Petite and blonde, Sandra Dee inspired girls across the country to imitate her style. In Imitation of Life, Sandra's character wears a graduation dress designed by Jean Louis. To promote ticket sales, Universal ran ads telling mothers they could get a free sewing pattern of the dress if they sent in two tickets to the film. In the first month, the studio gave out fifteen thousand patterns and soon had to stop because they couldn't meet demand.
From The Bad and the Beautiful, by Sam Kashner and Jennifer Macnair.
Fifteen thousand? How come I've never seen or heard of one before now? A mystery. Anyone else seen one? I've looked all over for an image or scan … I might have to go hit the library and start flipping through old fashion mags from April 1959. (Oh, don't throw me in that briar patch …)
It's sad when your idea of an impulse purchase is "buy something, wait five days for it to show up." But that's Ebay for you! And at least it was $2.99 including shipping.
This is a very simple dress, simpler than I usually make, but it has two things going for it: one, it doesn't need very much fabric, so it's perfect for all the stuff I bought because I loved it but is too scant in yardage for the full-skirted stuff I usually go for, and two, it's so simple that I can use it with fabric that's got a strong diagonal design or crazy pattern that would overwhelm me in a "bigger" dress. (Not that I've ever really let that stop me before …)
At least, that's the big idea. It shipped today, so ask me Thursday whether I was right …
Yeah, yeah, I know. Seriously. I have no idea myself. All I know is I keep dragging this pattern out of the box, keeping at the top of the stack for a while, and then putting it back.
I want to make it because of the pockets, because of the sleeves, because of the neckline, and because of the stitching detail. And of course, it doesn't get made because of that same stitching detail — it just looks too much like work.
Anyway, I think I need to start a new pile of patterns: the pile of stuff I'll have made for me by a tailor someday. (I've given up thinking that I'll make this myself, unless I sudden become even MORE masochistic than usual.) I can also put all those 1960s Vogue Couturier suit patterns in that pile, too. The idea is strangely liberating …
Nothing's wrong with this dress (that's why I just bought it on eBay). What's wrong (and I interrupt this blog post to bring you news of a bevy of flying pigs outside my window and the Pope's sudden conversion to Baha'i) is that all of a sudden, I am dissatisfied with full skirts. I hope it was just something I ate.
Food poisoning or no, I have been trolling eBay for narrower-skirted dresses … and this one was a Buy It Now that isn't a Regret It Later. I swear. Look how cute the pleated-front version is!
I'll probably shorten the skirt to hit at the knee (and I might make the plain front version in not-lace) but … look how cute!
I'm not sure what I'm going to do about the full-skirt-wrongness problem. Sleep on it, I guess, and flip through the major-metro-area phone book that is September Vogue.
Oh, and this pattern came from Lanetzliving.com, whose Ebay store is huuuuuge. Lots and lots 'o patterns, reasonably priced. I almost hit the Buy-It-Now button a couple of other times as well …
I'm not sure who it was that first told me of slounging (it might have been Shrift, and if you aren't lucky enough to know or know of Shrift, well, someday you'll hear stories), but this is a dress for it. Most slounging (which is, of course, a blend of 'slouching' and 'lounging') takes place in a seated position, of course, but for those rare times when you have to project a languid slounge standing up, you need a dress like this.
I think it's because the hips are pushed forward and the shoulders rounded, but it just might be because of those little cuffs on the sleeves. The sloungability quotient of this dress is only heightened by the air of complete and utter indifference that these women are projecting. It's impossible to care and slounge simultaneously.
The woman in the red version is slounging so expertly that she's not even facing you. But she's still saying "Darling, get me a drink, won't you? Lots of ice." She likes lots of ice because her bracelets and the ice clink in a slightly different ways, and the dissonance sets you even more on edge.
There's just something about the sailor collar that calls to me. I have bought probably a dozen sailor-collar patterns, everything from full-skirted stuff like this to drop-waist 1960s scooter dresses to barely-justifiable 1980s padded-shoulder tops. I've bought sweaters with sailor collars, t-shirts with sailor collars, and in college, actual Navy surplus middy blouses in both heavy wool and that indestructible white polyester (with the insignia carefully removed, of course).
When I make this one I'm not going to do those silly puffy belled sleeves; I'll make nice above-the-biceps short sleeves instead. And I'm really tempted to do black with white middy braid, instead of white and red or blue and white. And I probably won't wear a matching tam and gloves … but I'd be tempted.
Do you notice how the one view without a sailor collar is illustrated by a woman with a wistful expression? That's how I'd feel, too, if everyone but me had a sailor collar!
Why couldn't I have found this prom dress when I was in high school? Our senior prom theme was "Death By Jellyfish 1989!" This would have been PERFECT! I *so* would have been the Prom Queen in this number …
Click on the image to see the site of the Chinese importer of this dress. For all the good it will do you, as there is no purchasing or price information. (You weren't going to buy it anyway, were you? You're just rubbernecking.)
(Y'all know I'm just kidding about "Death By Jellyfish" being my high school's senior prom theme, right? The theme was actually "You Think You're Going to Have Sex Tonight, But You're Not.")