1970s Whimsical Meshing of Styles

A vintage collector I may be, but a label hunter I am not.

Once in a while, however, a piece appears with a recognizable label that’s hard to ignore.

In this instance it was a Gunne Sax dress, picked up from the same local thrift store at which I bought the nautical day dress of my first post.

I recognized some very distinct characteristics to the label when I saw the dress hanging on a separate rack, away from the shop’s other vintage and costume pieces.

The first things I noticed were its
shape and personality. The dress, made of a poly-cotton blend, is long and flowing and gives off an interesting prairie/Edwardian vibe: the signature look of Gunne Sax.

The dress is a cream, off-white color with decorative vertical stitching on the bodice and the sleeves. Though not quite an empire waist, it does come in a bit higher than the natural waist.

The bodice itself was significantly tight on me, specifically in the ribs (a measurement I’ve never bothered to take). Other than that, the dress is rather comfortable.

Floral lace is a repeated element of this dress, both in its sleeves and shawl-like capelet. The sleeves take on a bell shape and the shawl ties at the center of the bust.

A smaller sampling of lace is present around the tier at the bottom of the dress, around the waist, and at the elbows. In these three places, the lace is accompanied by a simple but colorful floral pattern–one that surprisingly grounds the dress in reality.

After going through a mental checklist of all things Gunne Sax (very similar to all the above stated), I took a closer look a the dress. Upon this inspection, I found that sure enough there was a silky gold and brown label inside the dress with the Gunne Sax name printed neatly amongst a cluster of flora. 

The same label once accompanied top-of-the-line formal dresses (most notably prom attire) for young women in the late 1960s and through part of the ’80s. You can read more about the label itself and the designer by following these links.

I was astounded to have found such a well-known label for as low a price as I did ($9), especially considering Gunne Sax dresses sell on Etsy from around $40 and sometimes well into the $100s.

The dress in many ways is a rather peculiar thing. It’s not something I can see wearing casually, and it has a very transportive nature for a more formal look.

It’s interesting for a vintage piece to call so far back as to almost appear antique, but that’s what this dress does.

The whimsical nature of the sleeves, the lace detailing, and the use of tiers brings an other-worldly quality to the dress that just doesn’t seem to fit anywhere in a modern setting.

Sometimes, though, that’s just enough for a dress to stand out to me and find its way into my closet. Label or not, this dress has character. This means of course, that it’s easily found a place with me.