Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Nancy Drew 1940's Dress!

The past few weeks I've been re reading the Nancy Drew books I adored as a child. I haven't read them for years but my mom was getting rid of a big pile of books and asked me if I'd like to go through them before she did. I snagged some Nancy Drew books, Hardy Boy books and some Boxcar Children books, for good measure. (Yes, I loved mysteries as a child. Still do.)
So, when I realized I had a wedding coming up and had nothing to wear, I was inspired by the adventurous, courageous, intelligent young ladies in the Nancy Drew books who, no matter what kind of situation they found themselves in, were always feminine and charming and properly attired. No man suits or t shirts and jeans for these women, people! They piloted airplanes, rode horseback, explored underground caves and tunnels and haunted houses and deciphered codes, all while being decidedly feminine.

In my previous post I shared the vintage 1940's pattern I was inspired by. I finally finished the dress today and am really happy with how it came out. I was really afraid of the fabric being too plain and ugly to wear to a wedding, but now I'm having second thoughts. I did buy a modern outfit to wear in case this one didn't work out so I'm not sure yet which one I will end up using. Ladies, your opinions and advice is needed! Would you wear something like this to a wedding? For comparison purposes, the modern outfit is an ankle-length black pig suede A line skirt, very flared and twirly, and a silky black and pink floral blouse with a V neck and flutter sleeves and a handkerchief hem, with black leather dress boots.

Since becoming interested in the 40's I've been looking around for red lipstick. I don't usually wear make up (well, besides clear powder and chap stick) but red lipstick is kinda a 40's thing, you know. Like the hoop skirt in the 1860's. It's the sign of the times. So, I've found it really hard to find a basic, red lipstick. There are so many options available it seems. I have a few different shades now and the one I like best is called British Red, but it still is a bit orangey, it seems. So I'm still on the hunt for The Perfect Red Lipstick.

David usually is not that interested in my attempts at historic recreations but he did like this one. He seems to like the vintage styles I've toyed with better than, say, the regency or Romantic period. He told me that it looks "like something Susan would have worn before she came to Narnia." From him, that is definitely a compliment worth having.

I still need to figure out a better hair style. My hair was NOT cooperative today! It must be the changing weather. All our snow from a few weeks ago is nearly gone and today it is supposed to get above *60* degrees!!! Spring is on the way!



  1. I think this dress would be really appropriate for a wedding!

    Black skirt with boots might be too heavy.

  2. I think the style suits you perfectly. You look like you stepped out of a 1941 issue of Ladies Home Journal. As to your hair, it reminds me very much of Katharine Hepburn's or Lauren Bacall's. I think it would look really nice for a wedding, not too overdone & very classy. There are so many lovely styles from the 30s-40s that I think would be perfect for you, as you have the right silhoutte & hair for the times. I dappled with the 30s-40s, but my hair is not at all curly or even wavy, so it didn't suit me at the time. 1940s style inspirations are popping up in some of the mainstream clothing too. Good luck with your future projects. Can't wait to see what you sew next.

    God bless,
    Sarah Grace

  3. The dress is beautiful. I LOVE things from the 1940s and earlier.
    Oh, if you go over to Bramblewood Fashion (you can find the link on my sidebar or my profile), Ashley had a post about vintage hairstyles. There was a book she recommended with vintage hairstyles from the 1940s. My hair is still a little short for those styles, but they are really interesting ;) :)

    Great job with the dress :) :) Love and hugs from Oregon, Heather :)

    p.s. Mally cosmetics has a red lip gloss that's super bright, but has blue undertones in it, so it doesn't look orangey. It is spendy, but you might try looking at your local store for Revlon lipsticks. They have some good reds ;) :)

  4. Oh, I LOVE this dress!! Definitely wear it.

    As for the perfect red, I had the same problem. I have completely fallen in love with Loreal Infallible in Beyonce's Red. Absolutely perfect blue-red shade. AND it LASTS. It holds up through an entire workday, coffee included. Greasy foods will wear it away a bit, but otherwise, nothing touches it.

