Design Inspiration: Tuxedo Dress

I love this dress.  I really do.  But through the process of sourcing the fabric, to finding a trim, this dress has fought me.  I still haven’t found the right trim.  I worry if I force this dress into existence, she’ll continue to fight me and someone will cry.  You know what I mean.  Ever had a dress that fought you?  Did you like wearing her?

The black sateen I bought would work for something else entirely.  I’m a fan of gender bending type fashion, and I like creating feminine clothing using masculine elements.  I have some gorgeous crisp white sateen leftover from Megan’s Vendetta (another dress that fought me).  I might also incorporate the guipure lace and the ribbon- maybe.

Click for source article on suits… “Suited Up- Stuffy or Stylish?”

Cary Grant

What’s black and white and easily transitions from masculine to feminine?

Click for the article “Yves St Laurent Did Not Invent the Tuxedo for Women”

The tux.  Of course, plenty of stylish women simply wear an actual tuxedo- like Marelene Dietrich in the movie “Morocco” (I’m trying to locate a copy).

Or Gloria Swanson, a silent film star.

But I’m making a dress, and I want to really have some fun with it.

This dress from Moschino caught my eye- I love that the dickey is used as back interest, the pleating and the black buttons.  I know this shape isn’t the most flattering for my body, however, and I also want my dickey on the front.  Still a cool dress.

I like this dress- but I can’t find the maker so if you know please tell me.  It has pockets!  The shape is pretty cool, and I like the black insets on the white pleated dickey.  That said, I want sleeves (it’s chilly here right now!) and a wing collar.

Mark Jacobs Crepe Tuxedo Dress

I like the collar/lapels on this dress, the velvet (?) inset and the front slit.  In fact, I think I like this dress *too* much.  Severe, simple lines often attract me, but I have to be extremely careful to soften the look, or the cut, or the color.   But dear me, my inner Puritan loves this frock.

Small Earth Vintage

This is another dress I probably wouldn’t wear myself, but I do like its whimsical play on the tux.

5226 by Celia Kritharioti Tuxedo front dress

I like this shape the most, except I think I want elbow length sleeves, maybe with faux cuffs.  And of course, a wing collar rather than a shirt collar.

As I dug around in my sewing room for inspiration, I found this 1960’s dress pattern Debi sent me some time ago.  The back is quite ordinary (we can fix that!) and it’s a simple cut with some cool front seaming.  I think the white section will fit quite well in the upper middle section, and if I decide I need a waistline I can cut the dress in half and add a “cummerbund.”  I may do that anyway.

This is my main project this week.  I have two patterns I’m working on to release as pdfs, but I’m having some tech issues so I’m focusing on this dress all week.  I’m really excited about it, I’ll work through fitting and drafting a wing collar and pleating and embellishment.  I don’t know what the finished dress will look like yet, I guess we’ll find out together.

If you haven’t already, be sure to sign up for the Frock Out Giveaway!

Which dress do you like best?  Yes or no to the lace?


  1. I love the Small Earth Vintage dress…with the lace trimming the lapels and bow. Looking forward to seeing what you come up with.

    • It *is* super cute.. :)

      I’m looking forward to it, too. I don’t have a completely clear idea, I’m hoping the fabric will talk to me while we’re working together.

  2. maybe no lace….
    black with white lace looks mostly like convent schoolgirl – with this square hole “cheeky convent schoolgirl”. hm. some strait tuxedo-style suits you more i think. and if i would need a evening dress at the moment i would go with you and make a tuxedo-dress to. so grown up :-)
    be sure that the black fabric don´t fade while washing – maybe you do the whites seperately with buttons………

    • Oh, Beate! You just made me want the lace all the more with “convent schoolgirl” which sounds very prim and exotic to me… ;)

      I do have to be careful not to look too severe, but also not “cocktail waitressy” hehe. I’ll find it. Somewhere in that pile of fabric is a cool dress.

      Yes, I will be very careful. I think I could make a removable dickey maybe… At the very least, make the dickey separate and then hand-stitch it so I can remove it for cleaning/replacing… Given my recent problems with whites that may be most prudent..

  3. I think I’ve found myself in a previously unnoticed but absolutely intense obsession with polka dots, and the tiny black buttons up a white placket totally does it for me. As does that lovely black with white polkadot trim. <3 While I'm not sure if the look is something I'm a fan of for myself, you always manage to make up something amazing that I'm in awe of, so I'm looking forward to watching your progress. :)

  4. I like the fitted sheath with the pockets.

    Much as I adore lace, I think that if you’re going girly with the shape, you have to eschew girly details or it will just get confused.

    This is going to look sharp on you!

    • Hmmm- something to think about! The lace is sort of in reserve, in case I make it up and think to myself “It needs something…..” You’re so right, the shape is super girly! Can’t help that one… ;)

      Thanks! (I dyed my hair very very dark, let’s hope I don’t look too much like a misplaced Goth kid… Must wear some very very bright shoes I think…)

  5. I love the sheath with the pockets! That bodice shape is one I keep meaning to explore, but I’ve been seriously distracted. I think it’d look great with longer sleeves, as well.

    • It’s a fantastic bodice shape, especially to “break up” a larger bust… I have a weskit cut like that… The lines and the contrast really work wonders..

      ;) With faux-cuffs?

  6. Love the tux/ masculine look but I’d be wary of veering into the French maid look which I can’t help seeing with black and white and lace! Keen to see the finished dress.

    • oh!! you’re so right! I have a few pins of “looks to avoid” with the tux, but French Maid was one that didn’t enter my mind! I’ll be careful. And if I still miss the mark, then we can have a good laugh and I’ll wear something else to Frock Out.

  7. That Marc Jacobs dress. I totally understand your having too much love for it, for I too have fallen under it’s spell.
    I can’t wait to see what you come up with.

    • I know- that dress is amazing. Except I’d probably look like Morticia in it… Know what I mean?

      :) I can’t wait to see either!!

  8. I love menswear inspired looks. In fact, I’ve spent most of the day looking at oxfords, lol. I think the Small Earth Vintage one is my favoriite and of course, Marlene’s.

  9. I really love masculine detailing on feminine clothing and I think simple is best. As such, my favorite is the second dress with the dickie in the front. It’s a serious nod to the fashion mavens of yesteryear who dared to step out in men’s clothing.

  10. I am a big fan of both the backwards dickey (but then, I just love cool back details) and the Marc Jacobs one! Can’t wait to see what you do with this idea.

    • I know! The backwards dickey is really cute, but I’m fairly set on a frontwards dickey… But how long should a dickey be? Sigh.

  11. Pingback: The Tux Dress: Muslin « 3 Hours Past the Edge of the World

  12. So cool! I love menswear-inspired items– they’re some of my favorite things to wear! This is such a great idea! Can’t wait to see what you come up with!

  13. Pingback: Tux Dress Details- Facings, Mitering Lace and Dickeying Around « 3 Hours Past the Edge of the World

  14. Yes I’m am sick in love with that dress, too. I have done my fair of screen captures while watching Mad Men on Netflix. That one’s a winner. Pardon my dress drool.

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