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Can you please assist me in dating this dress?

Discussion in 'PUBLIC Vintage Fashion - Ask Questions Get Answers' started by Circa Vintage Clothing, May 28, 2011.

  1. peaceful vintage

    peaceful vintage Administrator VFG Past President

    Nicole, I am glad to read that you are seeing this as late 40s with alterations. Now we are cooking. :)
  2. vgirl, hate to be contradictory but I'm going back to Victorian costume again - I can't get past that construction and deep V waistband, which I haven't seen in any 20th century styles. Unless there is evidence of the hook and eye tape being added in, my vote is with costume.

    Of course, you're most welcome to ignore my opinion, it is after all, only the opinion of one who can not see the dress as I think it's meant to be presented (full crinoline skirt, shoulder sashes sitting higher up) and can not inspect the construction.

  3. peaceful vintage

    peaceful vintage Administrator VFG Past President

    Hi Nicole, Back on the other side again huh? That is ok. I can't provide you with any evidence of the hook and eye tape being added but I can show you a 1948 pattern with a similar waist line.
  4. pastperfect2

    pastperfect2 Alumni +

    on the hook and eye tape:

    See that machine stitching line along the edge? That's part of the tape construction. It's just like the tape we used at the costume shops from the 70s to now. It's still made and has indeed been around forever. So that is tape, not individual hooks set on and then covered with a piece of fabric with hand stitches in the Victorian manner.

    The construction is confusing. The wide petersham interior band is very old style, as is the interior seam allowance finish, and the hooks closure. But the horizontal bust dart placement is 40s/50s and the boning going all the way up the princess seams to the neckline is 40s/50s as well. As is the bias tape finish along the neckline and armholes.

    It occurs to me that it is a 40s dress, not necessarily a costume, but a dress made by someone who was used to working in a 'period costume' type of construction. In other words, an evening gown made by a costumer for a friend.

    Just a thought.

  5. peaceful vintage

    peaceful vintage Administrator VFG Past President

    Hi Hollis, Gotch'ya. Ok. I appreciate the help very much.
  6. bycin

    bycin Guest

    vgirl, where are you finding these lovelies? Fun finds and I may just have to stalk you. Gosh, we'd be the thelma 'n louise of vinty shopping. LOL
  7. peaceful vintage

    peaceful vintage Administrator VFG Past President

    Bycin, I find my stuff at thrift stores, antique shops, and I also offer to buy clothing from seniors who live in independent assisted living communities.
    Come on, let's go. I would love a shopping partner. :)
  8. Hollis, the construction is consistent with costuming techniques. I myself have made many Victorian (and other era) costumes using the same techniques. Yes, they do look '50s but they're designed to be strong and easy for quick changes.

    Vgirl, thank you for the illustration but it is not a deep V, more a curve. It's a very distinctive design feature of the Victorian era.

  9. peaceful vintage

    peaceful vintage Administrator VFG Past President

    Hi Nicole, Yes. I noticed that it was curved. That is why I said it was similar.

    This would not be easy or quick to change out of at all. There are too many hooks and eyes and it is much too small for the average person today.

    Based on the sizing, the fabric used, the condition, and the style combined I conclude that this was made in the late 40s but may have been made at the time and/or altered after to look like it could also fit an earlier time period or was designed at that time to be used for film or theater.

    That's my conclusion.
  10. vgirl, good for you - but I remain convinced this is a costume.

    The size is irrelevant - it was made to fit someone and it will be her size. Hooks and eyes are quick to put on when you are skilled in their use - and they won't get jammed or broken like a zipper can. A deep curve is not "similar" to a deep V (actually called a pointed bodice).

    I've seen thousands of costumes for sale online and in retail shops being sold as vintage - it's a credit to the costumer's art that they can convince so many vintage traders and buyers. Style is only one part of dating an item - the other parts are fabric and construction, neither of which are easy to tell from a few photos and style can be mislead if the garment is not displayed as it should be, as I maintain this one is.

    I even had a costume in my vintage fashion parade on the weekend - it's made of vintage fabric, and it's only slight differences in construction that reveal it to be a costume. It even has a fake '70s label in it. I know it's a costume because I bought it from the designer who had it made for a film.

  11. Linn

    Linn VFG Board Member Staff Member VFG Past President

    This is a 1948 Jean Desses Evening Gown:


    I found it in "The Golden Age of Couture - London-Paris, 1947-1948.) The photo was online. As you can see the waist is a deep "V".

    I don't have the experience that Hollis or Nicole or other members have but I do have a pretty good library and have handled some lovely '30's and '40's pieces at the U.H. Costume Collection.

    I don't think size is a good determinant for dating vintage because there are still some very small women but back in the late '40's and throughout the '50's women wore corsets (and girdles) in order to fit into these tiny wasp waisted gowns.

    If you find a vintage dress with a size tag in it - usually the size will be 6 sizes or so smaller than it is marked - e.g. a vintage 14 will be about a modern 6-8.

