Great Neckline Alert.

ebay item 8305987417

For a multitude of reasons (including my propensity to pull unintentional pratfalls of physical-comedienne proportions and an unfortunate tendency to rest my clasped hands on top of my head for no good reason) I just don't do strapless (or even spaghetti straps). This can be a hardship at holiday-party-dress time, when it seems as if there's a law against having more than three square inches of fabric above your sternum.

This dress steps forward brilliantly to beat all those strapless numbers at their own game. It's freaking gorgeous, isn't it? I love the hammered-metal color and the absolutely stunning neckline. Strapless can look too girly-debutante, and spaghetti straps too casual; this dress is definitely neither. I don't know if this particular kind of neckline has a name, but, if not, I propose "empress". (There's nothing "sweetheart" about this one.)

The only bad news is that this dress is nearly $800 … that's, well, a LOT. Click on the image to visit the Elizabeth Charles online boutique, where it's being sold.

I'm pretty sure I've seen this neckline on at least ONE of the umpty-billion vintage patterns I have. And I have some really, really nice green satin … now all I need is a good excuse to wear it! Thank goodness for holiday parties.

Hats off to Pam

McCalls 1923

Pam sent this link to one of her hat patterns that's up now on eBay — I love this lampshade style, very cute!

She's also got a glove pattern up now that I'm terribly tempted by (but, sadly, it's not my size). For some reason I want to make brightly-colored ultrasuede gloves (as if I didn't have enough projects piled up — I'm like the Collyer brothers of projects at this point).

I haven't made very many hats; I made one from a modern Vogue pattern in chiffon, to wear to a wedding once, and I've embellished a few felt hats (and I'm very sad that Manny's Millinery Supply has either closed or moved; anyone have a good source for premade felt blanks?). I have been tempted by hat-making, certainly, but I've not yet reached the point where I need to invest in hat blocks. Yet. I'm sure that day will come!

Tie (or button) one on

Hollywood pattern

Nora sent me this pattern. I probably wouldn't have looked twice at it if someone hadn't sent it to me; I'm not a huge apron aficionado, and this is a little earlier, decade-wise, than the silhouette I'm usually hunting for.

However, after a in-depth study of the pattern illustration, I will admit to a strong desire to make this dress. In fact, I really, really want to make it in digital camouflage:

digital camo

Complete with white frilly apron, of course! Or maybe not. But definitely in camo. (I really enjoy making girly stuff out of camo. In fact, yesterday I wore my camo circle skirt — I usually wear it when I have to fly, because if they are going to make me participate in their security theater, then I want to look the part.)

However, this pattern's eBay auction will be over really fast (like, tomorrow) and I have about six dozen projects in the "urgent: sew me next!!!" pile, so I'm passing. If you buy it, and make it in camo, send me a picture, okay?

Traditional Dress/Untraditional Materials (another in the continuing series)

chocolate dress

I know it sounds like a bad this-is-what-girls-like stereotype, but this dress is made (at least partly) of chocolate. Amy sent me the link to this dress (from the LJ community Sew Hip). The dress was part of a contest at the Twin Cities Chocolate Extravaganza, and was created by LJ blogger redheadedchick, a student in the Fashion program at the University of Minnesota.

Here's her original sketch:

chocolate dress

The belt, the bows on the shoes, the bracelet, and the dots on the dress were all chocolate, made by a pastry chef who was teamed up with redheadedchick for the contest. Supposedly the room was warm (occasioning some anxiety) but everything held up except the belt … which the model cleverly held up herself with her fashion-y hands-on-hips pose.

Fun, huh? The only change I would have made would have been to make a teeny little red-and-white striped (peppermint) pillbox hat. I love peppermint hot chocolate …

Holiday listmaking: Amphigorey Again

ebay item 8305987417

I'm thinking about making a series of posts over the next couple weeks with suggestions of lovely (as India has it) Ramakwanzachanamas presents. One book that I would think anyone of any sensibility at all would thrill to receive would be Amphigorey Again, the latest collection of Goreynalia (a posthumous one, which is strangely appropriate).

I mean, whose tastes DON'T run to morbid situations featuring beautifully dressed ectomorphs? Anyone? The dresses in the "Neglected Murderesses" series of postcards alone … those dames knew how to dress, as well as dispatch.

If you have suggestions for things you think I ought to recommend, well, you all know where my email address is by now, or you can leave a comment … I'll try to do these in addition to the Regularly Scheduled Dresses, if I can.

New (Old) Duro Variation

decades of style

Su-Ying sent me a link to Ageless Patterns, where I found this beauty (which is, in fact, from Decades of Style; click on the image to visit their site).

Doesn't this look like the bodice to a new and exciting Duro-style dress?

After doing some due diligence I think I'm going to buy this one, and convert it into a dress. I think I can Frankenstein the skirt from the McCalls Duro (which I love) and have a fun new variation! I love that the sleeves on this one are a bit narrower, and the neckline a bit higher.

