Taste the Infinite

Eight ways to wear an infinity dress - sketch by Lydia Silvestry in Vogue
Eight ways to wear an infinite dress. Sketch by Lydia Silvestry in Vogue, October 1976.

Summer means weddings and infinity dresses—or, if a couple is particularly on-trend, infinity bridesmaid jumpsuits.

TwoBirds bridesmaid jumpsuits, 2016
TwoBirds bridesmaid jumpsuits, 2016. Image: Instagram.

China Machado’s summer 1973 resort set was a precursor to the infinity garments of the mid-1970s. Like the infinity dress and its cousins, Machado’s pieces call for two-way stretch knits; but Grace Mirabella’s Vogue featured the design in muslin, as worn by Beverly Johnson:

Very Easy Vogue 2881 by China Machado (1973)
Very Easy Vogue 2881 by China Machado (1973) Image: Sew Exciting Needleworks.
Beverly Johnson in Vogue, May 1973. Photos: Kourken Pakchanian
Beverly Johnson in Vogue, May 1973. Photos: Kourken Pakchanian. Image: Youthquakers.

Lydia Silvestry trademarked “The Infinite Dress” and licensed it with McCall’s in 1976. As the pattern envelope says, “One size dress can be worn an infinite number of ways. See enclosed guide sheet illustrating 13 ways dress can be worn, or try creating your personal version.” (See Carmen Bouchard / Carmencita B’s posts about this pattern here.)

McCall's 5360 by Lydia Silvestry (1976)
McCall’s 5360 by Lydia Silvestry (1976) Image: PatternVault on Etsy.

Silvestry also licensed her infinite jumpsuit as a pattern featuring Maud Adams. I think this pattern has my favourite fabric note: For best results use a Lightweight, Non-cling Stretchable Jersey-type Knit Fabric such as Rosewood Fabric’s LA GRAND QUE of 100% QIANA, Burlington’s AMBROSIA of 100% Dacron Polyester, Millikin’s SURE THING of 100% Dacron Polyester. (Click to view in the shop.)

1970s Infinite Jumpsuit pattern by Lydia Silvestry McCall's 5529
McCall’s 5529 by Lydia Silvestry (1977) Image: PatternVault on Etsy.

From Carol Horn, this dress has strapless and colour blocking options:

1970s Carol Horn dress pattern Vogue 1573
Vogue 1573 by Carol Horn (ca. 1977) Image: Etsy.

Also one-size, the Seven Way Wonder Dress seems to have been Butterick’s answer to the Infinite Dress. A winter retail catalogue shows the Wonder Dress as black tie wear:

Butterick 5230 (ca. 1977)
Butterick 5230 (ca. 1977) Image: Vintage Pattern Wiki.
Butterick Feb 1977
The Wonder Dress – Wear It 7 Smashing Ways! Back cover of the Butterick retail catalogue, February 1977. Image: eBay.

Meanwhile, Simplicity had the Wonder Wrap Jiffy Jumpsuit and Jiffy Multi-Wrap Dress:

1970s Wonder Wrap Jiffy knits Jumpsuit pattern Simplicity 7957
Simplicity 7957 (1976) Image: Etsy.
1970s Jiffy knits dress pattern Simplicity 8086
Simplicity 8086 (1977) Image: Etsy.

Vogue released two Very Easy infinite dress patterns in spring, 1977:

Vogue 1640 (1977)
Vogue 1640 (1977) Image: Sew Exciting Needleworks.
Vogue 1641 (1977)
Vogue 1641 (1977) Image: Etsy.

Vogue 1641 is seldom seen, despite being illustrated by Antonio and photographed in Antigua for Vogue Patterns magazine:

1970s Antonio illustration of Vogue 1641, Very Easy Vogue news
Vogue 1641, Very Easy Vogue Patterns, May 1977. Illustration: Antonio. Image: Patterns from the Past.
Clotilde wears Vogue 1641, photographed by Albert Watson in Antigua, 1977
Vogue 1641 in Vogue Patterns, May/June 1977. Model: Clotilde. Photo: Albert Watson. Image: The Fashion Spot.

Is that Patti Hansen modelling the Glamour Plus Dress?

It's the Glamour Plus Dress!! Butterick 5683 (ca. 1977)
Butterick 5683 (ca. 1977) Image: Vintage Pattern Wiki.

Fast forward to 2000, when McCall’s released an infinite dress by Debra Moises (Debra and Moises Diaz). The envelope shows 5 variations:

Debra Moises dress pattern McCalls 2781
McCall’s 2781 by Debra Moises (2000) Image: eBay.

