Hey Viv! Need a Crinoline?


Theresa sent me this link to the Hey Viv! store, where you can buy yourself a brand new 50s-style crinoline, for all your swishy-skirt needs. They're about $27, not including shipping, and also come in black, pink, and red.

I'm not a big crinoline-wearer myself — I have enough trouble getting in and out of cars as it is — but I'm tempted to get one. Just for parties, I'm telling myself, although I know if I had one I'm sure I'd try to wear it every day, like a six-old-girl with brand-new patent maryjanes.

I think some of you have sent me links to other retro-undergarmenty places in the past, links I have carefully filed, never to see again. If you feel generous, leave them in the comments?

Hints for actually managing the wearing of a crinoline are welcome, too.

Somebody Thinks I Think, I Think

Thinking Blogger Award

Julie (of the blog High Fiber Content) has nominated me for the Thinking Blogger Award! Which, whoa.

In order to claim my award, I have to link to five blogs that make me think. Which, upon reflection, was harder to do than I thought it would be: I really ONLY read blogs that make me think, because I prefer thinking to almost any other form of activity. (Except, perhaps, roller-skating.)

Anyway, here are the five blogs that routinely make me think HARD, in alphabetical order:

Fashion Incubator. I love to read Kathleen's blog, because I like to know what goes on behind the curtain of the garment industry, and she pulls it all the way back.

I Blame the Patriarchy. Twisty is helping me try to reduce my complicity in the patriarchial system. Somewhat. I'm working on it.

Jane In Progress. Again, another blog that pulls back the curtain, this time on television. I love to see how things work with their cunning gears and wires! And Jane shows how scripts work. And jokes. And lunch. Delish.

Raw Thought (from Aaron Swartz). Is it cheating to nominate a blog with "thought" right in its title for a Thinking Blogger award?

Think Denk. I know NOTHING about classical music, and in the real 'nothing' sense, not the "I know NOTH-ink!" Hogan's Heroes Schultz sense. But when I read this blog I can sometimes see things swimming toward me out of the fog.

Thank you, Julie, for nominating me!

Any Chinese Translation Help?

Memory Dress

Dress A Day reader Erma's husband is a non-native speaker of Chinese and a linguistics professor, and he has a dress-related translation question. Does anyone know the meaning of the Chinese character bai3 ()? It's used in compounds such as qun2bai3 (), where qun2 means skirt. It was used in a sentence which translates to something like "Under the rustling of the evening breeze, the entire bai3 of the skirt was billowing".

The dictionary defines bai3 as "hem or lower part". But a native speaker told Erma's husband that bai3 refers to width — a narrow skirt has a "small bai3" and a wide skirt has a "big bai3".

Anyone have some input? I have to say, if we figure this one out, I'm going to steal that word into English and use it to refer to this concept all the time. "I only wear skirts with big bai," I'll say.

[The image is an artwork called "Memory Dress" by Yu Hong.]

Whatta dress!

Womans Day 5026

This dress is actually made of awesome, is it not? It's from Jen, at MOMSPatterns — you know Jen, her ad's right there on the right (your right, my left, as I face you through the computer).

If this weren't a B32, you'd never see it here, as I would be jealously guarding the auction like some kind of medieval guardy thing, waiting for my bid to go through at the very last second. But since it's on the small side, I'm happy to share it with you. Go! And if you win it, make it IMMEDIATELY, and send me a picture, please.

Of course, if you're not on the small side, Jen has something for you too — in fact, she's running a special sale! MOMSPatterns is having a Weekend Spring Cleaning Sale and A Dress A Day readers get 1st dibs on more than 1,000 vintage sewing patterns …

The sale starts today [Thursday] and ENDS at midnight Sunday, April 29, 2007. Use coupon code 'springcleaning30' to save 30% off of ANY sized order. Don't forget that Jen ships for free to the US & Canada with the purchase of 5 or more patterns …

That panel-ly thing on the side of the skirt, up there? Actually BUTTONS ON. For extra swoosh. Man, I wish this was in my size!

