When the secret is in the details…

Overall, I am a big fan of 50’s fashion. I love the style, the subtle elegance, the flattering shapes. However… I find it really hard to integrate with my own sense of style. There is something in the crispy bell skirts and the dainty cardigans that simply doesn’t work with my personality. It looks stellar, but it makes me feel terribly dated.
Also, I don’t know you but I am one of those people that are constantly cold. I can’t do three-quarter sleeves or pumps in winter and in the UK is winter 9 months out of 12 based on my personal temperature settings!
Over time, I am learning tricks to spin the ’50s vibe in a way that feels more me, which sorts of looks like the early ’80s minus shoulder pads. The keys to these subtle changes are accessories and colour combination. It’s a constant work in progress but here are a few things I am pretty confident work for me:
  •  Wide belts instead of thin belts
  •  Wide-ankled and mid-calf boots (I will have to revisit this in the summer…)
  • Go easy on floral prints
  •  Chose rich colours, staying well away from pastels (my colour consultation confirmed it, pastels are not my thing. I love deep bright blues, aubergine purples, forest greens and steely greys – and they love me back!)
Keeping this in mind, I approached the famous Moneta Dress pattern, by Seamwork. It’s been everywhere last year thanks to the Moneta Party challenge and reviews were enthusiastic. I’ve kept an eye on the pattern with interest and I couldn’t quite make my mind about whether I liked it or not so I didn’t start project exactly full of enthusiasm… but I had a metre and a half of ponte roma fabric and was looking for a make that I could start and finish in an afternoon.
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This dress maintains something of the delicate, feminine lines of the 50′ whilst accommodating for a modern lifestyle through the choice of knit fabrics and more fluid skirt shape. Still! At first, I wasn’t impressed. Maybe because it was now evening, I was tired, my hair was a sad mess and there was no colour left on my face… I wasn’t feeling it at all.
The Sad Moneta hung in my wardrobe for quite a while before a sudden burst of inspiration hit me. On the pro side, I had the colour: a rich, vibrant teal. Even though teal is a smidge too warm for my colour direction, this particular shade is deep enough that it doesn’t matter.
Then, I finally focused on my trusted styling points and latched a hefty belt, booths and a purple cardigan which, with its unconventional shape and contrasting colour created an outfit I was really very happy with. My Moneta wasn’t sad anymore, on the contrary, I distinctly remember bouncing out the door with a definite spring in my step!
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I’m also very happy with swapping the gathers with pleats. I am a go bold or go home when it comes to gathers, so the very soft gathering on this skirt didn’t suit me. I pinned the pattern pieces on my dressform and played around with the skirt and bodice pieces, folding the waist edge of the skirt until it matched the waist of the bodice, ending with two deepish pleats on each side (since back and front are identical but for the neckline shaping, I could use the same pleats measurements for the back as well).
Having such a robust jersey (and with such great recovery thanks to the spandex content!) and changing the gathers into pleats also meant I could skip adding elastic to the waist seam and could easily turn the fabric in twice to clean up the neckline instead of faffing around with a neckband. Oh, I didn’t even bother hemming it. I liked the crisp look of the cut hem and I knew there was no chance on earth I was going to improve it.
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I used up less than my original 1.5mt of fabric and I had enough leftover to make the infinity scarf I am wearing in the pictures. It makes for a chunky turtleneck when I wrap it twice, like in the second picture, and a soft, long cowl when I just hang it around my neck. Also, since itàs not attached I can wear it with any other outfit. In fact, it’s one of the me-makes that comes out to play most often.
I usually don’t repeat the same pattern, unless it’s time to retire a particular garment, so I’m not sure to use this pattern again.. although it might be worth trying it in a lighter jersey for the summer months. Who knows, with the right accessories I might even be able to brave florals again!
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