A Petti Investment

Some things are not just worth investing in – it’s almost necessary to invest in them. It applies to pretty much everything, from food to estates. And with Lolita the real foundation pieces, the ones that make or break the look, definitely shouldn’t be skimped on. An advice I finally decided to act upon and invest in some proper petticoats.

Wherever you look, you’ll be told that a good petticoat is a must for Lolita, with tons of reviews and advice on what to get, how to determine what kind of petticoat you need and how to take care of it. Up until now I sort of made do with the ones I had, but although they’re not too bad, they’re not suitable for Lolita because of awkward lengths (or, in case of one, not being quite poofy enough), and I do have to layer them up to get a result. Thats not how it should be, I need at least two proper petticoats just for Lolita, an A-line and a bell-shaped one. I can still use the other ones when I want less volume or for other types of fashion, but without really solid ones that’ll last me and will give the result intantly it’ll be like walking uphill against the wind when trying to create a great coord.

Work getting quieter recently and me being bored at work a lot more as a result allowed me to spend some extra time planning for this investment very carefully. I had hours I could spend doing further research on petticoats and reading reviews of the ones I was interested in. However, almost simultaneously with the search for the right product, I also made a geeky little table which you can see here. It has all my Lolita dresses and skirts, their skirt measurements (in centimetres and inches) and the shape of the petti which I’d need for it. I’m still not the best at judging which one would be best, bell or A-line, which is why some of them are “-ish” or mention both, but in all fairness, if I had one of each shape it won’t matter, I’ll simply be able to see for myself once I put them on. What I actually needed the table to tell me were the skirt lengths so that I could get the right pettis – I don’t mind wearing them a little bit higher or lower as needed, but I can’t let myself get into another “petticoat worn at my boobs” situation. And yes, that happened every time with the other ones.

Now that I know that, I can move onto finding the actual petticoats.

From binging on FYeahLolita I already knew to look for chiffon ones, but as much as I love eBay, I didn’t find a single listing which would I’d trust to actually sell a chiffon petti, so I searched on. The links on the original article are either leading to shops that no longer exist and the majority of searches took me to the US stores, and I’d rather invest in the petti, not the shipping, so I searched for places within the UK. And lo and behold, I may have hit the jackpot by stumbling upon Wagtails Dancewear. They are a UK-based shop specialising in rock'n'roll and line dancing clothes, and they stock petticoats made by Sam’s/Malco Modes, a very respected and trustworthy US brand (for any fans of vintage out there, Vivien of Holloway’s pettis are the same make!). Because they’re meant for rock'n'roll or line dancing, they’re all A-lines, but you get three choices of colours (white, black or red), some choice in poof (and a photo demonstrating the difference) and an ok choice in lengths, made all the better by the pettis having an option to adjust the length by up to two inches (more about that below). Since the website is also an online shop, you can quickly order it there and pay via PayPal – they also offer international shipping, although you may have to email for a quote.

Mine arrived incredibly fast, three days after placing the order (1st Class Signed For delivery), although I didn’t get the e-mail about my item being sent until after I got it. But it arrived as a little light ball of plastic envelope, which upon opening revealed this mass of wilf chiffony poof. It’s at least twice as big as my current petticoats, and with only two layers of rushed chiffon too! It’s also way, way softer than my other petticoats – not to say that they are scratchy, because they’re not, but this one you just want to keep petting to feel the amazing softness. Wagtails even included a little instruction on how to take care of it, which will help in keeping it poofy for years. 

I mentioned that the petticoat is adjustable, both in terms of length as well as waist size? To adjust the waist size you only need to move the button as far down the elastic as you like, and as there are button holes all the way down the elastic, you essentially have a lifetime guarantee of a well fitting petticoat. The petti, which in my case is 23" in length, can also be shortened by up to 2": there are cases already made, you only have to pull the elastic through them. Which is tonnes easier said than done! I must’ve spent a good 15 minutess trying to figure out how to actually do that, and then another 20-30 minutes doing it (which I only figured out how to by remembering a video by MeLikesTea of how she makes her own petticoats). If you’re going to be adjusting it, make sure you put some time aside for that.

