Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Decades: Finds from the 1930s

Hey there!  I'm just about bursting with excitement to show you the beautiful 1930s dresses I've gathered together for this post.  This decade is one of my absolute favorites in fashion: long, slim lines combined with dramatic details?  Yes, please.  Beginning with longer, more feminine silhouettes after the androgynous 1920s, the 1930s remains, in my opinion, one of the most flattering and elegant periods in fashion history.  It introduced simple, smart outfits to reflect the somber tone of the Great Depression, and yet encompasses the glamour of the Golden Age of Hollywood, Vionnet's groundbreaking use of the bias cut, and runs the design gamut from easy-to-wear dresses to outlandish gowns.

So without further ado, the seven (count 'em, seven!) flowing, beaded, print-ed, and/or clinging pieces I've chosen to reflect the variety of the 1930s.

This office-ready checkered number is a terrific example of the quintessential '30s silhouette.  Hemlines dropped after the 1920s, and more figure-flattering lines came back in vogue.

The wide-set collar lies flat against the dress, which, combined with the strong vertical lines of the orange string tie, make for a really great neckline for someone with a shorter neck, like myself.  The O-shaped belt buckle contrasts nicely against the square print fabric, and I love the slight flares at the hem and the wrist.

Pleat detail at the front for added movement

From what I can tell, this black floral chiffon piece shows the transition from 1920s to 1930s fashion.  Though the front gather detail is present in late 1920s dresses (like the orange piece from my last post), this one sits a little higher, at the natural waist.  (Or it would, if I were the right size for it!)

Similarly, I think this gorgeous beaded blue number demonstrates some of the lessons designers may have learned from the '20s-- namely, that drop waists are really hard to pull off.

The beads create the illusion of a lower waistline, but the fabric cinches in wonderfully at the natural waist.  I adore the shape this dress creates, thanks to the slightly padded shoulders that balance out the bead detailing, and the long line created by the length.

Seriously. The '30s are where it's at.
The beautiful print and great swing of this dress and duster set made it absolutely agonizing to take off.  I love this shape.  It's in terrific condition-- so terrific, it's been used as a costume more than once.

This flower print is to die for, and the tags, as well as the quick-rigging snaps, are evidence of its use as a costume.
This is the cutest thing I've worn in a long time.
Please don't make me take this off!
Now this set, I'm less thrilled with.  I think it's due to the combination of the bigger shoulders and the two-toned print, but this dress actually gave me much more of a '90s grunge vibe.  '30s tea dresses made a comeback around that time, and this piece seems like the kind of thing a '90s alt-rocker might have worn.

I like the basic structure of the dress, though, and I'll admit, I like it more in photographs than in person.

The cut of this slinky, colorful v-neck dress shows how truly wonderful the 1930s were, in my opinion, for a girl with a less-than-hourglass figure.  Thanks to the cut, the fabric clings to the body, and really flatters a more athletic figure. Don't get me wrong-- this would be killer on just about any shape, any body.  But as a woman with what's rather dishearteningly referred to as a "boy shape," I really, really love anything that can play up what curves I do have.

I've saved the most outlandish for last.  This dress is bonkers, and I love every inch of it.

I'm not even sure how to describe this chiffon dress, but to me, it looks like something out of a Joan Crawford film.  

The velvet bows, the bright floral print, the bust gathers, the giant sleeves-- it's just pure fun.

I don't want to say too much here, but-- you just might catch this dress in a future post.  (!)  Until then, though, I hope you enjoyed this glimpse into the glam 1930s.  I've loved getting a chance to wear these dresses, and to try out the '30s silhouette.  I've definitely gotten some ideas for future sewing projects!

Next up: the 1940s!


Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Decades: Finds from the 1920s

After my last round of wardrobe finds from the 1910s-1920s, I'd fully intended to move on to the 1930s-- and then I found these ladies.  I hope you don't mind the extended stay in the Roaring Twenties, but these dresses were just too good to pass up!  Not to worry-- I've already photographed some great '30s pieces for an upcoming post.  

