A few weeks ago my choir had a gala event with a "roaring twenties" theme. Thanks to Downton Abbey I've really come to appreciate the decade, although I must say I like the '10s still more. I didn't want to look like a "Gatsby girl" (what I knew most of the girls who'd stick to the theme would look like -and cheap at that). I wanted to look like a Downton girl, not a chorus girl. I wanted the elegant look of the first half of the 1920s, when dresses were still long and detailed, and a hint of the 10s was still visible.
I initially thought about making something myself in the style of Sybil's harem dress:
Paul Poiret was obviously the inspiration there so I did some research about him. I also discovered Lucille, the House of Worth, the Callot Soeurs and Madeleine Vionnet, and many more wonderful designers.
I especially love the Oriental influences (both Middle and Far Eastern) in their designs and really wanted to incorporate that.
Lanvin's 'robe de style' was also an interesting option. I didn't think the straight silhouette of the 1920's would look very flattering on my figure, but the robe the style with its wide skirts could be more suitable for that.
But... making something myself was too much work. I didn't have the materials, time and space I needed, but I did have a salary from working during Christmas break that allowed me to spend an afternoon in vintage shops and come home with an absolute gem.
It is a rather straight dress, but I don't think it looks unflattering. I love the waterfall effect of the layers, and although it's a very delicate silk fabric and lots of the beading had come loose, it was in relatively good shape and I managed to fix it up so it became quite wearable.
I had to repair the shoulder straps, re-secure a lot of beading, and repair some ripped seams here and there. I also found over-the-elbow gloves, wore my mother's pearls, and my boyfriend managed to get my hair in a vintage style using a hair rat and a bazillion hair pins. He also took some pictures, and I think the end result is rather worth the effort:
Isn't the dress gorgeous?! I felt like some sort of sea goddess when I first had it on. Although I'm not necessarily a fan of heavy beading or this particular colour, it was absolutely perfect for the look I wanted. Light colours, not black, and a classy and glamorous look. I imagine this is what Lavinia Swire would've looked like if she was still in Downton Abbey by the time they reached the 20s.
At the event, I saw a lot of girls hadn't stuck to the theme, and most of those who had wore the usual (costumey) feather boas and headbands with a little black dress. I can't deny I was flattered by a few people who said that I looked like I had stepped right out of the era. Almost too bad there wasn't a contest!
But there was a live big band with lots of brass and great singers (the perks of being in a student choir/orchestra!) and I had a good time, and I hope I'll have the chance to wear this dress again another time!