First Prize!

Liberty Duro

So, I forgot (again) to tell you (or at least the Chicagoland-area you) that I would be on Chicago Tonight on WTTW last night. (I was only talking about txt-messaging abbreviations, LOL.)

But, I figured, I might as well wear a Duro. (A Duro, as some of you have asked recently, is a kimono-style dress with contrast banding, as popularized by the designer Duro Olowu. That makes 'Duro', like 'cardigan', an eponym.)

The Duro worked fine on TV (as far as I can tell, being no expert on production values, and only being able to watch myself for a few minutes post-show, before it was time to put the little boy to bed). I'm sure someone helpful will tell me if it didn't …

The only problem with wearing dresses on TV is that the mic guy doesn't have a super-convenient place to put the mic. With a Duro, though, you hang the box on the back sash, and run the cord & mic through the wide sleeve to the front vee. Works fine! (Occasionally when I've worn dresses to speak they have to hang the mic box from my back bra strap. Not ideal.)

The print fabric here is Liberty, a pattern called "First Prize". Here's a non-flashy photo:

Liberty Duro

The banding is quilting cotton. It's a little rough next to the fine lawn, but I haven't been able to find good colors in cotton lawn, unfortunately. And it's probably one of those things that I'm the only one who notices, too. I'm also convinced that either my mannequin has a decided list to one side (or maybe I do?), or the floor of my sewing room is slanted. (Or maybe I just can't hold a camera straight? My worldview is skewed? Something's going on.)

I'm also showing it here with the tank I usually wear under this one; a plain milk-chocolatey one from H&M. (I don't think you can tell here, but it matches a brown tone in the center of the First Prize rosettes.) Lots of you have commented about how deep the Duro necklines are, and I wanted to show you how I manage to wear them without being, in the classic words of somebody-or-other, a "cleavage-y slutbomb." (Not that I think cleavage is necessarily slutty, and of course it's the patriarchy that defines sluttiness anyway, always with an eye to perpetuating itself and controlling uppity women, but I just really like the word slutbomb. ) I also like having a chance to throw another color into the Duro mix with various tanks. Not to mention being far too lazy to alter the pattern to have a higher neckline.

I can't remember if I posted this one before, or not! (Do I repeat myself? Very well then, I repeat myself.) If I have posted it before, I'm sure someone helpful will post it in the comments.

Now y'all are starting to scare me …

ebay item 270093200908

Now, I know that I have posted a LOT here, and that I have, um, distinctive (not to say eccentric) tastes, but — damn — it's a little scary when random strangers (Mojogeno in this case) on the internet can pinpoint my reaction with such accuracy! Don't you agree?

(Do food bloggers have people tell them "you'll really love the duck-fat fries at place X?" Do music bloggers have people send them great new bands? And more to the point: are they right? Inquiring minds, etc.)

Anyway, this dress (not Mojogeno's, by the way, but from seller Bebop-a-Diva) is B36 and has a starting bid of about $35 (but there is a reserve).

Here's a closeup of the bodice, just because it is gorgeous:

ebay item 270093200908

I suppose I really don't have to worry until y'all can predict what I am having for breakfast (although, since pretty much every cold day I have the breakfast of champions — organic maple oatmeal and Diet Coke — that's not too hard)!

No, Luke. I am your Duro …

Darth Vader Duro

So, here, finally, is the Darth Vader fabric Duro. It's not really pressed, and until I uploaded the picture I didn't realize it wasn't straight on my mannequin, but, nevertheless, here it is.

I showed it to Mr. Dress A Day last night, and his reaction was, "Well, the houndstooth certainly distracts from the Darth Vader heads." (Mr. Dress A Day sometimes has a hard time ginning up the appropriate amount of enthusiasm for my sartorial flights of fancy.)

I am very pleased with the houndstooth, because the background isn't white — it's gray, like the Darth Vader heads, as you can almost/maybe see here:

Darth Vader Duro

I like that I could use this fabric in a Duro, because what I'm really hoping for is the double-take. That it just looks like an abstract print at first, and then suddenly there's the realization, that no, it's not abstract, it's DARTH VADER. (And then they find an excuse to move away from the obviously unbalanced woman in the Star-Wars-themed dress.)

If I were really ambitious (or really a lot more geeky than I am right now) I'd find one of those Darth Vader-breathing chips that were in the magazine ads for the re-release of the first trilogy, and keep it my pocket to jolt that realization, for people slow on the uptake. But I won't. Or, at least, I probably won't.

Here's a closeup of the bodice, just because:

Darth Vader Duro

And, yes, I know, that in the movie Vader really says "No, I am your father," with no "Luke" in there at all. How do I know this? I looked it up.

Oh, my.

Rozae Nichols dress

Lisa sent me a link to this designer, Rozae Nichols, and, frankly, Ms. Nichols had me at this dress. So pretty, without being too girlish. (Not sure how I feel about the knee socks and platform mary jane shoes, but I have almost perfected my technique of being able to ignore all the accessories sent down the runway, and concentrate solely on The Dress.)