To put the other skirt on this bodice, I think that I will (and I'm VERY happy to hear alternate suggestions) take the midriff pieces of the other bodice and true the bottom of this one to it, then proceed from there. Don't worry, I'll make a muslin … and I think I'll probably lengthen the skirt a bit, to give it a more Edwardian feel. I'd love to make one in brown and cream, as I have a pair of brown and cream spectator shoes that would be a perfect complement … I also have some gorgeous green velvet that I could find a green jacquard to match, if I wanted to be fancy.

I still haven't done the Big Duro Roundup, but I have high hopes of taking some pictures over the holiday. And, speaking of which, I won't be posting Thursday-Friday-Saturday-Sunday, as I'll have lots and lots of houseguests! My husband is doing the actual cooking (turducken, baby!) save for the pies, which are my bailiwick. So tune in tomorrow, but after that I will be taking a tryptophan-induced break for a few days.

Turkey Dress

turkey dress

Julie keeps up her Dress A Day fodder streak by sending me this turkey dress (which is substantially different from "a turkey of a dress"). Sadly, you wouldn't be able to get this in time for Thanksgiving — the auction doesn't end until midday Wednesday.

I'm not, you understand, recommending holiday-themed clothing here. I think my stance on holiday-themed clothing is pretty clear — at least, for the major holidays, I am against it. (If you want to go all out for Arbor Day, however, be my guest!) The farthest I am willing to go is something like this, which, while it may be covered with turkeys, also has more than its fair share of llamas. Llamas are pretty holiday-neutral, as I understand it, unless you are celebrating a llama day (also known as a corduroy day.)

If you already have a turkey-themed Thanksgiving dress (those of you in the States, at least, it's a little late for Canadian Thanksgiving at this point) more power to you! I am not trying to universalize my experience of holiday-themed clothing. However, don't, if you can help it, go this far … I beg you.

New Converts!

croatian folk dress
Check out Peggy Duffy's Notre Dame dress story, kindly sent to me by Becky … Peggy had to wear a dress to an event and went from dreading it to enjoying it in a very short time. Anyone else have any conversion stories? I love to hear them!

This dress, by the way, has nothing to do with Peggy's story; it's just the first interesting thing I found googling "Notre Dame dress" and it's from an exhibit of Croatian textile design at the Clara Fritzsche Library. Well worth checking out; click on the image to go visit!

Small Consolations

mcCalls 5147

Okay, another one via Summerset and SoVintage. Midriff, Peter Pan collar, contrast fabrics … frakkin' RICK RACK? Good thing this is a B32 and, as we know, I'm far, far too lazy to scale up …

And is it just me, or do these two women look as if they're executing a drop-pass of confidential information? They have that bar between them, yet Blondie is angled towards the other woman as if speaking to her. Perhaps they are both secret agents in the war for fun clothes? A war I'm still fighting, way out here on my Pacific atoll. No one's told me it's over yet, y'see …

Are you a Ruler or an Apple?

Okay, because I didn't want anyone to miss La BellaDonna's great comment yesterday, here it is on the main page:

… The other body shapes can use illusion to achieve other proportions when they are in vogue. Consider:

The Ruler:
1) Can wear garments that suit her shape, when a 20's figure, "boyish" figure, or "waif" figure is in vogue (and the 70's, too, for that matter);
2) Can wear garments that emphasize her upper half, when a 30's Upside-Down Triangle is in vogue, and can extend it into the 40's;
3) Can emphasize her lower half, when the Pear-shape is in vogue (and really, it is sometimes – the A-line is one of those shapes);
4) Can wear garments that are loose on top, and flare at the bottom, and cinch her waist to achieve an Hourglass shape.

The Upside-Down Triangle
1) Can emphasize her natural shape, when the 30's and 40's clothing is in vogue – and the 80's, now that those are coming back; she can even wear the bellbottoms of the 70's successfully;
2) If she chooses judiciously, she can wear clothes that de-emphasize her bust when 20's styles are in vogue, approximating the Ruler;
3) She can easily balance her narrow lower half to create the illusion of the Hourglass shape.
It is very difficult for the Upside-Down Triangle to achieve a Pear, or A-Line, Shape. No A-Line dresses for you! And you may find that, without a good petticoat, an A-line skirt collapses at your hips. If you wear a good petticoat and an A-line skirt, it is one of the ways you will create an Hourglass shape for yourself – but you are not creating a Pear.

The Pear
1) With some work, depending on how extreme her figure is, the Pear can simulate the Ruler, to the extent that she can wear clothes from the 20’s if she is very, very careful in her choice of 20’s patterns (looking for 20’s patterns that have gores or pleats inserted in the skirt, rather than being straight up-and-down-);
2) She can, of course, dress for her own Pear shape – the A-line dress, anything described as “trapeze”-shaped, the balloon skirt – all these are silhouettes that deliberately create a Pear shape. (All of these ladies, BTW, have other historical periods available to them – this is just an overview of the 20th Century shapes/timelines). Anything that has a very small, fitted top and a full skirt is, by definition, a Pear shape. Many, many 50’s patterns, and a goodly number of early 60’s patterns, are shaped for the pear.
3) She can create the illusion of an Hourglass shape, by putting emphasis on the upper half, creating the illusion of more mass and broader shoulders. Again, 50’s patterns are very good for the Pear.
It is very difficult for the Pear to create an Upside-Down Triangle Shape. This means that if you love the clothes of the 30’s and 40’s, you will need to be very careful in your choice of pattern, because the silhouette is diametrically opposed to yours. The good news is that it’s not entirely impossible; look at the pattern measurements as they are listed on patterns from those periods. The Bust is usually six inches bigger than the Waist; the Hips are usually nine inches bigger than the Waist. And what is that shape? Why, a Pear, of course! It does mean looking for 30’s or 40’s patterns that put the emphasis on the upper body, but that actually have pattern features that leave room for the lower body, with gores, etc. Beware the skirt with pleats all around, if you are trying to de-emphasize the lower half of the body!

