Another cautionary tale

ebay item 170014019059

This is a dress I made I-don't-know-how-many-years-ago, and actually didn't ever wear more than once. I was in a hurry to make something out of this length of gorgeous vintage linen that a friend gave me. (Her parents were clearing out their house to move and she gave me some lovely fabric that had been her mother's.) It wasn't a long length, if that makes any sense, and this was the first dress that fit it. (I think it's an old Calvin Klein Vogue pattern from the early 90s.)

Well, the dress fit the fabric, but it didn't fit me. Its shape and my shape don't get along so well. There are a lot of catty comments and rolled eyes when they get together. Sigh. Which reminds me that even if you are just longing to use some gorgeous fabric, it doesn't pay to jump at the first halfway semi-suitable project that comes along.

This poor dress has been in storage ever since, and it's finally time for it to get out and have a full and independent life, so I've listed it on eBay. (Click on the picture to go to the auction.)

Here's a closeup of the fabric — can't you see why I wanted to use it?

ebay item 170014019059

I hate to cut up a dress to make something other than another dress (or skirt, in a pinch) out of it. So, yes, I know this would make a lovely pillow/handbag/matched set of antimacassars, but I can't bring myself to do it. If you want to, more power to you!

Here's the back:

ebay item 170014019059

Hmm. It looks like I should have pressed this again before I took photos! Well, it is linen, after all — so call this 'truth in advertising': it will wrinkle!

Jane Tise pattern aka "best midriff ever"

Butterick 4682

Nora sent me this, under the subject line "one more midriff for you." I love the email I get from A Dress A Day readers; the subject line never reads "URGENT PROBLEM!!!" or "REPORT DUE TODAY." In fact, there's a remarkable lack of shout-case all around, for which I thank you.

Anyway — this dress, by Jane Tise for Butterick. Just as Nora suspected, I *adore* this midriff band. The shaping! Although I bet that point is hard to have come out exactly right. Better make it in a busy print so any bobbles aren't so obvious. I also like the pockets, and the collar. The sleeves … eh, not so much. But I have come to learn, with y'all's help, that my disdain for puffed sleeves (or, in fact, of anything but a smooth and unobtrusive shoulder line) is a personal and idiosyncratic quirk and not a general guideline for humankind, sort of like my extreme dislike of bananas. (The instantaneous and uncontrollable murderous rage I feel upon hearing someone pop their chewing gum, though? A universal constant.)

Had any of you heard of Jane Tise before? I hadn't. But a couple quick Googles turned up that she was one of the founders of Esprit, back in the day! And that Esprit was called The Plain Jane Dress Company first, which, while cute and having that fakey-homespun feel of the late sixties/early seventies, probably didn't have the marketing ooomph that "Esprit de Corp" had. Or the little inherent pun.

And speaking of marketing, how did I never notice the Butterick tagline "The Fashion One" on their patterns before? I am afraid it doesn't speak to me (of course, thirty years after the fact, what marketing catchphrase would?). It seems slightly off. "Which pattern company do you prefer?" "Oh, you know, Butterick — the fashion one." Because all the other pattern companies are strictly utilitarian, of course. Only coveralls and aprons to be found there, my friend!

(Did anyone notice that the shoes on the red-dress version are a lot like the black ones I posted yesterday? Oh, and for the person who wanted the style name, they're "Cloudey" by Steve Madden.)

Back to the pattern — this is up on eBay right now, but work fast, because the auction expires in less than 14 hours. Tick-tock!

We interrupt this dress blog to talk about shoes.

The only problem with the Duro dress is that none of my closetful of carefully-sought-after full-skirt-friendly round-toed kitten-heeled ankle-strap girlie pumps look right with it. I have a couple pairs with sturdier, stacked heels that look okay, but they're not very summery. What the Duro really needs is wedges. So I've been on a shoe hunt. I like ankle-straps (you can walk faster in ankle straps) and heels lower than 3 inches, which are surprisingly hard to find. And NO pointy toes!

The first ones I found were these, from Bandolino:

Bandolino Hopewell

They're a very nice orange and are very comfy. But they don't look good with the black Duro dresses I made, so I had to go and order these from Zappos:

Madden Cloudey

They were a little pricier than I like, but all the cheaper wedges were, I'm sad to say, fugly. And why on earth is every.single.manufacturer making those Louboutin knockoffs? They're really cute, and make you look like an adorable baby ostrich, but honestly, I think they're going to be dated faster than a beer-commercial catchphrase. Of course, while I was looking for those wedges, I stumbled across these, which I had to buy because they were only $23:

Madden Houstonn

I think they'll look okay with longer A-line skirts in the fall. Right? (I don't think I've ever gotten over my college-days Kinderwhore stage, since I immediately want to wear these with a ratty vintage dress and messy red lipstick. I think probably fun tights and A-line corduroy skirts would be more age-appropriate at this point.)

