Faith in the Youth of Today

Last week I got this wonderful email from Clarissa, who wanted to tell me about her first major project: her junior prom dress.

Not just any junior prom dress: Clarissa, as so many of us are, is infatuated with Audrey Hepburn, and she wanted to recreate (on a scale appropriate for a junior prom) this iconic dress from "Sabrina":

Audrey in Sabrina

With some help from her mom (a former home-ec teacher — thanks mom!), Clarissa modified a Vogue pattern to get this:

Clarissa in Audrey

Isn't it lovely? The overskirt attaches by a waistband, so it can be removed for less-formal occasions. I love that Clarissa didn't try to completely recreate the Audrey dress (that way lies tears, I tell you — it probably took a team of people three months to make that dress) but concentrated on the essential elements: the sheath and overskirt, the colors, and the embroidery. (Clarissa had the front embroidery done professionally, as she doesn't have an embroidery sewing machine.)

And she was so smart to turn it into a sheath with straps; I wore a strapless dress to a prom once and spent the whole night tugging it UPWARDS. Not what you want to be doing at prom!

In short, well done! I'm especially impressed by any young lady who chooses to look so elegant, when there are so many options to look … not-elegant.

Also: those are really cute shoes.


0 thoughts on “Faith in the Youth of Today

  1. What a statement to elegance and grace–everything that Audry epitomized!A beautiful young woman who values herself enough to create a beautiful dress instead of opting for the crass and “un-elegant” dresses at the department stores and teen shops.Brava!


  2. That’s a great dress…very impressive!And while a white evening dress will never go out of style, should she ever tire of it (granted, hard to imagine with a Givenchy style) or should it eventually grow dingey, she can dye it a color and have a whole new dress.This will only work if the fabric was pre-washed, though. The garment should be put in the washing machine wet, on a cold gentle cycle — to be safe — in a big lingerie bag so the item doesn’t get pulled out of shape. Use liquid dye before putting in the bag, as the powdered dye doesn’t always completely disolve, and you get flecks of more intensified color.If the overskirt takes the dye differently from the dress (almost guaranteed) you can put whichever piece is lighter through again, with more dye. And put the machine through a hot water cycle with detergent and bleach afterwards, to remove traces of dye.I mention this only because with white clothes, you have an option to give them a second life later, which can be fun. You can do it to pastels, too.


  3. good for her. i agree, it is often better to create something that was inspired by something else, rather than try to recreate it exactly. (It probably did take forever to make the original.) she looks so elegant – well done!


  4. Clarissa showed great taste, imagination, and great good sense with her choice. I hope she had the wonderful time that she and her dress deserved.I salute Clarissa’s Mom, as well – not just for the sewing, but for all the work that went into raising such a sensible, talented and tasteful young woman!An aside: I’m generally dubious about the wonderfulness of strapless dresses, especially if the wearer has Vast Tracts of Land. Unless the strapless gown has been built with a corset bodice, usually the top scootches downwards – the result being The Funky Chicken, as Thoughts on Life And Millinery pointed out; a move that never adds to the attractiveness or chic of the wearer. Even on a woman whose tracts are less vast, the top of a strapless gown always wants to be a belt – or so it seems. There’s a lot to be said for straps!!An Interesting Note: Believe me, Audrey’s gown didn’t stay up because she’s so slim (although she certainly was that); it stayed up due to some superb scaffolding. Audrey Hepburn, as it turns out, had the same proportions (although not measurements) as Marilyn Monroe; both of them were hourglasses, although Ms. Hepburn was always ferociously thin.


