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.)

Check 'em out by clicking "read more" below!

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!


  1. I'm afraid that there is no way to "fix" the tear in the dress. The best you can hope for is to stabilize the rip. You need a piece of chiffon or silk organza in the same color or the dress; a piece large enough to completely cover the rip with a couple of inches extra on all sides. Put the patch of organza beneath the rip, on the wrong side, and carefully handstitch it to the dress. Use a matching thread and don't make tiny little stitches.

    1. This is terrific, thank you Lizzie! Out of curiosity, why is it important to use longer stitches?

  2. That first blue dress is just heavenly! We have in the family some of my great-grandmother's dresses from the twenties, but they are all degrading very seriously. Luckily we also have some jewellery and pieces of beading that are in much better condition, and I love the connection to her that I get to feel through these things.

    1. I'm so jealous you have so many heirlooms from your great-grandmother! How fantastic and rare, to have that connection to your family's history!

  3. wonderful ... i don't mind - you could post 100 posts about 20s dresses. even if it's not a flattering decade to me, if it comes to personal style, i love to swoon over treasures from this period. i can't believe that these beauties are still in such a good condition!

    looking forward to the next post - whatever decades it might be about.
    thanks for sharing!!!!

    1. Thanks so much! I'm so happy you like the post-- I love this decade's style so much, so I was hoping others might as well. It really does feel like unearthing treasure, since these dresses have been left alone for so long. Thanks so much for your comment, and for visiting!

  4. There is no such thing as too long a stay in this realm, if you ask me, sweet dear. What enchanting, elegant, soulful pieces. Their diaphanous fabrics and flowing lines are like rivers of fabric carrying tales of ages long gone and yet so very near (in the course of all of human history) to our own. Gorgeous, memorable pieces, Whitney, thank you for sharing their beauty with us.

    Thank you, too, very deeply for commenting on my birthday reflections post today, my fellow soon-to-be thirty year old. There was a liberating quality to this post and though I did have a few butterflies in my stomach before it went live, I'm very glad I shared all that I did and think that it will be an important catalyst towards continuing to open up and let down my guard of (at times unnecessary) privacy, and a bit of my shyness, online (and likely offline, too).

    ♥ Jessica

  5. Wow! First off, I don't think ANYONE minds a continuation of the 20s, as we all so rarely see true blue 20s garments! So it's a true delight that you are sharing these treasures with us!!

    Sorry to hear you are so busy, but happy to hear that all sounds like you're having a good time!