Dating pink dress

Discussion in 'PUBLIC Vintage Fashion Q & A' started by acceber, Oct 10, 2019.

  1. acceber

    acceber Registered Guest

    I found this lovely dress at an estate sale. I believe it’s silk chiffon. Looks like it frays easily. The bodice is lined in similar fabric. The dress pulls over your head. No closures of any kind. It’s sleeveless under that little cape-like part. It’s very long, going right down to my ankles holding it up. All the seams are unfinished. The hem is raw and just sewn around the edge of the fabric. It has a belt that can’t work because some little metal part is snapped off. No tags or labels anywhere. Thanks for your help!

    19141B77-C00B-4F7C-BFCC-B584E1410666.jpeg 1E6BAA4D-6506-48DD-9B77-0216B5D18CA0.jpeg B5FDBB2B-83DB-457F-B580-64F42DDAB5C3.jpeg 5ECB86C8-C1D7-499C-B406-59D22CB34B20.jpeg AFA486C4-40FF-4C53-9347-DC3A0803DBC4.jpeg 9DE1FA74-29EB-4A2B-B9EB-AC374B43FB0A.jpeg 07EB4079-003B-4421-9156-2B62993F6D82.jpeg 9FE278DF-823A-4168-B446-10906F5BF19C.jpeg 768318A3-0631-4706-A63F-B46B0522B1EF.jpeg 6D432CC7-A8F5-41D4-9650-C57EC3CAF4F0.jpeg CDB92B69-192B-411D-A70E-A1F15020B7CC.jpeg
  2. Linn

    Linn Trade Member

    Lovely find. It looks '30's to me.
    acceber likes this.
  3. denisebrain

    denisebrain Trade Member

    I believe this looks like ca. 1930, but really, no openings on the side? That's tricky!
    acceber likes this.
  4. pastperfect2

    pastperfect2 Trade Member

    I agree - early 1930s. Hey, they'd been slipping dresses over their heads for most of the 1920s - I guess they thought it would still work with a waist!
  5. acceber

    acceber Registered Guest

    That’s the thing, it really doesn’t have a waist to speak of. I tried it on last night (it’s surprisingly easy to get in and out of) and it’s very shapeless. If not for that little cape effect, I would swear it was a 20s dress. The belt makes no sense to me because it’s very long - longer than the dress is around the waist so that it’s just as well it doesn’t clasp anymore because I’m not really sure what it was for.

    I’m going to repost it once I can put it on a dress form.
  6. Linn

    Linn Trade Member

    I'm not sure if this will help, but some years ago I volunteered at the University of Hawaii Historic Costume Collection and spent most of my time going through the 1930s pieces. I think someone attached the belt buckles to each side of the belt of your dress when the metal hook broke.

    This is a photo of a belt buckle with all the pieces intact:


    This is the dress with the belt on it - front and back - you can see that it hooks in the back:

    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    This is the best I can do for the back of the buckle:

    The fabric belt went through the metal bars. (One on each side.) I think the belt on your dress would have been similar to this one and would have gone through the loops in the back, tied but closed in the front. The missing piece would have hooked onto the other side. Perhaps you can post a close up of the buckle front and back.
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2019
  7. acceber

    acceber Registered Guest

    I have discovered quite a few alterations to both the dress and the belt that have me wondering if it originally had a belt at all. I’ll start with the buckle. This belt is in one piece, but there’s evidence of some alterations that you can see in these pictures of the buckle.

    0DFD4A9E-BA47-4425-A767-318386FEC6DF.jpeg C84DFB2E-5691-4626-9D7A-D5B2A4569C51.jpeg 60BEBCD5-299C-4B52-A2E4-616A38DFAB4B.jpeg
  8. pastperfect2

    pastperfect2 Trade Member

    The thing that makes it very early 1930s is the seam at the natural waist and the detail near/above the waist on the bodice even though the cut through the torso is so straight.
    Yes - that belt may have been let out. It can certainly be adjusted to fit the dress better if someone wishes.
  9. acceber

    acceber Registered Guest

    These are the “belt loops” that someone improvised by cutting into that flowered edging, and sewing the dress closed at the sides.

    0BC21D0B-F481-4553-8A32-805FB8FDDFB5.jpeg A48DA34B-8DD8-4648-A5BB-67A3B736E10F.jpeg

    The belt went around the back and through these holes to the front where it overlaps incredibly, with the useless buckles just dangling.
    Flannery Crane likes this.
  10. acceber

    acceber Registered Guest

    This is the alteration inside, though I’m not really sure what it achieves.


    And these two pics are the inside of the sides where the person altering it cut the flowered edging free to make the belt loops.



    The waist seam sits at my hips when I had it on. I agree it’s probably early 30s but do you think it had a belt at all?
  11. acceber

    acceber Registered Guest

    I’m wondering what would happen if I pulled out that hand stitching. lol
  12. Linn

    Linn Trade Member

    With the additional pictures and the obvious alterations, I too wonder about the belt - especially with the way the "belt loops" were put in - and the length of the belt. Maybe the belt is a later addition. Since there are no tags, maybe this was made by or for the original owner and there was extra material or maybe someone shortened the dress and took the fabric from the hem??? I'm just guessing. I am not a seamstress but I think I would be tempted to take out the hand stitching; remove the loops and restore it to the way you think it was originally.
  13. pastperfect2

    pastperfect2 Trade Member

    If you take out the alterations, you may find the belt is intended to sit at the high hip? In which case it may be the right size and could well be 1920s.
    Flannery Crane likes this.
  14. acceber

    acceber Registered Guest

    This dress is butchered, on the inside anyway. It’s wearable as it is but it’s not at all how it was originally designed and I don’t think too much can be done to restore it. So here’s what I have noticed. The side seams have been taken in from the underarms to the hem by a half inch on each side *except* at the waist. The waist was taken in rather dramatically, and fabric cut away. I don’t think it was originally designed to taper in at the waist but that’s what it’s doing now because of the alterations. Also, I think enough fabric was cut off to make the waist taper that they could use the leftover to make the belt. Furthermore, the upper seam at the waist was taken up to make the waist sit higher. It’s machine sewn but the pink thread is a slightly different shade than the original pink thread throughout the dress. So the waist was originally lower but someone altered it so it sits higher and then hand stitched the excess fabric at the waist to the seam by folding it back on each side and hand sewing it down.

    So I guess to accurately date it, you would have to picture the waist sitting a bit lower, about an inch, and the waist is straight on each side and not tapered. And no belt. Crazy. I would love to put it back to its original condition but it’s missing too much fabric at the waist. I am still able to repair it by fixing the “belt loops.”
    Vinclothes likes this.
  15. pastperfect2

    pastperfect2 Trade Member

    So it's a 1920s dress re-styled in the early 1930s after the Depression hit. It happened a lot, I suspect.
  16. acceber

    acceber Registered Guest

    That’s a shame, if so. I don’t have but a couple 30s dresses so I was hoping.
  17. acceber

    acceber Registered Guest

    I was finally able to get pics of this dress on a dress form. I also flipped the “cape” part back so show the lack of sleeves. The belt is way too large for it, as you can see. Also, I believe at one point it was lined but someone cut the lining out. It’s still lined in the chest part but you can see that bit sticking up out of the neckline showing the evidence of a different fabric in pink that is now gone.

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    Flannery Crane likes this.

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