In early 2011, the New York Times ran a story about the trend for convertible garments (see Ruth La Ferla, “Convertible Clothing Is a New Twist for the Cost-Conscious“). Butterick featured an infinite dress (now out of print) on the cover of that year’s Spring catalogue:

The Infinite Dress: Drape it... Wrap it... Make it your own! Butterick 5606 on the cover of Butterick's Spring 2011 catalogue
Butterick 5606 on the cover of the Butterick catalogue, Spring 2011. Image: Issuu.
Butterick 5606 in the Butterick catalogue, Spring 2011
Butterick 5606 in the Butterick catalogue, Spring 2011. Image: Issuu.

Last summer, as part of their Archive Collection, McCall’s reissued their 1970s-era infinite dress and jumpsuit as a single pattern (still in print). These patterns are usually adapted somewhat from the vintage originals:

M7384 in McCall's lookbook, Early Summer 2016
’70s Chic with Infinite Looks: M7384 in McCall’s lookbook, Early Summer 2016. Image: Issuu.

It’s easy to see why infinity dresses remain popular, with their carefree resort vibe and minimal fitting requirements. And on the pattern envelopes, the hall of mirrors effect never gets old, does it?

For more discussion and links, see Michelle Lee’s post.

Donna Karan's Infinity Dress, 2011
Donna Karan’s jersey Infinity dress, 2011. Image: New York Times.

Red Carpet Roundup

Vogue 1078 by Damian Yee for Guy Laroche on the runway
Vogue 1078 on the runway. Image: Vogue Italia.

Will you be watching the Oscars on Sunday? Here’s a roundup of my posts on red carpet dressing.

Hervé L. Leroux for Guy Laroche – Hilary Swank chose her Oscars gown from Leroux’s debut collection for Laroche. Vogue Patterns released two designs from this collection: cocktail dress V2899 and a backless evening pantsuit. (Bonus: check out this red Laroche gown on 1stdibs.)

Vogue 2937 by Hervé L. Leroux for Guy Laroche

Damian Yee for Guy Laroche – Leroux’s successor at Laroche has two evening designs with Vogue Patterns, including this gown from the house’s Jubilee collection.

Vogue 1078 by Damian Yee for Guy Laroche

Clash of the Titans: Goddess Gowns – My first Oscars post on the Academy Awards staple. This late ’40s gown might be this blog’s most-pinned image:

McCall 7862

Rock the Caftan – A non-Western formal alternative with origins in ancient Persia.

Billie Blair in Dior caftan V1346

Red Carpet Fashion: Evening Pantsuits – A trend that continues to pick up steam (see Hannah Marriot, “Red-carpet rebels: why trousers for women are a political act“).

Donna Karan bustier pantsuit pattern Vogue 1076

Jane Fonda in Yves Saint Laurent at the 44th Academy Awards, April 1972. Image: tumblr.
Jane Fonda in Yves Saint Laurent at the 44th Academy Awards, April 1972. Image: tumblr.

Patterns in Vogue: How to Make the Most of a Beautiful Print

Ann Schaufuss photographed by Clive Arrowsmith for British Vogue, autumn 1970
Detail, British Vogue, October 1, 1970. Photo: Clive Arrowsmith. Model: Ann Schaufuss. Image: Youthquakers.

How to make the most of a beautiful print? As an early ’70s British Vogue editorial puts it, “Cape it… blouse it… kilt it.”

The Clive Arrowsmith editorial features Ann Schaufuss in three Vogue patterns that present the silhouettes of fall 1970 in glowing, ink-coloured prints. From Nina Ricci, Vogue 2406 is an “enveloping berber cape” and sleeveless dress made from two Staron fabrics in the same “glass-flower” print: a luxurious wool-viscose-polyamide for the cape and panne velvet for the dress, available at Harrods and Gasmey, London.

Ann Schaufuss in Vogue Paris Original 2406 by Nina Ricci, photographed by Clive Arrowsmith, 1970
Vogue 2406 by Nina Ricci, British Vogue, October 1, 1970. Photo: Clive Arrowsmith. Model: Ann Schaufuss. Image: Youthquakers.

The second look pairs a yoked, full-sleeved blouse, Vogue 7538, and long Miss Vogue kilt Vogue 7889. The blouse is turquoise silk crepe de chine from Gasmey, while the kilt is Bombyx rayon panne velvet in a green and jewel-toned print, available at Liberty (boots to order at The Chelsea Cobbler):

Ann Schaufuss wears blouse Vogue 7538 and skirt Miss Vogue 7889, photographed for Vogue UK by Clive Arrowsmith
Vogue 7538 and 7889 in British Vogue, October 1, 1970. Photo: Clive Arrowsmith. Model: Ann Schaufuss. Image: Youthquakers.

