Wednesday, 10 April 2013

A-lines and Concrete - Simplicity 5096

I've mentioned before that I have to wear black for work.  To say it's boring is an understatement; most days you'll see me in my own personal uniform of black skirt, scoop neck top and cardigan. I have a few dresses that liven things up, but I admit that sometimes I feel a bit stuck in a rut when it comes to my work wear.

That's why I decided to make this little number, just to give my professional wardrobe a bit of a shot in the arm. It's a shape I don't usually wear, and from an era (the 1960's) that I don't usually sew from, but it felt good to have a bit of a departure from the norm.

This dress was really easy to make up - it went together so easily! I cut the seam allowances at the front 1" rather than the standard 5/8"/1.5cm, in case I needed to make any adjustments over the bust, but there was no need in the end - fitted beautifully! I also added a self drafted Peter Pan collar (see previous post) in black satin, just to make it a little more interesting.

I matched this to the bow at the front:

The main body of the dress was made out of a pretty standard poly-cotton twill. I added a contrast lining to the skirt of the dress in shocking pink - take that, work uniform rules!:

Pink polyester lining, and pink binding on the sleeve hems.
And in tribute to the patterns 1960's origins, Mr Needles and I spent an afternoon in the cold spring-time sunshine at the Barbican in East London, pretending we were David Bailey and Jean Shrimpton (or maybe more Eric Sykes and Hattie Jacques)

So there we were, wandering around what's apparently Europe's biggest performing arts venue, admiring what we thought was a fine example Brutalist architecture from about 1968:

The double 'M' was even mentioned - Mad Men. I love that show, but cringe involuntarily whenever I hear it used a shorthand for describing anything from the 1960's. It seems to be thrown about randomly, applied to anything from hip young fashions of the time, to little tweed suits worn by wealthy older women. What I love about the series is the distinctions the costume designers make between old and young, rich and poor, hip and un-hip. After all, not everyone was 'swinging' in the 60's; if anything, the majority were like Don Draper, leading pretty conservative lives, puzzled by the Beatles and all the rest. The series has manages to steer clear of all the cliches that you think the 60's were all about - white go-go boots, velvet suits, plastic moulded furniture and all the rest.

So imagine my embarrassment when I bothered to do some research into the Barbican's history, and realised ground wasn't even broken on the site until 1971! It was officially opened in 1982! I fell into the trap of thinking this was a typically 60's complex, all Corbusier-esque cities in the sky, and I was completely wrong!

To hell with architecture and all its confusing eras and ism's, I'm going to the bar:

 See you soon!


  1. Whenever it was built, I like it and your lovely frock.

  2. I was under the impression that it was a 60s complex as well!

    I love this dress, it really suits you and I just love the pink lining. I too like how Mad Men has steered clear of the 60s cliches, people always assume that because I love the 60s I walk around wearing white plastic boots!

  3. Your dress is lovely, I adore the Peter Pan collar and the pink lining. Take that indeed to work uniform rules!

  4. I absolutely love your dress and that pink lining is killer!

  5. WOWEE!!! I love it! The collar makes it perfect!

  6. What a stylish dress! Also I really enjoyed your barbican backdrops.

  7. Super cute, I love 60's patterns.

  8. I love the princess seams on this dress, so flattering. As soon as I saw your photo, I knew were you were. My boyfriend lives at the Barbican (and I'll be there in a couple weeks).

  9. Your dress is gorgeous! I think the collar is the perfect addition. And your photos... wow! Talk about the perfect backdrop! A friend of a friend works at the Barbican and she told me that fashion shoots are constantly going on outside her office window - last one was a bikini shoot for Vogue apparently... so I guess great minds think alike!
    Great meeting you yesterday!

  10. Ooooh I love this...I remember checking it out last week. Awesome photos of an awesome gal. So fun meeting you last night. Can't wait to meet up again x

  11. What a great frock- I love it in black- so fresh and sassy- this I hope is linked up on Patti's Visible Monday (Not Yet Dead Style blog)

  12. this is lovely. i love the collar - it's the perfect size and the contrast between the shiny collar and matt dress. lovely to meet you on saturday! x


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