May 27, 2015

Which vintage?

Well, it's been a bit quiet here this past week. I've been on a mini-holiday and not a lot of people seemed interested in that crazy trouser pattern. 
Those trousers are finished but I've been wearing them on Saturday (our first day in the Ardennes) so they are in the laundry now. I'll show them off later.

In the mean time, I hope some of you can help me with this:

A few weeks ago, a friend and I went to a 'vintage clothes by the kilo' sale. I bought just a few things and this dress was one of them.
I picked it out because of the fabric: Rather nice raw silk. 

The shape is both simple and not so simple: An A-line smock with a lightly quilted, pointed yoke and sort-of-raglan sleeves with pleats.  
On its own, it didn't look right on me but I liked the look with a belt (no picture of that unfortunately, I didn't feel like trying self-timer pictures today). 

The sleeve pleats have been carefully made but their placement seems to defy gravity a bit too much. Both on the hanger and on my shoulders, some are drawn open and false pleats form lower down.

The collar looks to me like it is made as high stand but it shows clear signs of having been folded down. Whether in wearing or on display isn't clear. 

In general, the dress shows very few signs of wear. No stains, no wear on the fabric under the arms or at the collar. Not even on the self fabric loops or domed buttons. 

This is the label: Frances Henaghan, 100% silk, made in Hong Kong, 6. 

The inside seam allowances are finished with a narrow three thread lock stitch. The yoke is faced with self fabric, the quilting lines weren't stitched through it. 

The sleeves are finished with a facing which has been hand-stitched in place. 

And did I mention it has pockets? In-seam ones, at the sides. Set low enough so I can still use them when I wear the dress with a belt.

All of this detail is original to this dress. One thing isn't though.

The hem. This off-white silk dress, on which all details are made in self fabric and stitching has a hem of narrow white nylon lace.

A strip of lace which was just stitched to the raw edge of the fabric... It's fraying. This doesn't look like the work from the same person who made the rest of the dress. 
I think it has been shortened.

So now, I'm left wondering. How old is this dress? What was its purpose? Why was it shortened? 
The body shape is almost like that of night gown. The sleeves and collar are too formal for that. So is the material. 
The remaining length is just below the knee for me. Of course, I can't tell how long it has been. It may have been a long dress. A long, off-white dress. A fairly informal wedding gown maybe?
And as for how old it is... I'm thinking 1970's. There was this trend for old-fashioned romance back then, wasn't there? All buttoned up, with high necklines and puffy sleeves, Laura Ashley style... 

Do you have any idea?  


  1. I looked up the designer's name. Here's a link to an article about her:,1163267&hl=en

  2. I did a quick search and found a very similar style -

    The linked dress looks like it's from the same collection, so I would guess your dress dates to 1983 as well.

  3. Looks 80s to me, with those wide 'power dressing' shoulders.

  4. Looks 80s to me, with those wide 'power dressing' shoulders.

  5. Uh, 'night gown' is the first thing that came in my mind... But I'm afraid I cannot be of more help...

  6. That is 1980s. There was a big hair big dress sort of thing going on. I would take off the collar and sleeves. Use the yoke and turn the dress into something straight. It would almost look like a racer back/ halter dress

  7. I'd say 70-80 too because of the font on the label and the period+ shoulders combo. Probably a very formal or even bridal dress - in the latter case, the former owner could have decided to buy a long dress that didn't look too bridal in order to shorten it and wear it on other occasions - the raw silk would even have made it possible to dye it !