Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Maxi-Dress Season Has Begun! (Where Do You Stand on Wild Prints?)

Good morning!

Well, it may be ominous weather outside here in Nashville, but by Godfrey, I'm dressing for Palm Beach circa 1968 for my inside job at the bibliothèque. Here's this morning's outfit, complete with loose and long hair, the likes of which you blog readers (and heck, friends and coworkers) probably haven't seen in a long time!

I don't remember if I mentioned this op art print dress on the blog when I originally got it, but it was laying on the floor, upstairs at an estate sale near Hillsboro village, and was priced at $2 upon checkout (yes!). The sale had THE MOST amazing 1960's, real-Adrian Pearsall-and-similar-designers mid century furniture, but it was priced astronomically out of my budget. Some day! Some day I will have the kind of furniture I desire! In the meantime, I like to think about whoever lived in the house wearing this eye-knocker of an outfit while draped lazily across the Mad Men appropriate eight foot couch, maybe reading the latest issue of Life and smoking Pall Mall talls. I've recently learned the term horror vacui or cenophobia to describe the fear of empty space, a term used to describe art where every space is filled. These patterns sure seem to live up to that ideal of no-blank-space! And that's how I like 'em.

50% OFF Moving Sale Vintage 1960 Maxi Dress // Purple Maxi Dress // Vintage Hawaiian Halter Dress
My thoughts today run along the line of columnar, bold print maxi-dresses. I have a pretty substantial collection of these statement-making articles in my wardrobe, because look at them! How could you pass on some of these? As soon as summer strikes every year, I feel the nagging need to pull them off the racks and take 'em out on the town! This is a whole-lotta-look for even the vintage wearer, however. While fifties', nipped waist, solid color dresses are always appropriate because of their basic conservativeness, sometimes I struggle with "Ugh, am I going to get weird catcalls at work over this?" as I slip into a full-length, print dress. If you often wear vintage clothes (or you have opinions of those who do), do you experience this hesitancy sometimes as you dress for your day? "Is this too much?" is a question I ask a lot more in my late twenties' than I did in my early twenties', and while I usually throw clothes-caution to the wind in favor of what-I-like (unless it's a job interview or some similarly staid situation I know I'm going into), it's a unique problem, I think!

Vintage 1970s Maxi Dress / 70s Long Ethnic Paisley Dress Bright Colors Pink Orange Blue Green

It's always strange for me to think about a world, in the 1960's and 70's, where not-necessarily-everyone but a LARGE majority of people were wearing psychedelic print or wild patterned ensembles like this. If you watched last week's Mad Men (no spoilers here), I got a little irked when Don and Roger went to a party in the Hollywood Hills and EVERYONE. THERE. was wearing central casting "hippie clothes" from a regional theater production of Hair. Yes, I understand it was supposed to highlight the difference between the emergent youth culture in California and these old-school, NYC guys' reaction to that shift, but ye gods. The guy on the couch who looked like Jimi Hendrix? Cut me a break. There was a lot of "look at how late sixties' this is" going on with the costume choices, a criticism I almost NEVER levy at a show which seems to usually take great care at making sets and costumes period-appropriate while not caricaturing what people looked like and where they lived in that era...which in turn made me think about what people at a party, just a wide swath of clothing decisions dependent on the individual, would ACTUALLY look like in 1968, versus how it was portrayed in this scene. If that's not right (and I feel like it wasn't), what would have been right, in terms of clothing choices?

Blue Hawaii, vintage 1960s Maxi Dress - Blue, Green, and Purple Tropical Print - size large

I digress. What I was getting at is, it always surprises me to think about how the base-clothing options for people in 1968 would tend WAY more toward the florid than the conservative. My mom, for example, who is so not into clothes or wearing crazy outfits or bucking any kind of societal norms, had some clothes in the attic that I discovered in early high school that made my pulse race with pure vintage-adrenaline. So many wacked out patterns! The colors! The bizarre figural prints! And yet this was what an average, middle-class American teenage girl was wearing in 1970. Neon checks and playful, op-art combinations of stripe and zig-zag. It feels like if you wear that today, you are choosing to make a statement, whereas if you didn't wear something like that in the past, you were making a statement. What did underground, counter-culture type people wear to subvert the insanity being sold at JC Penney's? All black? Solid colors rather than print? Conservative, business man like attire? I wonder about this every year as don-we-now-our-gay-apparel for summer.

