Fashion · Fashion Reviews

Vintage Petticoats Guide: Tips and Tricks

Petticoats are of course a vital part of your vintage/retro wardrobe- not just ‘vital’ actually, more like ‘essential’! They are what you will be building your outfits upon. With the resurgence of vintage style petticoats are more popular and sought after than they have been at any point since the 1950s! Probably. Don’t quote me on that. But how do you choose the right petticoat for your needs? For the look you’re after and for your own comfort level?

There are a huge number or variations in the market, in many styles and fabrics and of course difference prices. I’d love to say you don’t have to spend a lot of money to get a really good product but… if the look you’re going for is flouncy and layered then… you really do. There are some cheaper alternatives out there however and I’m going to be sharing my wealth of knowledge with you because if there’s one person you can trust to know- it’s a girl who wears petticoats every day.

Petticoat Styles

The most common petticoats used for vintage and retro outfits are square dancing and a-line ones worn under swing skirts. A square dancing petticoat is a huge fluff to the side whilst an a-line builds to volume at the bottom. You can also get bell-shaped ones but that’s more Lolita. They create a bell shape, quite literally. For pre-1930s looks, especially Victorian and Edwardian, you’ll need a specially made petticoat.

Petticoat Fabrics
Petticoat 1- White Crinoline (Grace Karin)

The hard netting crinoline was used during the 50s. It gives a good puff but is generally uncomfortable to wear and if it isn’t the right length can leave an uneven fall.

Petticoat 2- Black Crinoline (Grace Karin)

This is the same petticoat in black. It’s from Grace Karin, who I made a brand review of, and was just £8.99. I love the excessive width but the band can be stratchy so wear long knickers.

Petticoat 3- Organza (Homemade)

Organza is a more modern choice, giving the fullness of a crinoline but is more comfortable. This one I made myself but the seams itch like hell and it catches on my tights. I always wear it with another petticoat underneath. Perfect for a flat look on top however.

Petticoat 4- Soft Netting (Collectif)

Soft netting is delightful to wear and has a lovely fluffy end but doesn’t give great volume. It is lovely when it comes to a good spin around and for day to day is marvellously comfortable. These netting petticoats can be loose at the top… or tight like this one. For a circle skirt that flows off your hips you’ll want the extra fabric of the loose top but if the dress is a little more fitted before flaring out then you need no extra fabric.

Petticoat 5- Colourful (Lady V London)

Be wary of buying bright colours as you won’t often actually wear them and petticoats take up A LOT of space.

Petticoat 6- Too Long (Beyond Retro)

Soft chiffon is the ideal. It can also be worn without a skirt or dress on top in a tutu style. It is more expensive however so if you want a multi-layered chiffon you’ll probably find that the reasonably-priced ones are this long:

Petticoat 7- Soft Chiffon (ebay)

Yep. I don’t own a single dress this short so… here I am in my knickers. It can be worn under a dress of course but if you want a nice look you’re going to have to pull it down you’re hips and then you end up with… this.

I’m tall but I’m not that tall.

Extra tip: Tulle skirts that look like this and tutus that look like this aren’t technically petticoats. They’re… skirts.

Things To Think about when buying your petticoat

• What ‘look’ do you want? Straight out to the sides and solid? Down but fluffy at the ends? Puffy and fluffy? Getting away with it? Or… ‘Ridiculous on public transport’? That last one is my favourite.

• Consider the fabric you’ll be putting on top of the petticoat. If it’s particularly heavy and thick you’re going to need a stronger foundation.
• The right length- do you want the ends to show or not? The best way to know what length of petticoat you need is to measure your garment from waist to the hem and then match that to the petticoat. If you like a pretty, fluffy bottom edge then add an inch or two but no more. Definitely do not get a petticoat shorter by more than a few centimeters- unless you can comfortably keep the top band around your hips- as you’ll get a bad ‘waterfall’ effect.
• Remember you can roll the top but if you do that then roll inwards and always keep the fabric beneath your waistline.
• What size waist band do you need? If you’re a UK size 10 or below then be wary of ‘one size fits all’ petticoats. They don’t fit all. It will slip off or peak out from under your dress, potentially very unevenly.
• Think about what you’ll be wearing underneath. Does it have a scratchy top or elastic straight onto skin?
• Price: Remember that they are an intricate and complex garment so for something that looks and feels amazing to wear it’s understandably going to cost quite a bit. You can get away with cheaper alternatives, particularly if you’re layering them but it’s difficult to manage three different waistbands!
• You can layer your petticoats!


