When customers buy a 1950s poodle skirts or circle skirts, I am often asked for advice on what to wear with it. Cute and believable 50s costumes do not need to be fully vintage, or expensive! In fact, most of the items you will need to finish off your look can be found in your closet or your local variety store. This article will guide you in accessorizing your poodle skirt to create a fun, affordable 50s look.
Re-Create a cinch belt to accentuate the flair of your poodle skirt:
The cinch belt is an essential part of your 50s costume. It will define the waist to create the famous 50s bell shape, and help to keep your shirt tucked in, so you do the hop all night long and keep looking proper. Here’s how to create the look of a cinch belt. Buy 2″ wide ribbon in a craft store, card shops, florist or dollar stores. A black ribbon, or a color that matches part of your outfit and contrasts with the color of your top is best. Get gussied up in your poodle skirt and top, tuck the shirt in, and have someone help you tie the ribbon over where the shirt meets the waist of the skirt, hiding the line. You can tie it in a cute bow in the back, or tuck the ends under the ribbon, to hide them. You can also do this with a long strip of netting fabric. Just cut a strip about 2″ or more wide, and tie it in the back in just the same way. Accentuate the middle of the bow, or help hide the knot with a pretty pin, or clip on accessory if you like, as well. Have fun with it! You can’t go wrong, as long as you keep the colors and textures consistent.
Pick the right shirt to go with your skirt!
To create a poodle girl look, your blouse does not have to be vintage! Take a look in your closet or local large chain store for fitted t-shirts, button downs, boat-necks, turtle necks, or off the shoulder peasant-tops, in solid colors to compliment or match your circle skirt or poodle skirt. Do you want to be sweet and innocent? Pick crisp white, or light pastel colors. Cute doesn’t have to be powdery– bright bubblegum pink or purple grape colors also work well for a cute princess look, especially with a tiara! Or how about bad and beautiful? Try strong contrasts like red/black, purple/black, white/black, red/gold, and black/blue. You can even try wild colors like black with lime green or magenta/hot pink for a party look.
Another suggestion, is to look in the lingerie section– or your underwear drawer! Camisoles that aren’t too revealing can look very vintage when paired with a cardigan. Cardigans with sleeves that end at or near the elbow are best, but you can always push your sleeves up if you only have a long sleeved cardigan.
Help! I can’t find saddle shoes anywhere!
This is my most asked question. Real saddle shoes can be hard to find, and expensive, especially for a costume that may only be worn a few times. Here is what I tell people looking for saddle shoe help. Start with a pair of plain, white or black tennis shoe. These usually run anywhere from $10-$20, and can also be found in any variety store. Even cheaper knock-off versions can sometimes be found in dollar stores. They aren’t the best quality, but will do for a versatile costume shoe. Try changing the shoelaces to a color that matches your outfit. You can paint your own saddle shoes. Use black paint and sharpies to paint the black part of a saddle shoe onto white sneakers. There are videos online that show you how. Black or white shoelaces will finish the look. Ballet style slippers in pastel colors, black, or white, will also do the trick. They aren’t the iconic saddle shoes, but they are still a totally authentic, comfortable, and great look for your 50s costume. Keep an eye out for mary janes either flat or with a chunky heel.
How do I add some fluff to my 50s poodle skirt or circle skirt, without a crinoline?
If you find yourself in need of a crinoline with little time to spare, here is what you can do to add the look of a crinoline, and some shape to your 50s skirt. While it may not be the same as a big fluffy crinoline, adding a bit of lace or netting to the bottom of your skirt will still add a good amount of shape and fullness, and it looks stylish too! Here’s how to do it. Pick up some relatively stiff netting fabric, fluffy lace, or gauzy fabric in a color that suits your skirt, from your local crafts or fabric store. You want a strip about twice as long as the circumference of your poodle or circle skirt. Use thread to gather the netting into a long ruffle then sew onto the inside of your skirt, using a running or basting stitch, and let a bit of the fabric hang beneath the line of the skirt, about 1in. It doesn’t have to be expertly sewed, just sewn well enough that it stays on, and isn’t making your skirt gather in odd places. If you are worried about your sewing skills, you can sew the netting onto the edges of a slip instead. Use extra netting/gauzy fabric as a scarf for your hair, neck, or wrist! The scarf does not need to be hemmed to look good.
Creating a 50s look does not have to be expensive, or hard, and doesn’t need to include all authentic 1950s vintage items. With a little creativity and bravery, you can find most of the things you need in a pinch, very close to home!
I hope my suggestions help you get inspired to look like the 50s sock hop girl of your dreams!