    Another one I'm really happy with, though not "long lasting," is Covergirl Lip Perfection in Hot combined with their Lip Perfection lipliner in Passon.

  5. LOVE LOVE LOVE this dress!! I have been rereading my Nancy Drews lately too...I always loved how they managed to be feminine and spunky all at the same time. You look wonderful in 40s styles! Definitely Susan Pevensie! And you know what they say, never wear black to a wedding... ;)

  6. Wow, the fit is amazing! Great job! I think your dress is beautiful and would be great for a wedding. The pearls and red lipstick are a nice touch. :) I know what you mean about finding the exact right shade of red. I actually blend lipsticks to get the right shade for myself. One is L'Oreal Colour Riche 320 (Penelope Red), which is a warmer, more orange red, and the other is L'Oreal Endless 300 (Crimson Joy), which a darker, cooler red. I also have Lancome "Red Stiletto" which is a cool red, but not as dark. So between those three shades I can blend to come up with a pretty satisfactory result. :)

  7. I think you look very Susan-ish!

    I would wear it to a wedding, but maybe you could add a bit of red ribbon or something for a bit of color. A corsage would be perfect, but if you aren't in the wedding party I guess it wouldn't be appropriate.

  8. Beautiful and ladylike! There is a kind of lipstick called Tangee that is actually a vintage product, still available today. It is supposed to change to compliment each person's individual lip color. I've never tried it, but it's sold through the Vermont Country Store.

  9. I think this is perfect for a wedding! It looks great on you, with the necklace and the hair and lipstick... and if your husband likes it, what else could you want?

  10. Absolutely fabulous! I think it's perfect for a wedding.

    You are making me itch to finish my Swing Dress. You know, the pattern you used as your inspiration, is very similar to the S&S Swing Dress.

  11. This dress looks great and you could wear it to a wedding! You could even make a big flower pin to attach to your shoulder. :)

  12. Very very pretty dress!
    I think you should definitely where it to the wedding.

  13. You look so perfect! ;) I think you should wear it to the wedding! :) Its looks great.


  14. It looks great! I love nancy drew too. :-) I think I've actually read them all.

  15. Oh, Sarah, I *love* it!!! I am completely in love with the 40's myself. Having gone through many tubes of red lipstick in an attempt to find "the right" shade, I've found that the slightly darker, plum-y reds work well and don't look so orange.

  16. Wow, thanks for all the kind compliments and the great advice!

    I still don't know if I'll be wearing this tomorrow or not; I asked David and he doesn't care either way ;P (great help, that!) so I'm still undecided. I just don't want to stand out from the crowd, at a wedding, you know. The bride is the focal point and everyone else should be very unnoticeable! :)

    I tried the lipstick blending idea and it worked really well for me! I'll need to try out some of the otehr ideas too. And different hairstyles! Maybe I should get the layered rockabilly haircut I see described on various vintage hairstyling websites? My hair is the right length but is not layered so tends to get very poufy and "big" if I leave it down.

    Thanks again ladies! Now I'm off to the early 1800's again. . .

  17. Wow! That turned out fantastic!

    I just made up the S & S swing pattern, but my shoulders are just too broad for these 40s styles to look good on me. It looks so much better on you! Great job!

  18. I think it's beautiful, looks wonderful on you, and is perfect for a wedding! And definitely wear that red lipstick, which I think suits you well!

  19. It's simply adorable, Sarah Jane! I never read the Nancy Drew books, but will sometime! I knew that they were all feminine and properly dressed- as the covers show. But I do like it a lot! Your dresses and all your sewing work is always such an inspiration to me! I admire your simplicity and especially the children's wear- childlike sweetness to it all! Very well done!
    - Samantha Jane

  20. You look gorgeous ready for a Hollywood movie! What pattern and material did you use please?


Thank you for your lovely thoughts!