But it is worth it, don’t get me wrong! The poof is incredible, well worth putting the time and effort of adjusting the length as well as the price (£47.95 + £4.95 postage). I first tried it on with one of my circle skirts and when I swirled, there was a delay in the skirt swirling, that’s how much fabric had to sway side to side first. I took a couple of photos with Bodyline’s L262, my truest A-line shaped JSK, to show you how it looks and compare with the pettis I would’ve worn with it if I hadnt bought this one. I apologise for the lighting, it’s the only full-size mirror we have at home, but I tried to make up for it by editing the photos a little. As you can see, poor Bodyline did the best job it could at trying to contain the poof of my new petti, but it did struggle a little bit. Even though the two layered petticoats give the JSK quite some volume, they can’t keep up.

For the bell petti, I first turned to Classical Puppets reviews. In the process I found some old EGL posts on Classical Puppets vs Dear Celine petticoats, but unfortunately Dear Celine doesn’t seem to do petticoats anymore and I didn’t want to wait around for a chance that a second hand one may appear somewhere (although it did right after I placed my order). The only other option would be Me Likes Tea, but she seems pretty busy with orders at the moment, judging by her waiting list, so even though not particularly consistent with the reviews, Classical Puppets seemed to be the best option and worth their price overall. Unfortunately, their Taobao shop seemed to have ran out of the standard size in white, and I didn’t fancy any other colour, so once again I placed an order with My Lolita Dress, where it goes for US$41.99 plus shipping.

Although for some reason I never get the email with the tracking number from My Lolita Dress until I ask, and even my profile claims that both this and my order from back in January are still 'processing', I never had a bad experience with these guys. Linda is quick to respond and very helpful, and even though I went with Airmail shipping (to avoid the much hated Parcelforce), it still got to the UK very fast. I won’t do the usual breakdown, but will say that the petti was shipped on May 9th and Royal Mail attempted to deliver it to me nine days later, on the 18th (but I had to wait until the 28th to actually get it since there was nobody else at home, I was away at the weekend and it’s a bit of a chore for me to get to the depot). No customs or tax on it either, because good USD to GBP exchange rate and Airmail costs not counting towards any of that. I have noticed though that there was a slight tear on the plastic it was wrapped in, looking as if someone tried to open it and then stopped, but I assume this must’ve been on the UK side of things.

I was quite surprised that they managed to squeeze this much poof into such a tiny plastic bag! It was barely bigger than my hand, and I have fairly average-to-small-ish hands for a woman. But the poof was immediately obvious, even before I shook the thing around a little to fluff it back up. It’s a gorgeous little thing, the lace trim adds a lot of elegance to it, even if it’s not going to be visible.

And, quite importantly, it fits very comfortably! The listed measurement on it is that it should fit waist measurements between 62cm and 78cm. However, it’s important to remember that it will have to go through your hips (unless you put your petticoats on from the top), so it needs to be able to stretch as much as your hip measurement. With a 78-80cm and 101cm hips I was quite worried, but I read as many reviews as I could’ve to find out about the elastic which reassured me enough to place the order. And lo and behold, it fits nicely, no problems putting it on or off and it doesn’t dig into me either. Success! 

So far, it’s definitely been worth the money I paid for it. As you can see on the comparison, it adds a lot of volume, and although on this skirt it adds just as much as two cheap petticoats layered together, it does so on its own. This is very important as the weather will (hopefully) be turning warmer and warmer, it will allow me to still have volume whilst saving on sweat, as horrible as it sounds. Now all I need is for this petti to live long (and prosper sorry, I couldn’t resist).

Overall, these two petticoats will probably set me for a while to come. I’ve already worn the A-line one for a different occasion, and I love it to bits: I had the volume, but felt none of it, it is so light and airy. I can’t wait to give the Classical Puppets one a go a bit more, maybe for a meet or something, though I’m confident that it’ll feel the same, voluminous but light. Now I feel that little bit more like a proper Lolita! :3

What sort of petticoats are you using? Have you had a good one from the beginning or only acquired one recently? Let me know in the comments.


  1. I have a Malco Modes Jennifer/582 that I bought secondhand a couple of years ago...and it's still going strong! Chiffon is the best for petticoats - doesn't scratch bare legs, and doesn't ever seem to deflate. It's good to know of a UK reseller as well!

    1. Vivien of Holloway also resells Malco Modes pettis in the UK, but for a few pounds more than these guys, and they were great to deal with, even if a bit quiet. But yes, chiffon petticoats! I might start getting them in different colours too :P


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