by Sara Dewhurst, fashion writer

During the latter half of the eighties a reinvented version of a 50s fad emerged its ugly head. Yes, it was the awkward-looking puffball skirt which, I believe, was called the bubble skirt in the U.S. and a balloon skirt in some countries.

As the name suggests (it is not to be confused with multi-layered ruffle skirts/tutus), these skirts which puffed out at the hem like a mushroom and sat just above the knee and made women's hips look ridiculously huge. They became popular in the mid to late 80s and I certainly remember Princess Diana wearing one with diagonal stripes, and also Pepsi & Shirlie wore them, too - 80s fashion at its worst!
Green Bubble Skirt 1980s
Where can I buy original puffball skirts and dresses from?

If you're thinking of creating an 80s costume using an original puffball skirt, then I would suggest ebay or Etsy. However, authentic 80s designs are extremely hard to find these days and a lot of what I found looked nothing like the original skirts from the 80s. If you're looking for an updated version then their are plenty to choose from on eBay, although be aware that some were just flared, skater or accordian pleated skirts and didn't have a puffball hem at all!

The search term that brought up the best selection of authentic designs were Puffball Dress although, to quote an old saying, you will still have to sort out the wheat from the chaff.

For fancy dress purposes there are plenty of other styles of skirts and costumes available, such as minis, ra-ra, tutu and skater and you can see these on our Ladies Fancy Dress and 80s Skirts pages.
 photo minnie1.jpg
This original 80s off-shoulder polka dot bubble dress was available on eBay for a limited time.
Princess Diana wearing a striped puffball skirt at Cannes in 1987
Princess Diana in 1987
Vintage Tartan Punk Puffball Dress
You could become a punk princess in this vintage tartan puffball dress by Luella which we also found on ebay.