  5. For those of you wishing for a strapless dress but not wanting to deal w/ tugging it, may I suggest:toupee tapeIt’s basically a double-stick tape that’s formulated for skin.I made my wedding dress, and got the shoulders a bit too long, so they kept falling off. I didn’t have time to go in and change the shoulder seam.My roommate the actress said: “double-stick tape.”Worked like a charm! Later, I heard about toupee tape, which is kinder to the skin.(Jennifer Lopez used it to keep that blue-and-green Versace number on)


  6. LOVE the dress and the girl, she did a supurb job, and managed to resist ‘over-do urge’ I would have gone with white shoes, but that’s just ME.Tru


  7. i personnally see it as the most awful dress!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! why would any one wear it


  8. Out of 58 comments, one person had to point out to everyone their negativity. This only reflects on you miss anonymous. why would anyone care??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????what you think??????????????????????????????????????????


  9. That is absolutely adorable. I would not personally wear that dress, but there are so many dress from movies that I would have love to have worn. Now I’m so inspired! That said, now I feel bad that I don’t have the sewing skills not to wear a dress from a store to my prom :(. It’s classy though, I swear.


  10. This is beautiful! It looks so well made, and the fit is perfect. And the black shoes are just right.It also reminds me of one of the dresses that Grace Kelly wore in “Rear Window.” The one with the black bodice and white skirt with black embroidery. I believe Edith Head designed it. Wow, I need to get a social life so I can aspire to such creations! Could I wear this to a PTA meeting? :-DDawn


  11. This is fabulous! I wish I’d had such taste for my own prom – wore a red velvet sheath that was perfectly ok but really nothing special about it and didn’t particularly do anything for me. This will be a dress that Clarissa can keep forever and treasure!


  12. Clarissa, that dress is has a Secret Lives of Dresses story to go with it. (The prom part, I am sure, would not give your mom a heart attack!) It might start “the year she and her mother made me, her favorite movie was Sabrina.” I hope you print and keep Erin’s post so you can recount it to future kinds/ nieces and nephews/ other teens needing some creative inspiration in future years.The dress is a star turn, and you look like a million bucks in it!


  13. Theresa, Hee! Well, I’d be perfectly happy to respond to anyone who wanted my deathless prose syndicated; I have absolutely no qualifications to offer whatsoever except a modicum of common sense, alas.Speak of which:Erin, it must just be my suspicious nature, but the negative post in this entry and in the Walkaway Dress entry remind me vividly of a spate of similar entries that you went through last year. As I recall, they all had the same author.Sad, really.


  14. I’ve been away for a few days, so I’ve missed keeping up with this beautiful blog. I came back to this breathtaking entry. Clarissa, I can only second the exclamations of “Brava!” that have been coming your way in the comments section. What a creative, inspired, elegant homage to the most elegant icon of them all. You should be very proud.


  15. Not to be a killjoy or anything because I’ll praise any girl who has the ability to make her own prom dress and wear it, but doesn’t this dress resemble Angelina Jolie’s red carpet dress in Cannes last year?


  16. HEY EVERYONE!This is Clarissa (maker of the dress) writing to say thank you SO SO SO much for all the amazing comments you’ve left for me. I had the time of my life making this dress; a real labor of love since its been a dream of mine since the first time I ever saw Sabrina. Your responses have brightened my days every time I come on to read them. Not to mention Erin being nice enough to post about me. I just can’t thank everyone enough. My mom has sat with me as well to read all the comments and my boyfriend was so proud he sent the link to all my friends.Thanks again -Clarissa


  17. The dress is absolutely beautiful. My mom and I made my prom dress in 1964, and the top was the same style as this one. The dress was a dark pink, with a long fuller skirt. The top was overlaid with a embroidered lace. It was definitely a one of a kind. In fact, I still have some of the fabric from it. 40 Years later, I was privileged to make my Mom’s dress for her and my Dad’s 50th wedding anniversary. Gorgeous teal embroidered and beaded lace fabric which was $75 a yard, it was a long sleeved short straight tunic , with a underslip that flared at the bottom and cut on the bias made from silk charmeuse. It was beautiful, and I was proud that Mom had taught me well. Keep up your sewing – be original in your choices and do what the designers do, get inspiration from all over


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