The boho Baba Yaga look may not be to everyone’s taste, but velvet and early ’70s style are trends for fall 2016… Time to dig out some vintage prints?

(See Youthquakers for more of the October issue.)

Lyanna Stark Costume – McCall’s 6940

Stark pin

With season 6 of Game of Thrones fast approaching, it’s high time I posted about my Lyanna Stark costume.

(If you object to seeing material from season 5, or interpretation of a book published 20 years ago, read no further. Perhaps you’d prefer my post on Game of Thrones costume patterns?)

For Halloween 2014 I went as Lyanna Stark from George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series. Lyanna is dead by the time of the main action in the books, and the character has not yet been seen on HBO’s Game of Thrones except as a statue in the Stark crypt.

Sansa lights candles in the Stark crypt at Winterfell in "Sons of the Harpy" - Game of Thrones s5 e4
Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) visits the family crypt in “Sons of the Harpy” (Game of Thrones, season 5). Image: HBO.

Of the series’ many lost, dead women, Lyanna Stark looms the largest. Eddard Stark’s sister and Arya’s foremother-doppelgänger, Robert Baratheon’s first betrothed, Rhaegar Targaryen’s lover/abductee, and probably Jon Snow’s mother, Lyanna is the Helen of Troy / Guinevere figure behind Robert’s Rebellion against the pyromaniac King Aerys II Targaryen. She’s a ghost that haunts the present in memory, dreams, and visions, but always as the subject of competing narratives: both object of desire and swashbuckling she-wolf.

Costuming Winterfell: costume sketches for Ned, Catelyn, and Sansa
Costuming Winterfell: costume sketches for Ned, Catelyn, and Sansa. Image: Bryan Cogman, Inside HBO’s Game of Thrones: Seasons 1 & 2 (Chronicle Books, 2012).

On the show, Michele Clapton’s costumes for the Starks at Winterfell involve a lot of linen, leather, and fur in northern blues and greys. The men wear leather doublets and Japanese-inspired padded linen skirts, while the women forego jewellery in favour of embellishment and enviable padded neck pieces.* Sansa finds some to wear on her return to Winterfell.

Fish neckroll embroidered by Michele Carragher for Game of Thrones
Embroidered neck roll from Game of Thrones. Image: Michele Carragher.

Lyanna’s statue wears a Stark neck roll. But what would Lyanna have worn in the south? In A Game of Thrones, Ned Stark dreams of the statue-Lyanna crowned with pale blue roses (the prize Rhaegar awarded her at Harrenhal) and weeping tears of blood.† Later in the book series, Theon Greyjoy has a dream of the dead that includes Lyanna in a crown of blue roses and a white dress spattered with blood.‡ But blood and roses do not a costume make.

As Robert’s fiancée and a court lady attending the tourney at Harrenhal, etc., I figured she would wear some kind of court dress. To save myself the drafting, and because Lyanna is effectively the anti-Cersei, I used McCall’s Cersei pattern, McCall’s 6940:

Cersei Lannister pattern - McCall's 6940 (2014)
McCall’s 6940 (2014)
Technical drawings for McCall's 6940 Game of Thrones Cersei pattern (2014)
Technical drawings for McCall’s 6940 (2014) Image: McCall’s.

I made View A (skipping the belt and appliqué) in dark blue with a pewter contrast, both from King Textiles. The main fabric was a malodorous synthetic; when pre-washed to remove the substantial sizing, it balled up into a wrinkly mess. Some of the wrinkles are still visible. But when a Halloween costume takes over 7 yards for the main fabric, I start with something cheap.

Based on the flat pattern measurements, I cut the 12 and made my usual length and grading adjustments. The fit is roomier than I’d like; I could go a size down. I didn’t get to the inside ribbon belt until after the photos, but even that requires a closer fit in the waist.

To give the court dress a northern, Stark touch, I trimmed the wrap bodice neckline with Mokuba faux fur banding. Naomi contributed some blue, artificial rosebuds and her wolf’s head brooch, which stood in perfectly for the Stark direwolf.

We photographed the dress one chilly November afternoon just after Halloween:

Lyanna Stark costume, front view (McCall's 6940)

Lyanna Stark costume, side view (McCall's 6940)

Lyanna Stark costume, back view (McCall's 6940)

I’ve never had such a problem with wrinkles at princess and shoulder seams; I blame the synthetic. Since the lower sleeves are cut on the cross grain, nap and pattern could be an issue — as is visible in the photos. Practically speaking, the dress requires an underskirt, as it’s prone to opening dramatically with little provocation.

