Petticoat Magazine: The Best Magazine You’ve (Probably) Never Heard Of
Petticoat Magazine, February 1969. Issue from personal collection.
Print magazines are quickly becoming an item of the past. Previous strongholds like Glamour, Marie Claire, and Teen Vogue have shuttered their traditional print publishing sector and have moved exclusively to digital. These have hardly been the first publications to fold and certainly won’t be the last. There is an entire backlog of old magazines that don’t have a fan base today because of how long they’ve been out of print, including my personal favourite: Petticoat magazine. A staple of 1960s and ‘70s Britain, Petticoat was an early feminist and fashion weekly publication that is more than due for a comeback.
The 1960s was where teens began having more say in what they wore. In prior years, teens were dressed like their parents without much say in the matter. However, the onset of the 1960s Youthquake, changed everything. Suddenly there was a whole new market that brands were eager to tap into. Audrey Slaughter, a journalist during this period, knew just what to do. In 1960, after working at the publication Women’s Own, she founded the women’s magazine Honey. Aimed at young women in their 20s, Honey was an immediate success. With the Youthquake becoming a new factor within the industry, Slaughter expanded her publishing umbrella to create Petticoat.
Petticoat Magazine, August 1967. Issue from personal collection.
Lasting from 1966 to 1975, Petticoat was a popular yet controversial magazine among British teens. Whilst the magazine mainly focused on fashion – many top models of the time graced its covers – it wasn’t afraid to cover taboo topics as well. Sex and relationship advice weren’t off the table with Petticoat, but sometimes it would cause them to find themselves in hot water. One of their issues from the early ‘70s offered advice on masturbation, which caused their Agony Aunt writer Claire Rayner to release this statement because of the negative backlash.
"Just what is sex education? I can tell you first what I think it is not — and I base these judgments on the letters I handle each year (upwards of 5,000 of them) from the adolescents who write to Petticoat magazine."*
*Does this not remind you of something that Gillian Anderson’s character on Sex Education would say?
In 1967, Petticoat absorbed fellow fashion magazine Trend. Throughout the next year, the magazine was titled Petticoat/Trend before eventually dropping off Trend. Over the next few years of its tenure, the magazine embraced its slogan, “The new young woman,” often putting it front and centre on the covers, just by the title. By the mid-70s, the Swingin’ Sixties was no more. Other magazines had started to become more popular, and Petticoat found themselves absorbed by Hi! Magazine, which is known today as O.K. magazine.
Petticoat Magazine, October 1967. Issue from personal collection.
Whilst some of the articles and advice from Petticoat have probably not aged well, the heart of what the magazine was about captured readers attention then, and I think it still could now. With all of the reboots currently seen today, maybe Petticoat should be next on the list.
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Petticoat Magazine, November 1973. Issue from personal collection.