Dvorak or QWERTY?

keyboard dress

Angela at Dorothea's Closet sent me this — it's not for sale, though, so put your credit cards away. She bought it to sell and had to keep it (that's one of the reasons I'd never be a good vintage store proprietor: I'd keep too much)!

Angela said her four-year-old daughter told her it looked like the dress had "buttons" — she meant "keyboard keys". (I remember when my son was four; he was obsessed with pushing buttons. We spent a lot of time in elevators that were making unscheduled stops at all floors.) And, yes, don't they look like keyboards?

Isn't this a great dress? I'm happy just knowing it exists. I'm even happier knowing it has pockets:

keyboard dress

Pockets that LACE UP, no less!

Overuse of Flash Animation is Probably Not the Main Reason the GAP is Going Down The Tubes, But It Doesn't Help, Either

Doo.ri Gap dress

I saw this Doo.Ri for GAP dress in an actual GAP store when I was in NYC, and I was tremendously impressed — it was even cute on the hanger, and I loved the versatility of it — you could belt it with any number of scarves and ties and whatnot, wear it as a white dress all summer, and then (when it got grimy, as it eventually would) dye it black and wear it all NEXT summer. Genius!

So I went to the GAP site to check it out and the GAP site is now a horrific swirling mess of crappy Flash animations. You can't click anywhere, you can't find anything, it's all five second movies by wannabe web auteurs. I hate hate hate it. Catch me plunking down my money at a site like that. And to add insult to animation, the dress isn't even available online!

So if you're walking by a GAP anyway (check their site for the stores that even HAVE this "Design" line, not all of them do) and feel like checking for this dress, it's probably worth it — it's only $88. Otherwise, feel free to use my irritation at the complete suck of the GAP website as an excuse not to hand them any of your money.

Every Dress Tells (or Sometimes Reads) a Story

lion dress

Robin sent me this adorable dress, which is being listed (by fandon) on eBay and ends TODAY so scoot scoot if you want it.

Here's the full dress:

lion dress

I was actually thinking about dresses and stories yesterday, because Friday I was at the GEL conference and heard Ira Glass talk about what good stories do, and how they do it. And of course, whenever I hear anything I particularly like, I think "how does this apply to dresses?"

And then I realized: stories are why I sew. Personal sewing gives a garment an inescapable story, with an inherent narrative that pulls you along to the next bit: where I found the fabric and the pattern, and how long they waited to be made; how difficult or easy it was to put together and what halfassed compromises I made with my original vision; how it turned out, and so on. (Compare this with "I saw it at the Gap and bought it.") Every dress I make is an opportunity to recount a story, as well, and being (mostly) Irish and an aspiring raconteuse, I rarely turn down an opportunity to tell a story … especially ones that are (as so many dress stories are) stories of triumphing over adversity, however small that adversity is.

Sewing's not the only way to give a garment a story, of course. Think about your favorite clothes: don't they have stories? The clothes you bought on vacation, or received from a friend or inherited from a relative, the clothes you wore on a special day or with a special person … I heard a great story about a jacket this past weekend from Henning Rübsam (I heard this story because I exclaimed over how beautiful his jacket was). He saw a gorgeous jacket in a shop, a beautiful one that not only fit him perfectly physically, but fit him spiritually as well. It was far, far, far too expensive, so he regretfully left it behind. He went into the same shop a year later, and it was still there … and, even on sale, far, far too expensive, still. A long while after that … he found it waiting for him at Century 21, finally at a price he could afford, and now it is his, and he's been wearing it, and its story, ever since.

I can see why maybe some people don't want all their clothes to have stories—it'd be exhausting to be overwhelmed with associations each time you pulled on a pair of socks—but I think, in general, garments with a narrative of their own are preferable to garments without.