The Dangers I Face

Vogue 170

You know, it's not all Peter Pan collars and pockets here at Dress A Day headquarters. Sometimes, when looking for more gorgeous pictures to put up for your delectation, I run into trouble. That is, I find something that not only do I have to post, I have to buy.

Like this one, which hit all my trigger points: midriff band, kimono sleeves, jewel neck … the little jacket is cute, too, isn't it?

I know the risks, and it's all worth it. I'm willing to take a bullet (okay, an overstuffed sewing room) if that's what's needed to keep this thing going.


Vogue 6642

Isn't this gorgeous? Doesn't it make you want to wear flowers on a rubber band at your wrist and drink punch? Don't you wish you were in a gymnasium decorated in "Early Crepe Paper", listening to um, "Open Arms," by Journey? (My name is Erin, and I went to high school in the 1980s.)

Geez, I'd better stop before I turn into the Annie Potts character from Pretty in Pink. (I'm so conflicted about that movie: one the one hand, SEWING MONTAGE SCENE! On the other, worst.dress.ever. Also, I don't care what anyone says, Duckie had it all over what's-his-face.)

It's a teeny size but so adorable, and it's super-cheap for a pattern this great — $16! (from seller FullGarage on Ebay, click on the picture to check it out.) I LOVE the bodice, if I weren't so damn lazy about grading patterns I would buy it and put it on a pencil skirt as a cocktail dress.

Look at the gathers at the back of the skirt … so pretty, and so swishy when you walk. In the good way. Make this in taffeta for maximum swish! Or crepe-back satin, with the dull side out for that front bodice drape …

Garnet Hill Deco Dress

Garnet Hill Deco Dress

I love the Garnet Hill catalog, page after page of calm, well-rested women in bright sunny rooms, all of them either on their way to or from yoga class or their creative jobs doing creative things (also in bright sunny rooms). There are never any messy, inconvenient MEN in GarnetHillLand, and the children are kept segregated in their cheery, brightly-colored creche, raised by the unsleeping and sympathetic robots. Ah, a preview of the future! Sigh. So what if from time to time their shoes look a little HR Giger for my taste? And if perhaps there is a little too much attention to applique?

This dress is only $158, which is cheap for Garnet Hill. I *love* the fabric, and the little sleeves, and the vee neck; I wish it were a little shorter — it would be really cute if it hit just below the knee, but this style might be difficult to alter. Maybe if you took off the ruffle and shortened the skirt and then reattached it … which I would never, ever get around to doing (I have pants older than my son that I have yet to hem) which is why I'm never buying this dress. But don't let that stop YOU …

Hacks Everywhere.

ebay item 6218783881

Okay, this has "quota" written all over it, right? Somebody ran out of ideas for interesting necklines, saw her pinking shears, and, in desperation, hacked this one out.

Which is a shame, because once you get past "OMG WHAT BIT YOUR NECK??" the yoke on the skirt is really cute, and actually almost modern.

Anyway, it's from Lanetz Living (again) and you still have a few days to bid. You can certainly alter it to remove the sawtooth effect without too much trouble.

The other thing I love about this illustration is that it TOTALLY looks as if the woman in the red dress was originally a brunette, and that they drew a blonde wig on her. "Hey, there's no blonde on this envelope — blondes sell patterns!" "Just draw it on top. Nobody will notice." "It kinda makes her head look freakish." "I said, NOBODY WILL NOTICE!"

Lois Lane's Wardrobe

ebay item 6218706677

You have at least a couple days left to bid on this — plenty of time to make yourself into the kind of hard-nosed girl reporter (with a secret soft spot for the Son of Krypton) who would wear this asymmetrical dress. Think about how great it will look as you dangle from the scaffolding of the newest skyscraper in Metropolis, your screams bringing (yet again) the Man of Steel …

BTW, Lois is the one on the right, in the gray. The woman on the left (in the print, doing the parade wave) is the wife of Mayor Berkowitz of Metropolis, before the tragedy. (And yes, I had to Google that, so sue me if I have the wrong era of Superman.)

The auction also includes one of those day dresses/shortalls from the 1930s that requires you be the same height and diameter as your average telephone pole. I swear, I tried to make one of those one time — it had rickrack, I was weak — and I couldn't even get my head through the neck opening. In fact, it is still hanging downstairs, mocking me. It's so cute! I made it in mattress ticking! I keep meaning to DO something with it, but I can't wear it (I get less and less telephonic every year) and who wants a half-finished dress?

