Tag: 1970s

1970s Whimsical Meshing of Styles

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A vintage collector I may be, but a label hunter I am not.

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Once in a while, however, a piece appears with a recognizable label that’s hard to ignore.

In this instance it was a Gunne Sax dress, picked up from the same local thrift store at which I bought the nautical day dress of my first post.

I recognized some very distinct characteristics to the label when I saw the dress hanging on a separate rack, away from the shop’s other vintage and costume pieces.

The first things I noticed were its
shape and personality. The dress, made of a poly-cotton blend, is long and flowing and gives off an interesting prairie/Edwardian vibe: the signature look of Gunne Sax.

The dress is a cream, off-white color with decorative vertical stitching on the bodice and the sleeves. Though not quite an empire waist, it does come in a bit higher than the natural waist.

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The bodice itself was significantly tight on me, specifically in the ribs (a measurement I’ve never bothered to take). Other than that, the dress is rather comfortable.

Floral lace is a repeated element of this dress, both in its sleeves and shawl-like capelet. The sleeves take on a bell shape and the shawl ties at the center of the bust.

A smaller sampling of lace is present around the tier at the bottom of the dress, around the waist, and at the elbows. In these three places, the lace is accompanied by a simple but colorful floral pattern–one that surprisingly grounds the dress in reality.

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After going through a mental checklist of all things Gunne Sax (very similar to all the above stated), I took a closer look a the dress. Upon this inspection, I found that sure enough there was a silky gold and brown label inside the dress with the Gunne Sax name printed neatly amongst a cluster of flora. 

The same label once accompanied top-of-the-line formal dresses (most notably prom attire) for young women in the late 1960s and through part of the ’80s. You can read more about the label itself and the designer by following these links.

I was astounded to have found such a well-known label for as low a price as I did ($9), especially considering Gunne Sax dresses sell on Etsy from around $40 and sometimes well into the $100s.

The dress in many ways is a rather peculiar thing. It’s not something I can see wearing casually, and it has a very transportive nature for a more formal look.

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It’s interesting for a vintage piece to call so far back as to almost appear antique, but that’s what this dress does.

The whimsical nature of the sleeves, the lace detailing, and the use of tiers brings an other-worldly quality to the dress that just doesn’t seem to fit anywhere in a modern setting.

Sometimes, though, that’s just enough for a dress to stand out to me and find its way into my closet. Label or not, this dress has character. This means of course, that it’s easily found a place with me.

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1970s Does 1940s Glamour

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One thing that can be said about fashion is that it’s cyclical: styles often are inspired by previous decades, and when they are, the results are timeless.

Take for example this 1970s Miss Elliette California gown. With its glamorous lines and elegant cut, it flows similarly to styles belonging to Hollywood starlets of the 1940s.

Pictured here in images republished by Marie Claire are Bette Davis (left, 1943) and Claudette Colbert (right, 1942).

Designs similar to these actresses’ looks could easily have been of inspiration to designer Elliette Ellis, who, according to the Vintage Fashion Guild, favored feminine looks and began her company in 1952.

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Like the subject of my previous post, this dress was also a first for me in that it was the first vintage piece I purchased online. This is unlike other formal dresses in my collection, which all have been sourced by way of thrift and antique stores.

This Miss Elliette, however, (a label with which I was completely unfamiliar at the time), called to me and seemingly ensured red carpet-readiness if ever I needed such styling.

Besides exuding glamour, some of the label’s most simple and recognizable characteristics come together in this piece. Pleats, chiffon, and equally matched elements of both grace and whimsy are all present.

The gown is periwinkle in color, with an icy glow in its poly-satin bodice and sleeves.

The skirt—a somewhat lighter hue due to its airy material—is composed of a chiffon overlay, detached from the skirt’s lining and done in accordion pleats. This gives the dress motion and allows the slightly ruffled hem to swirl about the wearer’s feet when walking.

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The dress has a very liquid-like quality and lacks any harsh or heavy construction. The relatively high zipper in the back coupled with shoulder ruching creates a narrow space for the lower neckline.

The waist sits above the natural line, but it’s difficult to call it an empire waist, which would traditionally come just under the bust. In this case, the sash that separates the rest of the bodice from the skirt begins there, a few inches below the edge of the neckline. From the center, however, it flows downward and out towards the hips.

Part-way up the zipper at the sash-like section are two sets of hook-and-eye closures. They are, in my experience, impossible to clasp on one’s own, but leaving them undone seems unnoticeable and creates no issues.

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Not a single flaw can be found in this dress except for a very small hole hidden somewhere in the top layer of fabric. The label, of course, is still intact, as are care instructions, which seem to be rather difficult to come across with vintage pieces.

As shown by the popularity of similar styles from decades past, a design such as this is classic and utterly timeless. While I’ve yet to don it to an event, I have confidence that when I do, it will call back to days past while at the same time looking refreshingly “in.”

Has calling things “in” cycled back into being cool yet?

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