Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Clara's 1877 Walking Dress

Just in time for Christmas is a fancy dress for all the shopping Clara will be doing. Clara's dress for this week is an 1877 "walking dress." The dress got its name from the intended purpose: the dress was meant to be worn while walking around outdoors. Whether the activity was shopping, strolling, or just visiting... anytime a wealthy lady was going to be seen outdoors in public during the day, she would wear a walking dress. Worn to impress others, walking dresses were generally more elaborate ensembles than a regular day dress. The outfit would typically include a hat, boots, gloves, purse, coat, scarf, or any conceivable accessory, all carefully matching and coordinated.

Clara’s walking dress is very typical of the 1870s, with heavy drapery decorations. Clara’s dress for today has a pleated underskirt with an overskirt drawn up with a wide ribbon on the side seams to form drapes. A ruffled yoke dresses up the high-collared bodice.

For footwear, Clara has the ever-popular tall boots. In the 1870s, the style was to have square toes, so Clara's boots have square toes... she has to be completely fashionable!

To finish off the outfit, Clara has a straw hat with ribbons on the crown and roses for trim. As a final touch, a long, drapy scarf finished off the hat.

Popular colors for the 1870s were bright jewel tones, with yellow, red, and purple prominently seen. Of course, many other bright, clear colors were worn. The original dress was ivory silk with rose pink ruffles, ribbons, and trim. The hat was a golden straw hat with ivory ribbons and scarf, and rose pink flowers. The shoes had a light tan upper with black bottoms.

To print Clara's outfit, use this PDF file:
Clara's Dress 40 (780k)

Clara is a free, printable paper doll. Clara will continue to be available on this blog as long as I post new fashion pages for her. You can read the introduction for the Clara paper doll here.

To print the Clara paper doll, use this PDF file:
The Clara Paper Doll (745k)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Clara's 1940s Aprons

During the Thanksgiving holidays, I got to bake some pies at my mother's home. My sister was there, and we had a chance to look at the aprons in my mother's drawers. Some were from my great-grandmother, and I was reminded how beautiful vintage aprons can be. So, just in time for Christmas baking, Clara has two cute aprons from the 1940s.

Clara has a plain day dress that she would wear to attend school or help out around the home.

The first apron is a bib apron with a large scalloped hem. Large pockets would come in handy for a quick place to tuck something as Clara works or helps cook dinner. This apron, although definitely 40s in style, has a very traditional shape.

The second apron is less traditional, with a cute ruffle detail on the front, and a unique diamond-shaped pocket. The side straps and v-neck of the bodice are classic 1940s style, though.

Aprons were very popular — and useful — in the 1940s. Almost every woman owned at least one apron, since it protected her clothing as she cooked and worked. Many aprons were homemade from various patterns, so each was unique.

To print Clara's outfit, use this PDF file:
Clara's Dress 39 (745k)

Clara is a free, printable paper doll. Clara will continue to be available on this blog as long as I post new fashion pages for her. You can read the introduction for the Clara paper doll here.

To print the Clara paper doll, use this PDF file:
The Clara Paper Doll (745k)

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Clara's 1950s Poodle Skirt

A poodle skirt is the iconic symbol of the 1950s. In fact, the poodle skirt is kind of an overused cliché for the decade. I always thought that the skirts were more costume than reality, but my mother said that she had a poodle skirt, and that they really were a popular style. So I looked into the interesting origins of the poodle skirt, and found the history to be fascinating.

The history of the poodle skirt begins in 1947 with the original designer: Juli Lynn Charlot. Her husband had just lost his job, so money was tight. She wanted a new skirt for Christmas, but could not sew, so she chose the most simple pattern she could, deciding on a circle skirt as the pattern. Felt was the only fabric available wide enough to cut a full circle without seams. Her mother owned a factory, so Juli Charlot was able to obtain the felt for free.

After making herself a skirt with Christmas appliqués, the result was so cute, she made three more and took them to a local boutique to sell. They sold so quickly, the boutique ordered more, and after Christmas, requested a dog design. She designed a skirt with dachshunds, which also sold well. The boutique requested poodles for the following set of skirts, and thus was born the poodle skirt. A department store owner saw the skirts, and placed a larger order for his store. As the popularity of the skirts grew, orders began to come in from across the country.

Charlot decided she would need to learn how to sew, and enrolled in classes, but was too busy to attend. She hired her former sewing teacher, and learned on the job. She soon had a full line of fashion designs and accessories, and became very successful in her work. It's amazing what a little creativity and hard work can do.

Clara's fashion page for today has a classic poodle skirt and a blouse with turned-up cuffs on the sleeves. She also has another classic icon of the 50s: saddle shoes worn with bobby socks. The original poodle skirt was a bright turquoise with a black poodle. The shirt was plain white. The original shoes are the classic white with black patches running across the center of the shoes, under the laces.

To print Clara's outfit, use this PDF file:
Clara's Dress 38 (757k)

Clara is a free, printable paper doll. Clara will continue to be available on this blog as long as I post new fashion pages for her. You can read the introduction for the Clara paper doll here.

To print the Clara paper doll, use this PDF file:
The Clara Paper Doll (745k)