Dressing up a dressing gown

Inspired by Mr Givenchy’s relaxed dressing, I have pulled this number out of my pattern stash:

Blog May 17 forties dressing gown 1

Vogue are right on the money here with “house coat OR evening wrap.”  Being Vogue, producing patterns in the days of many professional seamstresses working from home, they are not compromising on top-notch sewing and luxury details.  So, for a lined coat, even in a dressing gown, there needs to be a back pleat in the lining, which allows ease of movement:

Blog May 17 forties dressing gown 2

Here’s one from one of my own jackets:

Blog May 17 jacket back pleat

Outer fabrics, particularly wool, are softer than lining, and the pleat lets the lining hang not too loose, not too tight.

Then we come to embellishment.

Blog May 17 forties dressing gown 3

I love the way “fur and buttons” come together in the heading.  Looking at the pattern I think it might be just what Cruella de Ville had in mind for the 101 Dalmatians.

And, as the last post was looking at a touch of gender neutrality in dressing gowns, here is a man’s pattern:

Blog May 17 man's dressing gown

Always interesting to see the difference in the way an illustrator picks accessories for a man – so we have the swotty glasses in one view, and the swotty book in a second.  My favourite pose, though, is the one at the back with a distinctly macho stance.  So we have Clark Kent and Superman, but in the evening at home, Clark is winning out with the bigger illustrations.


Is it an evening dress or a dressing gown?


Having been all the way to The Hague to see Givenchy, what did I find when I went to see the new fashion gallery at the Museum of Scotland?  This rather smart but comfy looking piece of Givenchy:

Blog April 17 Givenchy in Scotland 1

Blog April 17 Givenchy in Scotland 2

The accompanying blurb says “Reflecting the trend in the late 1960s and early 1970s for opulent, oriental inspired clothing, the silhouette of this ensemble loosely resembles the traditional Turkish set of shalwar (trousers) and entari (long sleeved dress)…”With this picture to demonstrate the genuine article:

Blog April 17 Givenchy in Scotland label

And as the display is all about juxtaposing the old with the new they had this rather lovely man’s banyan circa 1840 – 1850 as well:

Blog April 17 Banyan 1

If I had to pick one I’d probably go for the man’s but then I’m a sucker for old silk.

That 1930s blouse pattern

The 1650s doublet reminded me of this pattern because of the opening in the sleeve seam – in the 1930s for a hint of flesh rather than an undershirt (although I fancy making it with a flash of silk chiffon under the slash)Blog April 17 1930s blouse 1 (front pattern cover)

And not many pattern pieces:

Blog April 17 1930s blouse (back pattern envelope)

I also like the fastening detail, with concealed closing at the gathered neck and button loops down the front (no buttonholes – hurrah).  To see how it is done – having already gathered the front neck opening “between the dots” as you do –

Blog April 17 1930s bouse 5 (buttons loops)

Then it is on to the facings.  Here we come across one reason for so few pattern pieces on the envelope.  The front facing is a given pattern piece as the neck edge has to be gathered to fit it, but the back facing is pretty simple so Butterick smugly tells you to trace one off the back pattern yourself “the same width as the front facing”.  What do you expect for 25 cents?

Blog April 17 1930s blouse (front facing)

Blog April 17 blouse pattern 7 (button closures 7)

So, after that hard work making hand-worked loops for the hooks and eyes it will be off to ebay to “trim with a novelty clip”.

What do a 1650s doublet and a 1930s blouse have in common?

I’ve been to the National Gallery of Scotland to see their recently opened new fashion gallery:  http://www.nms.ac.uk/national-museum-of-scotland/discover-the-museum/art-design-and-fashion/ .  This fetching doublet from the 1650s caught my eye – it’s for a man but I think I’d look good in it today:

Blog April 17 Scottish Doublet 1

Of course that wonderful stitching deserves a close-up:

Blog April 17 Scottish Doublet 2

The accompanying little plaque in the museum tells me “This doublet would have been worn with an undershirt exposed at the waist, back and sleeves.  Densely embroidered , it probably belonged to an upper-class fashionable young man.”

One of the features of the National Museum of Scotland’s exhibition is to put garments from different centuries in the same case, to show how fashion designs resonate through the centuries.  This made me think of a 1930s blouse pattern I have – see next blog post for the reason why.

Givenchy 50s and 60s wedding dress patterns

I’m a bit surprised it is for McCalls not Vogue but here is a classic Givenchy for Audrey dress pattern.

Blog April 2017 Audrey Hepburn dress pattern 1

Blog April 2017 Audrey Hepburn dress pattern 2

That’s a lovely fifties one.  I wasn’t too keen on Audrey Hepburn’s 1960s wedding outfit, with the scarf tied over her head.  Here is a Givenchy for Vogue Patterns wedding dress in the sixties, with more headgear.  I don’t mind the dress, a classic of it’s time – but the hat-thingy?

Blog April 17 Givenchy wedding dress with hat 1

Blog April 17 Givenchy wedding dress drawing

I don’t own either of these patterns, so I can’t put up any of the instruction details – and I don’t know whether that floppy hat is included, but surely it means that no-one can see the bride’s face when she is walking down the aisle?

Audrey’s Wedding Dresses

As a last stop from my visit to The Hague, Givenchy designed both of Audrey Hepburn’s wedding dresses, and they were both on display:

Audrey Hepburn wedding dresses 1 Her dress for her first wedding as a twenty-something is third from left.  Her second, in her late thirties, and with the fashion of the sixties, is second from left.  I’m rather surprised by it, perhaps because it is so much not the Audrey of the movies

The exhibition also had a wedding photo: Audrey hepburn wedding photo The bride has a lovely smile, and that’s the most important thing.  And I’m all for a woman wearing exactly what she wants to on her wedding day.

Gloves and Pearls

One of the noticeable things about Audrey in the films and as a mannequin in the exhibition is that accessories to match the little black dress are long on pearls and gloves, for a touch of class.  So much so that at the end of the exhibition there was an opportunity, very popular with the children – of both sexes – when I was there, to dress up in a big hat and pearls and have a photo taken in a booth with the 1 Euro fee going to Save The Children, which Audrey Hepburn was heavily involved with.

So, rummaging through my patterns I hit upon this:

Blog March 17 Gloves and PearlBlog March 17 Gloves and Pearls 2

The packet says “Designer Fashion” but there’s no clue on the packet or the instructions as to who the “designer” is.  So there’s nothing to say it isn’t Hubert de Givenchy, although I doubt it, since he would surely warrant a name-check.  Nevertheless, it is a simple, elegant design which could be worn by a real woman who isn’t a stick insect and look elegant, with the bias cowl neckline not too low, and the top sitting outside the waist, and belt optional depending on how much a lady who lunches is planning to eat.

Plus, the outfit in the photo has a well-polished finish with those gloves and pearls.  Rather sadly the white gloves would be a bit costume-looking today, but the pearls are standing the test of time.  The lady in the drawn illustration has some pretty big emeralds: that’s the advantage of drawing – emeralds as big as the Ritz are no problem.  The emerald-wearing lady also reminds me of a maxim I have heard attributed to the Queen (a lady who clearly could fish out at least that many large emeralds from her jewellery safe, no problem) that you should put on 3 pieces of jewellery, look at it, and take one off – so bracelet and brooch or bracelet and earrings, but not all three at once.  I’ve always thought there is a lot in that.