What is "Petticoat" - Definition & Explanation
Last Updated on: 11-Jan-2023 (1 year, 5 months, 2 days ago)
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In the textile industry, a petticoat refers to a garment worn under a skirt or dress to provide shape, support, and modesty. It is typically made of lightweight fabrics and is designed to add fullness to the lower part of the garment, creating a desired silhouette.

Definition and Purpose

A petticoat, also known as an underskirt, is a separate layer of fabric that is worn between the outer clothing and the body. Its main purpose is to enhance the shape and appearance of skirts and dresses, offering structure, volume, and a smooth drape. By adding fullness, a petticoat can create a flattering silhouette, improve the way the outer garment hangs, and give a sense of elegance and grace to the overall ensemble.

Types of Petticoats

There are several types of petticoats available, each designed to fulfill specific needs and complement different styles of clothing:

  1. Full Petticoat: This type of petticoat provides maximum fullness and volume. It typically has multiple layers of gathered fabric or a hoop skirt construction to create a bell-shaped silhouette.
  2. Half Slip Petticoat: Also known as a waist slip, this type of petticoat covers only the lower half of the body, typically from the waist to the knees. It adds subtle fullness and helps prevent the outer garment from clinging to the legs.
  3. Mermaid Petticoat: Designed specifically for mermaid or trumpet-style dresses, this petticoat is fitted at the top and flares out at the bottom to enhance the shape and volume of the skirt.
  4. A-Line Petticoat: This petticoat is characterized by its A-line shape, which provides gentle fullness and structure to A-line or flared skirts.
  5. Crinoline: A crinoline is a petticoat made of stiffened fabric or hoops that create a bell-shaped structure, commonly used in formal and historical costumes.

Tips for Handling Petticoats

When it comes to handling and caring for petticoats, consider the following tips:

  1. Proper Storage: To maintain the shape and quality of petticoats, it is recommended to hang them or store them flat. Avoid folding or cramming them into tight spaces, as this can lead to wrinkles and distortion.
  2. Hand Washing or Dry Cleaning: Check the care instructions for the specific petticoat, as some may require hand washing, while others can be safely dry cleaned. Follow the recommended cleaning method to preserve the fabric and construction.
  3. Ironing and Steaming: Use a low heat setting when ironing or steaming petticoats to avoid damaging the fabric. It is advisable to place a cloth or pressing cloth between the iron and the petticoat to prevent direct heat exposure.
  4. Storage Accessories: Consider using padded hangers or garment bags to protect petticoats from dust, moisture, and potential damage. Avoid storing them in areas with high humidity or extreme temperatures.

Top InternationalUsers and Manufacturers of Petticoats

Petticoats have been a staple in fashion for centuries, and many international brands incorporate them into their designs. Here are some of the top users and manufacturers of petticoats:

  1. Christian Dior: Known for their elegant and feminine designs, Christian Dior incorporates petticoats into their couture gowns and dresses, adding volume and structure to create dramatic silhouettes.
  2. Vivienne Westwood: A renowned British designer, Vivienne Westwood often incorporates petticoats in her collections, embracing their retro charm and incorporating them into modern and avant-garde designs.
  3. Oscar de la Renta: This luxury fashion brand frequently includes petticoats in their bridal and eveningwear collections, enhancing the grace and elegance of their designs.
  4. Marchesa: Marchesa is known for its intricate and romantic designs, and petticoats play a significant role in creating their signature ethereal and voluminous gowns.
  5. Victoria's Secret: As a prominent lingerie brand, Victoria's Secret incorporates petticoats in their collections, adding a touch of femininity and sensuality to their undergarments and sleepwear.


Petticoats are a vital component in the world of fashion and textiles, offering shape, volume, and elegance to skirts and dresses. With various types available, petticoats cater to different styles and needs, whether it's creating a dramatic silhouette or providing subtle fullness. International fashion brands recognize the significance of petticoats, incorporating them into their designs to enhance the beauty and grace of their garments. By following proper handling and storage tips, petticoats can be maintained in excellent condition, allowing them to be enjoyed for years to come.

A petticoat is an article of clothing for women; specifically an undergarment to be worn under a skirt (also known as underskirt) or dress. The petticoat is a separate garment hanging from the waist (unlike the chemise). The practice of wearing petticoats was well established by 1585. By the middle of the 20th century, the petticoat was rare, having been commonly replaced by modern undergarments.

Petticoats were worn throughout history by women who wanted to have the currently fashionable shape created by their clothing. The petticoat(s), if sufficiently full or stiff, would hold the overskirt out in a pleasingly domed shape and give the impression of a smaller waist than the wearer actually had. It would also complement the desired large bust. The petticoat was not worn to hide the legs, as twentieth century commentators later claimed; it actually enhanced the stylish figure in the centuries before female attractiveness was defined almost wholly by how much naked leg was showing, as has been the case since 1960. Petticoats were revived by Christian Dior in his New Look of 1947 and remained extremely popular during the 1950s, especially with teenage girls.

A woman's skirt-like garment worn with a gown or jacket. Most gowns were open-fronted robes needing the addition of the petticoat to fill the gap. Quilted ones could be worn for both warmth and fashion. Underpetticoats of linen, wool, or cotton were added for warmth.

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