Ladies, Start Your Engines

Michelle over at has this listed for sale — click on the image to visit the page — and I really, really, really wish I had an excuse to buy and make this dress. I'd need a great excuse, as it's B30 and $75, but I'm looking … anyone want to invite me to a White House dinner? (Okay, maybe I'd like to wait until January '09 for that one, but I'd be up for some embassy shindig.)

I love that this pattern is described as an "informal dinner dress". Obviously, this dates before the rise of the drive-in, never mind the drive-through!

This dress makes me long for the days when people took dresses seriously. This is a life-and-death dress, a dress of consequence. This dress stands for something, and takes no guff. Can your poly-cotton jersey number from Forever21 say the same?

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0 thoughts on “Ladies, Start Your Engines

  1. That is wonderful. I’d like it in that great 40’s jadeite green please. šŸ˜‰ I love the back of the skirt. Angie @ *CapricornVintage*

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  2. Who on earth has a 30″ bust? I haven’t been that size since third grade (and I’m NOT fat!)This, in the pale jade green, is so Deborah Kerr…

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  3. A “dress of consequence”–so well put!I am seriously thinking of buying this pattern. Not to make it, but to put it in a frame, hang it on the wall, and daydream about all the wonderful things that would happen to a woman wearing a dress like that! (Perhaps a Secret Lives of Dresses story, Erin? Huh? Huh?)

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  4. Look! pretty close. You’d need to mess with the sleeveless version a little at the front bodice, and lengthen the skirt, but you wouldn’t have to grade it! And it’s $20!

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  5. Merciful heavens! You will make a dress wearing seamstress out of me yet. So far all I do is read, learn, and pine, but that can’t last much longer. –L

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  6. Yes, the back is similar on the two dresses. The bodice on the decades of style is completely different. It is the skirt – which I think is what really makes this a Simplicity Designers pattern. I love the slim line – going into the godets of the skirt. It is interesting that they are both from the late 40’s. That must have been a style that they where playing with.

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  7. Semi-off topic comment, your post yesterday caused me to go on ebay, and fall in love, and I just spent more to win a pattern than I typically do on entire, complete dresses. I am the type of person who buys only at the $1.99 sales at JoAnn’s, and only buys on ebay if I can get it for 99 cents. So now, referring back to last week’s discussions on treasured fabrics, can you give me some advice as to how, exactly, you bring yourself to cut into a pattern that you paid so much for?This is what captured my heart: promise I’ll sew it, (its perfect for holiday parties!) but do I make a copy somehow? Trace it onto muslim or pattern paper? I do sew, I’ve made five dresses that I’m supposed to have on my blog but I keep forgetting to take pictures.

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  8. Oh that dress is gorgeous! *Sigh* I also wish people would dress up – even occasionally. This dress would be so wonderful to wear – you’d look good coming and going.

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  9. Oh I have moments when I yearn for women dressing as they once did, especially the other week when I watched a cary Grant film. The dress is devine…..

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  10. Erin. That dress leaves me speechless. But you are right – that is a dress for an era when people took wearing “the right dress” as very serious business. It was a language all of its own. But, we can all sigh a little bit and dream.

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  11. I love the dress! Elegant, like Sound of Music dinner party elegant! Speaking of elegant, when are you going to do a new Secret Lives of Dresses? Linda

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  12. Can I just say, to everyone who says, every time that a small-busted dress comes up, “Who has a 30″ bust” (or a 31″, or a 32″) that these people do exist. I’m a 31.5″, so this dress wouldn’t fit me, but I do know girls who are more flat chested than I am, and are not in their teens. It may not be common, but it isn’t unheard of.

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  13. Madebyamanda–it’s not any lack of endowment we are marveling at when we see a B30 pattern and say “What?”–it’s just that there must be a tiny elfin frame. I’ve always been small-boned, but I’m not sure that my *ribs* would fit in a B-30… I’m sure that next to you, I look like a cow.

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  14. Lovely.Also gave me a lovely feeling, since I pegged it as an “at home” sort of dinner dress before coming to the description. Thank you.

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  15. WOW, what a dress…….the draping and smooth lines and all that stuff…..I wish I had a way with words to describe how I really feel..but that pattern is “Smashing”.

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  16. Madebyamanda, even though the dress is marked “Bust 30” and you are a “Bust 31.5,” trust me, you would be able to wear this dress pattern. Generally speaking, there’s enough ease in the way the pattern is made so that it will fit someone who’s a bit bigger in one place or another. And it’s a small enough difference that if you had to enlarge the pattern, you could. In point of fact, a LOT of people find that patterns actually fit them better if they buy a size down, rather than their “actual” size. If you have the money and the inclination, go for it! I’m sure you’ll look wonderful in it.So would my sister, who is much, much closer to a 30″ bust than I have ever been since grammar school. She got the fine-boned build; I did not. Claudette Colbert, as I recall, was a 31 1/2″ bust also. I think none of us intend to be rude to our smaller sisters; it’s just frustrating to see dress patterns we love in sizes that would never, ever fit us. It’s actually a good thing that there are so many beautiful, sophisticated dress patterns available – I know it can be just as difficult for our smaller sisters to find clothes that are appropriate for their ages, jobs, lives, and tastes.

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  17. Oh, wow! That dress on the left is breath-taking! I would certainly wear it out. Amongst my friends, I’m usually the one who dresses up a bit more – what’s the point of having beautiful clothes and not share the joy?I love feeling pretty, oh so pretty…

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