With no pictures (yet), alas! But I can at least discuss what led to Saturday's SOS post
I've bought clothes from Chadwick's of Boston for years. Sometimes a "mom" or "conservative older woman" catalogue, they still have plenty of cute stuff, and great basic tops like sweaters and tees. (And probably pants, too, except that I'm notoriously difficult to fit in pants, and required a Tall to boot.) One of my favorite skirts ever came from there.
One good result of being in my own house with a really big closet is being able to see what clothes I have. And this other skirt finally stood out to me. I've had it for many years. Definitely before I got my undergrad, and possibly since high school. Say 10 years. I've never managed to wear it much, which is odd, because I like the way it feels.
It's a simple two-gore skirt (one front, one back), each piece flared out more than 90 degrees, and cut on the bias. So it's a little more full than a half circle skirt. It's a wool blend in a brown tweed pattern, and fully lined. No elastic, either. Sounds just the thing for cozy-but-feminine winter wear, right?
Wrong! (Apparently. Because in 10 years of ownership, I'll wear it maybe 3-5 times a winter.) Why did I not wear it?
(1) The color. I think/thought I like the use of brown as a neutral. It doesn't look bad on me; at least, it looks better on me than on my Winter mother. I also like how it looks with pink and blue. And I've all but worn out the brown leather riding boots. But my winter wardrobe of tops tends to run to clear and bright colors like leaf green, deep red, and plummy and near-hot pinks. These may not look bad with brown, but they look so much better with black that I had a hard time reaching for that skirt instead of one of my black skirts.
This made more sense when I figured out that brown is not really a neutral
, although we're used to treating it as one. The only true neutrals are white, black, and gray - the absence or presence of all colors. Brown, on the other hand, is a mixture of several (not all) colors, particularly red and yellow. That is, orange.
This is not a bad thing. But that goes a long way to recognize why my pinks, and my deep reds (which have blue/purple instead of orange), fought the brown so hard. So in my wardrobe, brown is not as versatile.
Plus, while I love tweed, it has a
soft appearance that did not go with the clear, bright colors. So I liked the feel of the skirt, but not any outfit I came up.
(2) It's just not flattering! I often hear full skirts with defined waists recommended for big hips. But big hips are not created equal! Mine are wide. Any but the most drapey of fabrics will actually add to the apparent width, hanging directly from - and out
from - my widest point. This style of skirt is particularly bad, since most of the fullness hangs from the side, while being flat in front and back.
A contributing factor was the length. It was over the tops of my riding boots, high on my (long) calves but not quite mid-shin. This is a length I've tried a lot with slim-fitting mid-1930s skirts. While those don't look bad, the just-below-knee length of my early 1940s skirts is WAY better.
It took me 10 years to sort through all this, but Friday night I took a seam ripper to the skirt and reduced it to its component parts. And for too many hours on Saturday, I delved through my pattern stash and spent a long time trying to fit the pieces for this skirt on it:
I finally managed it, with all pieces on the straight of grain! Three modifications:
1. Letting the hem be 1-2" shorter in spots than the pattern calls for. That's okay - 1940s patterns allow for a longer skirt than was fashionable for a woman of average height, and even sometimes for me.
2. Cutting away some of the fabric behind the side front pleats. This let me overlap pieces just enough to get it all out. Brilliant!
3. Piecing the center front pieces to make a sort of triangular yoke. It's practically invisible in the tweed, but even if not, I think it ended up kinda cute.
After all that, I still got the thing perfectly cut out - down to including my standard hip-increasing alteration - and assembled, down to easing in the waist to fit, on Saturday. The only thing that held me up was the mysterious disappearance of the original zipper. Very suspicious. But I have a replacement now, and am headed home to put it in and the waistband on. Then a day or two to hang, and a cooperative Mumsie to mark the hem on Thursday, and I shall have an awesome new skirt!
I'm already planning a 1940s collegiate-styled outfit for the reenactment at Fort Richardson on the 25th. I might be able to pull together the jacket from this pattern out of the corduroy I have lying around; either that, or the 40s/50s letter jacket I got last year. And brown vintage loafer/moccasins, that I've never worn. Maybe knee socks, too. And this hat:
The Dutch girl look. fancyfrocks
, I'm regretting the blue wool felt we saw in the garment district last year! :p