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100 Dresses

April 19, 2011

Growing up one of my very favorite books was The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes.  I read it over and over, and still read it every once in a while.  When I was about 12 my dad gave me a fashion designer drawing kit.  It had templates to use, and ideas to trace, and stickers to put on your finished creations.   The ideas are all fabulously mid ninties.  And I am sure I still have the complete sheet of stickers, I never used even one of them.  Over the years I have drawn hundreds and hundreds of dresses.  In highschool I did a history of fashion project and drew period clothing from every era of America’s history.  Which, you know, compared to other countries isn’t too long, but it was about 25 colored drawings.  I still have them in a file folder somewhere.

my dresses

I carry a notebook with me wherever I go and I am constantly sketching other people’s clothing or purses.  One of my favorite few pages of sketches is from a week I spent in Prague by myself almost 8 years ago.  I love those drawings.  I sketch people at church too… it’s one of my very favorite places to check out dresses and shoes and coats!  There are so many people from such varied backgrounds and ages each with a different style that I always come home with 10 or 12 new sketches and ideas.  (I’m a good multi tasker so I can draw and listen at the same time. Or something.)  I also keep a notebook next to the couch so I can sketch dress ideas that I see in commercials, or TV shows, or movies.  I started watching Mad Men this year and though I hate the story and despise the characters, I am in love with the costumes.  The combo of the big 50s skirts and the sleek 60’s styles are my very favorite.  Sigh.  So pretty.  And then every couple of weeks when I have a few hours to myself I’ll go through my sketches and clean them up and  a new idea to the “clean sheets.” Which are… well, just like they sound (on the right above).  And I have stacks of them.  A few have made it into my art journal too (above left). But most of them are tucked away waiting for me find the time to take pattern drafting classes at my local state college and learn how to sew for reals.  Instead of my standard fly by the seat of my pants, or skirt.  Anyway that very long backstory is leading up to this.  For my birthday in February Scott gave me a new book.

100 dresses

It’s another 100 Dresses.  And it is fantastic.  I have loved flipping through it and soaking up all the beautiful pictures inside.  All the dresses inside are from the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  And they are amazing.  Each dress has a short paragraph with information about the designer and the era, but the photos are the main stars.  Here are a few of my very favorites.  The black long sleeved number in the middle was Yves Saint Laurent’s very first design after he was hired by Christian Dior just a few months out of design school.  These dresses make me wish I had more black tie balls to attend. Or more time to sketch, which is probably a little more realistic.

9 dresses

The only thing I didn’t particularly like about this book is that from the last 27 dresses are all from 1980 until now.  And most of them are pretty “out there” space cadet super weird dresses.  Actually of the 27 only 4 or 5 of them had ANY redeeming characteristics.  And only one made it to the top 10 (the pink one on the cover, designed by Vivienne Westwood in 2005).  I’m not sure what that says about current fashion/the curator of the book/my definite penchant for vintage style.  But I kind of wished that there had been fewer of those crazy 80s and 90s dresses and more 1940s ball gowns and more Mad Men.  But that’s just me.

Designer Credits from the book.  Top row: left: Jacques Fath, 1947, center: Yves Saint Laurent for Dior, 1958,  right: Christian Dior, 1953.  Middle row left: Madeleine Vionnet, French, 1938, center: Christian Dior with Yves Saint Laurent, 1955, right: probably European, 1798.  Bottom row left: Liberty of London (founded in 1875), early 1880s,center: Andre Coirreges 1965,  right: Cristobal Balenciaga, early 1960s.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. April 19, 2011 7:33 am

    Don’t worry, I’m sure it’s an Artist thing that we listen better when our hands are drawing. How sweet that the men in your life “get you” enough to know what you’d like to receive for gifts. Those are such thoughtful things! I wish I had an ounce of your drawing talent. Thanks for sharing!

  2. April 19, 2011 12:27 pm

    You are welcome to practice dressmaking by working on that little ruffle skirt/slip for me….

  3. Paige permalink
    April 20, 2011 5:51 am

    Hey E!

    I’m so excited! I have two things to share with you today:

    (1) Have you seen the May issue of Country Living magazine? There was a 3 or 4 page feature on Pyrex!! (you might be able to find the same article on their website)
    (2) I enjoyed this post of yours!! Check out this blog post, its all about prom gowns through the ages. I thought you might like it :

    Have an absolutely wonderful day!

  4. April 20, 2011 4:48 pm

    I’m with you. 🙂

    PS. you’re an excellent sketcher.

    PPS. I think I already told you #3 is my favorite.

  5. Susan permalink
    April 20, 2011 6:25 pm

    As a former librarian, I can identify with your love for 100 dresses. And, if you like classic fashion, the Met had an exhibit that was fabulous. Take a look at for a few pictures.
    Love the Yves St. Laurent black & white creation. Nice to have you back . . .

  6. Laurel permalink
    April 22, 2011 7:54 pm

    The dresses are very cool. But I keep checking back because you mentioned you have new Pyrex. I know your busy and all……but I am dyin’ to see the Pyrex!!!

  7. April 24, 2011 2:30 pm

    Eek! I love those dresses!

    I get inspiration from outings also, unfortunately I’m horrible at drawing, but always have my camera with me. More often than my boys would like I can be found asking someone if I can take a picture of their outfit. I have a seperate section in my pictures folder for these “idea’s”. If I want to make a modification I can do it on the computer – High tech sewing nerd. 😉

    Thanks for the pics – and a new book to add to my list.

  8. April 25, 2011 7:30 am


    I’ve always wanted to get dressed up for a fancy ball. Those dresses are gorgeous! I love the pink one on the cover. It is amazing! I’d love to look through your book. And how thoughtful of your husband to know you well enough to get something like that for your birthday. I think he’s a keeper.

    xo -El

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