I would re-make this in a natural fabric like wool or linen, with some fit adjustments and tweaks to the contrast details for a smoother finish. I’m also tempted to brush up on my hand embroidery and try a Stark neck roll, as well as embroidered sleeves — sleeves to lose yourself in.

* Michele Clapton quoted in Bryan Cogman, Inside HBO’s Game of Thrones: Seasons 1 & 2 (Chronicle Books, 2012), p. 44.
† George R.R. Martin, A Game of Thrones (Bantam Books, 1996), p. 419.
‡ George R.R. Martin, A Clash of Kings (Bantam Books, 1999), p. 609.

Game of Thrones Costume Patterns

Game of Thrones costume patterns M6941 and M6940 in McCall's Spring 2014 lookbook
Queens of the Game in McCall’s lookbook, Spring 2014. Image: Issuu.

Dear HBO, Have you considered costume pattern licensing? With a new trailer for season 6, and season 5 out on DVD, here’s a look at completely official Game of Thrones sewing patterns sewing patterns inspired by Game of Thrones.

Game of Thrones / The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug costume pattern S1347 in a 2014 lookbook
Fantasy Play in Simplicity’s lookbook, 2014. Image: Andrea Schewe.
Sansa Stark / Game of Thrones costume pattern S1137 in Simplicity Summer 2015 lookbook
Dark Faerie Tales in Simplicity’s lookbook, Summer 2015. Image: 3D Issue.

Costume designer Michele Clapton won three Emmys for her work on the first five seasons of Game of Thrones. Season 6 will see a new costume designer for the series: April Ferry, who designed the Emmy Award-winning costumes for HBO’s Rome (2005-2007)—which also starred Tobias Menzies, Indira Varma, and Ciarán Hinds. (Read a Costume Designers Guild bio here.)

Ciarán Hinds as Julius Caesar in HBO's Rome (2005) - costumes by April Ferry
Still of Ciarán Hinds as Julius Caesar in Rome (2005) Image: HBO / IMdB.

Update: Michele Clapton returned as costume designer during season 6, winning two more Emmys for “The Winds of Winter” and season 7’s “Beyond the Wall.”

Daenerys Targaryen's coat from "Beyond the Wall" - Game of Thrones season 7
Costume for Daenerys Targaryen from “Beyond the Wall.” Image: Making Game of Thrones.

Given the two-way relationship between Game of Thrones’ costume design and fashion, the costumes are interesting even if you don’t watch the show. (Full disclosure: I’ve made more than a few Game of Thrones / A Song of Ice and Fire costumes, including S2 Daenerys, book Quaithe, and Lyanna Stark.)

Cersei Lannister's red and gold court dress - Game of Thrones season 1-2
Cersei Lannister costume from Game of Thrones, season 1-2. Image: Bell Media.
Givenchy ensemble, fall/winter 1997–98 silk, feathers, metal, synthetic; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Purchase, Friends of the Costume Institute Gifts, 2013 (2013.564a, b)
Alexander McQueen for Givenchy haute couture, Fall/Winter 1997-98 (Eclect Dissect). Image: The Costume Institute.

McCall’s

In spring, 2014, McCall’s released patterns for the most popular women’s Game of Thrones costumes, Daenerys Targaryen and Cersei Lannister. Both M6940 and M6941 are available as printable downloads. (I made M6940 for my Lyanna Stark costume; preview here.)

Game of Thrones / Cersei costume pattern McCall's 6940 (2014)
McCall’s 6940 (2014) Cersei Lannister costume.
Game of Thrones / Daenerys costume pattern McCall's 6941 (2014)
McCall’s 6941 (2014) Daenerys Targaryen costume.

Last month, the company launched a new Cosplay by McCall’s line with three patterns including a unisex Westerosi cloak, M2016, “for those for whom winter can’t come soon enough” (press release here). Their pattern for the cross-fastened cloak worn by the people of Westeros (including Jon Snow, Eddard Stark, and the Stark children at Winterfell) includes an optional fur capelet. There’s also a hooded version similar to Sansa Stark’s hooded cloak:

Cloak X: Jon Snow / Night's Watch / Sansa Stark cosplay pattern, Cosplay by McCall's 2016
Cosplay by McCall’s 2016 (2016) Cloak X
Hooded view of McCall's 2016 - Sansa Stark cloak
Hooded view of McCall’s 2016 (2016) Image: Cosplay by McCall’s.

