Word Origin & History
1412, pety coote, lit. "a small coat," from petty + coat. Originally a padded coat worn by men under armor, applied 1464 to a garment worn by women and young children. By 1593, the typical feminine garment, hence a symbol of female sex or character.
"Men declare that the petticoatless female has unsexed herself and has left her modesty behind." ["Godey's Magazine," April 1896]