The Hourglass
This gets very tough. Anything that obliterates the waist of the Hourglass turns her into a cylinder.
It is very difficult for the Hourglass to create a Ruler Shape. Mostly, you will manage to create an overall look of Largeness without Shapeliness. The New Look of the 1950’s is a godsend to the Hourglass. Some of the clothes of the 80’s are also wearable, because the jackets that flare over the hips give us some place to put those hips. Some of the outfits from the 40’s can be flattering also – the Hourglass needs to look for a shaped waist, and she should look for gored, rather than straight, skirts in 40’s patterns; this is a style feature that will help her keep the look “40’s.” If she tries to wear a straight skirt, her full hips will pop the silhouette over into “1950’s wiggle skirt.” It is very difficult for the Hourglass to create a Pear Shape. The A-Line tent dress is an abomination on the Hourglass; it will not work. The reason it will not work is because the A-Line is supposed to start out narrow, then flare; since the bust of the Hourglass is as wide as her hips, it means that the top of the dress is now at the widest, rather than the narrowest, part of her body (the A-Line tent skims the waist, so the waist measurement doesn’t count here). It will look miserable. Period. The Hourglass, when she wears a jacket, must wear a fitted jacket; she will otherwise look the same width all the way down, and it will be the width of her widest part. There are a lot advice books that tell the hourglass, or the bosomy female, or the wide-hipped female, to avoid double-breasted jackets. I have three, and they look fierce on me. They look good because they are tailored to go in at the waist. The Hourglass looks good in a fitted bolero-length jacket (despite what some “experts” have said about bolero jackets not being appropriate because they “emphasize the bust”). A fitted bolero jacket will show off the trim waist of the Hourglass, and help de-emphasize the hips a bit. Many, many coats will look like hell on the Hourglass, who will stare at her reflection while trying them on and wonder where the Hindenburg came from. All the “steamer” style, all the “reefer” style, all the “man-tailored” overcoats will make her look like a great big block. Any coats that hug the top of the figure and flare out to the hem in an A-line will make her look like a great big block.

The Apple
The Apple is a body shape that is not that easy to categorize, curiously. It is a shape that results from having enough excess padding accumulated around the middle so that the original body shape has been distorted. This is not a value judgment; this is an explanation, assessment, and analysis of the physical build. Part of dressing an Apple is seeing what the optimum shape of the body will be; as I said in an earlier post, seeking out quality maternity wear is a good option for the Apple, because it is the only time that the Apple shape is considered the “norm.” It is possible, depending on the individual Apple, to create an illusion of a Pear shape; it is possible to define a high “waist” below the bosom, and then flare out. It is possible, even, to create a straighter line through judicious cuts and layered garments. Diagonal lines help to break up the mass, and can even create the illusion of a waist (think wrap dress). The worst silhouette for the Apple is the T-Shirt and Leggings – which is, fairly often, the choice that many Apples make. The tight lower garments emphasize the narrowness of the lower body, and the baggy upper garment emphasizes the bulk of upper body. This is why the Apple is better off not trying to create the silhouette of the Upside-Down Triangle – even if it was her original body shape. In point of fact, it is often the Upside-Down Triangle who may become something of an Apple as she gains weight; the Upside-Down Triangle is the body type least likely to accumulate weight on her lower body, which pretty much leaves the upper part of the body and the middle of the body (i.e., the waist) as the area where weight accumulates, and – voila! The Apple is the result. When the Ruler puts weight on, if she puts weight on all over, she remains a Ruler; she’s just a larger version. The Ruler is, in fact, more likely to put weight
on evenly, or to put it on at her waist, than she is likely to accumulate it all in her bust, or all in her hips. If the Ruler puts the weight on at her middle, she dresses “as if” she were a Pear – fitted where she is narrow (upper body), and flaring out. The Apple has more trial-and-error going for her than the others; she needs to experiment with the shapes from the 20’s, and the A-Line shapes that have been suggested for the Pear. The Salwar Kameez, in fact, is a good direction for the Apple to explore, as is the Empire Line suggested to Well-Rounded Dresser in my comment on November 9, 2006. It is very, very important for the Apple to have her clothes fit her well through the shoulders and upper body.

Thanks so much to La BellaDonna for writing this all out! I think I'm an hourglass with Golden Delicious tendencies …