Friday, July 8, 2011

In Which Gail Carriger Gets Crafty: Turning A Little White Dress Retro Style

It took me a very long time to learn to wear white. My mother, being a gardener, is deeply mistrustful of the color and has never worn it my whole life. However, it is a common vintage color, or at least cream is.

My dear friend Rachel (who also Betas my books) believes that you can never trust anyone in white trousers. I will admit to once being tempted by a lovely white suit, but until this season the furthest I ever went into white was a tailored white shirt, or cream knit sweater. However, the 2011 spring runways were all about the little white dress (LWD). 

So I decided I could break away from my dear Mum, and become an Adult Who Wears White. I thought if I thrifted one and tailored it myself, perhaps I wouldn't be so scared of it. The quest was on!

The original dress, cream eyelet muslin from Bon Mar Thrift store, $5.
The modification in progress. 
Hemmed dress to shorten it and then used cut piece to make small sleeves. 
Also nipped in at the back to make more fitted at the waist. 
The finished dress on the dummy. Luckily I have a slip that is perfect for wearing underneath.

Here are some ideas as to how to take a dress like this from retro to street and from summer to autumn. I'm looking forward to experimenting.  Of course you don't have to go for the whole dress, you can always just do an accessory.

I'm introducing and new occasional feature to the Retro Rack blog. The book that matches your outfit!

For the Little White Dress I am suggesting you try an old favorite of mine, Restoree by Anne McCaffery. It's an earth-girl-stolen-to-alien-planet political drama with a great romantic thread and a light breezy tone. It has a summer read feel to it. Don't worry, the aliens are amorphous ~ no bugs. There is some plastic-surgery kind of experimentation, but it's very light. The romance element is wonderfully well done.

Have a lovely weekend all!


  1. Love the Book that Matches Your Outfit feature! :) Amazing.

    Oh- and I just put a hold on Heartless at my local library!! So excited to get my hands on it - I think I am 9th in line!

  2. Madam, you are brave. Very brave. I too am very distrustful of the color, as I am a klutz and the minute I wear a shirt with white on it I spill something all over it.

    But I do love those LWDs! They are so feminine yet breezy. I also love how you can accessorize color with white and it makes both colors stand out. Congrats on your new foray into LWDs!

  3. Gail, you look gorgeous in that top photo! Love the dress. If it weren't for the digital camera you see on the right you would never know it was a contemporary photo. :)

  4. I stopped wearing all white when I had babies. My babies are teenagers and I am still afraid to wear all white. But your dress makes me think about beginning. Will we get to see a pic of you in the dress?

  5. Like the dress, especially with the alterations you made but, as someone pointed out, white and small children do not go so it will be many years before I can wear something like that, by which time it will be hopelessly out of fashion. Ho hum.

    Just finished Heartless (Kindle version I'm afraid as I can't afford $20 to buy the paper version). Loved it and can't wait for Timeless.

  6. Love the LWD, but not sure it works on fluffy bodies so well. Another color - purple perhaps? -- and lots of white or ivory lace, especially in a Victorian TEA dress style .. may do me.

  7. RESTOREE has long been one of my favorite books...however, being a lady of a certain size, I must refrain from wearing white or run the risk of looking....larger. Sigh....

  8. I was inspired enough to bid on (and win) a white dress with floral embroidery from e-Bay. We shall see.....


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