VINTage 70s cool summer mod maxi dress
25% OFF SALE -- Vintage Maxi Dress / 70s Rainbow Sundress / Psychedelic Print / Sleeveless / Medium
So! What is your take on the over-the-top art print on both the 1968-model average gal, and the 2013 vintage wearin' one? Do you have any go-for-broke style maxi dresses in your collection, or are you more of a solid color, non-polyester based dress collector. What's the wackiest vintage item in your clothes closet? Let's talk!

That's all for today, I have to get back to slinging books. See you back here tomorrow! Til then.


  1. Ha! We are really on the same thought train lately! Just yesterday, I did some 'going through' a pile of 'go through these' clothes in my sewing room and decided to for sure keep a maxi that I'd been back and forth about for a long time. It's a Lilli Diamond. Black with a gauze bodice and sleeves and a high neck. It also features a crazy wackadoodle bright pink and green hibiscus print all over the bodice and down the sleeves.
    I love yours! Great print! I also have the feeling that people of that era were lucky to live in a time when colour and personality were embraced. I also agree that there comes a certain age...these days anyway...when the 'is this too much?' thoughts creep in. It think it happens around 30ish. I'm recently beginning to find myself thinking I should tone down some. But on the plus side, I think by the time one reaches their late 40's or early 50's, eccentric is easily embraced once again! I can't wait to be that glam modern version of Endora from Bewitched! Caftans, titian coloured hair, crazy eye makeup, and piled on jewels! Whoooosh!!
    Speaking of 'too much', the one maxi I have that perplexes me to no end....especially in East the Alfred Shaheen (that I bought for 3 pounds, btw...3 pounds!!) that I've had since my senior year in uni. It's a cotton candy pink linen maxi-ish shirtwaist. And it's covered in a gorgeous (hand screened!) abstract/stylized Hawaiian floral. It's honestly beautiful, but every time I put it on, I end up taking it off because I worry that, well, you know, I might stick out a little here in the land of khaki shorts and t-shirts.
    But you've inspired me yet again, chica! I'm by gosh, by golly wearing that bad boy to work this weekend! I'm doing it! :D

    1. You do it girl! Wear that Shaheen out! Do it!

  2. I love bold colours and prints on clothing - life's too short to always wear plain black!

    Some of the guys in the office may think I'm a bit bonkers rocking up an acid floral print shirt, but after the inevitable 'where are my sunshades?' jokes I reckon they actually like it.

    Whether they do or don't, I dress for me! ;) *girl power*

    1. I've gotten the "does that dress come with a seizure warning" comment before, too. You're right should dress for you! I'm going to remind myself of that next time I have those no good in-front-of-the-closet misgivings. :)

  3. i looooove big prints and bright colors - but only on silk, linen, wool or cotton :-)
    and i like the swish of maxi dresses but since i´m a bit top heavy and broad shouldered it is better to show some leg.
    you with your slim upper look very cute in this kind of gown!

    1. Thanks, gal! I'm not super long waisted, either, so this kind of silhouette works well on me. I'm going to have to get all my wild prints out for the summer!

  4. I stand on the wild side!!! Except when I sew; I usually choose things that are rather demure - simple fabrics/wild silhouettes.

    1. Yeeeeeeah! I love your creations for Mary and agree; you can do wild print/simple shape or wild shape/simple fabric, but both together can veer into Phyllis Diller territory (no shade intended)!

  5. I would wear every single one of those dresses if I could. So cute!

    1. Haha, me too! Aren't they great?



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