The S-Dress

Suzan Ereslan sent me this dress, which was her final project for her Personal Expression and Wearable Technologies class at the Interactive Telecommunications Project at NYU. (Man, when I went to school you couldn't do a degree in Interactive Telecommunications. You were lucky if you had a telephone, much less "Interactive Telecommunications." And we had to walk uphill, in the snow, both ways, to even USE said phone. But I digress.)

Suzan writes: "The dress has touch switches that are located at various erogenous zones on the body. These can be taken off and placed according to the wearer's particular specifications. When someone touches the wearer in the right spot, the lights around the bottom light up, indicating that the toucher is on the right path. The longer the switches are held (or the more that are found), the longer the LEDs stay lit, and they cycle through a series of colors and speeds from flashing to a nice, throbbing pulse."

Sounds like this makes things too easy for one's partner? Well, that was the idea:

"The name of it (S-Dress) is a play on words–I was inspired by estrus, the swelling and reddening of the genitals in mammals other than humans, which alerts the male of the species that it's mating time."

Personally, I'm seeing a version for wear on public transit, that sets off a siren and tear gas if you feel a hand on your ass. Maybe a Taser bolt, too. Anyway, what an interesting idea. I don't think there's enough clothing that lights up, whatever the reason for it.

To see pictures of the inner construction of the dress, click on the image — it will take you to Suzan's Flickr set.

Ruffles? Ruffles.

Well, I'm shopping eBay Australia again — maybe I'm thinking it's some giant study-abroad, student-exchange program for sewing patterns? — and this one is tempting me. Specifically, the little polka-dot number. Now, I've carefully arranged all my pattern-shopping experiments to allow for the significant amount of polka-dot interference, so I'm pretty sure what caught my eye was the ruffle. (I know! Ruffles!)

Sorry the picture is a bit wonky; I don't have my regular suite of image-editing tools here today so I'm unable to lovingly caress every pixel to show you the best possible view. If you want to see it larger go click on the image and you'll be right there at the auction.

I'm not sure why; perhaps I'm still reeling from the sensory assault that was the September issue of Lucky, what with all those patterned tights and fussy little blouse bows and whatnot (I swear they're having some kind of internal contest and the stylist who puts the most unlikely accessory with any particular outfit and manages to get it photographed wins); perhaps the combination of PINK plus polka-dots trancended all my careful laboratory controls. Maybe I'm still thinking about that bertha collar on Queen Victoria from the other day. All I know is that I am entranced by the way that ruffle straddles the boundary between collar and sleeve.

If you are too, and you don't mind removing precious national sewing heritage documents from another country, you can buy this for $6.09 US. It's a B34, and shipping seems reasonable. And so does making it in pink polka-dots.

Lives of Dresses, Vol. 6

You know, sometimes, when you're being worn, you don't pay all that much attention. I mean, you're there, where else would you be, but you're not all the way there. Me, I was thinking about whether or not we'd walk home and get me all sweaty on a day that was too warm for late April, or if we'd try to get on the streetcar, which would still be hot but take less time. So I didn't realize anything was happening other than a regular old day at the office until I felt the drops.

She was typing–she did a lot of typing–but it was much slower than her usual rat-a-tat pace. There would be the crash of a single key hitting the platen, then a drop, then a pause, then the crash again. For a minute, I wasn't sure what the drops were–had she spilled coffee, and, more importantly, was it staining me? It was only when she started rummaging in the desk for a handkerchief that I realized she was crying. Crying! That's one of the worst things you can do in a dress, you know. Every time you cry in a dress you grind sadness right into it, deep down into the fabric, and it never comes out. Laughing in a dress — now that's good. The laughter lodges between the warp and weft in little bubbles, like champagne. And kissing, kissing in a dress sets up a kind of vibration in the fabric that keeps wobbling there forever. But crying, even the drip-drip silent kind, that just grimes a dress up. I hate it. She'd never cried in me before.

She put the handkerchief on the desk and started typing again, same as before. Crash-drip-crash. Crash-drip-crash, until the door to the office opened and Miriam came in. I like Miriam; she's kind. She wears bright patterned dresses, which is good because they hide the ink drips and salad-dressing spots that seem to always happen to office dresses.

"Aw, honey. I came as soon as I heard."

She looked up from her typing and said, "There's nothing to hear. Not about me, anyway."

"You know if he had a choice it would be about you. But the name on the door reads Wilton, Simms, and Wilton, and the way it works is that the first Wilton gets to tell the second Wilton what to do. Up to and including 'doing' Miss Simms."


"Well, you know it's true. Her daddy bought him for her sure as that car she drives into walls and that pony she falls off of and whatever else she wants and can't handle. Money might buy her a husband, but it won't buy her happiness."

She still had her hands on the typewriter and she hit a few more keys, but the drips stopped.

"Come out with me and Johnny tonight. He has a friend in from Kansas City; I think you'd like him. His name's Bill and he has an aw-shucks face and he'll buy you cocktails and wish they were ice-cream sundaes. He's exactly what you need after all these San Francisco sophisticates."

"I have to get this into the paper before the edition closes. Social column runs tomorrow, you know."

"Social column? What … he asked you to type the announcement? He's not just a weak fool, he's a cruel weak fool. I'm sorry … I know you had hopes of making a man out of him. But you can't build a house out of marshmallows."

"I think that's what's the worst part." Drips again. Now I was spotted all up and down the front like a leopard.

