So for the most part my vintage inspirations are the 1920s and 1940s. I don't have the figure for the 50s so I mostly stay away. The exception is this little number, McCall 5382. It's not 100% vintage, but the styling with the full skirt and shaped bodice is just reminiscent enough to evoke the era without being costumey.
I bought the yellow silk brocade from Fabric Mart sometime last year (by which I mean 2007). My steal--I think it was $8/yd, or maybe $12--is long sold out, though there's a similar but higher-priced yellow brocade on the website now. The color was another departure for me, as I don't wear much yellow, though this dress definitely makes me want to add more of it! I didn't have a really specific idea of what I wanted; I envisioned maybe a keyhole shift.
I had several weddings to go to in the past year and I wanted a dress I could wear to more than one. When I found the pattern I absolutely fell in love with it as the consummate party dress, and decided I was ready to cut into the beautiful fabric (a victory for me, as it was in danger of becoming Too Good to Use). You may recall while I was sewing it I asked for advice on whether to do a contrast midriff or not. The people spoke, and for once I listened! I think I definitely made the right choice.
I also wasn't sure whether to make a matching shrug or use a scarf I received as a gift in Vietnam as the cover up. I didn't go with the voice of the people on that, but turned the scarf--which was not my style and not quite long enough to use as a wrap--into a shrug. I was really pleased with the solution, and it is neutral enough to wear with other outfits.
I was really pleased with this pattern. It went together easily and the look is just too adorable. The only real issue I have is that it doesn't recommend interfacing the bodice shell overlays! That's just silly. Maybe if you make it in taffeta you wouldn't need interfacing, but they also recommend cotton(!-ew, in my opinion, for this fancy dress) and that would unquestionably need interfacing. I used a stiff interfacing on the inner halves of the shells, but I really should have interfaced both the outer and lining. I ended up having to tack them to the straps to keep them from drooping down. I wore this with a crinoline, also not a recommendation, which enhances the 50s feel.
I felt great wearing this at two weddings this Fall; not like a spinster at all, which was the goal. And it was definitely an original. One of the weddings was in Chicago and when I came downstairs to the hotel ballroom I was afraid I hadn't got the memo that we were supposed to wear black! I think there were only three of us not in black--one woman in dark purple, another in white(!!!!!--I am NOT referring to the bride), and me. I felt like I was sticking out a little, but everyone assured me it was only in a good way. At the wedding here in DC most of the female attendees were in lovely bright colors and I felt like we were fancy butterflies.
I should have gotten it together to review this in time for people to consider it for a New Year's Eve dress. Sorry about that! But this will be review #100 (cumulative total since joining PR, not for the year) and I think it's an appropriately celebratory garment.
All photos are here and the review is here.