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Rate the Dress – Vignon’s garland dress of 1878 or 79

The ratings for last week’s 19teens party dress started out so well, and then the ratings plummeted.  The dress naysayers didn’t like the colour and the garland, and felt the dress was too youthful, and even those who liked the dress complained that it was too flat and hard to visualise on a person and had niggling doubts about the shape of the garland on the bodice.  Thanks to the first flush of approving comments, the dress came in at a 6.9 out of 10.

OK!  Point taken!  This week’s garment is fully three dimensional.  But….

…it still has a garland.  I thought I’d challenge your lei prejudice with another placement and treatment of the idea.

Dinner dress, Mon. Vignon, French, 1878-79, silk and cotton, Metropolitan Museum of Art

This dinner dress by Mon. Vignon from the Metropolitan Museum of Art combines restraint to the point of severity with a touch of delicate naturalism in the form of the embroidered garland that drapes down the bodice and wraps around the skirt.

Dinner dress, Mon. Vignon, French, 1878-79, silk and cotton, Metropolitan Museum of Art

What do you think?  Are garlands just a no go?  Is the contrast between the rest of the dress and the flowers too stark?

Dinner dress (detail), Mon. Vignon, French, 1878-9, silk and cotton, Metropolitan Museum of Art

What about the colours?  They are a far cry from the girlish pink that some found objectionable last week.  But has this dress swung too far the other way, and become boring and dark and restrained?

Dinner dress, Mon. Vignon, French, 1878-9, silk and cotton, Metropolitan Museum of Art

So, what do you think?

Rate the Dress on a Scale of 1 to 10.

Hats for the woman of 50, 1911

This article from the Girl’s Own Paper, Dec 1911, just cracks me up.  How could it not!

I’m sure the “Looking good at any age” and “Dressing for your age” articles in modern fashion magazines will be equally hilarious, if not more so, in a century

Girls Own Paper, Dec 1911

Clearly the hat fashion for ‘mature’ women in 1911 was a large, square turban-toque style.

The allover violets is quite fetching, as is the centre one

I wonder exactly what made these suitable for a woman of 50 (and presumable onward, based on the mention of ‘elderly’ in one caption).  Was it just about the shape being considered properly staid, conservative and modest?  Or was the shape thought to be more flattering?

Hats for middle aged women, and elderly women

Certainly these hats all match the look that Queen Mary was famous for in the latter half of her life.  And who was a better guide to respectable taste than the Queen?

The hat in the centre really isn't helping with the giggle factor

What do you think?  As a lady of 50 would you wear those hats?  Does the whole presentation of the article amuse you just a little?  And which is your favourite?  (Bags on the toque in the upper-right most corner!)

Yet Another Underbust Corset

Remember how I told you about the process of developing an underbust corset, and how I went through a lot of prototypes to get my formula just perfect?  That means that I made A LOT of underbust corsets.  I’ve given some away, torn some apart and recycled the pieces, but still have quite a few to show you.

I really love this one, but I’m still tempted to call it the ‘Not Another Underbust Corset’, because I’m afraid that is really how I felt making it.

It’s made of vintage post WWII synthetic brocade, which was called ‘Kyoto silk’ at the time to make it sound a bit fancier.  The fabric was a gift from my honorary aunt Artie.  The piece was just big enough to make the corset.

It’s lined in a fabulous printed houndstooth craft cotton in aqua and black.  I love the contrast of the bold lining and the delicate pastel outer.

The houndstooth lining was a fairly recent purchased, picked up at a 50% off sale at Arthur Toyes.

Like all my later, more successful, underbust prototypes, this one is boned on either side of each seam.  Not only is that a much easier way to do boning, it creates a much more balanced aesthetic, and gives better fitting.  Wins all around!

I’ve used a silver busk and silver grommets for this corset.  While you can get gold coloured busks, they are much more expensive than the silver coloured ones, so I rarely use them (especially not on prototypes).  Luckily there was no aesthetic compromising with the busk and grommets in this corset – the pale blues really called for silver.

Grommets, on the other hand, come in a number of colours – silver, black, brass/gold, and white, but I have found in teaching corsetmaking that 50% of students pick silver coloured grommets, 20% pick black, and 15% pick brass/gold or white.

While I’m very happy with the construction of this corset in most ways, there are a few little things about it that bug me.  First, I’m not convinced the bright aqua cotton binding is the right colour.  I was in a hurry to finish this, wanted to finish it exactly as I would have the students finish it, wanted the binding to be obvious so it would be easy to see and study, and wanted to use fabrics that I had in my stash.  Hence the binding.

It fills all the practical requirement perfectly, and it looks fantastic with the houndstooth.  From the front though?  I don’t love it.  I think it would have looked better with a self-fabric binding, or in a much softer blue with a bit of a sheen to it.  Maybe if I find reason to keep the corset in my stash I’ll re-bind it one day.

I also don’t love the black ties.  I liked white even less, and black went with the lining beautifully.  What would really be fantastic is a dull silver.

Still, it’s a pretty corset, it makes a great demonstration corset, and it was done.  And I’m too self critical!  (says she, self critically!)