A house dress may be one of the easiest vintage styles there is. Step into one, zip it up (as most styles do), and go about doing whatever you please–chores or play. There is something effortless to it, something that doesn’t ask for further embellishment, pretense, or any particular body/beauty standards to be present.
That isn’t quite what can always be said about documenting vintage styles, but it is something I strive for. More often than I’d like to admit though, especially if we haven’t done a shoot in a while, I get anxious about the next opportunity. This has happened more frequently as of late because of the challenges of a new environment, the growing backlog of things tried and attempted, and the self-imposed demands of a monthly schedule.
While I adore this recently purchased dress, it isn’t an old favorite that I’ve put off capturing, waiting for the perfect setting, light, atmosphere, or story. The chance to document this dress in a difficult environment without giving into guilt associated with taking a creative risk and (possibly) achieving a mediocre outcome was refreshing. A flea market provides limited opportunities for classic poses, not to mention the draw of being at such an event: while a keen and wandering eye might rule out the the possibility of a typical photo, it may allow one to spot a unique treasure.
This particular treasure sports floral embroidery in soft yellow, lavender, and a much brighter blue-raspberry–the same color as the accenting rickrack that lines the bodice panel as well as two sides of each of the large rectangular pockets.
When I initially saw the dress on the sale rack, the bright pink color caught my eye, but the rest did not, at least not in a way that impressed me. The stitching felt folksy in nature, and I doubted that it was something I’d be able to pull off. Passing it by several more times, however, convinced me that perhaps I should at least try it on. I did and was astonished by how the kitsch elements seemed to fade into the background of a completely wearable garment.
The pintucks on the bodice pull the eye away from the center zipper, which extends about five eighths of the way down the length of the dress. The smaller size of the bodice also gives the dress somewhat of a tent shape, or more accurately, that of a trapeze dress.
It is a testament to the always-surprising nature of vintage: that what you expect is not always what you find. The same can be said of blogging about it, discussing it, researching it. If what I want to present in my sharing of this passion is that vintage can and should be inspiring and fluid, I have to allow myself to practice the same level of flexibility.
Sometimes slipping into something comfortable, even if it’s not what we consider perfect and polished, is just what we need.