Wednesday, 12 October 2011

A Dress Fit for the Savoy

As you'll know from my previous post, on Saturday evening I went for a birthday treat at the Savoy Hotel.  Of course, any excuse to dress up...

Dress: Beyond Retro
Shoes: Beyond Retro
Hair flower: Accessorize

I had been planning to go for a '30s look, as a nod to the Deco style of the hotel but then a stumbled across this divine dress when I got distracted whilst out out shopping for winter warms the other day...

I was going to write more about the Savoy itself but I feel I must tell you the story of the dress (particularly after receiving such nice comments after it appeared in my last post - thank you, lovely readers!).  Whilst hunting for knits and other warm wear, I spotted it on a rack at Beyond Retro, Cheshire Street, and scooped it up immediately to carry off to the fitting rooms.  I pulled it over my head and proceeded to try to close the zip but there was one point at which it didn't want to go any further.  I tried and tried (gently, of course) but to no avail.  I was just about to admit defeat when I looked in the mirror again and thought "No!  This dress is perfect for me!  I can't let it go..."  I was in love, and surely you can see why.

I was smitten with the shape, the fabric colour and pattern, the ribbons under the bust...

... the gathered detail and the sash (if that's the name for it?) to one shoulder...

... the rusty pink lining and purple netting to compliment the blue fabric.  All such wonderful details.

I was entranced and felt that, if it could get past that one sticking point on the zipper, it would all be okay.  Tight, but okay.  It wasn't one of those situations where the circumference of the bodice is less than your rib cage and you know no amount of lung contraction will help...

And I was right!  I managed to get it past that one point with some nifty shifting of bra strap and I was in.  It was a little restricted but, considering how wonderful I felt otherwise, I could live with that.  But THEN, when I took the dress off, I noticed that there was some loose stitching around the arm.  I sighed a little, knowing repairs would be necessary before wearing.  UNTIL, I looked closer and realised that someone had adjusted the armholes!  Maybe, I thought, just maybe, when I unpick those arms, the whole bodice will just shift slightly south to such a degree that it would fit me JUST SO.  And, when I got home, I discovered I was correct!  It fit like a very comfy glove!  The dress was slightly imperfect for the previous owner but it just so happens that it must have been made for me.

And it's in such fabulous condition, I can't spot a single flaw.  It was reasonably priced too, especially considering its condition and age, and the fact that I will treasure it forever.  I guessed it was probably late '50s, judging by the style, finishing, and the placement of the zipper.  Doing some online research on the label when I got home, I discovered that the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union had that specific label design between the years 1955 (after the American Federation of Labour - AFL - and the Committee for Industrial Organizations - CIO - merged) and before 1963 when they designed and registered their new label.  (Thank you, Ikwewe on Ebay guides.)  So it seems my dating was correct!

So, on my visit to the Savoy, I went 1950s instead of 1930s, though my hair could have fitted in to either, I think.  I side-parted it and included my fringe in the overall pin curling in preparation for the evening.  I was going to wear it loose after brushing out but it's getting rather long and it didn't feel quite right, so I ended up doing a rough Gibson roll.  A first ever attempt, without a hair rat, and it didn't quite come together as expected but I was pleased with the result nevertheless.

In my '50s dress, coiffed hair, sipping cocktails in the American Bar, listening to the pianist play Frank Sinatra, I felt I right at home.  Marilyn Monroe, one of their many famous guests, may have walked through the door and I wouldn't have been surprised... much.


  1. That dress is amazing. I've been after a 50's dress for so long, alas I have quite a boyish figure so these wonderful shaped dresses hang very badly on me. I might add that I am extremely jealous of you visiting the savoy too!

    You look lovely!

  2. that is a super-pretty frock and you look fab, isnt it great when something you love turns out to be just right for you.

  3. The dress is adorable it was meant for you!

  4. WOW, you look so gorgeous.

  5. Thanks, all, for your lovely comments!

    And Philippa, I hope that one day you manage to find a 50s dress to suit you. I must say that one of the reasons I've ended up favouring 50s clothes is because not only do I like the style but also it suits my figure. In another life time, with another body, I'd be all over the 20s or 60s look. Sounds like you'd probably have much more luck with those styles than I ever would!

  6. You look BEAUTIFUL! Love that dress on you for such a happy, special occasion!

  7. What a delightful dress - and look. I can understand your determination! Excellent research too. I had similar situation at Beyond Retro a few years ago. Gorgeous purple pleated skirt with black hem. It was a bit tight around the waist, but I also found a former owner had taken the band in at a couple of places. Removed the stitching and - perfect fit!