another dress you could buy (it's up to you)

ebay item 8305987417
From, a dress that I'm on the fence about. On the plus side, really cute print; waistband; full skirt. On the minus, linen-rayon mix with actetate lining; the armholes look revealingly deep; that particular headless mannequin gives me the creeps somehow (maybe because the tight neck cords makes me think it's straining to find its head!); won't that print be way over by next summer?

Click on the link if your pluses outweigh my minuses. (I've never bought anything from, although I've not heard anything spine-curdling about them or their internet business practices.)

Added to the list

mandarin collar dress

Added to the list of things I might, someday, perhaps, when I get around to it, sew: this dress (or one very much like it, considering I don't own this pattern and instead googled for something to use as an example of the kind of thing I'm talking about.) Click on the image to go to the site,, which has a lot of lovely pattern images.

Anyway, you might ask, what brought this on? I bought a couple yards of grass green cotton satin fabric yesterday, that's what, down at Paron's on 40th St. They often have bolt-ends that they sell at $2/yard, and I am constitutionally incapable of passing up $2/yard fabric. I'm also invariably drawn to grass green, so my owning this fabric was more or less foreordained. I don't like to spend a lot on cotton satin, because it shows every little spot and I'm the kind of person who gestures wildly with a fork to make some Very Important Point about something or other and spatters myself with salad dressing. So there are a lot of little spots to show. This stuff is niiiiiice (it's leftovers from a Chaiken collection) and I was thinking (since I didn't have a enough for a circle skirt, more's the pity) that it would make up well as a chinoiserie-ish dress with (probably) pink satin collar piping.

The only downside of a dress like this one is NO POCKETS. The first person to solve this issue for me will receive the Dress A Day Pocket Prize for Service to Humanity.

Now this is what I'm talking about

mystery pink dress
This is what I think of when I think "1930s evening gown." The sleeves! The covered buttons! The ribbon along the bottom of the bolero! Even, I must admit, the butt-bow! (Somehow the butt-bow here isn't as shudder-inducing as it should be; this must be the source from which ten thousand unfortunate bridesmaids dresses mutated and began shuffling across the dress landscape like polyester zombies.)

Never mind that I, personally, would look like I was in (bad, fraternity-pledge-hazing) drag if I wore this — the excellence of this as an objet d'art trumps any petty concerns of mere suitability for my phenotype.

And this dress has the added thrill of being a realio-trulio mystery dress! Yes, the Drexel University Historic Costume Collection (click on the image to go there) is looking for help in sourcing this dress. Do you know who the designer is? Email them. Tell them A Dress a Day sent you. They'll have no idea what that means, but it sounds good.

Vintage, but still bad

augusta bernard
Unless your personal aesthetic demands that you look like a large, slightly discolored and inexplicably gift-wrapped eggplant, I don't think this 1932 Augusta Bernard dress quite lives up to the standard of elegance that one expects from a 1930s evening gown. It's good to remember that "vintage" doesn't automatically equal "pretty."

Click on the image to visit the Francesca Galloway site, which does have some actually pretty dresses for sale. (It looks like a gallery or an auction house, not quite sure which, based in Jermyn Street.)

Lately I've been looking in vain for a dress that I know exists — a court presentation gown made by Callot Soeurs, with ludicrously extravagant ribbon embroidery. And panniers. I know it's in the Met's collection, but I can't find an image or a link online. (It's a dress I often think of when I'm feeling a bit low and want to be reminded that things can't really be that bad if that dress exists in the world. Of course, now that I CAN'T FIND IT, perhaps things really are that bad!)If anyone knows what I'm talking about, please leave a comment …

It's only a matter of time

Vogue 798
It's only a matter of time before I break down and buy a pattern from The Blue Gardenia. Sure, their patterns are a little on the pricey side, but when you want something exquisite, like this dress, and you want to be sure that all the pieces are there, you have to pay a little extra. (Blue Gardenia counts all the pattern pieces AND tells you if they've been altered.)

Check out this dress with the tucks sewn all around the skirt AND on the bodice front. This is hours and hours of tricky, tricky sewing, not to mention that it would really, I think, have to be made in silk organza, which is pricey (the pattern alone is $45!). But — doesn't it look worth it?

Dresses in Literature: Sewing Instructions Edition


The woman had a dress
Of Turkish cloth
And her tunic with a border of gold
Was made of two panels
Attached to each other at the shoulder

Her eyes were dancing like those of angels
She was laughing and laughing
She had a face with the colors of France

Apollinaire, Guillaume. "1909." (from The Columbia Granger's World of Poetry. July 11, 2005.

[There will be more contest runners-up soon; I'm waiting for permissions to link to some of the pictures that were sent.]