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Which way round for this dress?

Discussion in 'PUBLIC Vintage Fashion - Ask Questions Get Answers' started by The Vintage Vendeuse, Jan 1, 2013.

  1. I've been on a hiatus for a year or two but have decided that it's time to do something with some of my stock. (Please excuse me if I've asked about this dress before, my memory is like a sieve these days!) This dress is a bit of a mystery to me... which way is front and which way is back? The only zipper is a metal one located in the center on the side that has the V neckline... and the zip DOESN'T go all the way up in order to open the dress, if you know what I mean. Style-wise, this is an unusual dress, too. Any ideas on how to describe it and it's age? Thanks so much.

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  2. Pinkcoke

    Pinkcoke Alumni

    I think you can be confident the zip goes at the back, the front appears to have bust shaping in the princess seams, and that long gathering typically goes in the back of the skirt. The colours and shape are very 40's/50's. It appears to have a strong shoulder line, if there are shoulder pads could you show them please?
  3. Thanks for your prompt reply. I think you're right about the princess seams... it's just that the front neckline seems so high when it's on that way round. Yes, there are shoulder pads. Here's a photo of one.

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  4. Villa

    Villa Registered Guest

    Great dress!
  5. Pinkcoke

    Pinkcoke Alumni

    That's a 40's/50's shoulder pad, does the wider part of the shoulder pad sit in the 'puff' of the sleeve?
    Is there any evidence of a side seam being altered? I'm wondering if it originally had a side snap closure, and the zip was a later addition. Possibly they did not put it at the top of the seam because it is more work to finish the ends properly, particularly if a zip was not part of the original design, than to insert it in the middle of a seam.
    I have this very similarly shaped CC41 utility dress (label used between 1941-52) also with a chokingly high neckline:
  6. Great dress - I love the ribbon bow print.

    I agree with Melanie in that the zipper goes in the centre back, and wonder if there was a hook and eye at the top to fasten the two sides that are currently hanging down with the loopy decorative detail.

    It looks like it might have been shortened - and I think it's a little earlier, early '40s with that shoulder line and panelling. It looks like a crepe.
  7. Adoredvintage

    Adoredvintage Registered Guest

    What an incredible dress!! The details are just perfect!
  8. No evidence of alteration at the side seams or the hem. And I really believe the zipper placement is original. But I suppose with a really expert seamstress, it may be hard to tell.

    It IS a crepe.

  9. Those aren't bust darts on the zipper side, are they? Hard to see in the photo. Can't imagine why you'd have shaped, bust-accommodating princess seams on the back of a dress, so it seems clear the zip goes in the back. But if there are darts on the zip side, that complicates things ; ). Very very cool dress!!
  10. Jonathan

    Jonathan VFG Member

    The sleeves look like they are shaped for the arm with the zipper in the front. Those half belts that tighten the waist can be found front and back, and the gathering of the skirt in the middle looks more correct for me to be in the front, not the back. I honestly can't tell from the pics - trying it on someone will quickly tell you how it should be worn - its a great print - definitely wartime 40s - presumabely American/
  11. Jonathan has a good point about the sleeves and I agree that seeing it on will soon tell.

    Liza, I think I can see "bust" type darts on the zipper side. It's hard to see the construction because the print is such a knockout.
  12. So I'm not crazy. I've never heard of "shoulder blade darts," LOL. Closest I've seen are back princess seams or back shoulder darts coming down vertically from the neckline.
  13. Here are a couple more photos. One shows that there are, in fact, TWO darts going up diagonally from the side seams on both right and left on the side of the dress with the zip. Then I've included a photo of the waist seam on the non-zip side, showing how it dips down in a point in the center. I've gone from thinking that the zip side is front, to the non-zip side being the front, and back again!

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  14. I would bet money that the zip side is the front. That chevron treatment on the other side is not uncommon at the back of a dress. Helps shape it above the tushy. But I've yet to see double bust darts on the back of a dress.

    Have you tried it on or tried it on another somebody?
  15. Liza wisely and I agree - I've seen the "V" in late '40s dresses on the front, but early '40s tends to be at the back.
  16. vintagebaubles

    vintagebaubles Administrator Staff Member

    Lovely dress! And I think the zipper goes in the back and that it's original in placement and length. This sort of zipper, that doesn't go all the way up to the neckline, is sometimes found in 40s' dresses, but I don't think they're terribly common. I've had a couple and have seen them in garments, both online and in vintage shops. (I honestly don't know how people managed to wriggle into side zip and these sort of center-back zip dresses.... you have to be a contortionist or the dress has to be of very ample size on you, or you have to have no shoulders!)
  17. Linn

    Linn Super Moderator Staff Member

    I think the zipper goes in the back, also.

    I have a dress with a partial back zipper and buttons, many with side zips - and some that button all the way up the back. Women must have had help getting dressed back then!

  18. Jonathan

    Jonathan VFG Member

    You know, it could be home made and she screwed up putting the thing together...
  19. I've worn many dresses, hundreds of dresses with side zippers and centre back zippers that don't go all the way up to the top and have to say that they're not hard to put on when you're skinny. I used to wear them almost every day for twenty years and couldn't understand why back zippers replaced them - until I was no longer skinny and started to find them a struggle to contort myself.

    Another thing is I always recommend a petticoat or slip if you're wearing a side zipper: it acts as a safe guard that you won't catch your skin in the zipper, and makes the dress hang better. A young lady once got the zipper caught on a big chunk of her flesh when her enthusiastic friend yanked the zipper up on a too-small dress. It was one of the most traumatic things that has happened to me in retail, I thought I was going to have to call an ambulance when she almost passed out on me. Thankfully I unpicked the dress and got her out of it. Needless to say, that was one regular customer that has never come back, either.
  20. vintagebaubles

    vintagebaubles Administrator Staff Member

    LOL, Nicole! I found the same thing, only by the time I discovered vintage--while I was still skinny and could get into those side-zip dresses--it wasn't too long before I had my son and my waistline never quite got back to its former self... So, I now have to do the contortions to get myself into a side-zip dress!

    Wow--what a nightmare that must have been when your customer got caught in a dress. Ouch.

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