Simplicity

Simplicity’s Game of Thrones costume patterns emerge in full plumage, but quickly change colours to evade capture.

Simplicity Game of Thrones costume patterns, before and after - S1347 / S1010 and S1246 / S1008

Simplicity Game of Thrones costume patterns, before and after - S1487 / S1009 and S1137

Andrea Schewe’s Game of Thrones adaptations for Simplicity also started appearing in 2014. Simplicity 1347 combines three Daenerys outfits—wedding dress, Dothraki Khaleesi, and Qarth court dress—with the elf Tauriel from The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013). (Now out of print, but see S1010.)

Simplicity 1347 (2014) Daenerys Targaryen / Tauriel costume
Simplicity 1347 (2014) Daenerys Targaryen / Tauriel costume.

Simplicity 1487 includes court dresses for Cersei Lannister and Sansa Stark. (Now out of print, but see S1009.)

Game of Thrones Cersei / Sansa costume pattern S1487
Simplicity 1487 (2014) Cersei Lannister and Sansa Stark costumes. Image via Etsy.

Simplicity 1246 has costumes for Margaery Tyrell and Daenerys, specifically the split dress and cape she wears as leader of the Unsullied. (This version out of print, but see S1008.)

Game of Thrones / Margaery Tyrell and Daenerys costume pattern Simplicity 1246
Simplicity 1246 (2014) Margaery Tyrell and Daenerys Targaryen costumes.

Simplicity 1137 includes two Sansa Stark costumes. Michele Clapton conceived both as showing Sansa’s own handiwork: the dress with flower-embellished neckline from season 1 and ‘Dark Sansa’ from the end of season 4. The necklace refers to Sansa’s needle—“a jewelry idea of [Arya’s sword] Needle.” (See Fashionista’s interview; for more on Game of Thrones’ embroidery see Elizabeth Snead’s article in The Hollywood Reporter and embroiderer Michele Carragher’s website.) Andrea Schewe has posted tips on making the feathered neckpiece. (Still in print with new envelope, S1137.)

Game of Thrones Sansa Stark / Dark Sansa pattern Simplicity 1137
Simplicity 1137 (2015) Sansa Stark costumes.
Sansa Stark dress, bodice flower detail
Sansa Stark costume, Game of Thrones, season 1. Image: Michele Carragher.
Dark Sansa collar detail - goth Sansa / Alayne Stone costume in "The Mountain and the Viper," episode 8 of Game of Thrones S4
Dark Sansa collar detail, Game of Thrones, season 4. Image: Fashionably Geek.

Game of Thrones meets Star Wars in Simplicity 8074, a pattern for season 5’s Sand Snakes Obara and Nymeria with Rey from Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015) (still S8074):

Game of Thrones + Star Wars / Sand Snakes + Rey costume pattern Simplicity 8074
Simplicity 8074 (2016) Warrior costumes: Sand Snakes and Rey.
Sand Snakes costumes from Game of Thrones S5
Sand Snakes costumes from Game of Thrones, season 5. Image: Making Game of Thrones.

HBO is owned by Time Warner, which has existing pattern licensing for DC Comics. Do you think HBO should license Game of Thrones patterns? I’d be first in line for a King’s Landing halter dress or Varys’ kimono.

Update (June 2018): Game of Thrones and Star Wars meet again in S8718 — season 7 Arya Stark with Rey from Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017):

Game of Thrones + Star Wars / Arya Stark + Rey costume pattern Simplicity 8718
Simplicity 8718 (2018) Warrior costumes: Rey and Arya.
Arya Stark sketch for Game of Thrones, season 7. Image: Making Game of Thrones.

Update (August 2018): evil queen Cersei and Dragonstone Dany were among Simplicity’s fall costume patterns:

Cersei Lannister and S7 Daenerys costume pattern Simplicity 8768 by Andrea Schewe
Simplicity 8768 (2018) Cersei and Daenerys costumes.
Queen Cersei pattern S8768 - Simplicity catalogue Autumn 2018
Cersei Lannister costume on the back cover of Simplicity’s Autumn 2018 catalogue. Image: Simplicity.

And Burda’s new Renaissance costumes work for characters like Sansa Stark and Tyrion Lannister. Game of Thrones wedding, anyone?

Sansa Stark wedding dress pattern Burda 6398 (2018)
Burda 6398 (2018) Image: Simplicity.
Game of Thrones men's costume pattern Burda 6399 (2018)
Burda 6399 (2018) Image: Simplicity.

