle skirt and came up with their own versions for the home sewist.
And the teens came up with their own creations too.