It's funny, I'd thought I'd have a little more time to photograph and model the things I've been coming across this summer, but as they're wont to do, things've turned out a little unexpectedly.  From last-minute design changes to surprises in scheduling, I've been working pretty much non-stop in the wardrobe department of the theater, and a little less in the costume shop.  That just means I've been working on running shows and costume upkeep rather than construction.  Basically, I'm now pretty boss with a steamer and adept at quick changes, but a little fuzzier on the nitty-gritty of costume work.  Which isn't to say I'm not enjoying my time in summer stock-- it's just a way of explaining why I haven't been able to find the time to keep the kind of blogging schedule I'd prefer (and why all my photos lately are set in a dressing room!). 

So, to make it up to you, here are five amazing dresses from the costume shop, coming straight to you from the Jazz Age!

(Note: No dresses were harmed in the taking of these photos.)

First up, this gorgeous blue chiffon number.  It's in really delicate shape-- the arms are severely torn, and it's pretty fragile.  But the drape is just so beautiful, I had to show it to you.

I love the lace detailing at the neckline of this dark blue floral piece.  Also made of chiffon, this dress features an attached caplet that drifts around the shoulders.

Proving that 1920s fashions are sometimes hard to pull off, and even harder to photograph, this gorgeous beaded number looks not quite as good as I wanted it to look.  No matter; I love it anyway, from the buttons to the lovely beige color. It's in a fragile state as well, and has a tear down the front I'm hoping to mend.  The beading, though, is in terrific shape, and I really like the tie-back feature.

You can see the tear, which is a few inches long, just below the beading down the front.
Any tips on mending this piece are welcome!

Though similar to the first piece, I wanted to showcase this dress because of its material.  Made of a thicker, more durable fabric, I think this dress has actually been used as a costume-- the front has been altered to allow for easier access into and out of the dress, and at the moment, doesn't have any closures-- it's been pinned in place for these photos.

Detail shot of the back neck.  The opaque fabric of this dress has held up much better than many of the chiffon pieces.

Yeah... So I didn't pin this perfectly.  Whoops.

Last but not least is another chiffon dress in a cheery, summer-appropriate color.  The tie front of this dress is really flattering, and though it definitely feels fragile, it's in surprisingly good shape.

I hope you've enjoyed getting a look at these pieces!  I loved getting a chance to wear them, and I can't wait to show you what I've pulled from the 1930s.  Stay tuned!

Friday, June 13, 2014

Decades: Finds from the 1910s-1920s

Yikes, but I am tired.  Working wardrobe in summer stock is no joke-- it's extremely long hours, six days a week, and I'm lucky if I can blindly grab something other than running crew blacks to wear every day.  Don't get me wrong-- I'm liking it a lot and learning a ton-- but this summer's definitely brought to you by the letter F, for fatigue.

That said, one of the things that's made this gig awesome is its collection of vintage garments, and I am way overdue for sharing more of them with you.  I'll be taking you all with me through a chronological tour of my theater's closet, so in we go with my finds from the 1910s-1920s!

Please forgive the slightly hurried air of my photos this time around-- I scraped together a few minutes to snap away in one of the theater's dressing rooms.  I promise, had I found more time, I wouldn't make you look at picture after picture of a paper towel dispenser. Ugh.

This cream-colored dress dates from the 1910s.  I love the drop waist and long length, and man, for a 100-year-old dame, she looks good.  It's in terrific condition, thanks to the cool temperature and sunlight-free storage area.  The lace details on the bodice and sleeve add elegance, and I can tell you, after a month solid of jeans and t-shirts, it felt awesome to wear something so beautiful.

This silk dress with fur trim from the 1920s is easily the most luxurious thing I've ever put on my body.  The thick fabric feels great, and the sheen is just incredible. The daring cutouts in the skirt hit higher than my short slip (oops), and it moves gorgeously.  

I love this über-feminine pink 1920s dress.  I don't usually go in for girly, but for this dress, I'd make an enthusiastic exception.  The flower appliqué, the light green satin sash, the drop waist and flattering neckline-- it all adds up to the sweetest garment I'd wear forever, if my boss would let me.  Though it's in good shape, it does show small signs of wear-- the thread on the side snaps has dry rotted and the crinoline's torn, but all original pieces appear to remain with the dress.  

I've got to find some jazzy fabric and make a copy of this dress.  It's your basic, classic 1920s flapper-style dress, but the colorful print and ruffles along the bottom give it major attitude.  The high neckline keeps it fairly proper, and also helps flatten out the look of the bust.  

That's all for this time-- I hope you liked getting a peek into the wonderful world of wardrobe!  More to come, as we work our way into the 1930s!