Male Pattern Boldness is proud to be the world's most popular men's sewing blog!

Apr 9, 2012

The Maternity Scoop-Front Skirt -- Strange but true!

Readers, I'm undecided. Is the maternity scoop-front skirt a bizarre garment or merely an unusual one?  I think it's fair to say that this style is gone, kaput, finis. Blame it on stretch fabrics, more casual fashion, or simply a dislike of drafts, the scoop-front skirt has gone the way of the dodo bird, rubber girdles, and high button shoes.

Thankfully, maternity scoop-front skirt patterns abound, so those wishing to recreate one can. And readers, I have! Please keep an open mind and recognize that I consider this project more cultural anthropology than maternity fetish.

This skirt, part of Advance 8152 from 1956, is on the big side, but I'm confident Cathy will grow into it based on the speed with which she's currently inflating. By June it may be too small. (As you can see, I opted for slimming black.)

It's worth noting that this is one of the few women's garments a man can wear and still pee standing up. 

The scoop-front maternity skirt was everywhere in the Forties and Fifties in a few basic variations.

In the early Sixties it begins to disappear as stretch panels replace them. Frankly, I think the scoop-front skirt is more adjustable, wouldn't you say?

There were other varieties of expandable maternity skirts but these were less common due, no doubt, to their more complicated construction.

Readers, have any of you ever worn, let alone sewn, a scoop-front maternity skirt? How about your mother, or her mother? I've never seen a commercial version, but then I've never looked. Can you find these things in antique clothing stores?

In closing, if you were pregnant, would you consider whipping up one of these? It's not at all difficult and, wearing one, you never have to worry about overeating.  I'm wondering why scoop-front men's pants have never caught on. WAIT -- STOP RIGHT THERE. IT WAS MY IDEA!!

Happy Monday, everybody!


  1. strangely enough, the thought that these garments are the only ones that men can wear and still pee standing up NEVER crossed my mind...clearly i am not a lateral thinker LMAO

  2. Having spent 3 solid years of my life pregnant (with 4 kids - the last one was born 5 years ago today!), I have to say emphatically that I am glad the scoop-front nightmare is gone.

    Pregnant bellies are need something to help hold that thing up, especially if it's not your first and your abs have already been wrecked. The stretch maternity panels - esp. the ones that go over your belly - may not be sexy, but frankly, by the time you really need them, you are ready to punch anyone who even looks at you like they want a piece of the action. Plus, maternity clothes often get an extra few weeks of action after you have the little darling and the last thing anyone would want is the "sad puppy" belly you get left with hanging out over that and just freestylin' it under your shirt which you will undoubtedly be lifting up to feed the baby. Not to mention, there is no way you could handle that look after a c-section. I needed the stretchy stuff for the first few weeks because I had a huge incision healing and needed to hold a bandage there to protect it.

    The other thing I notice is that the skirt is still sticking out and pulling up in the front. Maybe that will work better on the blooming Cathy, but a good maternity skirt will manage to hold the baby business at the top and yet still come in under the bump to not flare (until at least lower down) - so it is clear you have some kind of decent body under that. At least your legs can look small in comparison to the monstrosity that your belly turns into.

    As for that last picture...I think they need men's pants with the stretchy belly over the waistband so when Joe the Plumber there bends down in his already low-ridin' pants, we don't have to see crack. That is one of the side-effects of guys who are still wearing a "32" when they are clearly beyond the size. Disturbing - lol.

  3. This actually made me LOL. What a novel idea - I've never seen a skirt like this before. Can't wait to see Cathy model it.

  4. I dont't know...I sorta think it's brilliant. Then again, I just really cannot get on board with the current trend of skin tight maternity clothes or just wearing regular clothes and calling it good. When I was pregnant, I made a fare amount of my clothing, because I WANTED the 1960s tent. If I were pregnant again, I would totally try the scoop skirt!

    (I'm 28, btw. Just wanted to add that for reference.)

  5. I’m loving this history lesson. I guess that’s what my mom wore. Wish she were still among us to I could ask her about it. Seems like it would be all right in the summer, but in winter the belly might get a cold blast from below with only the tent to cover it. Maybe THAT’s why I hate the cold so much!

    As Sandi pointed out, Mom would probably have appreciated the stretch panel to help hold things in after the birth, though she probably used a girdle.

    I might make one of these skirts for all the over-eating I do during the holidays.

  6. I suspect that the odd tummy-less panel went out of vogue when elasticated (knit) fabrics became available. That is just so odd looking.

  7. I think I'd like to report in as a survivor of that type of pregnancy attire. We had two types of preggers clothing--the scoop skirt and the tent. Both were comfortable despite being large. Even though we resembled elephants inside of tents we thought we were hiding our condition very well, thank you. In a time when respectable women wore girdles it was such a relief to not have to wear one--those tents hid everything!


  8. Knit fabrics have pretty much ALWAYS been available...I have several 40's patterns that called for jersey. Anyway, some of the maternity skirts I bought in the mid 60's had the scooped out front...& some had stretch panels. And I put panels in a lot of the pants & skirts that I already had. I MUCH preferred the panels...felt kinda exposed with my slip-covered belly hanging out!

    I made most of my dresses...& my mom made me several smock-type blouses. I thought they were adorable...MUCH more flattering than what is worn now.

  9. I've not worn any kind of maternity wear, so it's hard to imagine. But is the scoop actually comfortable (setting aside the peeing thing)? Doesn't it feel weird to have your unclothed belly exposed like that?

