Tuesday, December 27, 2011
Refashion #30 // Dress #8 :: Cranberry Cocktails
Holiday season means dressy occasion season! Though I cannot lie to you, I hate dressing up. I hate fussing with my hair and worrying about the fact that I haven't a clue how to put on makeup (Asian eyes! How does one "sweep eye shadow over the lid until the crease" when there is no crease???). I also hate fretting about the fact that I have no appropriately dressy clothing. Thankfully the thrifting gods have stepped in on that front, and after a couple lucky scores and a bit of elbow grease, I now have not one but two cocktail-esque dresses that I can prance about in.
So ... this started out its life as a prom dress. I think I'm wearing 2" heels in the "before" photo and it still drags on the ground.
Originally I was just going to use gather the bottom to a wide black elastic waistband to make a super poofy but festive skirt to layer over a lace tee (tres trendy ... but maybe tres 2011?), but then my mom gushed over how pretty the bodice was, and so I tried it on and it turned out it actually fit me! How's that for thrifting karma?
To make a long story short, I basically chopped it off at the waist, chopped again 20.5" from the bottom of the skirt, removed 2 of the back panels (it was a 7-panel dress), put in pleats at the skirt waist for a 50's-inspired silhouette, and stitched the whole thing back together. The pleats atop are inspired by Zoe and exist because I hate strapless dresses and was going to add in halter straps (and then use the pleats to disguise the hemline), but when I added them on they looked strange and I made the last-minute decision to remove them, which is why, at 6:15 on a Saturday evening, I was still hand-inserting the zipper (cocktails started at 6:00, oops!)
The dress is a stiff 100% silk with horsehair trim inserted into the hemline, which is why it has such body. I had to iron those pleats in to take down the poof! Word to the wise, be careful when pressing pleats into silk. Those things don't come out so you better get it right the first time around ... and it'll hang funny if you don't get the angles right (which I didn't, exactly). I think it really needed the velvet ribbon belt, but looking at photos of the dress on and the floppiness of the bow, I think I should just attach with a vintage-esque bling-y brooch next time around (I put the matching bow in my hair. You can see the dress in vivo below; I cropped my coworker's faces as I wasn't sure if they wanted to appear on this blog!)
Truthfully, I don't think this is the best look for me. I feel very ... square ... in this dress. My bust ratio is not terribly pronounced, as it is my shoulder:waist and waist:hip ratio that gives me the appearance of curves, yet strapless dresses like this one are all about the bust:waist ratio and showing off shoulders (but in a "check out how sculpted my shoulders look! I spent hours in the gym to get this look!" kind of way, and in an isolated, not tying-shoulders-into-rest-of-body-silhouette kind of way. And clearly, I am not somebody who sculpts her shoulder muscles ... I mean, these days the only workout they get is pushing fabric through a sewing machine or propping up a pair of knitting needles. Hm ... 2012, I'm lookin' at you!)
But on a positive note, at the company holiday party they surprised the members of the committee that I chair with an achievement award, which meant that when we went up to receive our award, 500+ people got to witness the dress in action. If ever there was a year to wear handmade to the company party, this was it. Viva La Refashion-lution!
And of course, because it's me, here's how I styled the dress during the chillier moments of the night ...