In Praise of the Grown-Up Dress

by Erin on September 22, 2009

Last night I clicked through a few screens of Emmy Dress Coverage (or, considering the number of strapless, cut down to there/up to here, and just outright nekkid dresses that were on display, maybe I should say Emmy Dress Uncoverage) and then gave up. I don't have anything against strapless gowns, except that I am BORED TO DEATH with them. Bored, bored, bored. Ditto for Grecian dresses. Ditto for what I call (and you will know immediately what I'm talking about) "Ice-Capades" dresses. Booooooooring. Yawn.

Why don't people try for stuff like this (fur not included)?


Vogue 4917

The people at these award shows have fantastic bodies; you can't tell me they couldn't pull off something like this and still check the "young" and "sexy" boxes on their event forms. (They could wear burlap sacks and still check the "young" and "sexy" boxes on their forms.) Besides, I'm also bored with "young" and "sexy." Why not "chic"? Or, goal of goals, "soignée"? When everyone is tanned, buff, and evidently suffering from claustrophobia of the shoulders, no one is.

This pattern was available at Glass of Fashion (who wrote about it here) but it's gone now — but Penny at Antique Dollhouse still has a copy (Bust 38)! Check it out here. It has the Dress A Day Seal of Approval for your next red-carpet event.

{ 51 comments… read them below or add one }

DragonPoodle September 22, 2009 at 10:18 am

This is a dress for a Real Woman. Thats why they would not wear it.Little girls used to aspire to be women. Now women aspire to be little girls. Ive seen this disturbing change in my lifetime (just turned 60).Sad to say, my generation was the pivotal one that turned away from adulthood. boo hoo, mea culpa!

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Lisa Simeone September 22, 2009 at 10:37 am

Glamour Girl is totally with you, Erin. (Though I did think Sandra Ohs dress was the signal exception — grown-up, sophisticated, simple, chic, yet with just enough sparkle to make it stand out.)The dress on this pattern is gorgeous. Perfect example of why so many of us love vintage.

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Anonymous September 22, 2009 at 10:38 am

Thats a gorgeous dress! It looks like it would require a very experienced dressmaker to sew it as well. I wonder how that gathered part over the bust is drafted?

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Maranda September 22, 2009 at 10:40 am

I agree, the strapless dresses are very over used. I would love to see more sophistication on the red carpet.

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Dr. Julie-Ann September 22, 2009 at 10:56 am

Dragon said:Little girls used to aspire to be women. Now women aspire to be little girls.Here! Here! Whatever happened to aging gracefully? Its hard to be elegant when the only thing offered in the department stores and the current commercial pattern books are only suitable for 13-year-old girls.Ive EARNED my grown-up woman card. I want to dress like one. Thats why I love vintage patterns.

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Beti September 22, 2009 at 11:06 am

Ditto on the bored with strapless dresses. Im getting married in the next several months and, while Im planning to sew my own dress not based on a traditional wedding gown, I do like to look at all formal dresses for inspiration. Its exceedingly hard to find a wedding dress lately that isnt strapless. And not just off-the-rack but designers, too! Why does everyone want to look like a clone? Ill vote for (even odd) personal style over fashionable/trendy any day of the week. Check out this gals blog for a lovely retro-styled wedding. Fabulous!http://heatherandjacobgetmarried.blogspot.com/

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Casey September 22, 2009 at 11:29 am

What about Christina Hendricks from Mad Man? She typically dresses vintage-esque in public events like this, in a nod to her role on the show. Shes also a size 12 – like most of us real women are.

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Sheila / Out of the Ashes Collectibles September 22, 2009 at 12:38 pm

Truly a Grande Dame dress – for the rich and famous only!

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Ripple Dandelion September 22, 2009 at 1:02 pm

I am so with you on the strapless thing. In addition to its ubiquity, have you noticed that this look fails to flatter a lot of women? It trickles down into mainstream fashion where, in lesser renditions, it looks the opposite of effortless.

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Miss Amelina September 22, 2009 at 1:57 pm

Totally….and that dress makes me think of something Helen Mirren would wear to the Oscars. She is always class personified. I remember gasping at her red satin number from a few years back. And the gold dress she wore when she won for The Queen was stunning too. She is 60 and still very sexy. I hate to say she dresses appropriately but there it is.

