Op-art after my own heart.

ebay item 270020047207

Many thanks to Cherokee Geisha, who sent me a link to Capricorn Vintage on eBay. Capricorn Vintage just happens to be listing this dress, which I adore. I love op-art prints, but most of them are 1960s shifts, which are not easy for me to wear. This is an optical-illusion print (the classic temple/door one) in a 1950s silhouette! Check out this close-up:

ebay item 270020047207

A very nice size it is, too: B40/W32. It's only got a couple days left to run, so if you want it, click on the image to go to the auction.

I also love how the print gets larger as it nears the hem of the skirt — what a great effect! It reminds me of one of my all-time favorite "idea dresses" (that is, dresses I have an idea for that I won't ever be able to make) — I want a dress with a print of Tetris blocks, dropping from the shoulders to make a border of nearly-completed rows around the hem. Wouldn't that rock? Obviously, it would have to be a '50s silhouette, as well, to get the full effect, and to reference the 1980s '50s revival that was going on about the time the game was invented. Now, if only someone would make that Tetris border print fabric for me, I could get to work on it.

Still on the midriff theme.

ebay item 220018869690

In all the Duro-dress hullaballoo, I bet you thought I'd forgotten about the other design that I'm obsessed with: vintage midriff bands. Isn't this a great pattern? It's a good size, and the starting bid is only $2.99. If I weren't MOVING in a couple weeks I would snap it up. I wouldn't, however, do the elbow-length sleeves, which I hate — I'd either make them shorter, or do the 3/4 length version. Wouldn't this be excellent in black wool with a red or teal waistband? Piped, of course — the red with white, and the teal with pale blue. Or a solid heavy cotton with a print waistband, preferably an Asian-inspired print. Red with a cream/red/yellow print sounds good to me. And what about cutting the band with a center seam to match bias stripes there? Good times.

What would you do with this pattern?

One Size Fits What?

LF garden dress

Thanks to Ronica, who sent this to me, puzzled that this dress (the Vintage Inspired Garden Dress, in case the picture-link doesn't work and you have to search the site) is marked as "One Size Fits All". Obviously, this is another case of "One Size Fits All (the designer's friends)" or " … All (the people we deign to buzz through the door of the boutique)" or " … All (the people dumb enough to click 'add to cart' without getting any proper measurements)". This may also explain why the dress is marked down to $102.40 from $256. And why there are no customer reviews or comments about it.

I like both of these fabrics AND the sash, but I'm not sure I like them together. I mean, if it were a couch in the skirt fabric and throw pillows in the bodice fabric, yeah, that would be a pretty nice combo. But this just says to me that somebody had just enough of each of these fabrics to run up this one dress!

"Steel … gloved in style"

ebay item 8305987417

Believe it or not, this dress was intended to advertise office furniture. (Click on the image to see the entire original picture, which also includes western-themed draperies and a bemused-looking cow skull.) I feel the same way about this ad as I do about a recent series of ads in the fashmags that are intended to advertise faucets. "Great dress!" I think. "Where can I buy it?" And then I realize that no, it's not an ad for a dress, it's an ad for something else (faucets, steel office furniture, the Letter-Matic 1960) that I have absolutely no interest in. Then my inner thwarted moppet imagines jumping up and down on the ad. (Yes, I have a rich fantasy life. Why do you ask?)

Back to the dress. I love everything about it. The lemon meringue color. The halter. The bow. The midriff. The skirt. The haircut. The "I'm thinking exalted yet business-y thoughts" pose. Even the shoes are perfect! How I hope that the model was the glamorous wife of the company president, and that he demanded she be in all the photos, until she ran off with Fred from accounting. Or, better yet, maybe she was the glamorous designer of the "steel … gloved in style" desks, and responsible for the cow skull and the palm trees, and eventually came up with an aqua-and.jpgnk ladies' version, complete with built-in pop-up vanity mirror, for "the stylish female executive."