"Now, I tell you what. You finish that, and you type one more thing, and then you come out with us tonight. I won't have you moping in your room, thinking about that newspaper coming out tomorrow."

"I don't have anything else to type, after this."

"Oh, yes, you do. You know Alyce Chanteres, over down at Bateman's? She's quitting to go on that China trip with her aunt, and if you go down there first thing tomorrow you'll get her job. Her cousin's the man who does the hiring and she'll make it right. You know she will. They pay better, too. So you finish that nasty piece of commerce you're working on now and then type out your resignation. I bet he thought he'd still have you here to gaze upon every day, as a relief from that beak he'll have to look at across the breakfast table! Won't he be surprised to find that on his desk in the morning instead!"

"Is Alyce really going now? I didn't think it was settled."

"Saw her at lunch. She said I was the first person she'd told, since her aunt decided for certain last night that'd they'd go."

"Well … "

"If you don't type it I'll type it for you." Miriam went to the other machine and twirled in a piece of paper. She spoke as she typed, doing both with the same flourishes. "Dear Mr. Wilton, Jr.: Herewith is my resignation, effective immediately. Sincerely, Candace Lennington." "Oh, won't the old man be cross when Junior has to explain why you left!"

"You're right. I'll do it." The crash-crash turned into the rapid-fire hammering I was used to, and then she was pulling the page out, folding it, and cramming it into the waiting envelope.

"Is that Bill tall? I hope he's tall." She smiled weakly.

"He's a regular giant, a beef-fed colossus bestriding Kansas and Missouri both. Now, go fix your face in the washroom and we'll get rid of that yellow journalism on our way to meet the boys."

Bill was very tall, but he was clumsy, and he spilled a drink on me. By the time I was cleaned it was time to put me aside for her light summer dresses, and then in the fall all of a sudden she was spending an awful lot of time checking for letters from Kansas City, and writing ones addressed to same. She didn't type them. When she left to follow the letters, she gave me to Miriam, since she wasn't going to be working in an office any more.

Dress A Day Research Challenge

So here's the mystery: this type of dress (worn by Queen Victoria here) is supposedly (according to ) known in America as a "Boston dress."

However, I can't find any other confirmation (other than that book of paper dolls linked above) of this term. Anyone want to take a shot at seeing if it's in any of the full-text newspaper databases? Or JSTOR? Or Making of America?

The person with the oldest printed citation/example will get a copy of the book (not a copy of the Winterhalter portrait, sadly).

Have fun looking!

Le dress, c'est moi.

Many thanks to Lisa, who sent me this stirring number, which quenched nearly all of my disturbing revolutionary tendencies, and actually stopped the tumbrels rolling to the guillotine for a good ten minutes. I'm keeping the decimal year, though. Happy ! (I think.)

This is a BuyItNow on eBay so quick, quick, click if you want it. B37. $39.99. A haughty expression is required and powdered hair and predilection for dressing up and pretending to be either the dauphine or a milkmaid preferred.

The notebook fell open and there it was.

Actually, not really. Arabellaesmerelda sent me a link to this incredibly evocative (for me, at least) illustration posted to Flickr, by the artist . But I like to think of this as the digital equivalent of flipping open someone's notebook at random and finding something like this.

It was in the Moleskinerie pool, and for those of you who don't know what a Moleskine is, it's a notebook, and it's a . Seriously. I'm just a low-level acolyte; I use mine (the lined kind) for the quotidian purpose of taking notes. But there are probably thousands, if not tens of thousands, of folks who use theirs to make art like this.

And even cooler, this artist, irtroit, is in Moscow. She's from . I had to look up Izhevsk, absolutely. It's where the AK-47 was invented. That's not the cool part; the cool part is that thanks to the magic of the internet we all get to see her work. What kind of distribution would there have been for Russian-made sewing-themed notebook art before this particular moment in the history of the world?

Besides, you all know plaid is my kryptonite. I am helpless before it (and it's a green plaid at that). Right now I'm weak, in a thrall in front of my monitor, and I won't get anything done until I summon the strength to change browser tabs.

One last thing — if that small pattern piece is supposed to be the sleeve, as I imagine, that low curve is really easy to set in, and makes an absolutely adorable cap sleeve.

Green how I love you green. / Green wind. / Green boughs. / The ship on the sea / and the horse on the mountain. /

I really do love green, every shade from pale celadon or celery to that deep peacock that is almost blue. Green is good, and this dress is a very good green … it's an eBay listing (not of mine, of Memphis Vintage) and has another few days to run. Good condition, only one small mark, of the kind that if you didn't know it was there, you wouldn't know it was there. If you know what I mean.

The collar, the cuffs, the flat center of the pleated skirt; there are so many things to praise about this dress. Go look at the other pictures, especially the buttons on the cuffs.

I am at the today (I've seen only two dresses other than , so far) and this dress, oddly enough, makes me think of that kind of precursor to online communal projects, the women's club. Think about it: a population of people whose talents are underused (or, at the very least, not exhaustively used) who band together to do good things in their communities. This is a dress to wear to exhort folks to pull together and get stuff done, isn't it? Up at the front of the room, after everyone's had tea and cookies, saying "We need volunteers to make bandages/fund-raise for the children's playground/organize a monument"? The green would simultaneously reassure and energize. I haven't seen much green today, but I will be wearing green tomorrow. Let's hope I'm right!