The year was 1987. Bob Hawke was out Prime Minister. It was the year Kylie Minogue released her first single, I should be so Lucky and it was the year that Vietnam Vets were finally recognised for their service, albeit 15 years too late.

And it was the year that I first clapped my eyes on a garment known as the bubble skirt. Oh, be still my beating teenaged heart, if that did not quickly rocket to the top of my list of things that I would die from if I didn’t own it, then I would be I liar if did not proclaim this to be so.

It even knocked River Phoenix off my list of objects of desire.

As black and white striped bubble skirts began to appear on my friends, in Sportsgirl and just on generally everyone I laid eyes on, I panicked and showed Mum the latest trend and begged, pleaded even, that if I did not get my ass into a phoofy skirt as soon as possible, then my social status would be forever cast out into the cold. And this will not do as a mere 14 year old.

And then Mum said the words that spread fear into my very being, every time they escaped from her lips.

“Oh they are simple. I will make you one.”

Looking back now, I can see she was well meaning. But Mum was not a good seamstress. YOU ARE NOW MUM! I HAVE SEEN YOUR QUILTING EFFORTS.

But back then….

I gave Mum some very, very precise designing instructions. It was to have a thick, black elastic band that sat high up on my waist. (Oh waist, I remember you….)

The material had to be EXACTLY like the ones that everyone was wearing. Either black and white dotted, or black and white striped. No deviations whatsoever.

Oh, and I needed it in like, 24 hours.

Of course, the result was a light blue, seersucker, and baggy puffball skirt down to below my knees. It hung from a thin strip of white hat elastic that was sewn into the top.

Because the short, short, magically puffy ones were… “Common!”

Which was the entire point!

So I attended all the birthday parties that year in my saggy bubble skirt while everyone else had a happier time because of their surrounding puffiness. And let’s not even start on the bodysuits underneath.

No wonder I was a moody, miserable teenager. I wanted to look like everyone else, but Mum’s Singer prevented me from ever really fitting in.

This memory came flooding back to me last recently, when I attended an event. It was a stunning, sunny day and as I walked into the function, I noticed a poor young girl had forgotten her pants.

She had long, brown smooth legs and a tiny, high bottom encased in, what would seem to be, a pair of bright white cottontails. Had she just come from the beach?

However, I got more confused when she turned around….


I had not laid my eyes on a skort since I wore one at primary school, where they were prescribed as an antidote to avoid getting teased when you swung from the monkey bars upside down! I am also aware that the skort continues to be a very fashionable option for lady golfers, but to the knee if you please!

Unlike their cousin the culottes, who are a more of a pant type item, the skort has come screaming off some catwalk, somewhere, and into our stores. The skort is a portmanteau of skirt and shorts. And it is not the first instance of two fashion garments mating and producing and offspring, however dodgy it might turn out.

Take my shumper that I used to swan the office in. (skirt and jumper). You also have the option of getting around in jeggings, shants, shresses, treggings and burqinis, all the time swishing around your lob.

And that is the thing about fashion that I should not have feared back in 1987.

If you don’t get the trend right the first time, and depending on your age, you might have at least 2 more attempts in your lifetime to master it.

 Did you have an awesome outfit favourite when you were a teenager?

What was it?


  • Donna

    1987! I wore a pink taffeta bubble skirt dress with silver lame strapless top to my year 12 graduation. I thought I was it and a bit. It was purchased from the posh shop in town. But don’t judge, I had many years of home made outfits including the time mum tried to fashion a navy netball skirt. It was disastrous and the adult bitch of a coach teased me. Didn’t help that my naive mum and me didn’t realise the need for bum shorts underneath. Couldn’t have done with that skort!

    • Wendy

      I graduated in 1987 too!

  • Janelle Spear

    Yes I owned a couple of bubble skirts. They were the bomb!! My fav outfit was my black and white stripped ra ra skirt and crop top that matched and the wide elastic belt. Oh to be able to wear a crop top again. Although those elastic belts would be good to suck in my fat. ??