Of course, she's probably a local catalog model, and spent the shoot complaining about the air-conditioning and snapping her gum between shots. Sigh.

Do click on the image to go explore the Plan59 site. Isn't this one great? And this one would ALMOST make me drink Pepsi. (If I were a slightly-peeved orchid enthusiast, of course.) And best of all, this one. Oh, where oh where are the flying cars? We were PROMISED them, dammit.

Lethal levels of adorable.

toddler denim dress

This one goes up to a size 18 — well, a size 18 MONTHS. It's from justdresses.co.uk, which has all sorts of adorable little dresses for adorable little girls.

You know how, when you were a kid, you thought up ridiculous "jobs" that no one would ever pay you to do? Like "ice-cream taste tester" or "cartoon funniness rater"? Well, I've thought of a new one. I'd like to be a style consultant/personal shopper for little girls ages birth to about eight or nine. Talk about an easy job … finding cute clothes for little girls (at least until they hit the way-too-sophisticated tween years) is like finding ice in the arctic. They have all those great tights, all those peter pan collar blouses, and, of course, everything Oilily sells. (Warning: that last link is a really craptastic Flash site.) You could put together a cute little girl's outfit by randomly selecting any three items from their closets — I mean, that's how they do it, after all!

Anyway, if you hear of any job openings for "pre-tween stylist" (hey, doesn't Dakota Fanning need one?) let me know. In the meantime, I'll just order another funny t-shirt for my little boy. Of course, now that we're nearly the same size, I might have to order him this one, just so I can steal it:

Boden random shirt

The Girl in the Gray Flannel Dress

Steffe Gray Flannel Dress

I don't know what it is, but I've seen this Cynthia Steffe dress three times now and it resonates with me more each time. Maybe it's the lasered lace on the sleeves and hem of the overskirt, which is so girly and dainty combined with the serious gray flannel.

This isn't quite wearable the way it is — even leaving out the fetish gloves, and how fun will it be to see what Google ads the words 'fetish gloves' bring to this page, huh? Maybe I should start seeding these entries with completely random words, like 'pumpkin jambalaya' or 'customer-centered light-arms manufacture' — I'd rather see 3/4 length bell sleeves with the lacework at the hems than these little cap sleeves, but if just that one tweak were made I could see wearing this all the time, with tights and short boots.

Gray is one of my favorite (non)colors — ask my mom sometime about how worried she was about my all-gray wardrobe in the seventh grade; I was a kind of Goth-lite, or maybe I just looked like someone had drawn me in pencil and then half-heartedly erased me — and I'm really feeling it again this year. I just bought a heather gray cardigan, and I think I have some hugely wide-wale gray corduroy to make an autumn skirt of, and I have some pink cotton satin that I was going to pair with some yellow lace in an eyeball-wrenching tour de force of Bollywood homage, but now I think it would make a great party-dress Duro with simple gray banding, instead. And I have a charcoal 1960s shift I should really finish up, too, and a gray pencil skirt cut out and waiting for a waistband, and a gray A-line skirt cut out and waiting for construction … and, oh, a gray flannel circle skirt! I really need to make one of those before autumn gets too far advanced. (I know, I know, it hasn't even started yet!)

Looks like it's back to seventh grade for me! Only this time without the orthodonture or the algebra, thank god.

Boden Duro. Duroden? Boro?

Boden Chic Tie Back Dress
Several of you have sent me a link to this lovely dress from Boden, which comes in at least three colorways, most of them brown. I am intrigued by this version — I like the higher neck and longer skirt as being more likely to insinuate extra inches (vertical ones, not horizontal ones!) onto one's frame, and it's rayon so it should be nice and flowy.

I must admit to having a bit of a grudge against Boden as their gift exchange policies are a bit nuts — if someone is so kind as to give you something from their catalog, and if, for one reason or another it doesn't fit (literally or metaphorically), instead of just swapping things for you they have to refund the giver's card and then re-charge it, which makes one highly reluctant to initiate any kind of return process. (Which is perhaps why they do it that way.)

