The poodle skirt, a fashion symbol of the 1950s and a popular retro item, can make an excellent Halloween costume for both children and adults. This wide swing felt skirt complements every body figure, so women of all ages and silhouettes can wear it in confidence. Accessories and styling are critical to any costume. When it comes to a poodle skirt costume, they are even more critical, since the right shoes, socks, hairstyle, makeup and accessories necessary to complete such a look are very specific.
Before discussing the appropriate accessories and styling, here are some guidelines on how to make your own contemporary version of the classic 1950s poodle skirt. You do not have to be a professional seamstress to do it, nor to spend a lot of money on it. By following the steps below, you will have your very own poodle skirt in no time.
Here is a list of tools and supplies you will need (they can all be found at your local fabric or sewing supplies store):
- fabric of desired color and pattern
- fabric measuring tape
- tailor’s pencil
- fabric scissors
- pinking fabric scissors
- sewing machine
- poodle silhouette template
- grosgrain ribbon
Now here are the steps you need to follow:
- Fold the fabric in half lengthwise and then then again in half widewise.
- Use a fabric measuring tape to measure your waist. Divide the measurement by 2 and then again by 3.14 (pi) to obtain the radius for the waist opening of the skirt.
- Tie a length of string to a tailor’s pencil and mark the string to match the radius you have previously determined. Holding the mark on the string at the folded corner of the fabric, stretch the string taut with the pencil perpendicular to the fabric. Then, draw an arc across it.
- Use the same principle to draw another arc to mark out the bottom of the skirt at the desired length. Ass an extra 1/2-inch allowance to the length for the hem. Using fabric scissors, cut along both arcs.
- You can now move on to creating the skirt’s back opening. First, use an iron to affix Steam-a-Seam – by closely following the package instructions – to the back of a piece of felt. Then, cut a 7-inch by 1 ½ inch-strip out of the felt. Use pinking fabric scissors to trim the edges of the felt.
- Remove the release backing from Steam-a-Seam. Using an iron, affix the felt to the skirt with the strip running perpendicular to the circular waist opening.
- With pinking fabric scissors, cut a 6-inch slit down the center of the length of the felt strip through both the felt and the skirt.
- Moving on to the poodle appliqué, know that you can easily find and download the poodle pattern online. After finding the design you like, download and print the template on cardstock and cut it out with scissors. You then need to iron Steam-a-Seam onto the wrong side of the shirting fabric, trace the poodle silhouette template onto the fabric, and cut it out with fabric scissors.
- Peel to release the backing off Steam-a-Seam and use an iron to affix the poodle silhouette to the skirt where you want to place it.
- Use the pinking fabric scissors to pink the bottom edge of the skirt. Then, on a sewing machine, use a topstitch to hem the skirt with a ¼-inch seam allowance.
- The finishing touch: topstitch a 2-inch-wide grosgrain ribbon to the outside of the waist, leaving the tails in he back to secure the skirt in place.
And there you have it! Now that the most important part of the costume is all done, it is time to move on to the accessories and styling part. Even though poodle skirts have been around for years, most women do not really know what to do with it. With these tips and tricks, you will finally get the complete poodle skirt look.
- Shirts and Scarves
A classic white button up shirt is probably the best top choice to assist this costume. It does not matter if the shirt is long or short sleeved, or even sleeveless. What matters is that you button it all the way up and show no cleavage, because modesty was running rampant back in the 50s. A simple pearl button sweater is another excellent choice for the top part of your outfit. You can also go with a short sleeve polo-type shirt. Regardless of your choice, remember to always tie a chiffon scarf around your neck. This is an absolute must when it comes to the poodle skirt costume. Wear it tied close to the neck and slightly off to one side. Regarding the colors, keep in mind that they should be contrasting. Poodle skirts usually come in bold, solid colors, which means that the shirt should be white. Nude, pale colors are also acceptable, such as beige, baby pink, and cream. This means that the scarf should be in contrast with the shirt, so it should be in a bolder color. Some women chose to wear the scarf around their ponytail – this also goes.
Another must of the poodle skirt costume is the bobby socks. Bobby socks are generally white, ankle high, with a ruffle of lace around them. The lace can either be white or coordinated with the colors in the costume. Even though these socks were popular in the 40s and the 50s, they can still be easily found nowadays. Nevertheless, you can always make your own bobby socks by attaching lace around the cuff of a pair of plain ankle socks. You can use your regular crew socks, as well. Just remember that the sock should be at least 1 inch over the heel of your shoes. You should also keep in mind that stockings or tights should never be worn with a poodle skirt.
Saddle shoes are what you need in the footwear department. Traditionally, saddle shoes are black and white, or navy blue and white. There are also other color combinations, which you can consider depending on the color scheme of our outfit. However, the traditional options are the most appropriate. Alternatively, the popular black and white oxford shoes work just fine. If saddle shoes and oxfords are not exactly in your budget, you could get yourself a pair of plain white Keds or similar sneakers. For an authentic poodle skirt look, saddle shoes are definitely the most appropriate footwear.
- Makeup, hair and nails
For a poodle skirt costume, makeup should be mostly neutral and pink in tone. A pink or bright red lipstick is highly recommended. Keep it light with the eye makeup. Just use a pale blue eyeshadow and lots of mascara to make your eyes pop. The hairstyle is pretty simple: just put your hair in a ponytail and tie a scarf around it, letting the ends hand down. If your hair is not long enough for a ponytail, tie a sheer scarf around your head like a hair band. For the nails, light pink nail polish looks the best. It will match both your costume and your makeup, but it won’t take away from them.
- Jewelry and other accessories
A poodle skirt costume is fancy enough, you do not need to overdo it with jewelry. The costume makes a statement itself. Not to mention that you already have the scarf, the poodle pattern, and the socks, so that’s quite enough. However, if you feel the need to put on some jewelry, a single strand of pearls or a nice simple watch will do the trick. Small pearl studs are also great for the ears. Remember not to go over the top, though! Your poodle skirt costume does not really need any other accessories, since it is a dancing costume, after all. This means that you can skip wearing a purse. If, however, you must carry one, opt for a plain colored matching wrist bag – just make sure it is simple and small.
That’s all, folks, your poodle skirt costume is completed! Don’t forget that a poodle skirt says a lot, so your accessories should simply enhance it, and not overwhelm it. Now that you know how to make a poodle skirt and what to wear with it, you can get to work and put together your perfect poodle skirt costume.