20th Century

The 1924 Hula Goddess dress

1924 Hula Goddess dress thedreamstress.com

After a bit of modification to my design idea, and some hemming-while-wearing the dress fun, my 1920s green dress is done.

I’d originally planned to make the dress entirely out of the amazing green silk, but it was a little overwhelming en-masse and I ended up breaking it up slightly with a shoulder strap and sash of gilt linen (the same stuff I made my silver stays out of, only gilt gold not silver)

The design was mostly based on a process of basting things and draping until things looked good.  The dress ended up looking like a lot of frocks and sketches from 1923-24: very low waistline, low calf length, asymmetrical draping, low straight-or-asymmetrical neckline.

ca. 1923

ca. 1923

1924 Redfern of London dress

1924 Redfern of London dress

I’m calling it the Hula Goddess dress, because I spent a lot of time dancing around the house in it after my post on hula dancing, and the draping is both very pa’u/sarong/lavalava-y, and rather Grecian.  I feel like it’s exactly the dress that a 1920s Hollywood starlet would have worn to a fancy party in Honolulu.

1923-1924 Hula Goddess dress thedreamstress.com

A rather risque starlet perhaps!  That bare-shoulder is period correct, but is pushing things a bit in terms of propriety!

1923-1924 Hula Goddess dress thedreamstress.com

The Challenge: #21: Green

Fabric:  2m green & ecru silk habotai, .3m gilded linen

Pattern:  My own, mushed together from various vintage patterns and with a bit of drafting (hmmm…this sounds familiar).

Year:  ca. 1924

Notions:  Silk thread, 3 hooks & bars

How historically accurate is it?  Silk habotai isn’t an accurate weave & weight of silk for the 1920s and gilded linen CERTAINLY isn’t period correct, but the basic shape & construction are all period accurate.

Hours to complete:  5.  Love 20s!  So fast even if you do it period!

First worn:  Just for posing, but I’ll be wearing it next weekend for a swing dancing ball – if I can get up the nerve to appear in public in it!  

Total cost:  I paid somewhere between $10 & $20 a metre for the silk 5 years ago.  It was on sale for 50% off, but I can’t remember if it was originally in the $40s or $20s.  The linen was $12 a metre.  Maximum $44, minimum $24.

I had some rather unsure moments about this dress as I made it, but in the end, I love it.  I feel elegant and just sexy enough without veering into tacky territory, and it swishes around me and makes the most delicious scroop sound as I walk.  It would be perfect for hula dancing!


  1. Lynne says

    That is beautiful! I love the way the fabric drapes down from the tie of the belt – really works for the design of the fabric, which I love (still want that Poiret coat!). It glides and drapes and swoops most elegantly. Daring without being indecent, I agree. Lovely hula dress!

  2. Upon reflection, though, I think it would look even better if you wear it with white or ivory shoes. You could go with a shoe that has a 20’s shape, or a more modern sandal.

    • That’s what I thought too, and I have a number of pairs of white/ivory/nude/gold shoes, and tried them all, and they all looked REALLY stupid with it. It was a surprise to me too, but black is the best look with this.

  3. edith fraser says

    soooo lovely you make some wonderful things love following your blog xxxx all the best from England god bless x

  4. Ravishing and very tasteful! Some pearls and just one hair ornament – a live flower, even – and it’s 1920s, Art Deco, and echoing Hawai’i all in one.

  5. You look fabulous!

    I keep thinking that I don’t like 20’s fashion, because the dresses look so awful when hanging on museum mannequins. Then I see pictures of real people wearing complete 20’s outfits and remember that it’s actually an adorable decade in fashion.
    It’s a gorgeous dress, the fabric is so wonderfully drapey.

  6. Claire Payne says

    Oh you saucy bare-shouldered minx!

    Yet another magnificent frock which I am sure Miss Fissy approves of.

  7. Marilyn J. Hollman says

    I am not sure I like the one shoulder thingie all that much, but okay.
    Pearl “lasso” necklace or one or two ropes. w/jade mixed in? or jade and pearl drops? was/is there such a thing?

    Fabric is so lovely.

    Shoes? Maybe very dark green shantungu w/black sequins or something.

  8. Ah, of course: I wanted to comment yesterday, and my stupid mobile connection landed me as a spammer again.
    I wanted to say, the silhouette is rather new to me, and the green pattern with the silvery golden-y linen looks so beautiful in this style – and it certainly looks more harmonious with the sash.
    And somehow, the bare shoulder even looks a bit risque to me, with this style, even though it’s so tame by modern standards!

  9. Marilyn J. Hollman says

    Ah, stunning.
    Some famous interior designer said that every room should have a touch of black. Perhaps the black shoes reflect that.

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