Observe Simplicity 4556 in all its 1953 glory.

“Junior Misses’ and Misses’ one-piece dress: “Simple to Make” style features stand-away front collar tapering into deep V at back collar is bias and bow trims back neckline. Short kimono sleeves curve into shoulder seam. The flattering skirt is softly pleated both front and back. Pockets in side seams are optional. Self fabric or purchased belt may be worn. View 2 has contrasting collar and bow.”

I might make this again in a completely different color, perhaps with a pencil skirt. Last fall I spent a great deal of time building up my wardrobe with some vintage work separates. I can’t decide my “era,” but I’m not too worried about it. Generally I gravitate toward the early 50’s, but I’m not above wearing an Art Deco top with a Mad Men skirt.

I just hope I manage to avoid walking around like a post-modernist Palahnuik-esque disaster. I have three rules in sewing and wearing vintage:

  1. Wear Flattering Colors. For me, black and white are safest. I prefer wearing black to the exclusion of anything else.  I can wear most shades of blue, blue greens, blue purples, blue reds. Any amount of yellow near my face and I resemble a tuberculosis patient. I’m always willing to *try* a new color, but by now I know my strengths and stick to them.
  2. High Production Values. I am not about to parade myself around out in the world wearing some piece of crap that a myopic baboon could slap together in five minutes. I will not wear something with the zipper hanging out like a banner that screams “I MADE THIS AND I HAD NO IDEA WHAT I WAS DOING.” I feel it is important to maintain a high standard of quality. I can’t sew purely for economy.  I sew for fit, for style, for joy and for quality. If that means I unpick the same pocket fourteen times before I figure out how to make it sit properly, then so be it. I have also been known to unpick recalcitrant topstitching. Repeatedly.
  3. FIT. If I wanted to wear a dress that gaped over my full bust, or a shirt that puddled in the small of my back, I could find them easily. Anywhere. Fit is important.

I think that if I abide by those rules I can avoid looking like a fool while I follow my own sense of style. Honestly, if I abide by those rules I can respect myself and that’s what is important. Which brings me back to Simplicity 4556.


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