to the Oldies
walk into a vintage clothing store looking for a dress to wear
on Saturday night. First you sift through all the dresses until
you find some that might be your size. Then from those, you
weed out all the truly hideous patterns and colors. After that,
you discard the ones with large tears and funky smells. What
are you left with? One, maybe two dresses that you take with
you to the fitting room. Here, the torture continues. The hips
might fit right but the waist is too small, or perhaps the sleeves
are so tight you feel you’re wearing a blood pressure cuff.
by Nori Negron-Casimiro
familiar? Well, if you’re handy with a sewing machine, your
prayers may have just been answered. Vogue Patterns, along
with its parent company, Butterick, have dug into their archives
to reissue several popular patterns from the ’30s, ’40s and
’50s. So now you can have a vintage dress that’s brand new!
to Daryl Brower, Managing Editor of Vogue Patterns magazine,
the inspiration for the vintage lines came from a woman seen
by many as the ultimate emissary of style: Barbie™. In response
to reader requests for retro patterns for their vintage Barbie
dolls,Vogue Patterns reduced several older designs to a fraction
of their original size and included them in the September/October
1997 issue of the magazine. This sparked a slew of requests
for real-size vintage patterns, and the Vintage Vogue line
first four Vintage Vogue designs were introduced in the September/October
1998 issue of Vogue Patterns: two suits from the mid-1940s,
a dress from 1939, and a dress and jacket set from 1940. The
response was tremendous, and Butterick Patterns quickly launched
a similar line of archival designs under the name Retro Butterick.The
patterns for Vintage Vogue and Retro Butterick are chosen by
a committee, which includes the Vice President of Product, the
Executive Editor of the magazine, and several Vogue designers.
The committee members take into consideration all the reader
requests and try to find designs that “people can actually wear,”
says Joy McKeon, Editorial Coordinator for Vogue Patterns. “Not
costumey, but dresses for every day.” After the designs have
been selected, they are resized to fit modern women’s bodies.
After all, women no longer wear layers of latex in the shape
of corsets and girdles.
reason the archival designs have been so popular is that many
women are dissatisfied with clothes today, says Daryl Brower.
“[Women] don’t think clothing is as beautiful now as it was
then. They want clothes with dressmaker details,” she notes.
The Vintage Vogue line currently features 12 patterns from
the 1930s and ’40s, which sell for $25 each. Retro Butterick
offers four patterns dating from the 1950s, at a cost of $12.95
a piece. Both pattern-makers are reusing the original artwork
on their packaging, and patterns in the Vintage Vogue line
include Vogue Vintage Model labels to sew into the finished
sewers may want to start with a sundress from 1952 offered by
Retro Butterick. It was originally dubbed the Walkaway Dress,
because it was so easy to make that you could “start it at breakfast…walk
away in it for luncheon!” When the design was first introduced,
it was so popular that Butterick had to stop production on all
other patterns to meet consumer demand. In addition, Lindy Hoppers
can look for Retro Butterick patterns considered good for dancing
that are labeled “Butterick Swing Time.”
a sneak preview of the newest styles in the Vintage Vogue
and Retro Butterick lines, visit www.voguepatterns.com.
And if you can’t sew, don’t fret. Just call the Professional
Association of Custom Clothiers at (541) 772-4119 to find
a tailor in your area who can make the dress of your dreams
using one of the Vintage Vogue or Retro Butterick patterns.
You can also visit the PACC on the Web at www.paccprofessionals.org.
What are you waiting for? Your new vintage dress is just a
article first appeared in the Summer 1999 issue
of ATOMIC Magazine.