Friday, May 28, 2010

Vintage Evening Gowns - 1955

That's me in the center, with 2 of my sisters at the black-and-white formal wedding for our other sister. I'm carrying a 1930s rhinestone evening bag.

I've been seeing a lot of photos in the last few weeks of lovely young ladies in their prom finery. It got me thinking about the excitement of shopping for just the right gown, all the trying on and the dreaming of how beautiful one will look on the special night. And then I wondered, why is it that after our prom years, we women have so few opportunities to dress up for a formal affair? In the last 30 years, I have only worn a true formal evening gown 3 times - once at each of my children's weddings where I was the mother of the bride and then the groom, and once at my sister's black-and-white black tie wedding, shown above. Each time, I felt truly beautiful, and I had so much FUN!

Why don't we have more formal occasions to dress up for? Have we just gotten too lazy? Do we just not care anymore? Why is it OK to wear jeans to the opera? Why is it OK to wear a cotton mini-dress and flip flops to a wedding? I mourn the days when certain social affairs demanded that we respect ourselves and others by dressing up to honor the occasion.

And so, dear readers, here is a call to action! Why not plan a party or get-together and make it a formal affair? Here are some ideas, presented with stunning evening gowns from 1955.

Mme. Grès
Celebrate your next big birthday with a black tie party.

Jean Patou
Plan your own grown-up prom with dinner and dancing to the old standards.

Balenciaga
Instead of a barbeque, how about a formal garden party?

Jean Patou
Attend a local formal fund raiser for your favorite charity.

Mme. Grès
Arrange a small formal dinner party at the best restaurant in town.

Pierre Balmain
Plan a very romantic at-home evening for two with your special someone.

Christian Dior
Have your own red carpet party on Oscar night.

Got any other ideas? Please add them in the comments.

Oh, and by the way, if you need a formal evening gown, I have a fabulous collection of vintage stunners at Couture Allure!

All photos by Pottier, except the first, which was taken by my husband.

12 comments:

Deja Pseu said...

The three of you look so gorgeous, elegant and glamorous up there!!

I'm with you on dressing up! Even just a dressy cocktail party invitation would be such a thrill. At the same time we've all headed down the casual path, we seem as a culture to be more and more obesessed with red carpet events. It's almost as though we're content to dress up vicariously through celebrities. What a shame.

Matilda said...

Jody, You look wonderful and clearly having a good time! Yes, the lack of dressing up is a loss.

There is a small group of dear friends in Louisville (young to older) that gathers at least once a month for dinner out, cocktails at a swanky hotel, Sunday brunch at the Seelbach in the room Al Capone favored, etc. and we dress to the nines....Great fun and the establishments love it.

JP - The Mistress of Corgi Manor said...

You and your sisters look so beautiful and elegant - and very happy!
A dress up party? I like it. And I think it's just what a lot of my friends going through tough times need to give us an evening of reprieve by way of feeling good, looking good, and a bit of fantasy since we all love the gorgeous vintage styles!

Mary Ellen said...

Host a small, formal New Year's Eve party at home, with a champagne toast at midnight. Or cross the Atlantic on Queen Mary 2, Queen Victoria, or (starting in late 2010) the new Queen Elizabeth. There are several formal evenings on every Cunard crossing.

puddin said...

Perhaps have a fund raiser with the theme being "Retro Formal Wear". Prizes for the best ones .

Sheila said...

Oh, how I love those gowns! I try to dress up whenever I can - I absolutely love formal wear (and so does my husband, lucky me). We always dress up for New Year's Eve.

You look awesome in your lovely dress!

E.B. Finds said...

I was always the "over dressed" girl growing up and in adulthood. I love incorporating something fancy into everyday outfits, it's so much more fun!

lori said...

My son works for an advertising firm here in Los Angeles, and the first Friday of the month is formal workday. People show up dressed to the nines. Men wear suits and ties. Ladies wear hose and high heels. It's optional, but even my son is getting in the mood.

I sent him the link to the J. Petermann story because it's so cool to learn that Peterman really does track down vintage pieces and reproduce them. Being a Seinfeld fan, he's purchased from Peterman before, but now, he's buying the men's seersucker suit.

A friend of mine has Julia Child parties where everyone has to bring a dish from a Julia Child book. They've started dressing up for the parties as well. My friend who got the ball rolling on the parties is buying a tuxedo to wear to the events. Everyone is having fun. My friend is blessedly gay, so he's calling me with the scoops on what all the women are wearing.

You can trace the decline in dressing up to the late seventies when wages began declining. Mom went to work and needed a work wardrobe. And even with two incomes, the price of housing has kept most of us behind the ball. I think it's as simple as that. The economics of our generation has made dress up nights just financially out of reach for most of us, except on rare occasion.

Gladys said...

The reason that we don't dress formal is because you have to shot a sedative dart into and wrestle most men to the ground to dress them up to go out. I used to belong to a business womens' soroiety where we had formal dinners and dances. The man I was with at the time was such a ass I couldn't even get him to put on a suit. So I went stag.

Now I have a man who would go but we live in such a laid back non-formal place there is no where to go.

Belle de Ville said...

What a wonderful photo of you and your sisters!
YES, we all need more formal affairs in our lives.
And I love your commentor Lori's description of a formal day at work. Hysterical.

laurakitty said...

That Patou dress looks so much like this Fath dress: http://www.kerrytaylorauctions.com/sales/detail.php?lotid=12389

I dress up always- it makes life so much more fun.

Rachel said...

I totally agree... that's why I wear my vintage prom dresses out to the bar or wherever. They're made to be seen!

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