The Hostess With the Mostess


Butterick 5666

This pattern (kindly sent by Lisa of Miss Helene's) is one of a set of (?) "College-Career Fashions created by student-designers of Stephens College, Columbia, MO". However, if anyone on that campus (or anywhere in Columbia, MO) EVER wore anything like this except for the inevitable fashion show (including their most illustrious alumna), I will construct an audacious little cocktail hat and eat it.

I can't imagine that this is a "College-Career fashion", by which I'm assuming they mean something you can wear at College, and then in your Career. (With capital letters because having either College or a Career ws so rare.)

Wearing this at College (unless you ditch the capelet) is patently ridiculous, but you know what Career they meant, of course: this is the dirigible-hostess uniform for the Greater Midwest Lighter-Than-Airlines! Or at least the one that won the contest that the GMLTA conducted among college student-designers.

The dirigible hostesses all loved this design since they could wear their capelet-belt-aprons on duty, then leave them hanging in the GMLTA locker room while they went out to enjoy the nightlife of Columbia MO, St. Louis, Kansas City, or Duluth. (The hubs of the GMLTA.)

The head hostesses would wear navy dresses and red capes, and the cadet hostesses would have red sheaths and navy capes. So chic.

They'd take their little GMLTA pins off the capes, though, and wear them on their sheath dresses, since they were good for a free drink and plate of crudités at any bar in the GMLTA hub cities.

Ah, I wish the GMLTA hadn't gone belly-up (literally, it was terrifying, thank goodness they had those five-point seat harnesses). Those were the days when travel was truly an elegant adventure.

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0 thoughts on “The Hostess With the Mostess

  1. I love this pattern! The cape and apron could be very useful in a number of situations. In Vegas, the cape could keep you warm in those cold casinos, while you would have pockets for those necessary items when you don’t want to carry a purse/bag. Also, in an office, especially in the summer when the offices are COLD (as opposed to winter when the offices are heated so much you need to wear a sundress under your outer gear); with those pockets again to carry pen, pencil, small notepad, etc. Also, walking the puppy, to hold your keys and such; movies to hold those hidden snacks. Really, I do like that pattern. Clever student who designed it.

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  2. Holy cow, I would patronize the GMLTA — sounds like a blast. Do you think they would fly from St. Louis to Chicago, or is that too far for a dirigible? (I wouldn’t envy the hostesses’ uniforms, though, despite the practicality.)

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  3. Oh, thank you, Erin, for this morning’s laugh! It’s not often I open your blog and immediately think “What the HELL is THAT?” 🙂

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  4. I have to admit that I’m so very confused by the capelet that I almost want one! How…odd.(I adore your blog, btw! :-))

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  5. Frighteningly, I actually looked at that and thought, “How practical!” Because it really could be. And double on that “cold office” usefulness, Ladygrande.How sad is it that I thought how much I’d like to travel on GMLTA? Or even have a Career as an Air Hostess? And the navy-and-red/red-and-navy combinations actually do sound very chic.I would totally wear my GMLTA pin, though, in order to score that free-drink-and-plate. You know that the only thing you could eat would BE a plate of crudits, because of the fear of penalization/job loss due to a weight gain of five pounds.I think Erin needs to write Adventure Books For Grown-Up Girls (who maybe aren’t so grownup, after all). I know I certainly need to read them.

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  6. On the practical side, this design is great for those of us who have cold backs, but cannot tolerate a full jacket in the semi-warm Spring weather. Think I might make something like it for myself, as close as I can match to this pattern. Thanks for the inspiration!

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  7. Adrienne, if you do make it, I’d love to see what it looks like.I told Erin that it is kind of Lowe’s meets the Gorton fisherman. Very, very odd, but I can’t stop looking at it. I think it’s fascinating.And adorkable. LOL

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  8. Adorkable? I love that comment, and I’m afraid I’ll have to steal that. I was so relieved you weren’t going to make this. Funny entry.

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  9. For some reason, this reminds me of June Cleaver cleaning house in her dress and pearls. She could wear this outfit when doing some minor home repairs. Not that she did home repairs, but she should have if just to keep from being scolded by that darn Ward for normal wear and tear on the house and appliances. Isn’t it amazing the thoughts that can pop into your head just from looking at a pattern illustration? I wish the pattern gave a clue as to WHAT career those students thought this was especially suited for. Dawn

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  10. Why oh why did I look at this post LOL! The first thing that came to mind after seeing the cape was the song from the Mighty Mouse cartoons, “Here I come to save the day!” Entertaining post as always Erin!

