Thank you all so much for your fantastic feedback on my Background Dress post! Since I've decided that this will be my next Vogue's New Book for Better Sewing project, I spent some time this weekend making very preliminary headway into tracing the pattern and re-sizing it. As I studied the pattern pieces and thought over all your advice, this dress really started to take better shape in my imagination.
First, let's talk about the silhouette. I didn't realize that this dress actually has a very pronounced a-line skirt. Who would've thunk it from this photograph in VoNBBS?
(See, the damn pattern companies have always been trying to trick us with these sneaky and misleading photographs! Ha!)
In reality, the skirt pattern is definitely FLARED. Which is fine, but let's call a spade a spade. I had originally foreseen myself modeling this skirt after my super-slim tapered Jenny skirt, but that's definitely not the intended silhouette of the pattern.
It's interesting to think what this silhouette tells us of the time period. This particular pattern was published in 1950, two years before VoNBBS itself was published. So this silhouette must have been heavily influenced by the a-line skirts of the 40s, rather than the tight wiggle dresses of the mid-50s. Isn't it telling that by the time they shot the photos for VoNBBS, the stylist was already trying to update the dress to a more current or forward-thinking silhouette? I can just see the back of that skirt clipped back with a bunch of laundry pins!
Now, onto fabric and color. Many of you gently helped me realize that my initial fabric choice (a $1.95/yard Vera Wang navy cotton-rayon faille) was all kinds of wrong. The hand was too stiff and the color was just too conservative for me to really get excited about sewing it.
Also, an aside related to color: one of you asked why VoNBBS called this the "Background Dress." I believe the answer is that this dress is meant to be a background for accessories, a sort of blank slate. It has two buttonholes around the neckline through which you can wrap a scarf (or perhaps pin some vintage sweater guards?). So, in keeping with this spirit I didn't think that the color should be too shocking, but perhaps my version of a neutral. I loved that a couple of you brought up the idea of purple. So, with purple visions swimming in my mind, I made a quick lunchtime swatch reconnaissance mission yesterday.
I looked at crepes.
Gabardines and suitings.
And, last but not least, double knits.
Lots of lovelies to choose from, eh? All in all, I'm very much digging this smoky blue-purple double knit.
I think it's still understated enough to embody the spirit of the background dress, but with a little kick. Plus, I'm loving the way it looks with my coloring and some red lipstick.
What do you think?
P.S. Readers, did you know that as a community, you are overwhelmingly pro-three quarter sleeves? I think you should run a campaign to instate three quarter sleeves on all dresses; you're a very convincing bunch! I'm happy to report that I'm taking your advice on the matter.