Saturday, October 20, 2012

Extraordinary ca.1940 dress & jacket

I have just added this outfit to my web store, and I think it really deserves special mention.

The two labels are great indicators of the quality and style of this outfit. One is from Los Angeles’ late-great Bullock’s Wilshire store, the other reads An original design Registered by a member of Fashion Originators Guild. This organization existed from 1932 to 1941, with members pledging to only deal in original designs.

Two distinguished labels
Circa 1936 view of the Bullocks Wilshire department store. Photo by Richard Stagg, courtesy of the Title Insurance and Trust / C.C. Pierce Photography Collection, USC Libraries. (from
The gown and jacket appear to date from the end of the 1930s to 1941 (and what I wouldn’t give to walk into that great Art Deco department store to choose this when it was new!). The dress is a timeless creation of black chantilly lace layered over tulle, over taffeta, over crinoline. The jacket is satin, lined in lightweight faille. 

The fitted jacket has nine tailored buttonholes and covered buttons. The shoulders are padded, with darts at the tops of the sleeves for shape. There are also darts at the elbows. 

The dress has pairs of crossed straps made of lace, and there are tiny bra strap holders. With lace pleated over the bust, the top of the bodice is ruffled. The wide black satin band goes up to a point in front. The satin band is held smooth by boning (two bones in front, one at each side seam). The dress has a side covered metal zipper.

The boning keeps the dress's satin band smooth
There are four tiny bra strap holders 
The chantilly lace was pieced where needed along the lines of its flower patterns
The outfit is really breathtaking, both in being so beautifully constructed, and in being so timelessly chic—worthy of Old (or New!) Hollywood.


Deb Clark said...

It looks stunning on you too, I don't know how you can part with it!

denisebrain said...

Thank you Deb...I truly love it!

osovictoria said...

Absolutely beautiful, red carpet worthy. I wonder who wore it and to what event they wore it to in the 30s or 40s.

denisebrain said...

Victoria, I would like to find out more about who wore this. I received it from the woman's great granddaughter—all I know is that she was a spectacular dresser! Maybe she would be willing to share more about her history.

It is red carpet worthy, you are absolutely right!

Anonymous said...

You look gorgeous in that gorgeous dress!

denisebrain said...

Thank you Lulu!