Happy birthday to Bob Mackie, who turns 80 today!
Celebrate with some of my posts on Bob Mackie’s McCall’s patterns:
Unhelpfully for collectors, vintage designer patterns were sometimes printed without the name on the envelope. This is the case with three Bob Mackie patterns, which were released earlier than those in my first Bob Mackie post. Like the other Mackie patterns, these three are also for stretch knits.
McCall’s 6575 and 6576 are slinky, disco halter dresses:
McCall’s 6577 is a pattern for a disco coverup, bodysuit, skinny pants, and handkerchief skirt. The contrast sash is also included:
Contemporary buyers would have ordered these designs from a catalogue complete with photos and the Bob Mackie logo, like this counter catalogue from September 1979 (click to enlarge):
Make with strategically placed sequins for the full Cher effect…
Versatile and contemporary, jumpsuits and their cousins, playsuits and rompers, have become increasingly popular in the last few years. Jumpsuits—or all-in-ones, if you’re British—seem poised to move beyond a trend this summer.
The modern women’s jumpsuit has origins in two different garments: beach pajamas and the boiler suit. These twin origins mean jumpsuit styles range from fluid loungewear to utility-inspired or tailored designs. (See Vogue Italia for a short history of the jumpsuit.) Here are some favourite all-in-one patterns from the 1930s to the 1990s.
Beach pajamas, often worn with a matching bolero, had become one-piece by the early 1930s. This McCall’s design combines flowing trousers with geometric seaming details in the bodice and hip yoke. A reproduction is available from the Model A Ford Club of America:
The boiler suits of wartime utility wear are said to have made bifurcated clothing more acceptable for women. This Vogue pattern from ca. 1940 includes both a hooded mechanic suit with cuffed trousers and a more casual, short-sleeved version shown in a dotted print:
This early 1940s pajama ensemble with T-back halter bodice was not just for the beach—the envelope says it’s for “beach, dinner or evening”:
In the postwar period, more tailored jumpsuits emerged as a choice for casual sportswear. This early 1950s pedal-pusher coverall has cuffed sleeves and pants and a front zipper closure:
From the late 1950s, this trim, one-piece slack suit from Vogue came in two lengths and with a matching overskirt:
The jumpsuit—sometimes called a culotte or pantdress—truly comes into its own in the later 1960s. Here Birgitta af Klercker models Vogue 2249, a loungewear design by Emilio Pucci (previously featured in my goddess gown post):
In this late 1960s Butterick Young Designers pattern, Mary Quant combines a trim, zip-front jumpsuit with a low-waisted miniskirt for a sleek, futuristic look:
Both pajama and menswear-inspired styles continue into the 1970s. Famous for her palazzo pajamas, Galitzine designed this bi-coloured lounge pantdress with criss-cross halter bodice:
From Calvin Klein, Vogue 1453 marks a return to the boiler suit style. With cargo pockets, self belt, and wide, notched collar, the jumpsuit could be made long or short, with long or short sleeves:
This Bob Mackie disco jumpsuit or evening dress pattern for stretch knits dates to 1980. (See my earlier Bob Mackie post here.) The jumpsuit has a plunging neckline, waistline pleats, and tapered, bias pants designed to crush at the ankles:
An instance of the late 1980s jumpsuit trend, this shirtdress-style jumpsuit by Donna Karan has a notched collar, welt pockets, and cuffed or seven-eighths length kimono sleeves:
Also by Donna Karan, Vogue 2609, ca. 1990, is a long-sleeved, tapered jumpsuit for stretch knits with neckline variations, front pleats, and stirrups. View C has a contrast bodice with self-lined hood:
From 1996, Vogue 1821 by DKNY is almost vintage. It’s a novel suit consisting of a single-breasted jacket and wide-legged, halter jumpsuit:
Finally, this pattern is not yet vintage, but a jumpsuit collection would be incomplete without Vogue 2343, Alexander McQueen’s tailored, tuxedo jumpsuit for Givenchy haute couture Spring/Summer 1998 (earlier post here):
With their demanding fit, jumpsuits are ideal for home sewers. And they’re not just for the tall and leggy: many of the later jumpsuit patterns are marked as suitable for petites.
In the late 1970s and early ’80s, McCall’s licensed a handful of Bob Mackie designs for stretch knits. The summer heat always makes me think of disco, so here’s a selection of disco-era Bob Mackie patterns:
McCall’s 6838 is a long-sleeved wrap dress in two lengths:
Here’s the envelope description: Misses’ dress – for stretch knits only. Long or short wrap-dress (without side seams), softly pleated into front waistline has shoulder gathers and long sleeves. Shaped sash is tacked to right side seam.
The second pattern in the series, McCall’s 6839, is a dress that’s high-necked in the front but has a deep cowl in the back:
The envelope description reads: Misses’ dress – for stretch knits only. Low-backed dress in two lengths with shaped seaming has long sleeves, flared skirt, back zipper; softly draped bias collar snaps in back. Rhinestone trim is optional.
The third in the series, McCall’s 6840, is a halter dress with pleated cowl bodice inset and a shaped front hemline:
Here’s the envelope description: Misses’ dress – for stretch knits only. Back zippered halter dress in two lengths has flared skirt, shaped hemline with front slit; upper edge binding extends into ties. Loose, pleated cowl is included in side fronts only.
McCall’s 7134 includes a true disco jumpsuit—shaped at the waist with pleats and gathers, and with tapered legs designed to crush at the ankles. For extra fluidity, the pants and skirt have no side seams and are cut on the bias:
The envelope description reads: Misses dress and jumpsuit – for stretch knits only. Back zippered, fitted dress in two lengths and jumpsuit have slightly extended shoulders, low V-neckline, soft front waistline pleats and slight gathers in back. Dress has front slit with shaped hemline and pleated belt included in center back seam. Jumpsuit has purchased belt; length allows for crushing at ankles. Note: skirt and pants, cut on bias, have no side seams.
Interestingly, the McCall’s patterns pre-date Bob Mackie’s ready-to-wear line, which was launched in 1982. It’s difficult to find details on the designer’s work outside show business; Unmistakably Mackie, the catalogue from the Museum at FIT’s 1999 Mackie retrospective, focuses mainly on his costume work. The Bob Mackie patterns could be glitzed up or down depending on the sewer’s preference. I wonder whether they were designed exclusively for McCall’s?