My 1950’s dress

8 Nov

So, Lisa over at My Pretty Baby Cried She Was A Bird had a very cool post today about buying vintage from the ’70s-’90s. Y’all ought to go on over and read it, but she wondered if deals on vintage clothing really were significantly better back then, when the pickings were less slim. Now, I have been celebrating my 29th birthday for a decade, so I used to shop vintage starting in the late 1980’s when I was in high school. And I can verify that at least in Phoenix, Arizona…there was some good stuff out there and there was, indeed, more of it. I just don’t have any of it in my possession anymore because so many years have passed and I’ve moved several times, including across the country.  Also, while some vintage dealers/collectors are borderline hoarders? I am the opposite of that. An old friend used to joke that I was so obsessive about getting rid of stuff that I needed to have my own TV show called “Trash Heap with Lauren D____”  where I would go around to people’s homes and throw out all their old crap whether they liked it or not. We even made up a jingle for the opener. I still think that this show is an idea whose time has come. Call me, HGTV!

ANYWAY…this dress is one piece of vintage that I acquired in the 1980’s that I still actually have. And it was a screamin’ deal because it was my Aunt Pam’s dress when she was a teenager. She gave it to me because she knew I liked vintage and it did not fit either of her (gorgeous, 6 ft tall, model-skinny) daughters. Because I love my aunt so much and because it’s a family piece, I have kept it all these years.

It never actually fit me, though. It came the closest to fitting when I got down to 109 lbs during my divorce. That was the only time I could zip the zipper, but since I could only breathe shallowly and it was pretty painful, I never did more than try it on.  My problem with vintage dresses is that I do not have a vintage waistline. For a reasonably slim woman, I am built like a flippin’ rectangle. My waist doesn’t really indent, so wasp-waist dresses pinch me in the waist or if they fit me in the waist, the top is huge on me. 3 months of 5-day-a-week Pure Barre classes have yet to budge my waist/hip ratio so I think there is not a lot to be done at this point.

This dress doesn’t have a label. My granny would hire a dressmaker to make custom dresses for Mother and Aunt Pam a few times a year. They chose the patterns and fabrics. Can you imagine? I sew, and so I can see how nicely made it is.  I have considered trying to let out the waistline but there is not a lot of fabric to do it, and it is so old that the fabric has faded just enough to make the alteration visible. Also, since I recently decided that it would be easier to buy some taller shoes rather than hem three pairs of pants (shameful!) I really doubt that I will ever get around to altering it.

Even so…a few years ago, Mother suggested that I give it to my cousin for her daughter to wear but I could not bear to part with it. I think that I probably enjoy the delusion that I will figure out how to gain a waistline  or accidentally lose 20 lbs (tortillas would have to cease to exist for that to happen, though) and I will be able to wear it someday. Hey, weird stuff happens all the time!

Happy Thursday and good luck at the estate sales if y’all are out there. I actually passed on some super-overpriced Pyrex in unpopular autumnal colors this morning. I KNOW! I thought it would never happen, either. xoxo, LaurenT

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2 Responses to “My 1950’s dress”

  1. Jamie November 8, 2012 at 8:43 pm #

    I feel your pain about not having a vintage waistline. I don’t have the vintage waist, hips, OR thighs to fit into most vintage stuff. When my mother asked if I wanted her wedding dress when I got married, I told her the only way I could wear it was to shave off bones – ha!

  2. Lisa November 11, 2012 at 9:13 pm #

    Oh, I love it! Thanks for the shout-out and what pretty material on that dress. The over-jacket whatever-you-call-it so neat. I’m guilty of being a vintage hoarder, especially when it comes to clothes…I have a whole “hope chest” in one closet…as in I am hoping that one day I will have the 25” waist line to squeeze into them! (I’m six feet tall…I might have to have my skeleton altered…but still, they’re so pretty!)

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