Monday, September 6, 2010

What Sixties Fashion Means to Me

Recently I've received a couple comments that were critical of the way I make these dresses. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. However, I feel a response is in order. I'd like to explain my position, in part, because I think it makes for interesting discussion.

The comments focused on the tailoring that I've done. They were critical of the fact that I tailored the shape of the dresses, resulting in them "losing" the a-line shape.

It's true that I do tailor my dresses at the waist. It's true that I've occasionally tailored too much. But, what can I say? I'm learning. I've only been sewing for 2 months, and throughout the projects, I've been trying to strike a happy medium between nicely tailored and nicely draped. Nobody's showing me how to do anything nor has anyone showed me in the past. My dad is the only one in my family who has touched a sewing machine, and my parents live up in icy North Dakota (which is why I very much appreciate all the wonderful suggestions I've been getting on this blog-- thank you everyone!). So, I hope that with practice I'll get better at finding that happy medium.

The comments also focused on the fact that my dresses weren't authentically retro or sixties, because the shape was "lost." Now, I personally don't find a strict a-line shape very flattering on my hourglass body type, hence why I tailor in the first place. But what I love about the sixties isn't the a-line shape. It's the fun, bold prints. It's all those great geometric details. It's the bright colors. It's unexpected like a men's kneck-tie paired with a dress. It's the ability to pair them nicely with funky go-go boots. And of course, as anyone who has read this blog knows, it's all about color-blocking.

Now, I've also loved pop art and modern design for a long time (one day, I will have my hanging Eero Aarnio Bubble Chair, dammit). So, I see sixties fashion as an extension of modern design and incorporate my love of it into my wardrobe. And besides, it's fun to confuse guests by blending into the furniture.

Okay, just felt the need to explain myself. Although, really, if I'm happy with the results, I am the one who has to wear it right?

Happy sewing adventures!


  1. Astrid, you don't need to explain yourself at all. You're sewing for you and sharing with us... I don't know anyone who actually followes the 'rules'. You are doing a fab job and considering, you've only been at it for 2 months, your outfits are wonderful! Keep up the great work!! Monique xx

  2. @Monique: Thanks so much for the compliment and vote of confidence : - ) I wasn't sure if I should address the issue. If nothing else, it did allow me to explain what attracts me to sixties fashion. So, I guess it was useful for that.

  3. I agree with Monique--what you're sewing is for you, to suit YOUR taste. I subscribe to about 30 sewing blogs in my Google Reader. Most of the clothing I see my fellow sewists make either doesn't fit with my lifestyle (stay-at-home mom) or personal taste (I'm plain, plain, plain). Nonetheless, I really enjoy seeing what people are making and am inspired by their choices--whether or not I'd wear it myself.

    You don't need to apologize for preferring a fitted look--they're YOUR clothes!

  4. Hi Astrid, I think you're doing a great job, you pick awesome patterns and I love that you blog so honestly about your processes. I think the new red dress is the best one so far. One reason why I like it is that the modest sleeves and cut of the top half make showing your legs a highlight. I don't know how to say this without sounding pervy... you have fabulous legs, great 'girls' and a beautiful face. I think with some of your other dresses, all those elements of you are fighting for attention. Like, in shapes that give emphasis to your bust, perhaps a longer hem would look good. Okay so now I'm teetering between sounding pervy and prudish! If you think of yourself like, say, the cover of a book, it can be good to have one major element standing out for most attention, or you don't know where to look. Anyway having said all that, you can completely disregard this comment if you like because I do believe you have the absolute right to do things however you darn well please. Keep up the good work!

  5. Don't let the meanies get you down. With only two months of experience, you are doing some marvelous sewing. I lived 60s fashion the first time and tailored many items to fit me properly. We weren't all Twiggy, even back then. You are absolutely right that you are making things to please you and you don't need to please anyone else (except maybe the hubby). Retro, at least in my book, doesn't mean re-creating verbatim (as it were) a by-gone era, but giving it a loving nod.

  6. @SemiCharmedWife: Thanks so much for the support! I really appreciate that ; - )

    @Jane: That's not pervy at all! Thank you so much for the compliments. When I was a kid and into my early 20's, I struggled a lot with weight. I was bullied throughout my childhood too, making it all the more painful. So, I really appreciate the compliments. It's hard to build back confidence after all those years of poor self-esteem, but I try. I see what you mean about trying to find a balance and showcasing a particular area at once. That makes sense. Thank you again ; - )

    @Fairevergreen: Very well said indeed. I appreciate your support and wanted to thank you for all the great tips. They've helped me a lot ; - )

  7. Bonjour Astrid,
    I just recently came upon your blog through "Sew Retro", and I'm delighted I did . You see I've recently taken an interest in sixties fashion. I've always loved fashion of all decades (from the 1920's to the Victorian Age to the glamour of the 1940's), but modern have always held a special appeal for me. . I find all your designs great and wonderful and I say tailor to your heart's content! I'm a size 2, but even I'm no Twiggy because of my hourglass shape as well. I don't see why you should be victimized for making clothes that look GOOD on you. I say you keep at it and I'll keep reading and enjoying your wonderful blog. I wasn’t going to comment at first, just read, but after seeing this post and discovering how passionately you feel about 1960’s fashion, I feel you deserve it more than anyone.
    A fellow 60's lover as well,
    Miss Ariel-Marie
    P.S. I should note, your name is very groovy as well. =)

  8. Hey there! I've just stumbled over your blog through Sew Retro, and I think you're doing a marvellous job in your sewing! The whole point in sewing for yourself, I think, is to make dresses/clothing that suits your tastes and your body, so it would be stupid not to tailor them to your fit, no?

    I also read a lot of bloggers who sew 50s inspired clothing, and there is a lot of discussion about similar issues. Most of us today don't have a tiny wasp-shaped waist or bullet-shaped bust (or want to wear the necessary underwear to make it appear that way) - the beautiful thing is that we can make vintage-inspired clothing that looks retro but fits our bodies anyway. :-)

  9. Ooh I just found your blog and have to comment on this even though it is an old post! I just really wanted to say that if anything, I find the comments you have received about your tailoring a little bizarre...

    For me, one of the whole points of making my own clothes is that I can make them to fit my body. MY body. With its different size top and bottom halves, and all the other little quirks make everyone different and mean that our figures do not fit into neat 'dress size' boxes. Since I've been sewing I feel completely detatched from the weird world of vanity sizing and I love it!

    You don't have to justify to anybody else (or yourself!) why you make your dresses the way you do - everyone is such different shapes and sizes that no dress would have the same 'shape' worn on two people anyway! Ok, so I suppose their argument is more about 'authenticity' than body shape, but who's to say the people who originally made those dresses in the 1960s didn't make adjustments so that they felt more comfortable and flattered by their garments? Does that mean their dresses weren't 'authentic'?

    Sewing my own clothes makes me feel liberated from the rules of fashion and dressing, it makes me a little sad that people still try and impose them (even if it is the rules of fashion 50 years ago!).

    As others have said, keep up the good work :D