Making Retro out of Modern


(click on that link for her excellent blog about hats!) suggested on the sewretro Yahoo group that Vogue 8070 (the modern pattern shown here) could make a very retro dress if you chose the right fabric and trim — especially if you used two different fabrics.

Look at it again, and tell me that it wouldn't look like something scored by Cole Porter if you did it in black crepe with silver lame for the panels and trim, or how kickass of a wedding dress it would be, lengthened and done in heavy satin?

I'm tempted to buy it myself, the next time Vogue goes on sale at Joann's — I bet if you didn't gather those shoulder straps they would make little cap sleeves. Maybe this dress would be a good way to use all the little 2 yard pieces of gorgeous fabric I have lying around — the whole darn thing only takes about 3 yards. I could buy some nice solid, really go to town and use up my stash. (Disclaimer: I could not use up my stash if I sewed a new dress every day for a year. But a girl can dream!)

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Fabulous! Fashions of the Forties at FIT


Sharp-eyed Dress A Day reader Shawn sent this to me, which I'm pasting below for those of you who can't/won't/don't hit the NY Times site (link ):

FABULOUS! FASHIONS OF THE 1940'S This show affords a glimpse of the tip of an enormous historical iceberg. Organized by Ellen Shanley, costume curator at the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology, around a selection of dresses from the museum's collection, it is about what happened after Germany invaded Paris in 1940 and the city that had been the Western world's unrivaled leader in high fashion lost that role to New York. In Allied countries, response to war by designers and manufacturers was partly determined by officially mandated conservation measures, but new styles also reflected the military spirit of the moment. In contrast to the elaborately frilly neo-Victorian gowns that were coming out of Paris just before the war, American designers like Adrian (see above) began to produce severe, streamlined, square-shouldered dresses: no-nonsense neo-Classical costumes for female warriors. Women's sportswear took off, too, led by the elegantly functional designs of Claire McCardell. (Athleticism was a good cover under which to smuggle in eroticism in the form of tennis outfits and bathing suits.) The Paris fashion industry continued to produce for wealthy French collaborators and Germans, but it was isolated and its influence stifled. Then, shortly after the war, Paris bounced back with the New Look, the ultra-feminine style created by Christian Dior, which restored the city to its former place as ruler of world fashion. (The Museum at FIT, Seventh Avenue at 27th Street, Chelsea, (212) 217-5800 , through July 30.) KEN JOHNSON

Click on the image to go to the FIT Museum site. Admission is free, which I don't think I knew. Closed Sundays and Mondays.

Entry the Next: Dotted Swiss!

Alison M. Reed sends this wonder in, saying: "I have always loved to dress up and am often the only one at work to wear both skirts and dresses on a regular basis (about 1/2 the time). My favorite period to dress as is a 1930's to 1940's style working woman. Love it. So here is my link. I found this dress while blindly searching for a dress to wear to a wedding and I found this lovely and still affordable dress. Yes I know that I cannot wear it, because it is most certainly white, but I did have visions of flirting about in it on the grass…. and it looks so lovely and delicate. Alas, it is also slightly too small for my frame."

You can't tell from this picture (click through for more) but it's made of I am a big fan of old-style dotted swiss — the kind that is woven, not printed. So pretty! Right now you can only buy it, from places that cater to those folks who make But really, it's just as nice for grown-ups.

This would be a lovely informal wedding dress (for the bride, not a guest). It's only $100, so if this is your size (B34/W24), check it out.

another stellar contest entry

This one from msbelle, who says: "Not only is it a fabulous 40s dress, but THE HAT! THE GLOVES!! And there is most certainly a story there, look at the face of model #2 in the flowered dress, she’s upset about something. The hands on hips alone is pretty clear body language: she has been wronged. And Ms. Hat sure does look pleased with herself, doesn’t she?"

Click on the image to go to the Ebay auction for the pattern.

A runner-up (aka "and now for something completely different")

Just because I couldn't wear this without looking like (not that there's anything wrong with that) doesn't mean it's not one of the loveliest dresses to ever grace a pattern envelope.

This is a contest submission from flea, who says "I like the lean shape but with the volume in the lower skirt, I find little cap sleeves very flattering, plus you get an attached platter collar, and are those pintucks at the throat? I also have a silly fondness for a dress with a zipper in the side seam. I can see this in a navy with while polka-dot, a dark red crepe for evening, or a pale purple linen (though oh, the ironing!)"

I second all those and add "a cream silk georgette with an abstract geometric design in brown … " To wear with your brown linen cloche and cream-and-brown spectator pumps, of course! Thanks, flea!

Click on the link to see the rest of the pattern envelope and a back view (the pleats are there, too). It's from the Vintage Vogue repro series.

And the winner is …

This dress was submitted by TWO Dress A Day readers — can you see why?

Margaret says: "I love the shawl collar (which description says is a halter), the sheen of the fabric, and I think (if the top buttons were buttoned) the bodice would lay so smoothly. I adore both the pockets and the swoony full skirt. It reminds me of the elegant50s, not the 50s of the poodle skirt, but the 50s of the cocktail hour and piano bar and trousseaus. Yummy!"

Ladiva52 says: "Why do I love this particular dress? I love the bronze — a color without being too far out of my pretty much black-only wardrobe. A halter that is still demure, the collar is charming, a full skirt for the dance floor and, above all, pockets!"

They really knew how to push my buttons — full skirt, collar, and pockets! Good work!

So: same dress, two winners! I went back into my Closet of Doom and realized that I made yet another dress from the same pattern as the so Ladiva52 can get that one, if she likes. It's a very soft mouse-gray faille, with a much longer skirt. (Margaret emailed the link first, so she wins the actual prize.) Will you both send me your mailing addresses, please?

All of the links sent were astounding, so I'm going to post them over the next week. There will be runners-up prizes. Watch this space!

It's a Grand Old Flag, It's a High-flying Flag …

This just makes me SO DAMN PROUD to be an AMERICAN.

I don't know whether the fact that this is intended to be a Jon-Benet-style pageant outfit is an excuse or further proof of damnation. Click on the link to go to the site, where there are many other fantastic examples of this kind of thing. Man, this woman can sew! Who will make her use her powers for good, and not for evil?

Confidential to Mr. Dress A Day: Happy Anniversary!