OK, so it’s not Friday here in the US, but as Jimmy Buffet says (or my version of it), it’s Friday somewhere. Actually probably not, but it’s been a crazy week. I’ve been driving my dear husband to cardiac rehab twice a week, because he’s not allowed to drive till late October. They play some pretty righteous 80’s tunes while I’m in there, so it’s fun to sit there and wait, listening to Prince and the club music of my day, while reading Jane Eyre. But let’s get on with the pretty.
Isn’t this little girls’ dress just lovely? I think it’s probably my all time favorite girls dress, in over twenty years of selling patterns. I’d make it without the lace, but I think it’s perfect otherwise. That little drawstring bag is the perfect addition to the look. It’s size 4, and I could see my granddaughter really loving this, since she loves to wear her Elsa and Anna outfits anywhere she goes. What do you think?
Have a great Friday, Saturday, or whatever day you’d like for it to be. Enjoy the weekend!
When people mention something is 70s does 30s, or 80s does 50s, for example, do you know what they mean? Fashion has a great way of repeating itself, as seen in this iconic scene from The Devil Wears Prada, where Miranda dresses Andy down like no other:
So when someone says 80s does 50s, they mean that it’s an 80s style, done in the vibe of the 50s. This is how I actually realized I loved vintage, because all of my 80s dresses were done in a 50s vibe, with a few 80s does 40s thrown in for good measure. I had a wonderful white peplum dress with red polka dots that was a particular favorite, which my ex also dumped coffee on during a five hour drive to Boca Raton for a wedding. Nothing like showing up with a huge coffee stain across you lap. But I digress.
This beautiful Bill Blass patter is a great example of 70s does 30s. The disco era is full of echoes from the 30s, with the beautifully cut bias maxi dresses, and this one is no exception. It also has a great tuxedo vibe, which is reminiscent of the Annie Hall look of the same time period. It’s a beautifully draped menswear inspired dress, and that is one hard thing to pull off. Also, because of the jacket, you can wear it in winter if you’re daring, and taking off that jacket would give you a great Grace Kelly “Rear Window” reveal vibe, seen here at :57, in her 50s does 30s top:
Well, maybe not that dramatic, but still — you’d catch everyone’s eye when that jacket comes off.
I love this pattern. Look at how many looks it makes. Princess seams are so flattering, and you can make this in so many styles that it’s almost a capsule wardrobe pattern for the mid-1950s. It lacks the huge full skirt so prevalent in those years, which makes for economy of fabric.
I imagine this pattern being loved by women who grew up in the Great Depression. They’d be looking for thrifty ideas to save them money, and here is a pattern that you can mix up to create a whole wardrobe of dresses from, that won’t break the bank on textiles. It’s a thrifty woman’s dream. Women of that era can squeeze a dime and make it bleed — my mother is a prime example.
Keep it less detailed for day wear, and dress up the fabrics and accessories for cocktail hour. The collar, cuffs and dickey are detachable. Lovely, isn’t it?
Someone on a Facebook group that I’m part of asked this week about Norwood Hosiery. I had never heard of them, but she had some stockings she was wondering about. I found out something interesting.
I didn’t delve too deeply into them, but Norwood Hosiery was around for some time. This person was asking specifically about the packaging, which featured an orchid, and what time period it was used in. I found that it was used in the 50s and 60s. Pretty. They liked to advertise women’s things so beautifully then — have you ever seen the Modess ads of that time period? Women dressed in gorgeous designer gowns to advertise sanitary pads. We likely will never see anything like that again. But I digress.
That beautiful orchid packaging of Norwood’s Hosiery held a little secret (or maybe it wasn’t, but it was new to me). They hosiery were scented with orchids. Now, I have zero since of smell, and when I do, it’s wrong (think entire weeks where things smell of cat pee), but I think that’s pretty cool. Nowadays I’m sure they wouldn’t do something like that because of allergies and asthma and the like, but I imagine opening a lovely package of stockings and having a gentle scent of orchids wafting up to me, and it just makes me happy. What about you?
As you might imagine, after last week’s arrival of 10,000 patterns — no joke, folks, it is 10,000 — one could probably surmise that I’ve been just a wee bit busy. It’s actually been like Christmas in May here, with all of the beautiful designs I’ve seen. I’m slowly working my way through them, as well as building another website, because hey, who’s a glutton for punishment? THIS GIRL.
I may have squealed a little bit when I came across this beauty. I’d imagine that there is a fair bit of handwork in it, but it’s glorious, nonetheless.
Isn’t it lovely? On that note, I’m off to bask in more patterns. Click here to shop. Have a great weekend.
I was going through a box of patterns a couple of weeks ago, and came across something I’d completely forgotten I had: four Distinctive Originator patterns. Sometimes known as Fashion Originator Patterns, these are one of those rare finds that always make you gasp a little bit.
Not much is known about the company itself. It appears that they were only published from 1948-1951, hence the scarcity. The designs are always very fashion forward. I’ve only come across a couple of other ones in over twenty years of selling patterns. They are, however, always fabulous, though difficult to date because of their rarity. Case in point, the above pattern, and these:
One 1948 ad mentions that the patterns were edited by “the style-wise Florence Hort,” although I can’t find any information about her either. Ads mentioned that they were made in limited editions, and in some cases, were only available on order in stores. Often, mention of Originator patterns was in tandem with Modes Royale patterns, which were also more cutting edge. It’s obvious that they were marketed toward fashion forward sewists.
Though they had only shown up in ads in the early summer of 1948, by the end of 1951, no mention of them is made. Perhaps they came before their time, or perhaps they weren’t as popular among every day sewists. If you find one of these now, you will have found a real treasure.