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  11. I think the capelet and capron should be reversible, with a holly printed lining in red and green. Then when they’re flipped over, you wear them hosting your open house during the holidays. (People would suggest you needed a vacation.) The final accessory, of course, would be a wreath of greenery and lighted candles on your head. Keeps your posture good and straight.

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  12. Dittos on the airline and what flying used to be.. but then I am somewht hypnotized currently by Grant Show and his magic mustache on “Swingtime.” Pilots and attendants of the 1970’s… (mmm must watch tonite!)

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  13. Gasp! The “apron” is the vintage-dress-wearing girl’s answer to a fanny-pack! I love it. Really. It’s perfect for dog walking and numberous other activities where carrying a handbag would look a bit odd. I actually think I may make one!

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  14. Actually, I might have worn it to college, but then I liked to wear outlandish things to college. (It beat going out in pajama pants.) The capelet/capron (great word!) in a wild pattern over a plain black shirt and leggings and bright-colored boots might actually be kind of awesome, in a “what planet is that from?” kind of way.(I promise that none of you will have to be seen with me wearing it in public.)

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  15. When my mother was of college age (1950’s), the “rich girls” in her tiny hometown went to Stephens, which was at that time a very swanky & exclusive girls’ college. I ended up working as an intern there when I was getting my library degree; time and economic difficulties had somewhat reduced their former glory, but they’re still women-only, and they do still have an active fashion design program.

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  16. Hi Erin,I adore your blog. I have a feed on my homepage so I know when you update it! I’m posting this comment because I thought you (and maybe your readers?) would be interested in the following…I receive the Rusty Zipper newsletter. They have some fabulous patterns there from time to time. (Usually more expensive than eBay but there’s no bidding!)Anyway, the proprietor’s husband has been recently diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease. (He’s a young guy – and they’ve got 2 kids.) They are asking for help – donations to their ALS (Lou Gehrig’s) fund.http://www.rustyzipper.com/als.cfm?source=ec&kw=alsThey always seemed like really nice people. I don’t know them personally and I was not asked to post this on your, or any, blog. I’m sorry if this is inappropriate in anyway. I just want to help! Thanks for listening.

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  17. the jacket is classy! I wanted to make something like that. Currently, I am going to post about a vintage sailor dress I have made. With this jacket over it, it’d be a hit! :]Have a great day…

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  18. I would like to detach the part with the pockets and make one/several to go with dresses and skirts that don’t have pockets.Toby – that’s “capon” you’re thinking of.

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  19. KAt – I’d be seen in public with you if you don’t mind me wearing a dog print shirts dress, a bowling print shirtdress, or a dice print sundress (Bunco) Erin – HILARIOUS post!

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  20. Your mention of constructing a little cocktail hat made me wonder, have you read the novel “Free Food For Millionaires”? It’s a great novel in the tradition of “Vanity Fair” (a book the author cites as one of her influences) and well worth reading simply because it’s compellingly well written. But I think it would also be interesting to you because one of the themes of the book is the imaginative power clothing has in our lives. The novel uses the central character’s relationship with clothing and fashion in general to help elucidate her sometimes self-destructive, sometimes unrealistic, always imaginative and ambitious approach to sex, money, class, race, power. Fashion, particularly the covetousness it can inspire in the young and broke, is the novel’s frank, unapologetic symbol of the heroine’s struggle for self-creation. (The central character actually *does* take on the project of learning how to make hats — not practical hats that keep off the sun, but the kind of chic little chapeaux no one wears any more. Her hatmaking folly encapsulates what an ambitious, confident, contrarian woman she is.)Whew. I didn’t mean to write a book review. But I really liked this book a lot. I recommend it. -Victoria

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  21. Portable Pockets. What’s not to like? And I like the idea of the little capelette for air conditoned spaces. No sleeves to get in the way or bind when you reach for something. i like it.

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  22. Actually this looks pretty functional, if the dress has no fauxlero and no pockets built in.But putting it on could look like a contortionist exercise. Would you have to button the cape section around your throat first? And then grab the pockets around your behind and pull to the front to buckle? But don’t pull too hard, lest you choke yourself?

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  23. The “book review” above sounds like the pitch the author made to her publisher – and ten cents says “anonymous” and the author are one and the same. No one writes that sort of stylized blurbage spontaneously in a blog comment.