And lastly, I grabbed a pair like this, only in blue, because 1) it's LIBERTY FABRIC! and 2) I have a skirt that matches it. I have only worn them together once, but of course now I am plotting on how to get more of the blue Liberty (it's a pattern called "Mark") to make a dress that would go with them better than the skirt does. Yes, it's an unhealthy obsession …

Bandolino Linnea

(I'm linking to the only pair of these left online, in "Tomato" in a size 9 1/2).

What shoes would you wear with a Duro-style dress?

Luly Yang Butterfly Dress

Luly Yang butterfly fantasia dress

Miss Maya sent in this photo from Seattle. Holy butterflies, Batman! I have been thinking about this dress for a couple of days, trying to figure out if there would ever be a situation where I was called upon to represent a marabou-topped butterfly, and sadly, I can't think of any.

The only thing I came up with that was even close was checking if there was ever a butterfly-themed superhero who needed to attend a ball at Wayne Manor, but the DC Comics Encyclopedia let me down. No butterfly-themed superheroes (or villains). There's a Bumblebee, and a Blue Beetle, but no Butterfly. Okay, I admit it, butterflies aren't very tough, and I'm sure a butterfly hero's secret weakness would be GIANT LIGHT BULBS, or possibly small boys with nets, and if you brushed her wings she'd fall out of the sky, but still. You'd think that if there was this character, there'd be some kind of butterfly being.

This idea somehow really appeals to me, except I think that the monarch detailing and the marabou take it so far over the top that you'd need directions and a bus pass to get back. Now, if it lost the marabou (maybe a matte satin ruffle, instead, if you needed something at the top of the bust?) and was made in a heavy greeny-gray with tone-on-tone flocking and beading to look like a moth's wings, and not a butterfly's? That would be something. Maybe something Gypsy Moth would wear. Or Arthur.

NOTE: enough folks have emailed me about this dress that I have to make these disclaimers. I DID NOT MAKE THIS DRESS. More to the point, I CANNOT SELL YOU THIS DRESS. Try this site: Good luck!


Breakfast at Tiffany's Dress

Christie's is auctioning the "Breakfast at Tiffany's" dress. But this picture of it is the dumbest thing I've seen for some time. Why, for the love of all that's holy, would you shoehorn a random employee into this iconic dress, when you could simply pay a few bucks and license one of the official pictures from the movie, showing it in all its glory? Because here the damn thing looks like a dishrag.

Not to mention that often the people who buy these things are not fashion collectors (who want the dress as a Dress) but hagiographists who want something that touched a notable person. The idea of some entry-level employee wearing it impinges upon that aura, I would guess.

Not to mention (as Mary Beth, who sent me this link, pointed out) that shoving a real person into this dress increases the likelihood of accidental rips, tears, and stains, possibly lowering the value.

Feh. Some people have no sense.

Boneheaded move all around.

Manifesto: Dress

manifesto farm dress

Many thanks to Dottie who sent the Manifesto: site to me (I even don't mind their little opening animation — if you MUST do animation, a tiny movement is best and least likely to make me jump, scream, and drop the laptop). And yes, that is a colon there. It's part of their name. Hey, at least it wasn't an internal colon, like "Mani:festo". (Remember, only PEOPLE have internal colons.)

This is their "farm dress", and, although I really would prefer it with sleeves, I like the bands set on the bias. Am I going to "steal" that technique, now that I've been reminded of it? You bet.

Manifesto: also has a section of their site called "The World of Pants," which made me laugh and click — always a good sign. And the pants there were pretty darn cute (yes, I can't believe I'm saying this, either). Maybe I'm just a sucker for tuxedo piping.

dress stationery (note that's with an 'e')

rock scissor paper dahlia dress stationery

Isn't this adorable? Like all right-thinking people, I love notecards. LOVE them. I have an enormous box of them. (And I just bought some fifties-fabric themed ones from the V&A …) I probably spend more time deciding which ones to use than I do writing the actual notes.

I keep meaning to save my pennies and get some traditional name-across-the-top, letterpressed-not-laserjetted plain note cards, but in the meantime, I might just have to order a set of these, from Rock Scissors Paper.

They also have a lot of other dress-themed cards, including this one, which is my favorite:

rock scissor paper dahlia dress stationery

It must be the midriff band.