Help dating a handmade dress with a button on reversible collar, 40s/50s?

Discussion in 'PUBLIC Vintage Fashion Q & A' started by topazera, May 14, 2020.

  1. topazera

    topazera Registered Guest

    Hi! I just picked up this handsewn dress and I was wondering if someone more well versed than I am might have a better idea of when it might have been made? It feels like woven cotton, falling mid-calf, with striped fabric arranged into a chevron pattern. The seams are all simply straight stitched and left raw, except for the handsewn hem. The most notable feature of the dress is the collar, which can be unbuttoned and reversed, one side is a chartreuse accent color. Without the collar on, the dress has a v-line neck, deeper in the front than the back. It has cap sleeves made from the same piece as the bodice with a small pointed collar attached. The zipper is metal, only in the small of the center back (it doesn't extend to the top) and is marked MEBA. (The only things I saw about MEBA zippers were that they sold and manufactured in Manhattan and were penalized in 1952 for using more than their allotted share of aluminum and brass in 1950-1951, just a fun fact!) The buttons are plastic, they feel somewhat tacky and have crackling on the top and concentric circles on the back (from however they were produced). It's meant to have a matching belt, there's one belt loop on one of the sides.

    I was guessing that this came from the late 40s/early 50s? I was wondering if having a zipper only at the small of the back said anything to someone or was that just done because center back zippers were popular but they didn't want the zipper to interfere with the button collar? If I'm totally off, it's fine and I know it can be challenging to identify handmade clothes when they might be being made after an older style later. Thanks for any thoughts!

    (Sorry, my lighting isn't the best, the close-up of the buttons at the end are taken by a window and the most true to color.)
    P5147209.jpg P5147211.jpg P5147212.jpg P5147204.jpg P5147205.jpg P5147193.jpg P5147195.jpg P5147196.jpg P5147201.JPG P5147207.JPG P5147203.JPG
    Last edited: May 15, 2020
  2. poppysvintageclothing

    poppysvintageclothing Administrator Staff Member

  3. Midge

    Midge Trade Member

    Love the fabric! I would guess early 50s too. I have a 50s summer dress with the same kind of zipper arrangement, and I have seen it in others. Not something that turns up a lot, but when it does it looks to be a 50s thing.

    Here are two example of sewing patterns from 1951 that I have for sun dresses with button-on collars/coverups:
    Ringier 18807_2.jpg Ringier 18836_2.jpg
  4. Linn

    Linn Trade Member

    Great find and very becoming. It looks like it was made for you. The reversible collar is a great feature. I agree with dating it to the early '50s. I have a couple of dresses with short zippers. Difficult (for me ) to get on without help!
    Thank you for sharing this!
    Distantdetails likes this.
  5. topazera

    topazera Registered Guest

    Thank you so much for all your replies! I really appreciate the patterns, @Midge, I saw a couple examples of detachable collars from the '50s but those are much more like my dress! I still haven't spotted any reversible ones, that was such a pleasant surprise when I got it in the mail. And thanks, @Linn, this was a win from an auction so I was a) nervous I wasn't going to get it and b) nervous I wouldn't be as enamoured when I actually had it in my hands... but I'm glad that neither happened! I'm so happy it came to me; it does take a bit of a wiggle to get out of but luckily my shoulders are usually pretty good for that so I think we're a good match, the dress and I!

    I'm thinking of getting a belt kit and trying to make up a belt to match, since the solid cotton chartreuse should make it possible to find a new fabric that's close enough.
  6. Linn

    Linn Trade Member

    It looks fine without a belt but I think if you do make (or buy) a belt it would look better if you chose a solid or woven cotton fabric the color of the red violet that is in one of the stripes - and the button.



    If you use chartreuse it will really pop due to the contrast and the waist will become the focal point. Occasionally, I have been able to find older solid fabric or leather belts to wear with vintage dresses that are missing their belts - but if not I've tried to match the button color.

    Just my thoughts!
    Last edited: May 17, 2020
  7. Midge

    Midge Trade Member

    Thank you for posting those other pattern references, that one from Vogue is not too far different in principle from mine - interesting that it's from 1951 as well.
  8. topazera

    topazera Registered Guest

    Oh, that is true, the collar really should stay as the focus... I'd like to have chartreuse somewhere else in the outfit though but I really don't have any accessories in that color! Hmm, that reminds me that I have a purple leather belt that's not quite a match but it's not that far, I'll keep my eyes out for a warmer red-violet/cherry/wine one. I'd like to find red belts anyway, that's the color I could use the most in my small collection! Anyway, thanks for considering accessories with me as well!

    I thought the same, neat that there's three from 1951 even if it's from a small sample! Maybe it was a trend that year especially.
  9. Linn

    Linn Trade Member

    That belt works pretty well until you find one that's a little closer match.

    I don't know if you also collect vintage jewelry. I sold this pair of earrings years ago. I think they would have looked great with your dress. They are Schiaparelli. The stone is called "watermelon."


    These are in my personal collection - terrible scan from 2003! The stones on the side are also watermelon and reflect a little bit of chartreuse. Something like this would work, too :


    I think if you start looking you may be able to find some Bakelite bangle bracelets in the wine/red violet colors in the fabric - and some earrings and brooches to compliment the dress.

    Have fun!
    Last edited: May 20, 2020
  10. topazera

    topazera Registered Guest

    Oh, I really love that watermelon color, thank you @Linn for the great pictures! Also, while we're making a thread full of detachable collars, I found another sundress that looks quite similar to the second pattern that you posted, @Midge:

    Last edited: May 30, 2020
    Midge likes this.

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