20th Century

Grandma’s blue dress: a photoshoot

This dress belonged to my grandmother.  It’s made of an interesting early synthetic fabric, and has a matching bolero jacket that I rarely wear.

I love the dress though.  It fits me perfectly, and it’s such a stunning colour.  I can’t quite figure out the date – it’s such a classic cut.  Anyone want to make a guess?

That hat was also Grandma’s: I own a dozen or so of her hats.

I love this hat so much!

The suitcase was Mr Dreamy's Nana's

It was a very windy day. I feel like a pin up sketch with my dress blowing against me

A non-period accessory!

The blue is so fantastically vivid against the grey

And the rest of the photos:

The photography was done by Sarah and Madame Ornata, but alas, there was a great deal of handing-around of cameras, and I can’t recall who took what photo in every case!  They are both excellent photographers though!


    • Thanks! I was thinking early 1960s too, but I just found a bunch of mid 1940s patterns with this exact cut, based off Balenciaga’s Summer 1943 collection, so even if my Grandmother’s dress is 1960s, it confirms my thoughts that it is just a really classic, timeless cut. I’m thinking I might make a copy of it with clear 1940s trim as it’s so simple and suits me so much.

  1. Make a copy! Such a pretty dress, I think my favorite picture is the fourth row, middle shot. You look like a pretty lady from an old movie, miraculously in color.

  2. jackiead says

    Every item on this ensemble is stunning put together. Love the color and simplicity of the print. I wish we still worn those darling little hats. Does it feel like your channeling your grandmother, wearing her dress and hat?

    • You know, I always felt that way about hats, but the more I wear them the more I realize no one but me cares. If you like hats, wear them. 🙂

  3. That dress is gorgeous. I love the photo with you grabbing the suitcase. It’s perfect. The lighting and composition was awesome.

  4. It could be as late as the early seventies though – middle aged and older kiwi women were wearing dresses like this ‘for best’ right up into the late seventies. It’s an iconic 20th C dress indeed. And WOW love that sapphire blue on you!!!!!!!

    • It can’t be early seventies, as Grandma was much too big for it by the 70s. In fact, now that I think about the sizing, the more an early date seems plausible. I have a evening ensemble of G’s that is early 60s (I have the pattern too) and it is definitely a few sizes larger). Of course, there is a small chance that the dress may not have been Grandmas. I should poll the aunts and see if any of them remembers it.

  5. Theresa says

    Stunning dress, color, setting — and love the red lips! I think you’re living in the wrong decade… 🙂

  6. Caroline says

    Such a cute dress, and you look really lovely. I also loved the choice of accessories! I made a dress very similar to that, except it was in a monstrous fabric which warped and got ruined when I put in the zipper. It still makes me frustrated now! It’s lucky that your grandmother kept these dresses, I’d love to see the 60s dress you mentioned too!

  7. Barbara Stevens says

    I’d put both hat and dress in the 50s. Hat definitely, dress maybe. Need to see the jacket.
    If it’s 50s the fabric is most probably the dreaded rayon – or maybe an early nylon, but I don’t remember 50s nylon in printed florals like this. Synthetics didn’t hit NZ in any quantity until the 60s.

  8. Frances Yaxley says

    My Mum wore very similar dresses in the early 50s and I should imagine that she had the patterns for many years prior to that. I would place the dress as post-war and the hat would fit the same time-line. I still have one of my mother’s that is very similar to your.

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