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Megan September 22, 2009 at 1:58 pm

Glamorous and chic is always in! (And thus does not always make the fashion industry $$)

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Always A Lady September 22, 2009 at 2:05 pm

Yuck, I really do not like strapless. And like Beti Im trying to find a fabulous wedding dress and its really hard to find anything non-strapless in any bridal store. Plus it really doesnt flatter most body types.

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Maggie September 22, 2009 at 2:33 pm

Wow, so happy to hear that boredom with strapless is widespread. Not only are the stars boring in this look, but check out the bridal photos in your local paper. Every last one for the past couple of years is strapless. You have to love the ones spilling some flab over the top! Erin, you are so right about the great bods not needing to be on display. That burlap sack cant hide some of the great beauty out in la la land. If you take a look at some Bridal/Vogue mags from the 40s 50s and 60s you see some incredibly chic looks that whould look so refreshing today.

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Sara September 22, 2009 at 2:39 pm

I agree! I love it when the stars wear vintage, though.

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Ms. B @ Millie Deel September 22, 2009 at 3:21 pm

Im totally in agreement with Dragon Poodle!There are very few classy celebrities who have minds of their own anymore.

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Anonymous September 22, 2009 at 3:38 pm

I love the cut of the skirt on this dress. Not crazy about the bodice. If I had the pattern, and the energy :), Id use the skirt and pair it with a wide v necked bodice.

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Anonymous September 22, 2009 at 3:42 pm

Ditto for wedding dresses! I saw a young woman in San Francisco not to long ago in a strapless dress posing for pictures. In the fog. Gah! Im sick of the strapless dress for every event!

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Anonymous September 22, 2009 at 3:55 pm

Ooh! When does that pattern date from?I know what you mean about strapless dresses, but at the same time I wore my first one ever at the ripe age of 32 recently (yes, as a bridesmaid) and I loved how I looked in it. I ought to have been wearing them for years.nineveh_uk (LJ)

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Theresa September 22, 2009 at 4:16 pm

Too bad the one you pictured is sold B44! Thats a little big for me but bust 38 is way to small. Sigh. Id probably really mess up on sewing that bocdice anyway.I would love to see that on the red carpet.

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Theresa September 22, 2009 at 4:18 pm

Forgot to mention my intent, irrational hatred for one-shoulder! Youre rich go ahead -splurge on the other sleeve!Love Christina Hendricks of Mad Men – GORGEOUS!

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Liz September 22, 2009 at 4:40 pm

soigne, oh my yes. Now thats a classy word and concept!

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nw September 22, 2009 at 4:46 pm

I was wondering what you thought of the dress Victoria Rowell wore — strapless, but like nothing thats been seen on the red carpet (and there was a lot of hate for it). It was made of a Kanga (a word thats new to me; I know the style, but Id heard it called a pagne — a French corruption of Kanga? — I was also wondering what your word person thought on this is), a length of cotton cloth with a bright print — in this case of Barack Obamas face. Hepcat

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Anonymous September 22, 2009 at 10:25 pm

Yes, soignee is something I am going to aspire to. Id forgotten about that word.

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Penny Dell September 23, 2009 at 12:39 am

This glorious pattern sold.. Many thanks for your attention.. It is heading overseas to England… What a beautiful fashion statement! Penny

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Urban Rustic September 23, 2009 at 1:05 am

Most clothes for women these days are absolutely diabolical and not at all feminine.I am not a prude but sometimes less flesh is more as they say! I picked my seventeen year old daughter up from college yesterday and every girl ( apart from my daughter who was wearing a dress )looked identical in a sea of jeans,leggings,strappy tops and drab colours.I have always loved vintage clothes and yearned to wear them and returning to dress making have been delighted to find all those wonderful vintage patterns out there just waiting to be made up. My daughter and I have vowed to wear wonderful feminine and unique outfits from now on and my scissors are steaming with over use. I wonder how a full skirted 1950s dress will go down at college ?