    I do think that Vgirl's dress is late '40's. It's lovely and I'd certainly wear it. (If it fit!)
  12. That's a beautiful gown Linn - I saw it on display at the exhibition when it was in Australia. You can see the heavy influence of the 1870s.

    V waistlines were a common design feature of the late '40s and '50s - I don't deny that - they were inspired by the 19th century styles but the original Victorian designs were much deeper. The deep V/pointed bodice of the 19th century was emphasised by a corset or boning underneath and that's why they could be so long - the 20th century versions are not boned in the same way. You can see from the interior of vgirl's dress that it has a short bone down the centre front waist to reinforce that deep V. More recent couture do not have it, and so the V sometimes gets a little line it in from the wearer sitting down.

    To compare the two examples, Linn, the beautiful Jean Desses has a pointed bodice that comes down about 3 inches. The pointed bodice in vgirl's dress looks much longer, maybe 5-6 inches.

    The reason that the skirt in vgirl's dress is sewn separately onto the petersham waistband is to take the weight of it and so the bodice sits above it. It's a costume technique. Silk taffeta in quantity ( a mid Victorian dress or costume might have 6-8 metres of fabric in the skirt) is heavy and would pull the bodice down.

    So vgirl you have two more ways to check if this is a 19th century style costume or 1940s ballgown - by measuring the pointed bodice (the depth the v dips below the waistline) and the amount of fabric in the skirt. I would expect a '40s dress to have 3-4 metres in the skirt.

  13. peaceful vintage

    peaceful vintage Administrator VFG Past President

    Nicole, You are definitely right about the size. Any dress could be any size at anytime depending on the size of the person wearing it. That is true. The measurements are just smaller than the most people today. That still does not mean it could not have been made for a smaller person though.
    It cannot sit the way you think it should be modeled though. The part that you think should go over the shoulders is too big to rest on the shoulders. The circumference of the space between is too large and it falls off the shoulders. It does not look right either.
    I do also have a three tier crinoline underneath. It is a 50s crinoline and full but not a full length hoop crinoline which would be best for this.

    I hear what you are saying and I think you know what you are talking about. I think the way it was made is how you would create a costume. That does not tell me what year it was made though which is really what I am after.

    I wish I could see your full costume that you made. That would be cool and neat. I can only see half.

    Lin, I saw that dress when I was browsing images in google and I did notice the v waist. Thank you for posting the image.
  14. peaceful vintage

    peaceful vintage Administrator VFG Past President

    Nicole, I measured the pointed v. From the waist to the bottom measures a little over 3". How do I measure the amount of fabric in the skirt?
  15. I know this is probably obvious but that bustle back was very very popular late 40's to early 50's.
  16. bycin

    bycin Guest

    Shopping partner? You got it! Looks like fun!
  17. Vintage_Visage

    Vintage_Visage VFG Member

    Ok once again I am WAY late. and I am the least of the experts here, dare I even call myself such but before I even read the discussions those darn shoulder straps aggrivated the life out of me.

    Something about the placement and the bust does not look right. Does anyone notice that they are a little off?

    As far as that tape... I have a dress that is obvious 60s fabric and construction, but floor length as this that has the same tape. It is home made and a seamstress has old knowledge and fabrics to recycle, but I have no qualms listing it as 60s.

    It looks 40s construction and is most likely in material. It makes it authentic, but perhaps the curiousity of its origins will make it more desirable. I think it is beautiful... but the bust treatment is uneven to me and the straps are off,, almost like 80s modification.... in my mind.. hmmm 40s ball gown modified to fit a period piece for costume?

    Just a thought

    Sorry to hash up old topics.... Ive been busy! friends wife died and ive been watching kids, had the fashion show (YAY) and am still plugging away at college classes! woohoo..
  18. peaceful vintage

    peaceful vintage Administrator VFG Past President

    I ironed it today and took more photos and a lot of what Nicole wrote seems to be accurate as far as the construction. I think the shoulders do sit up higher and the bodice was sewn onto the tape and then onto the skirt. The v is not as long as Nicole said it would be on a costume but that is just one small part of the entire construction. I think Nicole knows about the construction of costume pieces and I trust her costume knowledge.
    When ironing today I also noticed that their was a little bit of the back of the bottom hemmed up like this once even had a little bit of a train.
    Even with the costume construction I am able to tell that this gown was made a long time ago. It has had multiple alterations.
    Perhaps it was constructed by a costumer or altered by a costumer. I am not sure.
    I will show the photos, describe what I do know, and leave the judgement up to my buyer when I offer it and describe it to the best of my ability.
    Thank you all. Here is two more photos of the front and back showing it with the shoulders up and without any crinoline because that is the way I think it looks like it is supposed to be.


  19. uklfstyle

    uklfstyle Registered Guest

    vgirl,very beautifull vintage gown:o:X:X
    i'd love to wear such a beauty:D:D

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