Anyway. I digress (like that's something new). Lois. Dress. Superman. Although, contrarian that I am, I kinda prefer Clark Kent. He can hold a conversation, and isn't always flying off somewhere to divert the flow of lava from a volcano or talk Bizarro down. (Although, come to think of it, he also has an annoying tendency to disappear, as well. Hey, wait a minute …) Superheroes in general make bad boyfriends — the Flash? Canonically a bad boyfriend. Aquaman? Well, he's married, so I guess at one point he was a semi-decent boyfriend, but then again he's royalty, so perhaps it was arranged? Bats? Ha. Two words: "young ward." And I'm not even going to mention Booster Gold … wait, that was a digression too, wasn't it? Dammit.

Two collars are better than one. Obviously.

Simplicity 5962

From our friends at Lanetz Living (and sent in by Ursula — thank you!) this lovely dress.

It is (as you can see) adorable; it is also (as you can see) a B32. For some reason (and this seems silly to us today, where tweens and their moms wear the same candy-colored velour sweatsuits) the girlier fashions of yesteryear are confined to the smaller sizes. I may be an actual matron, and I may be, in fact, matronly, but damn, I reserve my right to wear Peter Pan collars until death separates me from them.

Another thing I love about this pattern is the notes on the envelope. I have a couple of dozen high-Mod 1960s suit patterns I bought at an estate sale a few years ago. It was right after my son was born and it was one of my very early solo outings, which filled me with both exhilaration ("I am OUT IN THE WORLD AGAIN!") and terror ("IS MY PRECIOUS CHILD OKAY?"). In a rush to get home and nurse, and in a spirit of pure greed, I offered the salerunners $25 for the entire box of patterns, without even going through them, and they said "SOLD." It was pure chance that there was anything in there at all that I liked, but it turned out to be a treasure trove. (It was full of Vogue Designers!) The woman had been a professional seamstress, and all her pattern envelopes were annotated. "Take 1/2 in. from side seams." "For Mrs. Kotalski." "Narrow shoulders — taper 1/4 to seam." All done in what I assume was golf pencil, from the crabbedness of the handwriting.

I write little sewing notes to myself, too, but I write directly on the tissue paper, because by the time I get the pieces out of the envelope and pinned, I will have forgotten what I wrote on the envelope. "ADD 1/2 in. WAIST/SHORTEN BODICE 1 in." are my most frequent annotations, sadly. "SHORTEN SKIRT 2 in." is another — most vintage skirts are longer than I like mine to hit. "Don't forget waist stay!" also shows up from time to time. I have one favorite pocket pattern piece that I add to those poor dresses that are congenitally pocketless, and since it lives on my bulletin board, I also mark skirt pieces "ADD USU POCKET" and that reminds me I need to retrieve the pocket and cut it out with the rest of the garment.

Occasionally I find a vintage pattern that has been altered exactly as I would alter it, right down to shortening the skirt, and I have a flash of fondness for the original owner. How much I would have liked her! I think, conflating, just a for a moment, physiogonomy and taste with personality.

It would be perfect if …

dvf taffeta dress

Often, (deluded) people say, "Oh Erin, you'd be SO fun to shop with!" and then we actually GO shopping and I drive them to desperate tears. Because I am the queen of "This would be perfect if …" in which I utter the above crazymaking phrase and proceed to (metaphorically) rip whatever it is that is being presented for consideration to (again metaphorical) shreds. Because the buttons are wrong. Or the shoulders are too puffy. Or the collar doesn't lie right, or any of ten thousand things that would not, in fact, ruin anyone's enjoyment but mine, and I'm not the one shopping.

After four or five hours of this most folks are like "please, please, just let me hand over a credit card for something! Anything! I don't care!"

(This doesn't hold true for vintage shopping, by the way. I have goaded many a strong woman into buying things that will never, ever be worn, simply by repeating "it's so beautiful and you will never find anything else like it!" until I overcome all resistance.)

So. ::rummaging around for a point, not finding one, dumping out handbag, ah! there it is:: Madelene (who is now pretty much an official member of the Dress A Day Street Team) sent this DVF dress from Neiman's and … it would be perfect if: 1) it weren't polyester taffeta (jeebus, for $425, it should be rayon taffeta at least!) and 2) didn't have breast pocket flaps. And possibly (2.5) if it had slightly more tailored sleeves. I love the idea of the taffeta evening shirtdress, I just want it a little less … shirty. Right now the rolled-up sleeves seem to say "Hey! I'm ready to party! Or perhaps to fund-raise! Let's go! Feed those orphans! Whoot!"

Also, I think any party dress that's good in black would be even BETTER in deep bottle green.

Other than that, it's perfect! Thanks, Madelene!

But let's not talk about the shoes. They look really painful. I think she's standing in that funny hip-cocked stance not because she's a model, but because she cannot put any weight on her feet.