Petticoat Tips

It’s a struggle to keep your petticoat fluffy and huge! It will of course loose some volume over time and under the weight of a dress. Here are some tips however:

  • -Be very careful when taking on and off, always remove your shoes first. Sounds obvious. Isn’t.
  • Shake your petticoat up and down, turn it inside out a few times and shake, shake, shake before you put it on.
  • Hang it inside out! Ooh, bet you didn’t think of that one. Any change will create a mass of volume, much like when you part your hair one way and then the other!
  • Don’t put your petticoats in a draw and then expect them to spring out of it again. That… that just isn’t a thing. Keep it on a hanger or, store it standing up if it’s a hard crinoline- but inside out. It will take up so much space, so much space…. But it’s worth it.
  • When you go to the toilet, fluff your skirt up in the air then grab it before it drops and hold it at the front before sitting down. Best tip I can ever give you.
  • Washing the darn things is a struggle so just don’t let it dirty. Boom. Done.
  • If you really do get it dirty then the washing machine isn’t the worst idea in the world, but do run it on delicate and don’t put anything else in there with it. If you have a tumble drier… then we need to be friends- but also fluff it up in there. Hanging it out to drip dry is just going to drag it down.
  • Eventually there will be nothing you can do to regain the fluff you once had so start layering them up!

I hope this post has been helpful, let me know in the comments if there is anything else you would like to know and I’ll try to answer everything. For more information and try-on please watch my video:

Here’s some extra links including my dream petticoat and other brands I recommend:

My dream petticoat


My favourite petticoats + brands I recommend
Chronically Fabulous · Fashion · Femme · Honest Beauty

Disabled Style & Fashion

Nine years ago I was part of a BBCThree show called Britain’s Missing Top Model: a not-that-slight rip off of the modelling challenge America’s Next Top Model but with disabled women as the supposed ‘missing’ ingredient. There were eight of us with disabilities ranging from paraplegia, deafness, limb amputation and… my ‘neurological disorder mixed with connective tissue disorder and various annoying symptoms’- which they found wasn’t quite so snappy for trailers!

We competed against each other in a weekly mini challenge, where we were meant to learn something new, and a photoshoot where we were meant to put our new knowledge to use. For a show ostensibly about fashion and style it ended up being more about disability politics: who was more disabled and thus more excluded from the world of fashion?

After the show many viewers I met mentioned being astonished that disabled people were interested in fashion at all! Even random middle aged men who came upon me in WHSmith and despite claiming it was only their wives and daughters who had watched the show still knew the details of every episode. “But the fashion world is so looks based, why would you want to be part of that?” people asked.

“Disabled people can’t be stylish,” one girl said, “they shouldn’t try.”

To me, fashion and style are very personal things and don’t need to be dictated by others!

When I was a teenager in a wheelchair struggling with my new life in and out of hospital fashion helped me to claim my identity beyond being just ‘that disabled girl’. I’d always had a slightly eccentric style, preferring vintage dresses and old fashioned hairstyles over low-slung jeans and ironed flat hair (hello early naughties muffin tops, how we have not missed you) but being ill crystallised it. In hospital I’d curl my hair and put lipstick on because it made me feel more of a person and less of a subject. When I paralysed my arms I talked other people into doing it for me and when I was in my wheelchair I found a great way to tuck my big skirts and petticoats under my bum so they’d still look full but wouldn’t catch on the wheels.

Having an episodic condition I’ve learnt over the years that adaptability is key.

I have certain clothes that are perfect for when my arms don’t work or when I have to wear a sling or use my crutches and I know the perfect nail varnish to complement my wrist splints- although getting my wife to apply it just to my nails is still a bit of a challenge! All of these clothes are, in my mind, very stylish. No matter how much I’m hurting, being happy with my outside makes me joyful on the inside- whatever has gone wrong with it this time!

