I am constantly buying vintage clothing to either study, sell, or wear. On one of my last buying trips, I found the below dress. It really intrigued me. Firstly, there are no labels which suggests that this dress was handmade. But than, I started to wonder…who made it? Why was it made? When was it made?
You see, this dress has cartridge pleating at the waist. If this dress was handmade, who took the time to do that? If you know anything about cartridge pleating, you know it can take a lot of time and patience to do. The fabric seems to be a printed cotton voile and is lined with a lighter cotton muslin or voile. The size and length suggests it was created for an adolescent girl. It is very very small. I tried it on my display mannequin that has a 25.5″ waist and it was too small. So I laid the dress flat and measured the waist. This dress has a 24″ waist. Also, the length is odd. Not quite maxi yet not short.
The old world detail of cartridge pleats, lace around the neck and pleating in the bodice seem to suggest this dress was created during another time such as the 19th century or is a 19th century reproduction. Teenage dresses in the 19th century were a shorter length than adult dresses. But then the designs of Gunne Sax came to mind. Popular in the 70s and 80s, Gunne Sax maxi dresses were inspired by Victorian and Edwardian styles.
In any case, I wish I could fit it because I would wear this dress!!!