Friday, January 21, 2011

All about my petticoat/crinoline/fluffer wardrobe

I am the proud owner of five fluffy skirt-empoofening items. (Empoofening is a perfectly cromulent word, right? An expansive vocabulary embiggens everyone.) I've seen them called petticoats and crinolines, but I can never decide which is right. There seems to be much disagreement in blogland. I prefer to call them fluffers, despite the word's less than savory meaning in some circles.

I purchased my first fluffer two and half years ago. Wearing it for the first time was quite an experience, but I've come to love the fluff and swish. All my full skirts look so much better with the fluff.

Here are the top five things I've learned about wearing fluffers in the modern world:

1) It's impossible to forget you are wearing one. The rustling sound, the feeling of volume, and the momentum as you walk or twirl are noticeable even with the lightest fluffer. The little sensations are reminders that cause me to walk, stand, and sit more gracefully. They may also cause me to dance a little crazier, but that's probably just me.

2) The dressier the outfit, the bigger and crisper the fluffer can be. For casual outfits a softer, less fluffy option is still a nice boost. I'm still a little self-conscious about wearing such an uncommon (at least for my place and time) item, so I only wear my fluffiest fluffers when I am fully armored, spackled, painted and ready to face the world. I'll wear a little fluffer on an au naturel day just to put a spring in my step and a swish in my walk.

3) Wear a slim slip under your fluffer (unless it has one built in). It may seem annoying to wear a slip and a fluffer, but you need the slip to keep the fluffer from bunching up between your legs as you walk. The slip will also keep scratchy netting away from your skin and prevent your fluffer from catching on your garter clips.

4) Vintage fluffers with busted elastic can be a bargain. It's easy to remove the old elastic and install a new piece. Often the length of a vintage fluffer is a bit too long for modern taste. Shortening from the top is super easy. I bought one that was a little too long, chopped off the elastic and the top two inches, and put new elastic in.

5) Thin elastic and a thin nylon yoke at the top are comfortable and flattering. Crisp cottony yokes with elastic in a casing are okay, but it's better if the elastic is a little loose so it sits slightly below the waist. The elastic in a casing can be bulky. If you are wearing a dress that is very fitted at the waist, you'll want the elastic of the fluffer to sit slightly lower than your natural waist so you don't add bulk at your narrowest part.

BONUS: A fluffer is essential when wearing a very full skirt on a windy day. The layers of net can diffuse an updraft and prevent a Marilyn moment. And if your skirt does get blown up, at least you've got some coverage!

Here's a rundown of my five fluffers, in order from most fluffy to least fluffy.

Red, four layers of stiff netting with cottony yoke and cased elastic, from Eleen Fashions

White, nylon net, two layers (one stiffer, one softer) of tiered gathers on a thin nylon yoke with thin elastic. This is the one I wear the most. (Cloud dress, leafy V&A dress, yellow Easter dress)

Blue-green, one layer of soft nylon gathered tiers on a cottony yoke with cased elastic. This is probably 80's-does-50's. It's too short for me. I wore it and the white fluffer together under my Vogue 8956 for maximum fluff, but really I need to pass it along to someone who will use it.

Black, vintage, one layer of noisy and slightly crisp mystery fabric with a single, gathered, soft net ruffle attached near the bottom. I keep meaning to shorten this one from the top to make it more wearable. I prefer to wear it inside out so the net ruffle isn't next to my legs. The long hanging loops are a nice touch that makes storing this one in the closet easier.

Ivory, vintage by Colony Club, gathered nylon tiers with lace between each tier, attached to a very thin cottony bias cut layer that functions as yoke and underskirt. This one is so soft and thin that it barely changes a skirt silhouette, but I love it for those times when a very full silhouette would demand too much attention. I shortened this one from the top and replaced the busted elastic with plushy lingerie elastic. This design is my favorite. I love it for just a little fluff under summer skirts. The bias layer is genius! It prevents bunching when I walk and makes this one cool and comfortable.

To summarize, my favorite design features are: very thin fabric yoke, narrow elastic (not in a casing) and long hanging loops for storage. For a casual fluffer without too much fluff I really like the built-in underlayer. For dressier occasions I would probably be wearing a full slip anyway, so I prefer my super-fluffy fluffers without that underlayer.

If you don't have a fluffer yet, please try it! It makes full skirts look and feel so much better.


K2 said...

I love both the white fluffers. So pretty and feminine.

Eleen Fashions said...

Wow what a collection. With the amount of petticoats I've made I only have vintage one that isn't even fluffy enough.

I love the tiered ones and want to try that sometime myself.

Andrea said...

Oh yes, I definitely need to find one of these. Thanks for the tutorial!

Amy said...

If you're giving away the blue one, I'd snap it up!

asc.snap.crackle.pop [at] gmail [dot] com

Popbabe7 said...

They are great! I'd love to find one.

Rachel said...

Did you make all these? If so, how? Is there somewhere you would suggest buying from?

Snork Maiden said...

What a rad collection! I looked around for some, but all I keep finding are tu-tus (At thrift shops, and Costco, even). A tutu is a totally different look, I found.. :/ I hadn't thought to look online.
And, you should totally do a fluffer give-away!

Rosy said...

You are very lucky, all those petitcoats are wonderful, I have one that I sewed a few months ago and this is certainly an outstanding issue, dresses and skirts seem to "fly " with it. Sooo feminine!

ReaderRita said...

I need to get a new petticoat/crinoline/fluffer! My vintage ones are SO itchy and rough, even wearing a slip doesn't help. Now they are wall decor. Take that, Martha Stewart...