The Donna Skirt: Some considerations when wearing longer, fuller skirts

In the future I will put up a pattern diagram for a full circle skirt. I think that for the summer time they are a very comfortable and flirty way to dress up, even on the hottest days.

Half-circle skirts work much better in the winter time, given the need to wear a long coat made of a heavy fabric.

Why do I make this distinction?

Because of an amusing fashion faux pas I created during my first term at dressmaking school. In a rush to make a good impression on my teachers I whipped up a full circle skirt out of a lightweight wool flannel in time for the class Holiday Party. I enjoyed bragging about how great the hemming technique we’d seen the teacher demonstrate had worked out. I’d even bought a nylon mesh hem tape made by Dritz that produced the similar kind of prominent flares that horsehair braid does.

The skirt was 27″ long, coming about mid-calf on me. It was a snowy day that the party took place so I put on my lined raincoat that was a narrow, chemise like shape.

Not once did I consider that the amount of fabric encircling my calves exceeded the diameter of the coat I was wearing. The impracticality and silliness of this oversight became apparent to me during the 6 block walk to the train station. By the time I got to class the skirt was completely bunched up and I failed to make the twirly, swirly skirt entry to the class I had so hoped to make in my swingy circle skirt.

On top of that, the nylon braid had so rubbed against my stockings that they were now full of snags.

We all had a good laugh afterwards and it was then that I really appreciated my classmates for having this sense of humor. It also served to show me that mistakes can be the greatest of teachers at times.

Ever since then I’ve always considered how wide the overcoat is in relation to how full the skirt is that I will wear. The ideal coat for wearing fashions that mimic Dior’s New Look or 1950s fashions will be a very roomy tent coat or swing coat.

When the weather is not very cold a fitted jacket or bolero can provide a very good balance to the circle, half-circle and other types of flared skirts. I also think that unfitted cardigans and sweaters that are a little on the boxy side but not too far below the waistline also balance out the look nicely.

Since my current wardrobe includes coats that are not as wide at the hemline I keep the fullness of my winter skirts within certain guidelines. A half-circle skirt goes nicely under my dressy tent coat while less flared skirts work well under my A-line shaped raincoat. Both coats were bought within the last 8 years.

I like the retro inspired look but find that if I’m going to work with the rest of the wardrobe I have I need to keep petticoats and skirt circumferences and volumes within a range that works best with the outerwear I use.

These are just some thoughts you may want to consider when buying or making petticoats or making up a skirt or dress with a large amount of fabric at the hemline.