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  24. It must be said that the very BEST things in life are “adorkable” (nice one, Lisa!), would the rest of the world cease its guffawing long enough to notice.The jauntiness of this concoction (yes, the prize must go to “capron”) puts me in mind of a sou’wester – the yellow version especially. Might I suggest it as the cornerstone garment for a line of retro tandem-wear? For stokers rather than captains, obviously. I’m a stoker (the very pinnacle of adorkable-ness) so speak with feeling on the subject. I cycled an entire day in driving rain during a tour of Brittany some years ago, complete with my toddler son in a seat on the back – and my better half in the front seat, of course. The bespoke his ‘n’ hers cycle jackets (only available to us in the vilest possible shade of uber-dork purple) leaked like sieves and by the end of our ride we were soaked even to the innermost pages of our passports. So, I vote for getting drowned in style, at the very least. I’m thinking maybe a deerstalker and tweed cape combo for the captain, maybe?Please, please show us pictures, should any brave soul actually make this beauty! Thanks, Erin: inspired and inspiring, as ever.

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  25. Question for Erin (or anyone…) What on earth is the NRA logo doing on this pattern envelope?Bonus question: how nifty is that bodice?- Skippy Magee, Sewing Conspirator

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  26. Last weekend when it was cold and rainy here in Melbourne, DD and I ventured forth to Miss Marples, a purveyor of comfort food in Sassafrass(I had the Welsh Rarebit and Bread-and-Butter pudding). I can so see the redoubtable Margaret Rutherford in a capron – the pockets would be handy to hold a ball of wool so she could comfortably knit and pace at the same time.But tweed. Definitely tweed.

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  27. Oddly compelling as a garment. I want one. Just so people will come up to me and wonder what it is but be afraid to ask for fear of hurting my feelings.I see it in a plaid, actually.

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  28. I go all stupid around adorkable guys.Okay confession time, I bought one of these mini cape thingies from a Denver thrift store in the late seventies/early 80’s, It was navy gabardine with red piping. It was a part of a vintage nurses uniform.Um…don’t know why I confessed that. I guess it’s cos I would totally be one of those air hostesses (except for my fear of gravity poisoning). And oh my gosh are some of these comments hilarious!!!!

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  29. Get going on that hat. Girls used to be dressed like little women even in high school in the old days. At 12 or 13 you were given your first girdle and it didn’t come off until 1962. A college girl would have used the various parts for dates, dinners, church, meetings, etc.Just last week I saw a similar pattern in an old magazine, which used the thing you call an apron but they call a peplum to make several separates work for various day/night activities on a honeymoon.While I dont want to wear a peplum or a girdle, I surely do miss the elegance my mother had every single day of her life. She didn’t dress sloppily even when she was working in the kitchen garden.

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  30. Skippy Magee / Joni – thanks for making me laugh out loud this morning.And thanks Erin for a wonderfully weird dress.Tuppenyrice GC100Sewing conspirator

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  31. JoniI can’t believe I missed the NRA logo! Now it all makes sense. The apron pockets are for your guns and ammo. The cape leaves your arms free for rapid shooting at multiple targets. The Career they had in mind was obviously private detective. Pair that with the femme fatale sheath and you have a Philip Marlowe novel just waiting to be written.-Barbara in Shanghaiaka sewing conspirator Lily Chase

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  32. I actually made the dress part of that set when I was a lot younger. Did you notice that a 33 bust was a size 15 back then. Now a 33 bust would be about a size 3 or 4 wouldn’t it? I know growing up I was a size zero, only the smallest size I could find was a size 5. And my bust was about a 31. How times and sizes have changed!

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  33. Ok, I never did find the NRA logo, but now that I’ve stopped laughing, it’s time to put on my adorkable capron and get the day started!

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  34. I like this quirky removable peplum-cum-pockets, but I see no earthly reason for its attachment to the capelet. That’s where I get lost. The peplum/apron (pepron?)seems like a very refined, feminine tool belt. If my waist were still around and could stand the attention, I’d make this in a heartbeat!The sheath is VERY nice, BTW.

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  35. You could really put this over the top by making it all out of vinyl, with the matching storm hat. I don’t know why I’m imagining this as storm gear, except that it seems designed for deflection.

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  36. I think it’s really important that you, Erin, and all your subscribers know that the dirigible is back in service and it’s taking bookings for flights over London this summer! http://www.staroverlondon.co.ukIf anyone wants to donate a couple of hundred quid (I think that’s what the tickets are going for) I’ll selflessly volunteer to go and check out what those hostess chicks are wearing.

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