The velvet dress and a tummy bug

When we visited Falkland in 2019 I found the loveliest vintage clothing store. In it was a 1930s silk velvet dress that I intantly fell in love with; however, it was quite expensive and when I tried it on I couldn’t quite zip it up. It seemed like an irrational decision to pay a lot of money for something that didn’t fit so I left without it.

Back then I had slowly been putting on weight without noticing. It was only when I tried on some old dresses in my own wardrobe that I discovered they no longer fit. It was as though they’d shrunk just hanging in the wardrobe. Not wanting to discard my lovely old dresses I immediately set about rectifying the situation and although I’m not as light as I was in my twenties I’m back to fitting into my old clothes albeit a bit more snugly. My mind therefore turned back to the velvet dress.

I have looked at it online many times over the last year and a bit, wondering whether it’s still there, and more importantly, would it now fit? Eventually I made up my mind: I was going to get it. First I had to convince Ben who naturally thinks old dresses that are rarely worn are frivolous and unnecessary and he’s probably right. Neverthless I put together a PDF document stating my case – supporting local businesses, family heirloom etc – and presented it to him. He eventually agreed and the order was made.

I immediately began to worry that the dress would arrive and wouldn’t fit but fortunately the next day I caught a tummy bug and after several days of (in the words of Greg Davies) producing the fecal version of a Jackson Pollock I’d lost another kilogram or so. I have no idea how I got sick – everyone else in the family was fine – and fortunately I’m better now but it was very timely indeed. The dress arrived today and after a bit of rearranging of internal organs I managed to zip it up.

It’s hard to see how magnificent it is from the photograph. This dress is nearly 100 years old and is made with a heavy but beautifully soft silk velvet. It’s fully lined, has a metal zip, and there’s boning in the bodice. It has the most exquisite drape and feel to it.

Hopefully I can make sure it lives to see another 100 years.

9 Replies to “The velvet dress and a tummy bug”

  1. It looks fabulous … you must be glad that you finally got it and the tummy bug was very fortuitous. Now where are you going to wear such a stunning dress to 😊

    1. Yes, it was very fortuitous πŸ™‚ Sadly we can’t go anywhere at the moment but I’m content just to wear it in my living room and to look at it from time to time.

  2. Sometimes we get things just because they’re beautiful, not because they’re practical. Having said that, beautiful things are a necessity in life, so there’s a certain practicality there in a way, as well (I’m not talking about collection addiction, though).

  3. You look great in that dress! I so hope that someday soon you’ll be able to wear it to an event suitable to your showing it off.

    Women back in the 1920s-1940s were a lot smaller than women today, due to a lack in diet, prenatal care, and all the vaccinations and antibiotics we have today. (A lot of adults back then were survivors of some pretty horrific childhood illnesses.) When I cleaned my mother’s closet, I found a number of gorgeous dresses, one of them a low cut satin dress with a Dior label on it. But none of them fit me, as they were tiny! I wondered if maybe Mom bought them when she was in her teens, but she would have been in her 30s when that particular dress was in vogue. She was also in the habit of wearing a girdle, which now makes me wonder how she was even able to eat, those things being so tight. While I was sad to give those dresses away—I hope some young woman bought them at the charity store and wore them to a dance or evening affair—I am a bit glad that I’m bigger than my mother, who needed a stepladder to reach the shelves in the kitchen. I also won’t wear a girdle for any dress, however glam it would make me look. πŸ˜‰

    1. Yes, you’re right that women are bigger and taller today. I wondered about the girdle and I’m not sure how it would help someone squeeze into a tight outfit. I feel like it would just add an extra layer making the outer layer tighter. I think really those things were to change a woman’s shape and make her waist unreasonably small while pushing out the bits above and below. I wouldn’t ever wear one either but I doubt it’d help with my dresses anyway. One of the things I like about old and second hand items is knowing they had a story before I came along. Who owned them and what were they like?

  4. That dress looks beautiful, even from photos and not real life you can see it is well cut. Also you look healthy and glowing, despite the tummy bug. I have a (not vintage) strapless dress that relies on boning to keep it up and I definitely feel more confident that it is not going to do an accidental reveal if it is tighter fitting.

    1. Boning is a must for a strapless gown. And you’re right that if it’s tight at least it’s not going to fall off which is good because I haven’t got any boobs to hold it up!

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