Try something new

vass dress
I like this dress — it looks Modern without looking as if you were trying too hard to be modern. It's a nice shape, a nice length, and no matter how clever and manipulative your personal body-image demons are, they probably haven't gotten around to talking you into hating the very tips of your shoulders yet. So show 'em off! This dress also requires Important (or at least Very Dangly) Earrings, or perhaps even a Striking Cuff Bracelet, so keep that in mind. (Neither of which accoutrements could I wear for more then ten minutes before slipping them off to be lost forever in the bottom of my handbag, so I would be drastically underaccessorized in this dress.)

And by "try something new," I mean if you're a size 0/2 and have $119 to spare — this is on sale at Neiman's and 0/2 is the only size left. Ah, end-of-season sales, where the two ends of the bell curve make out like bandits, and the rest of us in the hump just LOOK.

This dress is NOT — and I can't stress how important this is — NOT made of that hideous stretch polyester that so many knit dresses are molded of these days. No, this one is very nice combed cotton.

Why the model was told to have no two planes of her body facing the same way, I have no idea. But she's doing a really good job of following instructions, isn't she?

Bait and Switch

evil fairy dress
I don't know about YOU, but when I click on an Ebay listing for an "Exotic Evil Black Fairy Mini Dress W/ Mesh Fringes L" I damn well expect the wings to be included! But they're not! What's up with that? I have to buy the wings separately? The wings are what make it "fairy"! Otherwise, it's just exotic, evil, and black. And definitely mini. Don't forget mini.

This is what happens every time I think I should venture out of the happy little roses and kittens world that is vintage on Ebay into the modern clothing listings. Which is not roses and kittens, as you can see, but, well, exotic, evil, and fairy. If you buy the wings separately.

The listing runs until August 11, so there's plenty of time to track down your own set of evil fairy wings, if you're so inclined. Also, the lister promises that "This tacy and racy outfit … will have all the male predators slavering and panting over you." Personally, I try to keep the male predators (as well as the female ones) far, far away from me, but hey, I'm not going to judge your lifestyle. Especially not if it involves wings. I'm not quite sure what "tacy" means here — I'm assuming it's a typo for "tasty." I'm pretty sure it doesn't have anything to do with this.

All in green went my love riding

green chiffon
I know it's a while until St. Patrick's Day, but if you have a spare $185 and a complexion that can take it, this dress is really worth your while. For one thing, it has both the original slip AND the original belt, which is rare for these chiffon shirtwaists. And — chiffon! Do you know what a pain chiffon is to sew (at least for me)? This is not a dress you could knock off in a couple of hours, nosirree. This is two full days of swearing and dripping sweat down the bridge of your nose, seam ripper clenched in one hand, fabric bunched in the other. Believe me, I've been there, and it isn't pretty. Which this dress most certainly is. B38/W26. Click on the image to check out Vintage Virtuosa, which has a lot of other lovely things, as well. (Note that the description of this dress has another description, of a different dress, mixed up with it. It's not too hard to sort out, though.)

And look, I didn't mention the Peter Pan collar once! Oh, damn.

Do you know why this dress looks so wonderful?

faille peplum dress
Well, do you? I can tell you. The reason this dress looks so absolutely, mindbogglingly, astoundingly beautiful is because the waist is twenty-four goddamn inches. It's enough to make a girl take up tightlacing. I'm gonna buy a four-poster bed to hang on to while an obliging person pulls mightily on my whalebone undergarments. Sheesh. Who needs functioning internal organs, anyway? Highly overrated. I already give blood; it's not quite such a big jump to a kidney or something.

Anyway, if you already HAVE a 24-inch waist (and are older than 12, because this dress is labeled GROWNUPS ONLY) don't tell me (I might cry). Instead, click on the link and buy this beaut for only $78! The very conscientious Vintage Martini site states that there's some strain on the back seams — but that's what you should expect. When you have a dress this pretty with a 24 inch waist, there will be people trying it on too enthusiastically and too hopefully. (This is why I carry a tape measure, folks. Measure something before you try it on; it saves your ego and — more important — the dress.)

Fried eggs are an excellent motif!

New York Pattern 1151

I get the feeling that the illustrator for this pattern envelope had just eaten breakfast, don't you? Look at that design!

I love this dress, and the fact that about half of the patterns I already own are just slight variations on this theme doesn't make me love it any less.

Click on the link to go to a HUGE list of vintage dress patterns at Grandma's House. Seriously, you'll be scrolling all day. Pack a lunch. If you have time, check out the wedding patterns, too. Grandma is unusual in that she often has two or more copies of a single pattern, increasing the chances she'll have what you want, in your size.

I am assuming that there is an actual Grandma, and not just a team of slick marketeers who think by throwing up a charmingly eccentric website and larding it with phrases like "We prefer not to do business by telephone. We save that for the kids & grandkids!" they'll get my money. Which they probably will, anyway. But I want to think about Grandma spending it on ice cream for the kids and scratch-off lottery tickets …

Maybe I'm Just Cranky

tablecloth dress

Maybe I'm just a cranky person with no joy and no inner light, but when your web page says "A ROMANTIC FLOWING EMBRACE TO EACH OF YOU"? I will mock you. Sorry, that's just the way it is. Anyway, this fugitive tablecloth here pretending to be a dress (don't worry, Tommy Lee Jones is on the way to take it back to the linen closet where it belongs) is at Click on the image if you don't believe me. No price information — I think "Tara" has to read your aura before she knows what you should pay.

