So back in July we had a group flick through my copy of the 1958 Spring/Summer Simplicity catalogue. Back in July, my main (sewing) concern seemed to be whether or not my arse is too big for playsuits. Four months later, the season where I wear all my clothes at once is fast approaching. Each Autumn (AKA, Fall) I endeavour that this approaching Winter will be the one where I figure out how to dress warmly AND stylishly. And then I get so cold that I pile everything on top of each other again and jettison that all sense of style as usual until April. Now we are in Autumn, and so far I flatter myself that I've been dressing most cohesively (for me) and with a retro flavour whilst out and about. Can even a scrap of this continue into Winter? Let's see how sexy home-sewers in 1958 rocked the chilly-season and look for clues of how to implement awesome retro elements whilst keeping toasty...
Let's start with a closer look at the incredible coat pictured on the front cover. I'm not entirely convinced by the starched trapeze-line of the coat's skirt part, but the gathered bust (who knew that was possible in thick wool?!), Peter Pan collar, grown-on 3/4 sleeves, self-covered buttons and self-bow detail and all making me feel a little faint. Those are basically all my favourite garment details, and here they are all piled on to the same garment. Yet somehow it doesn't look too cluttered or over-designed. Maybes this means I can be a bit more adventurous when conjuring up style ideas for potential garments. Maybes more is actually more!
Want. Want. Want. Want. etc etc... If you can look past the inherent sexism, racism, homophobia and the rest of it, the 1950's really were the days, weren't they?! When buttons like those pictured above were available in every city. As these illustrated laydeez are showing us, simple fuss-free garments provide the perfect canvas for successful fancy button-usage. I have a some fantastic buttons of this ilk in my stash, but I tend to have only one or maybe three of any kind. Need to spend some time figuring out how I can incorporate them into garments. Has anyone designed and made a garment, the initial starting point of which was the buttons, rather than the fabric or the pattern? I may try that as an experiment.
Confession time: I regularly, and for many years, have had a recurring day-dream about waking up in the 1950's and immediately go fabric shopping and get seriously decent quantities of incredible prints in their wild colours before time made them fade. But then I freak myself out with the possibility that, having bought the fabric, I am unable to leave the 1950's and get stuck there. The day-dream always stops at this point, but I guess I would go and try to convince my nan and grandad to let me live with them, and hang out with my mum even though she's only eight. Anyway, the fabric of this coat would definately be in the pile I'd buy. I'm surprised to see a coat in such a print actually: I thought that type of print would be reserved for furnishings, or cotton day dresses. Outerwear really doesn't need to be plain and boring. That double collar is a thing of wonder too, isn't it? Makes my mind reel with construction questions!
I know I spent a fair bit of time perving over boxy little jackets such as this whilst checking out the Spring/Summer catalogue, but this is such a beaut, it needed to be included in the Autumn/Winter highlights. I've long been a fan of the simple patch pocket, I added them onto my yellow jacket and my more recent Captain jacket, but I don't recall adding buttons to them as well. The gold buttons are a bit like my Captain jacket's though, aren't they?
This lovely lady is teaching us that you can go out on the razzle whilst keeping relatively warm. Who needs heaps of exposed flesh to look attractive? A well-fitting bodice in lovely fabric with a couple of well-considered details (like the self-bow here, how many have we seen in this catalogue now?) and accessories, and you can look really special. This dress above is inspiring me to try making a wiggle dress with 3/4 sleeves (like Evie's) and bow detail (like Casey's). Not that I need another 'going out' dress, but maybes if the right fabric comes along. I'd like to think I'd wear such a dress in the daytime, but I know that would never happen.
Um, HOW hot is that silver fox she's hanging with?! Agh! I can hardly take it. He's like Roger Stirling and Don Draper all rolled into one. Mmmm.... Oh wait, there's a dress in this picture too! Oh, and it has an amazing scallop neckline, elegant grown-on sleeves and a well-propertioned contrast bow detail. No wonder he's sticking around.
One thing I noticed about this catalogue is how many of the designs have features like Peter Pan collars and statement bows that many people today might consider trends for younger women and girls, but are worn by grown women in these images (as indicated my the dashing gentlemen accompanying them, who are definately not their dads!). I find that really interesting. So many of the styles prescribed for teenagers and 'sub-teens' during the 1950's effectively made them look like mini-adults. Yet here there is almost the reverse. Another thing is, it doesn't look properly cold in these images does it?! Did women really wear 3/4 sleeved coats and little gloves with inches of bare wrist-flesh during the coldest months? And fine sheer tights? Did they stay indoors between November and April? I wish I had that option, I'd get an awful lot of sewing done!