Update (September 2018): Just in time for Halloween, McCall’s released Game of Thrones season 7 costume patterns for Dany, Arya, and mad queen Cersei. Winter is coming…

Game of Thrones S7 Dragonstone Daenerys Targaryen costume pattern McCall's 7854
McCall’s 7854 (2018) Daenerys Targaryen. Image: McCall’s.
Game of Thrones S7 Arya Stark Winterfell costume pattern McCall's 7855
McCall’s 7855 (2018) Arya Stark costume. Image: McCall’s.
Game of Thrones S7 Cersei Lannister costume pattern McCall's 7856
McCall’s 7856 (2018) Cersei Lannister costume. Image: McCall’s.
Battle of the Throne: Game of Thrones-inspired costumes in the McCall's Fall 2018 lookbook
Battle of the Throne: Game of Thrones-inspired costumes in the McCall’s Fall 2018 lookbook. Image: Issuu.

Update (spring 2019): Michele Clapton’s book, Game of Thrones: The Costumes, is out in November.

Game of Thrones: The Costumes book by Michele Clapton with Gina McIntyre
Game of Thrones: The Costumes, by Michele Clapton with Gina McIntyre (Insight Editions, 2019) Image: Vanity Fair.

Update (spring 2020): One more Game of Thrones pattern, for Sansa as Queen in the North.

Sansa Stark, Queen in the North costume - Simplicity 9089
Simplicity 9089 (2020) Sansa, Queen in the North costume. Image: Simplicity.
Image: Pinterest.

Red Carpet Fashion: Evening Pantsuits

Amy Poehler in Stella McCartney at the Golden Globes, January 2013. Image via bustle.com.

Will you be watching the Oscars on Sunday? In past years I’ve posted about goddess gowns and caftans. This year, a look at red carpet-worthy pantsuits.

Milena Canonero at the 87th Academy Awards, February 2015
Milena Canonero at the 87th Academy Awards, February 2015. Photo: Jason Merritt/Getty.

The Best Actress winners who have accepted their award in trousers can be counted on one hand: Barbra Streisand (1969, in Arnold Scaasi); Jane Fonda (1972, in Yves Saint Laurent); Sissy Spacek (1981); Jessica Tandy (1990, in Armani); and Jodie Foster (1992, also in Armani). But then, Katharine Hepburn never attended.

Jane Fonda in Yves Saint Laurent at the 44th Academy Awards, April 1972
Jane Fonda in Yves Saint Laurent at the 44th Academy Awards, April 1972. Image via tumblr.

Celebrity style icons Gwyneth Paltrow, Angelina Jolie, and Kate Moss started appearing on the red carpet in pantsuits in the 1990s and early 2000s.

Gwyneth Paltrow during 1996 MTV Video Music Awards in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc)
Gwyneth Paltrow in Gucci by Tom Ford at the MTV Video Music Awards, September 1996. Photo: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc.
Angelina Jolie in Dolce & Gabbana at the Academy Awards, 2001
Angelina Jolie in Dolce & Gabbana at the 73rd Academy Awards, March 2001. Image via Glamour.
NEW YORK - MAY 01: Model Kate Moss and photographer Mario Testino (behind her) attend the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute Benefit Gala: Anglomania at the Metropolitan Museum of Art May 1, 2006 in New York City. (Photo by Peter Kramer/Getty Images)
Kate Moss, in Burberry, with Mario Testino at the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute Benefit Gala, May 2006. Photo: Peter Kramer/Getty.

Recently, more and more female celebrities have been choosing tuxedos and jumpsuits for formal events.

Kirsten Dunst in Patrik Ervell, CFDA awards, June 2011. Image via elle.com.
Lupita Nyong'o in Veronica Beard at TIFF, September 2013
Lupita Nyong’o in Veronica Beard at the Toronto International Film Festival, September 2013. Image via Fashion Bomb Daily.
LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 16: Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt attend the EE British Academy Film Awards 2014 at The Royal Opera House on February 16, 2014 in London, England. (Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)
Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt in Saint Laurent at the EE British Academy Film Awards, February 2014. Photo: Karwai Tang/WireImage.
Anna Kendrick in Band of Outsiders at the Grammy Awards, February 2015. Image via elle.com.

Here are some patterns—now available in the shop—that would be perfect for your next gala appearance.

The year Jane Fonda won an Oscar for her performance in Klute, Vogue Patterns released this Valentino design for an evening jumpsuit and jacket:

1970s Valentino evening jumpsuit and jacket pattern - Vogue 2775
Vogue 2775 by Valentino (1972) Image via PatternVault on Etsy.