  10. When my mom and I were making some maternity clothes for my SIL (early '80s), she told me about making this type of skirt for herself (must have been early '60s). The thing she really didn't like was that the ties would work loose and you had to keep re-tying to keep the skirt up--like you often have to do with an ordinary wrap skirt. She thought the stretchy panels were a big improvement. Also, my mom always wore a half-slip, so her tummy was never exposed. She even had a couple of patterns for maternity slips, IIRC.

  11. LMAO - Oooh, if I ever decide to have a kid, I will NOT be sporting the peek-a-belly look! And quite frankly, after Sandi's comments, I think I'll leave the baby-making to others (sad puppy belly? wrecked abs? Yikes!!!!)

  12. Father of necessity,

    LUV your idea! Give us all a place to house our midlife bulge, we seek a "gut hut"!

  13. Ugh! Having spent some time in maternity clothing, I can say this would not have appealed to me. That open's a too-much-information situation just waiting to happen!

    1. Absolutely! No way I was risking that look. Anyway, how do you know its going to match the size/shape/height of your bump? Knit fabrics are much more forgiving and a whole lot safer!

  14. I just wish I could see what these skirts looked like on an actual pregnant woman. I can't quite wrap my head around the scoop - is the whole belly supposed to fit through that (thus avoiding a tent-like effect on the legs) or what??! (Scratches head in perplexity.)

    Um, I sure appreciate soft knits and stretchy maternity wear, but I do not wear anything close to "skin tight maternity wear." For me, I prefer looser, more drapey shapes, so I don't think those things are synonymous, although by the time you're 40 weeks and ready to pop, everything you own, including maternity wear, may be looking a bit snug. As I joke, it's easy to be a "cute pregnant woman" at 24 weeks - it's not so easy at 41.

  15. Back in my maternity days (three babies in 5 years, I wore most of my maternity clothes to death) I thought the stretch panels were kind of itchy- maybe a scoop would have been easier.

  16. Too bad they couldn't show an actual pregnant woman on the pattern envelope so you could get a better idea of the fit. I agree the stretch panels are a huge improvement but maybe in the August heat a scoop would be nice.

  17. I remember my mother sewing and wearing these skirts when she was pregnant with my brothers in the 60's. Knit panels were available to purchase but she developed runs in them (maybe made of nylon?)and she said they were scratchy. She used a pattern with a center line of bias with a loop on top, so the ties went through it before it was tied. Thanks for the memories, my mother would laugh and shake her head.

  18. It's a pity I'm not going to be pregnant again because I'd actually love to give one of those skirts a try! As someone mentioned above, the ties look to be a potential problem, but if you had a slip on under the skirt, which I assume women would have in those days, then it wouldn't be hanging out in the breeze so much. I'm sure that stretchy panels etc. are probably so ubiquitous for a reason, but as you say it would be a great anthropology experiment! Speaking of which, isn't it odd how all the models on the front of the patterns couldn't be less pregnant if they tried? Was showing pregnant women a no-no back then?

  19. Oh the hormones are at play - more crankiness to come then it all levels out; escalates to extreme horniness and then contentment in celibacy: and Cathy has to deal with all this let alone what she will wear....Yep - pregnancy. Been there done that and won't go back! What if your bump is a different shape to the scoop? Sorry I'm combining maternity clothes post with the next cranky post - hope you don't get confused. Has Cathy reached the "need to make lists" time yet? If not - it will come get the pencil and paper ready......

  20. I can remember my mom wearing one of these for my 2nd brother. That would have been in 1957. She had a very elegant suit in caramel brown. I was four, and I remember!

  21. How hilarious are those pattern covers? As though you are going to keep a trim waist to tie something to, with a well-behaved little acorn taking residence below. HA!

    I wouldn't have lasted 30 minutes in one of those skirts, with the ties giving me heartburn and the interfaced U cutting the bottom of my bump, which by my second child was somewhere just north of my knees, or so it felt. I wrestled daily with the competing needs of really serious support and having nothing pushing on my belly. Misery! I only discovered a Belly Bra in the 6th month of my third and last pregnancy. I SO regret not getting one sooner! Belly Bra + light dress that covers everything and barely touches me = the only way I survived that last one!

    Make sure you have Cathy visit at nesting time - she'll clean out the fridge and repaint the baseboards for you. ;)

  22. I like the Advance 6701 better with what appears to be a "shield" to the tied waist. My mom had some maternity pants, commercially made, in the late 80s early 90s that has snaps at the waist to accommodate the expanding belly in much the same way that the tied version in Advance had. I have been thinking that when I get pregnant I wanted pants or skirts like that because the big stretchy panel looks like it could get uncomfortable.

  23. When I was pregnant with my first 24 tears ago a friend took me to Andy's Cheepees on 8th street and bought me such a scoop out of the front maternity skirt (In black rayon shantung). i loved it becauseI got to wear a skirt that fit in a flattering way. I actually thought it was quite brilliant. I think the skirt was from the late 50's very early 1960's.

    hey peter...did i see you at the FIT museum today??? you were deep in conversation .

  24. I am a birth Doula, suffering through a boring google search for anything pregnancy related, and i came across your entertaining post.

    Thanks for the entertainment, and good writing.

  25. I would have loved to had one of those. I HATED the stretchy panels because they rode down. I carried my babies straight out and didn't look pregnant from behind. How I wish I could've had something that would've been more *fitted* and retro.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

Related Posts with Thumbnails