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Hana September 23, 2009 at 2:12 am

Yes, oh yes, enough strapless! On my graduation ball, I was one of very few who did not wear strapless, corsetted, crinolined. (I wore simple sleeveless empire-waisted, sewn by myself and therefore rather messy; but still I felt better for wearing a unique gown! I admit my best friend wore strapless and corsetted, but not crinolined, and looked great… after all, she had it resewn to fit her.) And that was two years ago! I expected people to grow tired of them, but they didnt. What a pity!

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Anonymous September 23, 2009 at 2:58 am

If its between a burka or this dress, Id pick the burka. Sorry but this dress was dowdy even in the 50s. There were some lovely gowns at the Emmys. Its supposed to be glamorous! And these are not real women, theyre Hollywood stars! As Blake Lively said, Youre only 22 once. The dress she wore was appropriate for her body and her age. It was stunning.

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Anonymous September 23, 2009 at 7:36 am

The dress Blake Lively wore left almost nothing to the imagination. And thats the problem with these young girls–they seem to think that showing everything is sexy. Its not nearly as sexy as having a little mystery about them. Im not wild about this particular vintage dress, either, and it would certainly never do as a red carpet style, but thats my opinion. Yours may vary, of course.

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Jen September 23, 2009 at 8:04 am

Ah, wanting to see something with shoulders at the Emmys?Did you guys miss Tina Feys dress? Although it is a Gucci, its very vintage in style (check out the drape!)Its something we would expect from a grownup (yea Tina!)http://www.zimbio.com/Emmy+Awards+Dresses+2009/articles/8BycOVJtw2B/Tina+Fey+Wears+Gucci+2009+Primetime+Emmy+Awards

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Latter-Day Flapper September 23, 2009 at 8:21 am

Whoever was wearing that white Grecian dress looked ridiculous. Looked like bedsheets gathered and tied on. I dont pay much attention to those evaluations, anyway. Theyre completely arbitrary. I saw Mariska Hargitays silver lam dress called safe but somebody elses gold lam got a bunch of praise, from one writer. Hargitays looked better. Whatever. What gets panned on one actress gets raved-about on another.None of them looked as good as this Vogue dress, anyway.

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Latter-Day Flapper September 23, 2009 at 8:22 am

Oh, and I want to know what happened to necklaces?? Everyone was wearing strapless gowns and then had acres of bare skin between the top of the dress and her chin. They all needed some kind of necklace, or sparkly earrings, or something, to make them look finished. Not something huge and gaudy, but something to make them not look like theyd forgotten their jewelry in the hotel.

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Melissa September 23, 2009 at 8:30 am

But what about the poor unemployed body-painters?!?

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bani September 23, 2009 at 11:04 am

Im so WITH YOU!

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Chantelle September 23, 2009 at 11:41 am

I read somewhere that the women didnt wear necklaces to show that they know theyre in a recession. I dont know if I believe that; usually the jewelers fall all over themselves to have stars wear their creations.Im also tired of the strapless dress craze. Its one thing if the dress is fitted correctly and has the right corseted lining. Most of the dresses dont fit right: theres flab hanging over here, the boobs are squished into a uniboob, theres no waist, or theres a wardrobe malfunction waiting to happen.40s styles are coming back and I wish that the 40s red-carpet styles would also make a bigger comeback. Then we can complain about shoulder pads instead of strapless dresses. :)ps – I thought the shoulder things on that white dress were pillows to support her head in case she got tired. That dress was a bad interpretation of shoulder interest.

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Melissa September 23, 2009 at 11:50 am

I can see not wanting to make a big show of bling in a recession, but a simple gold chain or even a scarf would have made the dresses look less unfinished.

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Cookie September 23, 2009 at 12:06 pm

I would wear something thin, slinky, long sleeved and low cut to an awards ceremony. Demi Moore wore a beatiful 1940s dress once that I admired, but I think the one I liked best was worn by Jane Wyman (an actress I usually have no excitement for, whatsoever) I would have loaded it down with more jewelry, though.http://www.nysun.com/pics/3250_large.jpgAngie Harmon can look good, too. She wore a great Randolph Duke halter dress once.In the atendees defense, it IS warm in Hollywood, where a lot of the ceremonies are held, and they walk down the carpet in the blazing afternoon sun so the shows can be broadcast live on the East Coast, 3 hours ahead. Its more like going to the beach than going to the opera.

