During my daughter's winter break from college, I dragged her to the Museum of the City of New York to see an exhibit on Art Deco in New York. It was a sweet little exhibit. But inexplicably, in the middle of the exhibit was a selection of 1940's and '50's dresses. They were beautiful, but not Art Deco. One of the dresses in the exhibit was by the designer Valentina, a girlfriend of Greta Garbo. The dress was a mind blowingly simple white dirndl dress made out of wool gauze. I especially loved the deep ( maybe 18 inch) doubled hem. I loved how pared down the dress was. I also loved how it looked entirely contemporary, even though it was about 60 years old.
A few days later I found some wool gauze in black at Paron. I thought that it would be wonderful to make myself a wool gauze over dress to wear over a full slip. I thought that it would be a nice thing to wear at my son's Bar Mitzvah.
My friend Jackie had gone to Vietnam over the summer and I asked her to buy me some fabric so I could play. She brought back an array of fabulous silks in reds and browns all with complex stripe patterns woven into the fabric. I began a dress. I was nearly finished today. It was OK., but too busy and too summery. So today I began making another dress out of some striped tie silks from www.fabricmart.fabrics.com. That second dress ( now a bodice has a great 1940's vibe but it too felt too busy and too loud.
So I pulled out the wool gauze again and took another look at it.I folded it and cut two arm holes, put my arms through the arm holes and wrapped the fabric around me. It just felt right. I hemmed all of the raw edges and then added that same deep hem that I saw on the Valentina. I made a full slip out of some black tricot. When I belt the dress and drape the collar over my arms--it just looks good. You can't quite get the full effect with my arm-less dress form. You have to trust me on this one.
I also realize that most of my favorite clothing can be worn as pajamas as well as out on the street.