Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Covert Fashion Spy Mission at Anthropologie

I rarely shop ready-to-wear anymore (too busy fabric shopping, I suppose), but yesterday at lunch I made a brief reconnaissance mission to Anthro. You see, I had spied this aqua version (below) of the "Tracing Twirls" dress online and fell madly, deeply, head over heels. Look at that 50s-inspired bustline! I knew I would have to attempt to drape this design. (You might remember that I blogged about this dress back in March - I was in love with it back then too.)

But how to begin interpreting the design? (Besides writing a desperate e-mail to my draping teacher telling her I must drape this design, stat!) I knew it would help tremendously to look at this dress in person. Luckily, it was in stock at my local Anthro, albeit in the black and white colorway above. I grabbed it, along with a few other dresses I wanted to study and made my way stealthily to the fitting room with my secret fashion spyware. (Okay, I actually just walked to the dressing room with my iPhone in tow.)

I took tons of pictures of the dress, from the inside and out and studying it closely definitely helped me understand how it was designed and constructed. I stared at the bodice pleats until they made sense to me. Here's a covert pic of me wearing the dress. (The fit isn't bad, but it's not perfect - just more reason to make my own!)

I especially liked the colorful petticoat detail on the lining.

I also tried the Dagmar shirtdress, because I was attracted to the skirt pleating patterns and the side seam pockets paired with a side seam zipper. I love the shape! I wouldn't have thought to put the pleats in the center only, but it was super flattering.

I also tried the Cascading Bows dress because it looked like it had high-quality construction. It did! Look at the lapped back center zip. (I put one of these into my latest dress and they're my new favorite thing.)

Here's the metal zip exposed.

And here it is open. There's a lovely grosgrain ribbon detail behind the lap.

But the fit - horrors! I tried a 10 and the bodice was too big while the hips were pulling tightly.  Note to self: bows "cascading" down the abdomen = not a good look. Ugh. On the bright side, it's my color!

All in all, it was a productive visit. I got to look up close at some great dresses, and also be reminded once again of the beauty of not having to rely on ready-to-wear.

Later in the day, I couldn't stop myself from practicing "draping" the Tracing Twirls dress bust with a paper towel at my desk. Yes, draping is definitely taking over my brain!

P.S. The draping project I've been documenting is thisclose to being done! I finished it last night, but then decided I needed to fine tune the fit on the hips. Hopefully I can take pictures sometime this week. More to come!


  1. It is fun and helpful to see how garments are constructed. Especially when they are well made. Can't wait to see your new dress.

  2. haha. paper towel draping. You are too funny! Love the idea, and that green dress is a dream!

  3. Can't wait to see your version! I've been totally in love with this dress for awhile now, and I hadn't even seen the aqua version! *swoon* I like how you can see the construction detail on the bust better on the solid color.

    Whoever designed the bow dress must have a very flat stomach. As much as I love bows, I can't imagine wanting them parading across my tummy.

  4. I am so excited to see this dress again on your blog! I'm an Australian reader and I have been thinking about buying this dress online for a wedding. I'm wondering if you have any full length photos of you wearing it, as I'm trying to work out what the fit is like? Hopefully that isn't a weird request!
    Unfortunately the dot version has already sold out online but the b&w version is still available, what did you think of it?
    Seeing that shirtdress on you makes me want it too, so cute!

  5. I call these my "Antro Intel Gathering Missions" when armed with my phone camera and a pile of dresses I'm eying for details! ;) Hmm... perhaps I need to pop by the store this week!

    I love the fact that you studied the Tracing Twirls dress; I have been drooling over that one lately! The bodice construction is so fascinating, and one of those that are flattering for most gals. I can't wait to see what you come up with on this!!!

    ♥ Casey
    blog | elegantmusings.com

  6. iPhone spyphone :-) love it. The fit issue you had with the red dress seems to be common in RTW ... my cousin recently had a bunch of Ann Taylor dresses that were all too gappy in the bodice if they fit in the hips. And there was no way to take the bodice in. Note to designers: That triangle you're picturing? Turn it upside down!

    I'm so glad I can sew. Just picked up a tailoring book ... I have lots of lovely wool and it's time to get started on fall pants and jackets!

  7. I agree. That blue dress is goooorgeous. Can't wait to see your version!

  8. Why do we love the clothes at Anthro? Because they are copies of vintage clothes. Once, at my favorite vintage store in Cleveland OH, the owner told me that someone from Anthro had just been in, paying for vintage clothes with her corporate credit card. Watch for them in the catalog next season.

  9. Love the anthro dress. That would be so great is you could learn to drape this design.


  10. I wish I knew how to drape, but alas I am just a sewing newbie. So I forked out my Credit Card and bought the blue/teal dress from anthro last week. It fit perfectly though! The black one was great to, but it was harder to see the bust pleats and design of the dress.

    I can't wait to see your recreation of this dress. :)

  11. I don't comment often. Mostly I just read, absorb, cheer you on, and get inspired to use patterns as tools (vs. mandates). Thanks for your intelligent, inspiring, authentic blog. I really look forward to reading your posts!

  12. Oh my gosh, I love doing that, too! But it's sometimes rather heartbreaking as it makes shopping for ready to wear so disappointing since I keep thinking of things I would have done differently. I'm with you, I rarely buy RTW anymore.
    Love this post!
    And YAY for draping!! The most fun thing EVER. Other than fabric shopping ;) I'm sure your dress will be amazing!

  13. Can't wait to see your process in recreating this! It's one of my favorite dresses at Anthro, too!

  14. Oh how fun! Isn't it amazing how you can basically make anything once you figure out patternmaking and/or draping! Love the bodice detail on the aqua dress and I just know your version will be stunning.

  15. I do that all the time. That's one of the reasons I go into the stores; to photograph their products for me to recreate them and to see what is current. When you sew most of your own clothes, you can lose site of the trends. And I do like trends.

  16. Ooh, that's a great example of why I love vintage style ~ you can mix with the morden stuff but you have more freedom in the fit; especially if you sew it yourself!

    b. of Depict This!

  17. Wow, that dress is BEAUTIFUL!! I wish we had anthro here, alas, I cannot go on missions like you.

    I love your blog, so full of inspiring tips :)

  18. I can't remember the last time I bought something off the rack either, well off the rack from somewhere that was not an op shop, that is!
    Meanwhile, can't believe that the shop assistant did not recognise you and expose your spy operation!


Thanks for your comments; I read each and every one! xo Gertie

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