Fashion comes and goes but style stays the same. The important thing is to wear whatever the hell you think looks best and sod everyone else. There are no shouldn’ts and can’ts when it comes to your own personal style. When I post an Outfit Of The Day on Instagram I never try to hide my hearing aids or my scoliosis (although most people don’t realise and think I’m just leaning sideways on purpose!) and if I have to use crutches that day they’ll make a graceful cameo appearance!

In this column I’m going to be sharing some tips, tricks and reviews of great brands that show being disabled doesn’t mean fashion is cut off from you- even if everything the NHS gives out happens to be beige… tip number 1: Don’t wear beige.

This article originally appeared in Liability Magazine, the only magazine for disabled women written by disabled women. Follow them on Twitter, Facebook and now YouTube!

Fashion · Honest Beauty · Jessica Loves · Uncategorized

Easy 1940s Vintage Make Up

This tutorial is for a very easy everyday vintage make up look and uses just drugstore products!

The first thing I do is moisturise my face and put Vaseline on my lips. I tend to put both of these on quite thickly and go do something else to give it time to sink in before wiping off and starting my make up. Ta dah! Hello vaguely shiny face.


Step number one has to be primer: I have very sensitive, eczema prone skin so primer is vital to avoid allergic reactions. It also creates a great, smooth, pore-less base. My primer of choice is Maybelline’s Baby Skin, I’ve used it for yonks and it’s excellent. Don’t forget your neck!


For skin coverage we use two products: a liquid foundation that’s slightly lighter than your natural tone (for me that’s Max Factor Lasting Performance Foundation in Fair) and a powder foundation that more closely matches you (The Max Factor Facefinity Compact in Porcelain). Pale, glowing skin is vital for a vintage look but please don’t think having skin that isn’t naturally white as a sheet excludes you! Using a lighter colour with maximum coverage underneath will help you glow but powder over the top ensures you stay matte- vital for a vintage aesthetic! Definitely no sparkly highlighter here.

… but there is a cute pomapoo puppy! Hi, Tilly.


Depending on how full I want my coverage to be I use either a foundation brush or a damp sponge. The sponge is best for day looks so that’s what we’re using today.

I squeeze the liquid foundation onto the back of your hand then dab away with the sponge and… it’s time to make myself look like a ghost! It will look very pale to start with but we do add a little colour so don’t worry.

I cover my lips (or at least the edges) since vintage lips require a very crisp outline. Make sure to also go outside of the edges of your face and down your neck as we don’t want a foundation line.


Moving on to this beautiful foundation compact. Its colour, despite being the lightest in the range, can be a little too dark for me in winter, since without sun I am a ridiculously pale human being. Dab your powder on so you don’t create drag lines on your face. I also put a little light powder on my chest so the skin colours blend nicely.

If you’re looking for an excellent but cheap foundation sponge that handily stops your fingers getting covered in make up then I highly recommend this handled sponge as it was only a pound from the pound shop!


For a vintage look work your blusher along the cheek bone, first from the outside. Smile to pronounce the apples of your cheeks and give a light swoop underneath. Do remember to keep your blusher only on the parts of your face that actually blush however!

This eyebrow is a soft and natural 1940s look but still very groomed. Many powders are (I think) a little too difficult to use and tend to travel rather terribly across my face by the end of the day… actually more likely across my wife’s face every time I get close to her! Pencils on the other hand can be too harsh, sharp and obviously unnatural. Fine if that’s the look you’re going for but this is a soft look.

The Maybelline BrowSatin pencil in Red Mahogany gives me a very natural look and does an incredible of turning my black eyebrows amber (as a child I had bright blonde hair and the same black brows… it was slightly odd). One end is a precise pen and the other a filling powder. It’s excellent stuff.


Start with the thin pen end, draw a slightly rounded line at the bottom of the brow then work upwards off it, using quick little strokes to emulate hairs. You can stop here if you’re after a very vintage thin eyebrow look or you can use the other end of the pen which is a tiny sponge with finishing powder which is great for darkening and thickening your brows.


