Mystery Vintage dress

by Handmade Jane

in 1930s,Dresses,Vintage Sewing

A few months ago I was given this beautiful vintage dress by my mother-in-law.  She bought it several years ago, but having only ever wore it once, decided she’d like to pass it onto me! I’d  love to be able to give her a little more information on what period the dress hails from, and date it as accurately as I can.  I wonder if any WeSewRetro readers can help?
My guesstimate would be that this is a 1930′s piece.  Perhaps earlier rather than later in the decade as there’s definitely a hint of flapper style about it.  If anybody who has knowledge of clothing from that period can shed any light, I’d be SO grateful.  Or indeed if you have anything at all to say on when you think the dress might originate from, please chip in, I may be completely wrong so I’d be really interested to hear your thoughts.
Here are a few tailoring details:
  • The dress is totally handmade, from what appears to be plum coloured silk crepe with dark green lace inset details.  There’s an impressive amount of hand finishing too.
  • It has two kick pleats to the front and back and a dropped waist.
  • The neckline is low, with a ruffle detail and shoulder tucks.
  • It has what I think is called a dicky i.e. a detachable triangle of fabric that fits across a low neckline to preserve one’s modesty!
  • The sleeves are slightly puffed with a cuffed edge and lace inserts to add volume.
  • It’s just below knee length on me (I’m 5′ 2″).
  • There’s a lovely shaped detail to the skirt, which is mirrored on the back bodice yoke.
I know there are many, many bloggers out there who are very knowledgeable about such things, and I’d love to hear your thoughts.
There are a few more details and pictures on my blog, Handmade Jane. Thank you so much in advance! x

This post was written by...

– who has written 16 posts on WeSewRetro.com.

I've been sewing for two years and am now at the stage where I make most of my own clothes. I love vintage style, vintage fabric and, most importantly, vintage sewing patterns! I'm influenced by most styles from the late 1930's to the early 1960's but if I had to choose the decade that most captures my imagination, it would have to be the 1940's. Looking forward to sharing more of my finished garments with you. x

Handmade Jane's posts / Handmade Jane's website

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Lauren May 15, 2012 at 11:46 am

Absolutely gorgeous!
I’d say probably 1929-1932. It’s got the long, sleek line of the 20s, with some of the leftover accents of that period, but definitely has an early 30s look as well. It might have had a matching belt at one time, in which case it certainly would be ideal for early 1930s. What a lovely gift! You don’t often see these anymore, especially with the lace, in wearable shape.

Reply

Handmade Jane May 16, 2012 at 3:50 am

Thanks so much Lauren that’s such a help. Yes, the lace is in pristine condition, more so than the actual body of the dress. x

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Jessamyn May 15, 2012 at 2:47 pm

I’m almost in agreement with Lauren, but I would date it 1931-34. Those distinctive side-gored dresses with the skirt cut in one with the bodice come in about 1931 (I see side gores in 1930 but not that shape). By 1935 most bodices are cut separately from the skirts and the skirts have vertical seaming through to the waist.

For comparison, check out McCall 7215, which I have previously seen dated 1932:
http://vintagepatterns.wikia.com/wiki/McCall_7215_A

…and this Bunte Mode (German, and not exactly the height of style) pattern from 1934:
http://designer-entrepreneurs.com/blog/illustrations/35180.jpg

I do think yours almost certainly had a matching belt. Oh, and those are called “lantern” sleeves. (The term is being misapplied by some modern designers to a fitted sleeve with a very deep ruffle depending from it, but a true lantern sleeve is gathered in again at the wrist like yours.)

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Handmade Jane May 16, 2012 at 3:54 am

Wow, that’s so helpful Jessamyn, thank you. The McCall 7215 and Bunte Mode shapes are very similar to my dress. Now you mention it, I think a matching belt would have been part of the dress – when I tried it on, the first thing I did was add a belt as I thought the dress really needed it!
Thanks for clarifying the sleeve shape too, it’s all invaluable information. x

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