Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Clara's 1950s Poodle Skirt

A poodle skirt is the iconic symbol of the 1950s. In fact, the poodle skirt is kind of an overused cliché for the decade. I always thought that the skirts were more costume than reality, but my mother said that she had a poodle skirt, and that they really were a popular style. So I looked into the interesting origins of the poodle skirt, and found the history to be fascinating.

The history of the poodle skirt begins in 1947 with the original designer: Juli Lynn Charlot. Her husband had just lost his job, so money was tight. She wanted a new skirt for Christmas, but could not sew, so she chose the most simple pattern she could, deciding on a circle skirt as the pattern. Felt was the only fabric available wide enough to cut a full circle without seams. Her mother owned a factory, so Juli Charlot was able to obtain the felt for free.

After making herself a skirt with Christmas appliqués, the result was so cute, she made three more and took them to a local boutique to sell. They sold so quickly, the boutique ordered more, and after Christmas, requested a dog design. She designed a skirt with dachshunds, which also sold well. The boutique requested poodles for the following set of skirts, and thus was born the poodle skirt. A department store owner saw the skirts, and placed a larger order for his store. As the popularity of the skirts grew, orders began to come in from across the country.

Charlot decided she would need to learn how to sew, and enrolled in classes, but was too busy to attend. She hired her former sewing teacher, and learned on the job. She soon had a full line of fashion designs and accessories, and became very successful in her work. It's amazing what a little creativity and hard work can do.

Clara's fashion page for today has a classic poodle skirt and a blouse with turned-up cuffs on the sleeves. She also has another classic icon of the 50s: saddle shoes worn with bobby socks. The original poodle skirt was a bright turquoise with a black poodle. The shirt was plain white. The original shoes are the classic white with black patches running across the center of the shoes, under the laces.

To print Clara's outfit, use this PDF file:
Clara's Dress 38 (757k)

Clara is a free, printable paper doll. Clara will continue to be available on this blog as long as I post new fashion pages for her. You can read the introduction for the Clara paper doll here.

To print the Clara paper doll, use this PDF file:
The Clara Paper Doll (745k)

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