Friday, December 25, 2009

the green mla dress

Finally, here are the pictures of my green dress! In my head, I've been calling it the MLA dress, since when I dreamed it up this fall, my goal was to have it done to wear to the Modern Language Association conference, which starts in a few days.

(This merits a quick side-note about English-professor-chic, a look that can be tough to achieve. Especially for dressier situations like conferences, you need to look polished and professional, but not corporate; alternative, but not over the top. As an insecure and sometimes frumpy grad student, attractive young faculty from prestigious institutions with sophisticated, cosmopolitan fashion sense are like my kryptonite.)

I fell in love with this fabric at Haberman's during my pattern-drafting class this fall. It's "Ralph Lauren" Italian embroidered virgin wool--Ralph Lauren in quotes because, as they explained to me in the store, designers rarely commission fabric, but buy samples from textile producers and then sell what they don't use to fabric stores. I love the two-tone embroidery, and I envisioned a sheath dress, with the pattern extending up from the hemline.

Here's a close-up of the embroidery. The color isn't quite true in this picture--the fabric is dark olive green, and the embroidery is done in a lighter green and an aqua-blue.

I drafted my own pattern for the dress, based on the sheath dress pattern I started making at the end of my pattern-drafting class. I copied several details--like the sleeve length and the skirt width--from this beautiful but impractical BCBG cocktail dress, which I love, and which really flatters my figure.

Since I was designing a daytime dress, I raised the scoop neckline and lengthened the hem. I also added a little more ease to the fit, so I could wear it over a sweater. Not only does wearing a turtleneck sweater underneath increase the versatility of a sheath dress, but as Erica B. points out, it is very of-the-moment, too!

All in all, I'm incredibly happy with how my dress came out. It fits me like a glove, and the finished look is very much what I envisioned when I first saw the fabric. There are a few details I would change: the neck is a bit too high in the back, and the right sleeve seems to have puckered a bit--I think because I caught the dress fabric when I hand-sewed the lining. But you can't really see these issues in any of the pictures, which is encouraging.

I've already worn this dress twice--once to a Christmas party we crashed (long story!), and again on Christmas eve, and I'm planning to wear it to the conference in a few days.

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