Help me find this dress!
November 16, 2010 11:06 PM   Subscribe

I am looking to identify this dress from the 1930s/40s so I can find a similar type today for my mother. Ideally it should be cotton and available in a size large, as my mother is not partial to synthetics and she is not a fan of tight clothing in the way I am. :P

So I'm looking for a dress that's similar to the one in the link above so that I can get a version of it for my mother for her birthday/Christmas. I am hoping to find something that's cotton and available in muted colors and a size large, as she prefers neutral tones and wearing looser clothing. (I'm still not sure how we're related -- gimme a corset any day of the week, please haha) The trouble is that even with a background in fashion history I haven't been able to identify this dress type, much less search for it on Etsy or the interwebs.

From what I can tell it appears to have lapels of some sort, and be mid-calf to knee-length. The neckline and style is particular important to my mother as she finds it very attractive, but I can't find any other pictures of it since the photo is of a member of our church's original clergy and few photos of her exist.

Can anyone with more knowledge about this fashion period help me and/or point me in the direction of a site I could get something workable from? Thank you!
posted by patronuscharms to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (11 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
Check out Trashy Diva's dresses -- they tend to have a lot of versions of that 30s/40s silhouette, and I believe they go up to a size 18.
posted by scody at 11:19 PM on November 16, 2010

Response by poster: Oh man, this dress is a perfect option -- but it's rayon, and my mom is allergic to rayon and most synthetics. :( Sad day. Thank you so much, though! I am definitely going to be ordering something for myself from that site.
posted by patronuscharms at 11:23 PM on November 16, 2010

It's a poor photo, but that appears to be a pretty standard novelty fabric rayon dress of the immediate post-war period. It would have had a side zip (and possibly a zip at the back of the neck) and the side zip would make it form-fitting. It looks to have large shoulder pads, and there may be a peplum at the waist.

Here's a vintage dress with a similar cut, though the neckline is different.

There are companies that replicate this style of dress for the tiki/swing dance crowd, and you could look for someone to make a custom dress on etsy.
posted by Scram at 11:24 PM on November 16, 2010

I love this seller on Etsy, and this dress in particular looks promising. It doesn't quite look like the original in your question, but it does look similar to the one you linked to in rayon. The seller is going to make you one from whatever material you want, so it shouldn't be a problem to make it out of cotton in a muted color. The dress also has a tie waist, so your mom could make it as loose as she'd like.
posted by TooFewShoes at 12:15 AM on November 17, 2010

Bettie Page Clothing do a lot of gorgeous dresses - this one is stretch cotton.
posted by ukdanae at 1:16 AM on November 17, 2010

J. Peterman is famous for this kind of dress. Here are some examples (the descriptions are awesome):
  • Sutton Place Dress"The clean lines. The crisp angles. The flowing steps. They bespeak a person who can run a neuroscience group or chair the library fund-raising committee. This is the dress June Cleaver always wanted to wear and Doris Day actually did, when she wrapped leading men around her finger."
  • Silk Crepe de Chine Dress"Let's start over at Reel One. Brigid O'Shaughnessy walks into Sam Spade's office again, but this time she's not wearing a boxy suit. She's wearing this knockout."
  • 1940s Cord Dress"Attractive, confident, stylish. Has known at least one positive male role model. Must like French cooking, Etta James, Broadway, movies made between 1937-66, disturbing literature, spirited horses. Ability to pack light. Open to impromptu world travel."
  • Short Sleeve 1947 Dress / Long Sleeve 1947 Dress"The most flattering dress of the 20th century. Full, sweeping skirt and shaped bodice, for artful emphasis on legs, hips, waist, and bust. Rita Hayworth wore it. Coeds and secretaries wore it. Your mother wore it. Women looked wonderful in it. Still do. And always will."
  • Elastic Ruched Dress"Girls are girls until that fateful day they become women and have to be responsible women... and carry the flag for womanhood everywhere. Phew. Well, it doesn’t have to become a habit does it? Not if this flirty, utterly irresistible fun-seeking dress has anything to do with it."

posted by Civil_Disobedient at 1:55 AM on November 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

Check these.
posted by leigh1 at 1:59 AM on November 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

I can't tell what's happening with the bottom of the dress, cut-wise, but the top makes me think of wiggle dresses.
posted by 8dot3 at 5:37 AM on November 17, 2010

Have you considered taking the picture of the original dress and that rayon dress to a taylor? I'm afraid all of the authentic type dresses are likely to be synthetic from that period.
posted by zug at 6:15 AM on November 17, 2010

Check out Revamp. There is one 40's option in silk. This one is cotton. although not as good a style match as the 40's dresses (which are rayon, as they wounld have been rayon in the 40s). There is a taffeta option as well, also a 50's style.
posted by crush-onastick at 6:58 AM on November 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Awesome, thanks everyone. I've found one possible option for my mom (and like ten for me). :)
posted by patronuscharms at 8:27 AM on November 22, 2010

« Older loinclothed drummer on a fourwheeler is taunting...   |   The girl with the red napkin. Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.