Happy 50th Birthday, Petticoat!

Petticoat, issue 1, 19th February 1966

Fifty years ago today, the first issue of one of my favourite 60s fashion magazines appeared on newsagent shelves across the UK. Petticoat was a spin-off of the hugely successful Honey magazine, and was specifically aimed at a younger teenage market.

The magazine offered its readers a weekly, tabloid-sized blend of fashion, beauty, celebrity, fiction and advice, all delivered in a bold, bright style suited to the times. Its fashion editorials featured young models of the moment, such as Twiggy and Jenny Boyd, and clothes from the most fashion-forward young designers, including Foale and Tuffin, Biba and, of course, Mary Quant.

Issue 1 came with free false lashes: this article showed you how to apply them.

Unusually, the cover of the first issue didn’t feature established models but two friends who’d been specially chosen as the faces to launch the magazine: “Girls like you. Bright, enterprising and full of go”. This clever piece of marketing was designed to appeal to the normal girl on the street: the lifestyle that Petticoat promoted was easily attainable.

Party like it’s 1966!

Alongside all the latest celebrity and fashion gossip, the first issue featured an interview with rising star Michael Caine (“What I like is just having a good time…Smart restaurants, good food and gorgeous women.”), an eight-page fashion spread on the latest acid-toned brights (although, disappointingly, half of the feature is printed in black and white), a preview of the new James Bond film Thunderball, a guide to throwing better parties, and tips on how to perk up a tired-looking bedroom on a budget! Unfortunately, my copy doesn’t have the free gift – “fabulous false eyelashes” – but, never fear, there’s a step-by-step guide to applying lashes to create the latest heavy eye make-up look.

Advert for Polyblonde hair dye. Dig those shades!

One of the things I really love about vintage magazines is the adverts and this issue has some good examples for ‘Polyblonde’ hair dye (right), Crimplene fabric and Celtex sanitary products (“Be miserable in comfort”). Similarly, vintage mags feature some great illustrations, and Petticoat is no exception. Notable contributors over the years included Malcolm Bird and Kasia Charko (Biba), but there were many fantastic uncredited illustrations too, including the example from issue 1 below.

Beauty illustration, uncredited

I have a few more copies of the mag from 1966 and later years, but would love to get hold of a copy of issue 2 and eventually build up a complete set for that year.

Do you have any copies of Petticoat? Maybe you’re lucky enough to have a complete set! Let me know in the comments.