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Allison September 23, 2009 at 12:29 pm

Ive heard that the reason so many wedding dresses are strapless now is that theyre so much easier to fit: no more worrying about armscyes, sleeve lengths, etc. Just take in the side seams and there you have it, whether it looks nice on you or not.Am currently making a wedding dress for a friend; were using a strapless pattern because she liked the shape of the dress overall, but adding wide straps/cap sleeves (and a jacket!!) to make it not strapless and cookie cutter. It is going to look awesome, and it is going to be so much more flattering than a strapless on her (because our straps/sleeves are wide enough at the base to cover the side boob spill over that so many have mentioned).

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Cookie September 23, 2009 at 1:16 pm

Back to ME: This would be a good choice, too…but in aqua and cream, or aqua and deep magenta, instead of that pale heather color.http://www.style.com/fashionshows/complete/slideshow/S2008RTW-DKARAN/?loop=0iphoto=41play=falsecnt=46NOT black…unless it was black velvet with a lot of heavy, colorful antique jewelry.

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Theresa September 23, 2009 at 2:42 pm

I fI had the body- and height and a red carpet event to go to I would wear this with only an arm of bracelets… and I would wear this in purple or emeraldhttp://www.voguepatterns.com/item/V1078.htm?tab=evening_bridal_includes_designerpage=1

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Cookie September 23, 2009 at 3:45 pm

Hmmm….I like it. It WOULD be good with those deep colors.

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Cookie September 23, 2009 at 3:59 pm

PS: For Theresas Dream Dress, I like how they warn you its unsuitable for plaids or stripes. Like anyone would make this dress in either!

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Diane September 23, 2009 at 6:01 pm

A beautifully fitted smooth sleeve is a very rare, very beautiful, and very difficult-to-sew thing indeed.I sew wedding dresses and would not take a client that insisted on a strapless dress. A sleeve is so much more unusual these days and far more chic.

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Diane September 23, 2009 at 6:01 pm

A beautifully fitted smooth sleeve is a very rare, very beautiful, and very difficult-to-sew thing indeed.I sew wedding dresses and would not take a client that insisted on a strapless dress. A sleeve is so much more unusual these days and far more chic.

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shellebelle September 23, 2009 at 9:37 pm

OOOh, I love that word soigne. What a lovely word. I think I shall aim for that.

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Latter-Day Flapper September 24, 2009 at 7:54 am

I dont buy the no jewelry because were in a recession thing. Or, if I do, I think its the shallowest possible approach.Theyre wearing huge, new, designer gowns–if they want to show that they remember we are in a recession, they should all wear stuff wed seen them in before.

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Theresa September 24, 2009 at 8:57 am

Cookie –as soon as you said the thing about stripes I imagined it in big red and white circus tent stripes! What a nightmare! The sewist would go insane…

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Sarah September 24, 2009 at 10:30 am

I love this dress, and the size was right for me, too. I did a small search and found it on Ebay for $67 !!!!!! which I am NOT going to pay.http://cgi.ebay.com/40s-VTG–Gown-Flowing-Vogue-Special-Design-Pattern-B44_W0QQitemZ200384652405QQcmdZViewItemQQimsxZ20090917?IMSfp=TL090917234011r10761

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Cookie September 24, 2009 at 12:52 pm

as soon as you said the thing about stripes I imagined it in big red and white circus tent stripes! What a nightmare! With this version you would wear one long white glove and one red one, a red and a white shoe, and of course a clutch woven in a red and white checkerboard pattern.It would give people serious vertigo.

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EdgyJuneCleaver September 24, 2009 at 5:49 pm

Im fascinated by the construction of the bodice and would love to know how it is put together. Its a breathtaking dress.

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Theresa September 24, 2009 at 11:59 pm

Oh but cookie I would have so much fun! If only I could add a pet elephant. So surreal!

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Ladygrande (Texas Marie) September 25, 2009 at 9:31 am

Ah, elegance.

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