But on the other hand, I do have a lovely light twill coat from Boden in a crazy orange, blue, and khaki floral pattern that I wear to DEATH in the fall and spring. It goes well with my stripey orange skirt. I love floral and stripes together. I bet there's some online sanity test somewhere that takes points off for admitting that, along with "I often make silly faces when I'm alone" and "I often imagine what things would look like upside down and inside out."

Boden does tend to sell out quickly, so if you want this (at $128) I'd order fast. Half the colors and sizes are already on a three-week wait, although that would get you your dress right in time for the first possible moment you could wear it, at least here in Chicago.

I'd like to make one of these in a similar cut, only in two different patterns of men's charcoal wool suiting. Maybe even with flap welt pockets. I think it would be deliciously ironic, although that's not quite what one should plan one's fall wardrobe around. Maybe that's a question on the test, too: "I often dress to tickle a sense of humor shared by very few."

Even the dog's a winner!

McCalls 3501

Dana just sent me this gorgeous little number that's listed now at Scissor Happy. If only it were slightly bigger! I love the combo of the full skirt, midriff band, and mandarin collar, and, by golly, it looks like the judges of the dog show do too, because you can't tell me that they went by the merits of the pup alone for this one … oh! maybe it's a DRESS contest, and she just brought her dog along for support!

Check out the other stuff at that site — they also have one of the easiest and quickest vintage patterns I've ever made up, Advance 6675. Seriously, you could make it in your sleep wearing boxing gloves. My copy was missing the directions and it STILL went together like a dream. Well worth the price, if it's in your size.

Older Yet Not Wiser

ebay item 160018097475

It's only thanks to Nora Needles that I even saw this dress, and now I'm wondering how I could possibly justify purchasing this. It's slightly too big for me — that's the only thing that's holding me back. Well, that, and the fact that wearing orange polka dots all day might make me so gleeful that I wouldn't be able to get any work done. You know, with all the giggling and the skipping. And the fact that I'd spend the next thirty-five years of my life looking for orange ankle-strap shoes to match. (Oh, it's a sad, sad life I lead …)

This morning when I woke up and ran out for the paper (the copy I grabbed didn't have the magazine, boo, hiss — good thing there's another copy waiting for me at home) there was that smell in the air that says summer is ending. Just a hint of cool crispness — nothing obvious, no sere leaf floating to the ground in front of me, no bus rumbling by displaying an ad for cable-knit tights — just that scent in the air. So how could I bid on such a squeezed-orange hot-July-nights dress like this when (if previous Augusts are anything to go by) I'll be thinking about buying wool jersey in deep colors in roughly seventeen days?

If you are in some place where autumn won't arrive until the Halloween candy is on clearance sale, or some place where you're just starting to think about the arrival of spring, go click on the link to see the auction. And if you find the shoes to match, let me know. I might want to buy a pair just in case …

Effortless Sophistication

ebay item 6270339606

I love the short-sleeved version shown here, especially with that hat. What kills me, though, is that I can't think of any modern equivalent to a dress like this. What does a woman wear these days that is so simple and yet so un-girlish? Low-rise jeans? Please.

I'm thinking about this as today is my 35th birthday (yay!) and, even though I'm glad that I can just toss on a pair of sneakers and jeans any time I so choose, there's not an equivalent freedom further up the scale. Why is there this big gap now, where people are either wearing jeans or a cocktail dress (or, actually, jeans and a top that looks like the top of a cocktail dress, instead of the cocktail dress)? Where did all the intermediate stages go? (I mean, besides my closet.) It is a puzzlement, to be sure.

Anyway, now that I've achieved ostensible maturity, I plan on wearing a LOT more dresses like this, to fill in the gap. I also plan on doing these things: calling people "my dear boy"; saying "in MY day, a lady wouldn't be caught DEAD in that"; and indulging in completely unwarranted nostalgia for the mid-to-late 1980s.