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Vintage Study Garment
     For my historical garment study I chose a 1957 cocktail dress, designed by Claire McCardell and made by my great grandmother. My reasons for choosing this garment, (rather than an older one, but I was born in 1985, so I’m at an advantage here. ;-) was a.) the fact that my great grandmother made it, b.) I have the complete ensemble – there is a matching hat too!, and c.) I have the original pattern as well. All this was sent to me courtesy of my wonderful grandmother. But back to the garment itself.
     The dress is constructed of a bright pink velvet. And has a three-quarter length sleeves, amid-calf hem length, a “v” neckline. Two sashes are attached to the bodice at the side seams and are meant to cross in front and snap together at the back. There is a tuck at the elbow of each sleeve to give them their shaping. It is unlined, but there is a light pink satin as facing on the neck. There is a metal zipper on one side that runs from the under arm to the hip. The bodice’s shape is made by darts: two vertical ones in the back and two diagonal (from mid-side seam to the bust point) in front. Lingerie straps, my great grandmother’s trademark, can be found on the inside shoulder seams. The skirt front is gathered slightly and the skirt back is pleated symmetrically – three times on each side.
     What is interesting, a sash that attaches to one shoulder has been added, but I’m not really sure weather it is supposed to drape over the other shoulder or just hang there. The dress has also been altered somewhat from the pattern. On the pattern dress the two side sashes tie in a bow in the back, rather then the simple clip in the actual thing. Also the pattern has a much lower neckline than the garment, the story behind this, reasoned by my mom and aunt was that my great grandfather never allowed his wife to dress too “provocatively”, thus the altering.

Historical Background for Claire McCardell

Study Garment Photos

Pattern Cover and Brief Description

Below is a line drawing, showing seam placements.