Now, I'm totally not anti-tablecloth-as-clothing in all instances (I have a supercool 1970s Scandinavian round quasi-Marimekko one waiting to be turned into a skirt), but this one is just wrong. I mean, you can see the gravy stains from Thanksgiving! And, Tara, don't you think Grandma's gonna be pissed (I mean, "disappointed in you") when she finds out you took her satin bedspread, too?

Anyway, the whole site is cringeworthy in the extreme. There's a lot of "ART" and a lot of exhortations about beauty and peace and joy, which make me, at least, look around for my flamethrower. You may be driven to other kinds of antisocial behavior (like buying one of these atrocities). Scroll down on the linked page for a weird silver puffed-sleeve monstrosity in the background. Don't buy it, though — I'm saving that one to be Morgan le Fay's costume when I film my all-cyborg retelling of the King Arthur mythos.

Ah, I'm just cranky. Sorry. I give A ROMANTIC FLOWING EMBRACE TO EACH OF YOU!

Thtre de la Mode

ADAD reader Jenny G. (in addition to saying such nice things about ADAD that I blushed, right here in the steel and glass ADAD world headquarters tower) reminded me of the Thtre de la Mode. I had heard about it a couple years ago, but it hadn't percolated up to the top of my brain now that I allow myself to think of nothing but dresses for half an hour every day. (Not that I wasn't thinking of dresses at least that much before ADAD, but now I don't feel bad about it.)

Anyway, here's what Jenny said about it:
"It's an amazing collection of miniature dresses, separates, and accessories put together in 1944 as a way to save French haute couture at the end of the war. I saw parts of the collection in a museum and it was unbelievable! Tiny stitched shoes, hats, and of course dresses all made to fit small wire mannequins and placed in incredible sets. They even had couture underwear!"

And here's what Amazon said about it, in the blurb for the book Thétre de la Mode: Fashion Dolls: The Survival of Haute Couture:
"Harnessing the romance of the world of fashion and high art, this fascinating story of a collection of miniature mannequins describes the birth of Thétre de la Mode, the Theater of Fashion. Full of stars such as Robert Ricci (Nina Ricci's son), filmmaker Jean Cocteau, and other members of the 1944 haute couture industry, the story follows 237 miniature fashion dolls through their epic tour of Europe and North America, bringing fashion, elegance, and beauty into a war-torn world. Also included are new color photographs of the mannequins, the reconstructed sets, and close-up details of clothing so sewers, designers, and fashion mavens can appreciate the creativity of Paris designers at the end of World War II."

(The collection is housed at the Maryhill Museum in Washington State. Or, you know you could just buy the book on Amazon. Or pick up the Viewmaster reel. I might get a Viewmaster just to get that reel!)

I love the Thtre de la Mode, not just because of the pretty pretty dresses, but because of what it says about the importance of beauty. And, I think, if half-starved people after WWII could take some time to care about dresses, why shouldn't you?

Thanks, Jenny!

The Gray Lady Wears a Dress

Nice article in the NYT today about dresses. [Thanks to flea for the heads-up!]

The dark side of the dress is fit. No other article of clothing must simultaneously fit so many parts of the body – the bust, the waist, the hips – and also hit the leg at a slimming length.

Just because something is difficult, doesn't mean it can't be done …

Dots Good!

ebay item 8305987417

Check out this Suzy Perette dress in olive shantung with beige polka dots. (Click on the image to see the listing at It's a lovely dress … and a very wearable size (B37.5). My only quibbble (and it's a big one) is that $240 is a lot to pay for a dress with five acknowledged pinholes ("one at each shoulder, one at the midsection and two within the folds of the skirt") but, then again, I am notoriously cheap when it comes to buying vintage.

I'm often drawn to this color green, and of course to polka dots, but I'm not sure where I'd wear this one. Shantung is too dressy for my work, but olive and polka dots don't say "evening" to me. A puzzlement. Where would you wear it? And with brown shoes & bag, or black? I'm thinking olive + beige demands brown.

Dresses in Literature: Daphne Du Maurier edition

When I had finished I went upstairs to the minstrels' gallery to have a look at the pictures. I knew them well of course by now, but had never studied them with a view to reproducing one of them as a fancy dress. Mrs. Danvers was right of course. What an idiot I had been not to think of it before. I always loved the girl in white, with a hat in her hand. It was a Raeburn, and the portrait was of Caroline de Winter, a sister of Maxim's great-great-grandfather. She married a great Whig politician, and was a famous London beauty for many years, but this portrait was painted before that, when she was still unmarried. The white dress should be easy to copy. Those puffed sleeves, the flounce, and the little bodice. The hat might be rather difficult, and I should have to wear a wig. My straight hair would never curl in that way. Perhaps that Voce place in London that Mrs. Danvers had told me about would do the whole thing. I would send them a sketch of the portrait and tell them to copy it faithfully, sending my measurements.

from Rebecca.