  • Tracey

    Do you remember bubblegum jeans? The really REALLY tight but super stretchy ones? Yeah I totally rocked those. With white fringed leather boots.

    Good times.

  • lou lou

    I nearly sent my grandmother blind sewing the eight tier (EIGHT!!) ‘ra ra’ skirt in different black and white stripes, dots and check fabric I had carefully selected at the K-mart fabric counter.

    I put together a ‘look’ of this ‘ra ra’ skirt ‘worked back’ with a hot pink button down blouse, home-made wide elastic belt, fluro socks, sparkly jelly shoes and an arm full of coloured plastic bangles. I finished my ‘story’ with my permed hair swept up in a white banana clip. Naturally, I was the Belle of the Casino West Primary end of year social and awards evening.

  • I had a bubble dress. It was a baggy drop waisted number that ended with a bubble at the bottom. I also used to brush my curly hair back then so together, it was QUITE the look!

  • I was VERY out of step as a teen…which started because Mum was an absolute dragon regarding what was fashionable and what wasn’t… Any pleas along the lines of, “But, Muuuum, EVERYONE else has one…” were met with, “Well dear, you’re not everyone else.” And that was the end of that. Definitely no bubble skirts. So I went kinda sideways from that. When everyone else was wearing skin tight high wasted jeans, I had pleated cord Bogarts (remember those?!). I wore the first stilettos in our school to the end of year social when everyone else was clumping around in platforms (which Mum hated!). And when I wasn’t allowed to take my school uniform up to skim my knickers like everyone else, I opted to wear drag, and hauled out the baggy pants, boy’s desert boots, and men’s shirts. I’ve never quite fathomed why I was allowed to step so far out of the box, really, except Mum herself wasn’t ever particularly conventional, fashion-wise… I did have some drop waist dresses, when those were in, but not much in the way of the frills Princess Di made so popular!

  • Heidi D

    My mum put her sewing skills to good use on a saturday afternoon back in the 80’s when the shops were shut in the afternoon. I needed a tube skirt, everyone was wearing one that night to the blue light disco & I couldn’t cope without one. She grabbed dad’s roll neck skivie, turned it inside out, sewed up both sides, chopped the sleeves off & turned it back the right way & the roll neck was my waistband. It was beige but it was a tube skirt. Add a mens shirt, fluro belt & socks & I was ready to roll

  • Bee

    at one stage my mother had a knitting machine! The horror of school jumpers made on the knitting machine. She is a great seamstress still sewing for $$$ into her 70’s but I hated it when she made me clothes. I remember the time I really wanted a grown up white taffeta shirt. I never wore what she made me.She could sew and knit for everyone else but I want my clothes from actual shops thanks.

    • Ditto, mum would whip up a jumper in next to no time…specialising in not “quite” the right shade. Being 6 foot tall, freckled, red hair & braces wasn’t enough embarrassment in years 5/6, I had to have a stick-out-like-a-dog-with-two-dicks-not-quite-the-right-shade-of-green school jumper… No wonder I kept loosing them..!

  • No need for bubble skirts on the farm. Just some Lady Bird corduroy slacks for me, that mum ironed a front crease in – HOW EMBARRASSING!

  • Jenny

    My sister was married around that time and her future sister-in-law and myself were bridesmaids left to our own devices when it came to outfit choices. We decided that silver bubble skirts would look amazing. In fact I think they did amaze everyone, not least because my mum made them down to our knees with a thin waist band. There was no definition, (no belt) just a big silver puff ball which added several sizes to our shapes. Unfortunately, the photos of our fashion insanity haunt us forever in my parents and my sister’s houses. Never let teenagers choose bridesmaid outfits!!

  • I never got to have a bubble skirt – by the time I noticed it, it had passed me by… My mother got a dressmaker to make me some clothes when I was 16 (in 1985) that looked just as bad as you can imagine…