Primer is very important not only if you have monolids as I do but also just to create a great base for your eyeshadow: (A) it won’t move and (B) the colours will really pop! I use the L’Oreal Colour Riche Eye Primer which is fab and easy to apply.

For eyeshadow I use four shades from this Sleek V2 Ultra Mattes Palette, which you may recognise from my January Favourites video.

The colours I use are Flesh combined with Pillow Talk for the light shade over my lids, Paperbag for the crease and then Maple as a transition shade.


My skin is too pale for the flesh tone by itself so I mix it with the bright white. Fortunately these colours are so pigmented they left you mix on top of each other. Ease of use is always the most important thing with beauty I find!


Once you have thoroughly coated your eyelids in the light, flesh tone take an angled brush and draw a line ever so slightly above your eyelid crease using the transition shade. If you too have a monolid then start with your eyes open and draw the line ever so slightly above. The great problem with monolid eyes is that you can spend hours and hours doing a gorgeous eyeshadow job but the second you open your eyes, boom, it’s gone. Blend out the transition shade then add a little more to the crease before moving on to our darker shade. Add mainly to the outside corners of your eyes and a little to crease then again… blend, blend, blend! Because that’s all eyeshadow is. Blending.


The No 7 Stay Precise Liquid Liner has been my favourite for many years, it has a gorgeous little brush applicator inside a long paint pot of liquid, it’s easy to use and has great coverage. But… like all good things, it had to some to an end! Why, Boots, Why?!

I had a little stockpile going but now I’ve used that up, so I’m searching for a new favourite. I’m currently using the No 7 replacement: Stay Perfect Liquid Liner. It has a foam tip rather than a brush, which is meant to create a precise look but instead I’ve found the tip point just wipes away product as you put it on. Which seems pointless.


I know; ‘bad joke’.

The best replacement I’ve found is the Max Factor Colour X-Pert Waterproof Eyeliner. It’s not the same but it will do. Sob. Let me know in the comments if you have any suggestions for me.

Let’s get precise! Normally when you hear ‘vintage’ you think ‘big eyeliner flicks’ but the 1940s look is a lot more natural.

Now, for those of you wondering, yes I do only wear one brand of lipstick! Maybelline SuperStay 24 Hour Lip Colour. It sticks on your lips no matter what! It will even stay when you make out with someone else who is wearing a different colour of the Maybelline SuperStay 24 Hour Lip Colour. Tried and tested.


For very vintage looks I go for number 542, Cherry Pie.

And look, it’s cute with my eyeshadow! I do use lipliner but only for evening looks so not today. Personally I think the applicator is precise enough. I naturally have very pointed tips to my upper lip but for a good 40s or 50s look a rounded shape suits better.

Once your lips are dry to the touch pop on your setting gloss. In a very… careful… way.


Most people think the lips are the most important thing with a vintage look but I think your lashes are equally important.

… Although mine are slightly crazy and go in different directions so false lashes are my friends.

I can’t recommend any lashes for this look because I chop up all lashes I buy to make the shape I feel best suits my face. I CAN recommend the brand these lashes come from though: Eye Candy make beautiful, soft lashes that take very well to being chopped up!

But Eylure make the best glue!

Done! Watch the video below for further instructions, and let me know if you try it on the comments!


Primer: Maybelline New York Baby Skin –
Foundation: Max Factor Lasting Performance Foundation (Fair) –
Powder: Max Factor Facefinity Compact (Porcelain) –
Blusher: No. 7 Powder Blusher (Apricot Blossom) –
Eyebrows: Maybelline BrowSatin pencil (Red Mahogany) –
Eyeshadow Primer: L’Oreal Colour Riche Eye Primer –
Eyeshadow Palette: Sleek V2 Ultra Mattes Palette -
Eyeliner: Max Factor Colour X-Pert Waterproof Eyeliner –
Lipstick: Maybelline SuperStay 24 Hour Lip Colour (542 Cherry Pie) –
Eyelashes: EyeCandy (shaped by me…) –
Eyelash Glue: Eylure –