Calvin Klein had the Annie Hall look nailed before Woody Allen’s movie started filming (in spring, 1976). Vogue 1369, a designer wardrobe pattern, highlights the three-piece pantsuit:

1970s Calvin Klein pantsuit and wardrobe pattern - Vogue 1369
Vogue 1369 by Calvin Klein (1976) Image via PatternVault on Etsy.

Fast forward to 1999, when Alexander McQueen presented a futuristic millennium collection for Givenchy (Fall 1999 prêt-à-porter; post here). The long, detailed jacket was designed for shimmery fabric:

Vogue 2478 by Alexander McQueen for Givenchy (2000) Image via PatternVault on Etsy.

This tunic and pants ensemble is from Donna Karan’s Fall 2007 collection (as worn by Jessica Stam on the runway). The strapless tunic has outside darts, pockets, and foundation with padded bra and boning:

Vogue 1076 by Donna Karan (2008) Image via PatternVault on Etsy.

For more red-carpet pantsuits, see Elle magazine’s slideshow here or this People article. Or see that handy viral infographic here.

Fur Cloth for Fall

Anne St. Marie photographed in Vogue 1019,
Anne St. Marie wears Vogue 1019 by Jacques Griffe, Vogue Pattern Book, August/September 1961. Photo: Kazan.

Whether you call it fake or faux, this season’s fur trend is only fashion’s latest take on synthetic fur.

Many vintage sewing patterns call for fur banding and fur cloth. The reversible coat shown above, Vogue 1019 by Jacques Griffe, is fully lined with the latest black, synthetic fox fur. (Hover for full caption.) More recently there’s Donna Karan’s coat for low-pile fake fur, Vogue 1365, from the Fall 2012 collection:

Joan Smalls wears a faux fur coat from Donna Karan FW 2012
Model: Joan Smalls. Image: vogue.com.

Here’s a look at vintage patterns that call for fur trim or fur cloth, with an emphasis on the trendy, unusual, and outrageous.

1920s

From Winter 1926, this dolman coat by Martial et Armand has a deep fur collar and narrow fur banding at the cuffs:

1920s Martial et Armand coat McCall 4667 illustrated in the Winter 1926 McCall Quarterly
McCall 4667 by Martial et Armand in McCall Quarterly, Winter 1926-27. Image courtesy of Debby Zamorski.

This opulent, late 1920s evening wrap calls for a length of 4.5″ fur banding. A reproduction is available from EvaDress:

Late 1920s evening wrap pattern - McCall 5945
McCall 5945 (1929) Image: Vintage Pattern Wiki.

1930s

Thirties patterns show many creative uses of fur trim. These two ca. 1933 coats both call for fur cloth accents. McCall 7206 has an attached scarf and contrast lower sleeves, shown in synthetic Persian lamb, while McCall 7207 has a deep fur collar and matching, triangular sleeve patches:

McCall 7206, 7207 Spring 1933 coats
Two coat patterns, McCall 7206 and 7207, illustrated in McCall Fashion Book, Spring 1933.

Simplicity 1541’s dramatic, curving collar and pointed cuffs can be made in contrast fur cloth; the fur-trimmed version was illustrated on the cover of the holiday 1934 issue of Simplicity Pattern Magazine. A reproduction is available from the Vintage Pattern Lending Library:

Via eBay
Simplicity 1541 (1934) Image: eBay.

From the autumn of 1939, McCall 3420 is a swagger coat with built-up neckline and optional, tapered lower sleeves and semi-circular shoulder insets. View A is shown in faux Astrakhan (matching hat unfortunately not included):

1930s coat pattern shown in check or faux Astrakhan - McCall 3420
McCall 3420 (1939)

1940s

McCall 3875, a World War 2-era swing coat, can be made with elbow-deep fur cuffs:

1940 coat pattern - McCall 3875
McCall 3875 (1940) Image: Vintage Pattern Wiki.

This wartime cape pattern, previously featured in my vintage capes post, includes an evening cape with stand-up fur collar:

1940s cape pattern in evening or street length - McCall 4134
McCall 4134 (1941)

1950s

High-end postwar sewing patterns sometimes assume natural fur will be used and direct the home dressmaker to a specialist. From November 1949, Vogue 1075 is one of the earliest Balmain patterns. The voluminous “melon” sleeves can be made in fur contrast; the envelope back says, “Note: Have fur sleeves made by furrier”:

1940s Balmain coat pattern - Vogue 1075
Vogue 1075 by Balmain (1949) Image: Etsy.

