I came down with a viral infection on New Year’s Day that left me weak and in bed for a little over a week. During that time I lived on soup, tea, crackers, jello, and canned fruits. Whatever was in the house was what I ate. When I went for my follow-up visit to the doctor’s last week I discovered I had lost 8 pounds!
The weight loss was unexpected but in a way it was a good thing. I feel much lighter and more agile. The bigger change is that the Betty Joan skirt and blouse now look different on me. Since I am small busted and not well fleshed out from the collar bone down to the bust in front, and from the nape of the neck to the shoulder blades in back a weight loss of this much makes loose fitting clothing look unflattering on me.
I discovered a few things about kimono sleeves that made me conclude that if I want to wear this style–and I do–I will have to modify my approach to making another bodice using long or short kimono sleeves.
Rethinking the Betty Joan outfit
In this selfie you can see just how much my natural shoulder line slopes. I am unable to get a full length photo so you can see how blah the blouse will look if I leave it as is. It also looks a little dowdy when paired with the Betty Joan skirt. This doesn’t mean I will abandon the skirt and blouse. I just had to do some serious rethinking about the outfit.
After reviewing the photos of the wonderful job Hila of Saturday Night Stitch has done on a flattering blouse she just completed, I had my “Aha!” moment. There is no way the Betty Joan blouse and skirt look good together but what if I pair each piece with a modern garment from my wardrobe? It would be a combo of retro and modern. I reasoned this is the most practical solution.
I have a pair of black jeggings on order from Charlotte Russe which will look great with the blouse. The only change I’m making is that now I will use some vintage black buttons I bought on Etsy. The grey ones I originally got at Mood Fabrics are stored away for another project. Since grey is becoming a favorite color for me they are sure to be used in the near future.
When I tried the Betty Joan blouse on with my distressed jeggings I had a glimpse of the possibilities thanks to seeing how Hila paired her Butterick blouse with jeggings, long earrings and great shoes. I have a black belt with a bow in front that will take care of reigning in the baggy waistline on this blouse. And instead of being a tuck-in it will now be an over blouse.
In addition to losing weight, the blouse has a bit too much ease from the way in which I draped it. Since my form has an additional 1 1/2″ added to my measurements I plan to be more conservative with my use of ease tucks the next time I drape.
The good development is that the Betty Joan skirt was a little tight after I had completed the drape and transferred it to a paper pattern. To get the skirt moving towards the sewing stage I made alterations to the paper pattern. They worked and did not impact the overall fit and look of the skirt. I plan to pair it with a grey, white and pink top, also from Charlotte Russe. If I can find a white, pink or grey chiffon scarf that isn’t very long I can wear it as a neckerchief 1950s style.
I’m looking forward to sharing the completed blouse when it’s finished.
Considering other aspects for a retro inspired style
Thanks to all the different projects I’ve done with other bloggers or on my own I know that of all the decades I love the most it is the late 1940s and all 1950s that look flattering on me. Since I have many vivid memories of my Mom, Grandmothers and Aunties as I was growing up I know this era well. The mid-late 1950s were also happy years for me so the desire to work on clothes from this era is very strong.
I do not believe it is essential to embrace the entire aesthetic of any era in order to recreate a bit of retro glam in one’s personal style. For this reason I try to find hairstyles, make-up looks and accessory ideas that are adaptable and not difficult to carry out. For example, in the photo above you can see my new Pixie cut. I’m over the virus and going through a phase with Winter allergies which accounts for my very puffy eyes. The haircut was a great pick-me-up and helps me look presentable when I go out.
I got the idea by considering short hairstyles on the models in photos from Claire McCardell’s book What shall I wear? which was published in the early 1950s. Here are the photos I showed the hairstylist when I walked in off the street and he took me without an appointment. I like the results of his work so much I plan to go back when it’s time for my next cut and styling.
1950s Pixie haircuts and short-hair styles
All photos from What shall I wear? by fashion designer Claire McCardell.