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Ah, Christian Dior’s New Look. Was there ever anything more elegant, more aspirational, more utterly feminine? Extravagant use of yards and yards of gorgeous fabric. High, womanly, rounded bosoms. Impossibly tiny waists. And icily perfect models with red, red lips and flawless eyebrows haughtily contemplating the middle distance.


The iconic “Bar suit” from Dior’s first collection in 1947.

I’ve been completely in love with this aesthetic all my life. I used to try to emulate it by wearing full skirts and fitted tops all the time, but alas, I am neither tall nor willowy, and it looked vastly different on me than it did on Dior’s models. My style had to change, and it has.

Such contrived glamour has all but disappeared from the world in 2014. Pretty much the only place it is ever seen today is on the red carpet.
Eveningwear seems to be the last refuge for modern glamour-pusses. Happily for me, I have occasion to don eveningwear at least once a year, for Dearly Beloved’s annual holiday party — and I make a point of going all out! Here is what I wore in 2013:


There. Do I look haughty and unapproachable? See? I have red, red lips!

And why am I showing you my holiday dress in February? Why because of Project Sewn‘s Fashion Icon contest, of course! Such a fun idea — they choose six designers to compete online in a sewing contest. Each designer has to submit one outfit a week for four weeks, following assigned themes. And viewers who aren’t in the contest get to submit their own interpretations of the theme, and everyone gets to vote for a favorite. (Go look! Vote for me! Vote for me!) This week’s theme is Fashion Icon. At first I thought submissions had to be created the week of the contest, but that doesn’t seem to be the case, so I’m submitting my holiday dress. I think it channels Christian Dior rather well, don’t you? The portrait neckline and long fitted sleeves strongly remind me of the picture at the top of this post.

Naturally, in demonstrating how very Dior this gown is, I couldn’t resist striking some of the high fashion poses from the 1950s.

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Oh, I’m just certain that if Monsieur Dior had seen me I would surely have become his favorite model!


The butterfly clip and the messy strands — so ’50s!

To make this dress I used Vogue 9124, now out of print.


It’s a wonderful pattern — it fit beautifully with very few alterations (which never happens!). It’s boned, and I added a waist stay to keep everything firmly in place.


(I can’t imagine why this photo has a brownish cast to it — but I can’t seem to fix it.)

There are elastic stays inside the top of the sleeves.


And I narrowed the sleeves and put invisible zips at the wrists.


I suppose one reason no one wears things like this any more is that they aren’t very practical. I can’t show you any pictures from the back because I couldn’t get it zipped by myself! But Dearly Beloved was here to help the night of the party and I must say I did feel lovely that night. (And I took a lot more care with my hair and makeup that evening too!) It’s a shame TJ lacks opposable thumbs, or he might have been able to help me for these pictures. As it is, however, he just thought they took too long. “Swanning around the house by yourself in a velvet evening gown is all well and good, Mommy, but could we please go outside and play now?”