Date: c. 1924
Material: silk, velvet
Navy crepe de chine dress with seafoam green velve ties and velvet detailing at the bottom of skirt. Pockets at drop waist have been removed, with needle scarring remainging. Tie at back, giving dress a little more shape.
Bust: 37 inches
Waist: 37 inches
Shoulders: 15 inches
More Information: The simple lines and construction of 1920s garments made it easy for women of all means to recreate designer clothing at home. Sewing manuals, like Butterick’s New Dressmaker, made it possible to create fashionable styles that aligned with a certain body type, giving women a chance to make a couture-looking dress for less. Fashion became obtainable, and Mrs. C. W. Forrester, author of Success Through Dress, 1925, commented “Dress is now no sign of social status.”
Identifying construction techniques and the evidence of alterations illustrate whether something was homemade or couture. Not only did someone wear the dress, but someone made it, mended it, or consciously altered it to fit a changing body type or a transition in fashions. This dress is a perfect example of this detective work. The navy silk absorbs light, and would have hidden body imperfections with its natural slimming effect. Needle scarring, or the remnants of thread and needle holes, illustrate where pockets at both the left and right hip have been removed. The same color green would have decorated the opening of each pocket, acting as a marker for the fashionable drop waist. An entire panel has been added where velvet starts at the knee-line, with the first velvet ribbon hiding the seam where the two panels meet. This horizontal satin backed green velvet ribbon draws the eye away from the uninterrupted vertical lines of the dress, adding interest without clashing with the green details at the neckline and sleeves.
Despite the subtle difference in color between the green piping of the sleeves and the mint of the velvet ribbon, the addition of the ribbon effectively updated this dress to fit changing styles, without having to spend extra money on a new garment.