This Vogue Couturier design includes a wide-necked evening coat with big fur collar and elbow-length sleeves:

1950s evening dress and coat with fur top-collar - Vogue 190
Vogue 190 (1959) Image: Etsy.

1960s

From Nina Ricci, Vogue 1217’s cape has a broad shawl collar that can be made in faux fur:

1960s Nina Ricci dress and coat pattern - Vogue 1217
Vogue 1217 by Nina Ricci (1963) Image: Etsy.

Vogue 1897 is a design from Yves Saint Laurent’s Fall/Winter 1967-68 haute couture collection, inspired by Queen Christina (see Paco’s post here). The fur-trimmed evening cape requires a taffeta stay for the fur trim unless made by a furrier:

1960s Yves Saint Laurent Queen Christina evening dress and cape pattern - Vogue 1897
Vogue 1897 by Yves Saint Laurent (1968) Image: Vintage Pattern Wiki.

1970s

David Lean’s Doctor Zhivago (1965) seems to have prompted a fashion for Cossack coats and hats. Vogue-Butterick had Vogue 1983, and McCall’s had this fur-trimmed coat pattern:

1970s red, fur-trimmed coat pattern - McCall's 2676
McCall’s 2676 (1970) Image: PatternVault on Etsy.

There was even a pattern for fur hats for men, women, and children, McCall’s 2966:

1970s faux fur hat and bag pattern - McCall's 2966
McCall’s 2966 (1971) Image: eBay.

1980s

Eighties excess brought the more-is-more aesthetic to designs for synthetic fur. McCall’s 7736 is a raglan-sleeved jacket for lightweight fake fur or woolens:

1980s jacket pattern - McCall's 7736
McCall’s 7736 (1981) Image: Etsy.

From the Connoisseur Collection, Simplicity 7078 is for fake fur only:

1980s faux fur coat pattern in 2 lengths - Simplicity 7078
Simplicity 7078 (1985) Image: Etsy.

In addition to a hat and stole for fur-like fabrics, accessories pattern Vogue 9981 includes a muff with concealed pocket:

1980s hat, stole, and muff pattern - Vogue 9981
Vogue 9981 (1987) Image: Etsy.

1990s

The 1990s were another good time for synthetic fur—so good that Vogue Patterns licensed a designer specializing in faux fur outerwear. Not quite vintage, this reversible coat pattern by Issey Miyake calls for high pile fake fur:

1990s Issey Miyake reversible faux fur coat pattern - Vogue 2182
Vogue 2182 by Issey Miyake (1998) Image: Etsy.

From Alexander McQueen’s Fall 1998 ready-to-wear collection for Givenchy, Vogue 2228’s jacket has a fur-trimmed hem and large, standing fur collar that recalls the 1940s evening cape shown above. (See my earlier McQueen post here.) I have one copy for sale in the shop:

1990s Givenchy fur-trimmed suit pattern by Alexander McQueen - Vogue 2228
Vogue 2228 by Alexander McQueen for Givenchy (1998) Image: PatternVault on Etsy.

Vogue 2233’s fur-trimmed dress and jacket are from Anna Sui’s Fall/Winter 1998 collection (click to purchase from the shop):

1990s Anna Sui fur-trimmed dress & jacket pattern - Vogue 2233
Vogue 2233 by Anna Sui (1998) Image: PatternVault on Etsy.

Vogue 2233 is one of the most ’90s patterns ever: Björk meets Britpop. The jacket was worn on the runway by Kirsty Hume—hat by James Coviello:

Kirsty Hume on the runway, Anna Sui FW 1998
Kirsty Hume, Anna Sui FW 1998. Image: firstVIEW.

There was also a pattern for Anna Sui faux-fur accessories, Vogue 7950 (see my earlier Anna Sui series).

Tips for sourcing synthetic fur

  • Tissavel: This luxury French faux fur mill is unfortunately now closed, but ends can be found on Etsy.
  • Faux Persian lamb/Astrakhan: Available as a special order from Emma One Sock.
  • Fur banding: Mokuba carries high-quality synthetic fur banding in various widths.

Working with vintage furs and synthetic fur

Vintage patterns often direct the home dressmaker to a furrier; old sewing books and magazines also provide tips for refashioning vintage furs. (Woman’s Day 5045 came with a special instruction booklet and fur needle.) Claire Shaeffer’s Fabric Sewing Guide includes a chapter on fur.

For tips on sewing with synthetic fur, see Claire Shaeffer’s Fabric Sewing Guide, Fehr Trade’s post, and Shannon Gifford’s post for Emma One Sock.