Monday, January 25, 2010

Just the Right Amount of Swish: 50s fashion starts with the undies

My fingers are itching to sew. My sewing table has been changed into a change table for the moment, while our houseguest inhabits Ender's room and his change table. Still, I find myself dreaming of 50's era dresses with swishy skirts and bullet bras. What Kate Did seems to be the best (if not only) website that features bullet bras and the mini New Look corsets that nip in your waist just right, and Vogue has vintage dress patterns with just the right degree of swish. I picture myself vaccuming my split level house in heels and pearls with my frilly apron, while Ender plays docile with his wooden blocks.

But it would seem that I must wait, just a little longer, before the time will be afforded to me to make such a dress. Also, the fabric is very important and I've been unimpressed by the fabric stores I've been to in this city. Fabricland has a great selection of fabrics for crafts, or if you'd like to sew your own wedding dress, but not so much for quality dressmaking supplies. Upholstery fabrics, what with the DIY revolution, are plentiful. But where to find a quality dressmaker's crepe? I suspect I must delve in to the garment district in Chinatown, where one risks finding excellent deals or being horribly ripped off.

The right fabric is essential for the right amount of skirty swish and drape. On the Vogue website you'll see that they've actually made the pattern and photographed it with a real model. But in most of them, it's plain to see they've used the wrong fabric: the model is dressed in hideously cheap cotton broadcloth. The drape expressed in the drawing is not done justice. Also, her underwear is all wrong, her breasts melded in the circular shape that is popular now, not the bullet shape that was popular then. Her waist to shoulder ratio is practically nill. I am such a stickler for authenticity, it almost takes the fun of things. But not quite. The journey for just the right amount of swish shall be a long one.

Yes, I acknowledge that dresses in the 50s were often made of ugly broadcloth, but why oh why, dear reader, would one want to recreate the ugly part of a decade? Why not a little bit of Mary Pickford, Marilyn Monroe, and a dash of Bridgette Bardot? If we're going to go back through time, why not pick the beautiful things?

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