Dis Dress: What to Wear?

I don’t know about you, but I tend to try out looks before I wear them.   It helps me dress when pressed for time.  Playing dress up after putting baby to bed both relieves and prevents stress.  I do this when I make a new top or bottom.  Similarly, when I need to “dress up” for an occasion I like to wriggle into a few dresses, try out a few shoes and accessories to decide what feels right. 

First, the blue dress of desperation.  I all but finished her about a month ago, set her aside, then “lost” the pattern, meaning I can’t make a bodice lining.  (note to self: CUT LININGS WHEN YOU CUT EXTERIORS!)  I stashed the borrowed vintage magazine and my copy safely in a sealed folder which has since disappeared in the chaos of my sewing room.

Insult to injury, despite several weeks of searching I can not locate a white non-sandal for love or money.  I hate shopping.  The stores stock nude shoes of any description but no bright white heels.   Surely magazines and retailers gang up on us- articles bleat on about how nude shoes lengthen legs, suddenly white shoes disappear completely in favor of what look like dirty white shoes.  If you like them, consider yourself lucky you can easily find what you like.   I can’t and the white shoe lacuna irritates me more than is strictly rational.

Something about the dress isn’t right.  Given time to ponder, I’ll make her perfect.  However, time is no longer on my side.  I have my husband’s graduation and dinner tomorrow.

One of my lovely co-workers buttonholed me this morning and asked if I wanted a bridesmaid’s gown she held on to for four decades.  She said I could cut it up, perhaps re-use parts of it.  I never turn down free textiles, even pilly old sheets can be used for muslins.

Holy Batman.  How could she imagine I’d rip this up?  I look pissed because I’m focusing on getting a decent shot without a photographer.  But really I’m thrilled.
Without the bow(Great snakes, I showed you two dresses with bows in a row) Downside: Admittedly high-quality polyester crepe   Upside: Gorgeous color.
Downside: A little snug.  Upside: Beautiful vintage dress in mint condition.  Downside: I can’t wear my brand-new fluffer with this skirt.   Upside: I have beaded Moroccan slippers a shade darker than the dress.  Downside: I don’t care to document the ghastly marriage of white silk hat with this dress.
She isn’t right, either.  I might eventually trim the dress to knee length and perhaps undergo a breast reduction.  Then it would be a perfect frock for the never-ending rounds of cocktail parties I attend.
Desperate, I dug into my LBD stash.   Am I now three for three in the bow category?
Halter back full-skirted dress in a nice polished cotton.  I found her for ten dollars several years ago.  The elasticized bodice freaks me out.  I trimmed the hem with wide embroidered tulle lace because she lacked character off the rack.  
Upside: I can wear black shoes with her.  Downside: Somehow the elastic sections make me look extra squidgy through the middle while reducing my bosoms to blisters.  We can’t have that.
Upside: I can wear my newest fluffer and carry my Round The World clutch.  Downside: Still a squidgy rectangle.
Upside: I can finally wear my red brocade belt– no more squidge.  Downside:  I can’t carry my Round the World clutch with this belt.  I’ll settle for a quiet black thing I have lying around.
We have a winner.  I need to cheat a little on the belt and pin it tighter than I made it, somehow she’s loosened up from all those months of sitting in my dresser drawer.
I’m trimming my hat with feathers and red Dior roses, I’ll beehive my hair and generally revel in über femininity.  Pictures forthcoming, I realize these are of ridiculously poor quality.
As always, kind and constructive criticism welcome.  I do hope I’m not the only one who plays dress-up.


  1. You are not the only one. Usually my room looks like a tornado hit it when I have to find something nice to wear. I agree, the black one looks great. But I hope you finish the first blue one day! The silk is gorgeous.

  2. I love the blue one! If you ever figure out what's wrong with it, let us know- in the photos it looks beautiful, gorgeous and perfect.

  3. Yes, I vote for either the blue that you made. To me that's the most appropriate in style and absolutely wonderful material and bow! Make more effort to find the shoes!Or I vote for the blue you were given. So what if it's a little snug. As long as it won't split, it's lovely. You haven't dressed it up at all in the pics but it is still beautiful.The black one – it's OK, but nothing special in the pics at least. Of course, you're in Oz and where I am it's snowing, so that backlessness just seems wrong here right now! might be skewing my judgment. But color is better.Hatty

  4. I remember doing dress-up with my closet stash but since having my daughter and gaining weight that seems like a distant memory. Seing those photos of you having such a good time made me think I need to pull out the winter duds and work out some new outfits. :-) I think the blue silk with the bow/sash in front is lovely. What are you seeing that displeases you? I thought it looked great.

  5. Hey thanks for the comments ladies. I'm surprised the blue desperation dress got such a good response. Part of the problem is shoes- I thought to go with silver, but again, all I could find were strappy sandals. Also, something about the dress makes me feel incredibly busty in an uncomfortable way. There is also the issue of the zipper. Zippers don't usually give me trouble, but this one doesn't want to go over the waist seam. I trimmed it down, I re-stitched over and over, it just won't move when I'm wearing it, despite the two fingers of wiggle room I have. Any ideas on that?With the other blue dress, consider: Snug floor length polyester + 92 degree heat + 90% humidity= fail. The black might get more love after you can see the pleated bodice, etc.

  6. The blue silk is a little bit busty but in a vintage babe kind of way. I see no overt cleavage and the bow does give some interest to your waist so you are balancing the breast/shoulder interest. It is one of those dresses where a bit of bust does you proud. ;)About the zipper, I normally just swear at them when they become that irritating. I'm sorry I don't have an answer for you. The red belt makes the black dress. I am sitting in the middle of a snowstorm so the thought of you baring your back at a Xmas party sends chills up my spine! But the red belt is also a holiday look. It sounds like that one might be less stressful to pull together and you feel more comfortable in it.

  7. I think the blue one is most stunning. I like the sound of silver shoes, but you might find white shoes in a bridal store?I'm quite not sure what the zip problem is, do you mean an invisible zip that is not sliding well at the waistline seam? I have had this problem, and find the best way to fix it is to sew 1-2mm further away from the coil at that point.My next fave is the black one with red belt, I agree with sewistafashionista it makes the dress! I just think the back shirring looks a bit low and wants to concertina down your back – I wonder if you could stick a couple of pieces of Rigilene in there?At this stage I recommend taking the less stressful option!!And have fun at the party :)

  8. What's the matter with sandals? (Its an innocent question). I think they look nice with dresses, but maybe its not the 'vintage' way?

  9. I didn't think of a bridal store, Sherry. D'oh. Ruthie- I didn't actually try any sandals, I have nothing against them at all, I just wanted some white Jackie Onassis c. 1961 type of shoes. When I'm being that picky, I suppose it is best to spend several months searching, rather than a few weeks.Upon further reflection, the silver strappy sandals idea is growing on me. I'll find some, finish the dress, and then get husband to take me out somewhere nice. :)

  10. The black dress is definitely the winner! I do love the blue on you though. I think it would look smashing with gold or silver shoes, and there are some lovely brocaded ones in those colours out now. There are also some lovely blue shoes that I have seen.And of course, bridal shops!I love nude shoes though. I feel I should stock up while they are in fashion!

  11. Pingback: Design Inspiration: Fine Batik Cotton and 50′s Halter Dresses « 3 Hours Past the Edge of the World

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