Another dress you could buy

ebay item 8305987417 But you'll have to hop to it because the auction ends on the 21st. I wouldn't be surprised if this one tops $100 — it seems to be in perfect shape, and it's an excellent size (B38). Better use a sniping program if you really want it. (Click on the image to go to the Ebay auction.)

I've stopped buying vintage dresses on Ebay for myself (I'd rather sew dresses from vintage patterns and keep Ebay for feeding my Jack Purcell habit) but don't let me stop you.

The only hesitation I feel in recommending this truly lovely dress is this–where would you wear it? It's a day-dress shape, but it's taffeta and chiffon. We don't seem to have that fancy cocktail party dress-up space anymore, or, if we do, everyone is wearing that perfectly serviceable (but just a leeeetle bit boring now, no?) combo of sparkly bare top, low-rise jeans, and heels. Late afternoon summer wedding is the only place I can think of where this would be absolutely the thing. I'm happy to hear other suggestions.

An actual modern dress you could buy

La Redoute catalog pageIf you've been reading this and thinking, "well, that's all very nice, but I don't especially want to look like Doris Day every single day of my life," this post is for you.

I've already written and discarded eight paragraphs of argument intended to convince you that you SHOULD want to look like Doris Day every single day of your life, and have instead decided to work from your premise.

If you can wear a size 12 or smaller (bust 39"/hips 41"), check out this dress from the French catalog La Redoute. Why should you click on the image, through to the catalog page? Because it's wool-silk (no tatty polyester here), and it's only $39.99! Heck, by now I've almost talked myself into this one. What are you waiting for?

Vogue Pattern Magazine, April-May 1953, again

Bigger Image Vogue 969

Here's another one from that same issue of Vogue Pattern Magazine.

Look at that charming square neckline and the little boxy jacket to throw over it … just perfect. And whoever had this magazine before me thought so, too, as there's a check mark next to this illustration.

I would make this one in a polished brown cotton with pale yellow piping, button, and belt, and a pale yellow linen jacket banded in brown. Just in case you were wondering. (And, while I'm deep in clothes fantasyland here, pale yellow round-toe pumps.)

(Click on the image to see it full-size in a new window.)

Vogue Pattern Magazine, April-May 1953

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This issue of Vogue Pattern Magazine is crammed full of amazing dresses, so I'm sure you'll see more of it, and sooner rather than later. Let me just say that 1953? An excellent year for interesting necklines.

But for now, turn your attention to the dress on the left in this scan. It illustrates perfectly one of the problems of buying old pattern magazines: you are then tormented by being unable to find the actual old patterns. (Pattern magazines, for the most part, are just catalogs of the patterns. They do not contain them.) This is one of the many patterns in this issue that I've been looking for for years. The drape at the neckline, the full skirt, the soft gathering under the bust: if I had this pattern I would have made it several times over (pale-blue handkerchief linen, anyone?). But I don't, and I'm too lazy to draft my own pattern for it, so this dress stays on the page instead of hanging in my closet.

(Click on the image to see it full-size in a new window.)

The Feel of It

Bigger Image Vogue 969

Sometimes it's not so much the look of the dress (although this one looks, in my opinion, marvelous) but the feel of it. Look at that gathering at the bottom of the back yoke. Made in a heavy enough fabric, this would pull your shoulders back, make you stand straighter. The gathering at the center back of the skirt, so much more than at the front, would feel like a train. How do you feel, if you are standing with your shoulders well back, and if when you move you it seems like you are managing a train? You feel like a queen.

(Click on the image to see it full-size in a new window.)

UFO Pile, No. 1

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UFO in this context (for those of you who don't spend all your free time sewing) means "un-finished object." The dress at the left in this picture is a UFO of mine. I made it up in a heavy raw silk, in black, which I think is what led to it descending to the UFO netherworld. The fabric isn't stiff enough (it's heavy but floppy) and, frankly, I find sewing with black fabric boring. (Click on the image to see it full-size in a new window.)

I may yet dig it out and finish it up, though, because the lines are gorgeous. You know the person who designed that went home pleased with herself that day.

Great Dresses of (Mediocre) Literature, Pt. 1

Anne surveyed herself in the mirror of the blue room with girlish satisfaction. She had a particularly pretty gown on. Originally it had been only a simple little slip of cream silk with a chiffon overdress. But Phil had insisted on taking it home with her in the Christmas holidays and embroidering tiny rosebuds all over the chiffon. Phil's fingers were deft, and the result was a dress which was the envy of every Redmond girl. Even Allie Boone, whose frocks came from Paris, was wont to look with longing eyes on that rosebud concoction as Anne trailed up the main staircase at Redmond in it.

from Anne of the Island, L.M. Montgomery, 1915.

Submissions for this recurring feature of MilitaryHumveeAuction are gratefully accepted.