I love the dotted fabric, and the fact that it's lined. Personally, I'd like shorter sleeves, but this is for Fall 2007, so perhaps a more summery version would hit above the elbow. I think a summer version with flutter sleeves would be lovely.

Of course, the only fly in the ointment is that her site is hugely flash-heavy. Why is it that designers feel they have to make their sites into largely unnavigable mini-movies? Is it a control issue? Do they all have family members in the employ of Adobe? Do they just not spend very much time using a computer? What is it?

She also seems to have three other lines: the drapey rnconvertible, the more youthful A Common Thread, and the as-yet linkless Aquarius line, which is supposedly more vintage-inspired. I also liked the Common Thread clothes, although they're a little too Williamsburg for me, if you know what I mean. I can't rock that "long hair and short baggy dress with floppy neck bow" aesthetic, although I think it's lovely on other people … worth checking out, though, because what I saw had gorgeous details.

Thanks, Lisa!

Giant Post about Possible Oscar Dresses

Msbelle and Pamela sent me a ton of possibles for this year's Oscars, so if any prominent Hollywood stylists are reading this blog, here's all your work done for you, by them.

Pamela points out that this dress has already been purchased by Angelina Jolie. Whether she wears it to the Oscars or not (haven't seen a lot of short dresses lately), I'm sure we can all agree that this is one hell of a dress:

Carol Robins

Click on the image to check out the front, which is just as stunning.

Pamela also suggests this Ceil Chapman dress, perhaps for Renée Zellweger?

Ceil Chapman

Msbelle likes this one, and I do too:

Edwardian evening dress

I see this on someone a bit edgier, maybe Cate Blanchett? Although this is only 55" shoulder to front hem, so perhaps you don't have to be a total glamazon to wear it.

This one (also suggested by msbelle) is 100% Jennifer Garner. Don't you agree?

grecian sheath dress

Where *this* one is J.Lo:

Giorgio dress

I can't even express how much I love this Elie Saab one msbelle sent. The gray! The bands!

elie saab dress

This one is really gorgeous, too, but I can't imagine who would wear it. Nicole Kidman? I think she had her fill of this color a few years ago.

elie saab dress

Got a vintage dress to match with a celebrity? Or a celebrity to match with a vintage dress? Play along in the comments!

The Culture of Sewing, edited by Barbara Burman

In my prowls through the library I came across this title, and I have to say I learned an enormous number of things from it, including:

  • Vogue, Butterick, and McCalls produced more than 600 patterns a year each in the 1930s and early 1940s, dropping to an average of 500 patterns a year thereafter. (And when you put it that way, I hardly have any patterns at all! Let's see, the 10 years of the 1950s times three pattern companies times 500 … and that doesn't even count Advance or the newspaper pattern companies … or modern patterns … )
  • McCalls were the first printed patterns, patenting them in 1919. When the patent expired in 1938, most of the other pattern companies started using them, except for Vogue, which continued to use hand-cut patterns until 1956. McCalls was also the first company to produce patterns that were licensed copies of Paris designs.
  • The price of a Singer sewing machine in the 1860s was $100 — $50 if you were the wife of a minister (which should tickle the writer of this funny and useful blog; thanks to Sendhil for the link!).

The Culture of Sewing also led me to this book (which I'll have to try to get from interlibrary loan), and this one, which I can't believe I didn't have, and will now have to buy.

All in all a successful read … although some of the essays (it's a collection) were much too theoretical for my enjoyment, most of them were very good reads. One even had a word I can't find anything else about: humby, in this context:

Household duties — worried over new poplin dress, bought last winter which is a perfect humby — looking as if it were rough dried. Pressed it.

This is from the diary of a Susan McManus, in Philadelphia, in 1869. There was an actress named Humby about that time (it's a commonish surname) but I can't make any links or find evidence of other uses like this. Yet.

Is there anything more pleasurable than reading a good book about a subject you're fascinated by? (If there is, don't tell me, I have enough trouble keeping up with all I have to do already.)

[No cover image, as it's NSFW. It's an arresting and beautiful image, but I have to say that one of the New Laws of the Internet should be that if you want people to blog about your book, it helps to not put nekkid people on the cover.]

I. Love. Stripes.

Anthropologie white gloves dress

Seriously. I *love* stripes. Especially ones done like these, on this dress from Anthropologie. (Summerset sent me the link.) Click on the image to get a bigger picture; it's absolutely worth your time.

Don't you just love how the chevrons really accent the waist? I might even violate my own "no sleeveless" rule to wear this …

Of course, the best thing about this dress?

Anthropologie white gloves dress

Look how nicely the pocket welts are set into the stripe. Just wonderful. I would have been lazy and done side-panel pockets, myself.

It's $168 at Anthropologie, and this is one of those times that I think that more than $100 for a dress is probably worth it. I know I'd spend more than $100 in aggravation trying to get this made so nicely!

And after all that talk about how I want to concentrate on yellow, gray, green, and baby blue for this spring/summer, red keeps sneaking into my sewing plans. I really love the red & light blue combo here, and I'm now obsessed with making a deep teal and black Duro with red piping … watch this space!