This may be the first post I’ve done about Dovima, but it most likely won’t be the last, because I. Love. Her. She is truly a goddess, to my eye, and the most iconic model in fashion history, with perhaps the exception of Carmen Dell’Orifice. Actually, she is the most iconic, but Carmen has had a longer career, by virtue of living longer and modelling into her 80s. But Dovima. ::sigh::
Dovima hit the fashion scene in the 40s, and worked into the 60s. She came from an era where models brought their own accessories, shoes and makeup, and did things on the fly. They did their own hair, they did their own makeup, and often the photos were done in any location they could find quickly, especially after a fashion show, when all of the photographers were vying for pictures of the same garment. This is why you will see so many photos of that era outside, where they ran to shoot after a show, or in front of a plain backdrop. It’s some of the most recognizable fashion photography ever done.
The models of that era had an elegance you don’t see now. Dovima was especially so. The way she placed her hands and tilted her head could not be replicated. Her relationship with also-iconic Richard Avedon was muse and mentor, as he considered her one of the last elegant models and she trusted him to capture beautiful images. He shot the unforgettable image above, Dovima and the Elephants, shot at a circus in Paris and featured in Harper’s Bazaar in 1955. The original dress was the first one Yves St. Laurent did for Christian Dior, and it is now housed at Newfields Art Museum in Indianapolis. I have stood and stared at it in awe many times, imagining the scene as Dovima created the image of soft and hard, old and new, elegance and animal instinct. It evokes a lot of emotion for me.
Dovima, for all of her elegance, lived a complex life. Married three times, and the face of both Dior and Balenciaga, she ended up broke in Florida, waitressing at a pizza joint. She had a particular affinity for abusive men, and according to other models of the era, would sometimes arrive at their apartments in the middle of the night, crying about what had been done to her. They wanted to help her, but she always fell back into relationships with the wrong men. She retired from modelling as Camelot crumbled and the mod era arrived, never to be seen on camera again. She died from liver cancer in Florida in 1990, but her images will live forever.
I came across this pattern, soon to be listed in the shop, and was intrigued by the fact that they call it an “Answer Dress.” What now would be known as a Little Black Dress was known as the Answer Dress in the late 50s.
The term Answer Dress was used for a few patterns in 1957-1959. Simplicity used it as a marketing term for “an ensemble that fills every dawn to dark need in a woman’s wardrobe.” They also marketed Answer Dresses for girls as well. These styles could be worn at work or for shopping, but could also be dressed up for cocktail parties. Some could be used as jumpers as well, which increased options even more.
How could you use this today? It’s perfect for someone who travels a lot, especially if you have to travel for work and need a dress that will take you from work to a more formal function. Add to it that these patterns are listed as “simple to make” and it’s a great idea for expanding your wardrobe easily. (Disclaimer: “simple to make” in the 50s is not necessarily the same as an easy pattern nowadays.)
These dresses have simple lines and can be dressed up or down according to your needs. They are a perfect idea for a capsule wardrobe, for those of you working on simplifying life. And yes, dresses can simplify your life! You can totally change these looks with accessories or shoes, or if you wear it as a jumper or not. Need more information on making a capsule wardrobe? Check out Project 333, by one of my favorite bloggers, Courtney Carver. She teaches you how to create a capsule wardrobe from only 33 items that you change up quarterly. I love this idea, especially since for the past year, I’ve probably only worn about a dozen different garments, because we are securely entrenched in quarantine. Post quarantine, perhaps it’ll be something more stylish than sweats and leggings, but there’s more time for that later on, post COVID.
Meantime, check out these patterns for cute Answer Dresses, and consider adding them to your wardrobe.
I LOVE this one! There are so many options to choose from here. Plus, of course I’m always drawn to red, so that may help to explain why I am nuts for this one.
Which one would you make? Do you know of another pattern that would work for an Answer Dress but wasn’t marketed as such? Drop it in the comments and let me know.
Have a great day,
Links may be for affiliates, where I get a small amount of compensation from purchases.
When you reach into your stash, looking for something to list, and randomly pull out this. Wow. That top is amazing. I sell a repro pattern similar to this in the shop, but this one includes the shorts and skirt too? It’s almost too much to handle that early in the morning. That lime green is pretty eye catching too, and although as a fair redhead, I couldn’t handle that color, it’s perfect for almost everyone else.
I listed this cute pattern in the shop this morning. It’s Butterick 6879 and it’s adorable. I love View A, but can’t imagine doing all that bias tape trim. It’d be worth the work, but wow. This pattern is part of the “Susie Stephens” line from Butterick.
Susie Stephens, in case you didn’t know, is a line of sewing patterns designed by students at Stephens College, in Columbia, Missouri. (Fun fact: I grew up not far from there, and always thought of it as a rich kids school. But I digress.) At Stephens, they had a yearly fashion show done by the students. It was called “Susie Stephens.” It commonly had a theme, such as in 1952, where the them was “Campus Classics from the Classics,” and featured garments and millinery inspired by books such as Little Women, David Copperfield and Wuthering Heights. These garments were shown in fashion shows around the Midwest.
A 1947 article notes that the designs were fresh and adaptable, with rompers that had skirts to go over them, coats with enough volume to carry books underneath during the rainy season, and much more. On the day of the show, it was surmised that the garment district of St Louis must’ve emptied out and headed to Columbia, along with designer staff from Kansas City and New York. Budding designers were hired straight from these shows. The next day, the show was done again for the people of Columbia, where customers could choose the garment or the patterns, to take to their dressmaker for adaptations.
By 1950, Butterick had taken notice, and started their “Susie Stephens” line. This line was specifically created from the Stephens College students’ designs, and was advertised for teenagers. By 1952, they had printed 30 designs in the Susie Stephens line, but it seems to have waned in popularity after 1953, and disappeared completely after 1954. It’s worth taking a look at this cute line of patterns.