Friday, September 14, 2012

A Blast to the Past - 1950's Style

Well, this year at the 2012 Costume College the theme was "The Golden Age of Hollywood: 1930-1955".  So, you guessed it, I needed a new dress of the era.  Now 1930 to 1955 is WAY out of my regular milieu, so I needed to do some research.  After a few weeks of checking Pinterest Boards, EBay, and other resources, I decided I like the 1950's best.  It was the last year that "petticoats" where being worn.  I found a vintage 1950 Tea Length Garden Party Dress pattern online for $6 on EBay.  I needed to resize the pattern pieces, which I did very carefully, and then worked from my copies to create the dress. 

1953 Vintage Pattern

Now, every re-enactor knows that wearing just the proper gown is not enough.  It's the small details that add the finishing touches to a convincing vintage look, no matter what era you are wearing.  So, off again for more research on accessories of the 1950s.  I found a fantastic vintage White Lucite Purse, vintage cutout glasses, a great pair of gloves, a pair of clear Lucite heeled pumps, and the perfect 1950's straw hat!  The hat needed a complete rework when it arrived.  Soaked, blocked, and replaced the vintage flowers and trims in the exact same manner.  However, I did paint the roses in shades to match my dress fabric.

White Lucite Purse and Vintage Cutout Sunglasses

Vintage Mother of Pearl Buttons

I also used some vintage mother-of-pearl buttons I had been saving.  I thought these were just perfect for my 1950s looking ensemble.  (see my prior blog post on Buttons for more details)

1950's Tea Length Garden Party Dress
The fabric was a vintage Waverly print cotton sateen that I have had in my stash for a really long time.  I thought that the print and the fabric itself was simply perfect for a 1950's Hollywood Glamour look!  Lastly, the petticoat!  OMGosh - that was a struggle!  I cut down a full-length ballgown tulle petticoat.  I finally got it somewhat under control after removing more than forty-five yards, yes yards, of 8" tulle ruffles.  Add in a smart looking vintage silk scarf plus a "cool" cockade fan, and this was the complete ensemble!


  1. You did a great job on this, Trudy. It was beautiful in person.

  2. Thank you Val! It was a challenging and fun project, and I very much enjoyed volunteering at Costume College. I am looking forward to actually attending next year, and would encourage any and everyone to consider attending CoCo if they have not already done so. The amount of information being shared and taught is simply amazing!