Wednesday, August 14, 2013

60s fashion elements - The Drop Waist

Well, another dress down and a new one already lined up! I'll of course take some photos for you all this weekend, but in the meantime I'm making plans to use this modern pattern to make a deep red drop waist dress with white buttons and bias binding

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In my research for an inspiration image I came across a reoccurring trend of 60's drop waist dresses, so let us delve a little deeper shall we?

Drop waist dresses first became popular in the 20's - with the dismissal of the corset and the feminine Belle Époque look gone, women were able to adapt more masculine styles. The long and lean look became the new ideal and dresses started to feature a low waist line to accentuate the body, making it appear slimmer without the use of constrictive undergarments.

Madame Varda in a Chanel dress, 1924
By the mid 1960's the style became popular again. The free movement the drop waist dress gives allows for lots of dancing, running and jumping - perfect for the new freedom of women in both eras! 

60's styles tended to fit a little more closely to the body giving a sporty look whereas the 20s style was loose and feminine 

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Mary Quant also featured the style in a number of her collections

Mary Quant mini dress 1964

Mary Quant dress ca. 1968 via The Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art 
Drop waist dresses then went into remission until the 80s when it was spotted on the likes of Princess Diana, but in the 80s it was more about volume – adding more shape to the body to create masculine strength instead of slenderness

Princess Diana's royal couture dresses go on display - hellomagazine.com

The main part of the dress is usually straight, decorated with beading or pin tucks. Below the line the skirt can remain straight, be pleated, split or soft and uneven - all perfect for flapping around while dancing the Charleston!

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Newer interpretations have the bottom half splayed out, or reach down to the ground for Formal and Wedding dresses.

With the general populations recent fascination with all things Great Gatsby, a lot more high street stores are featuring the lower waistline in soft jersey and cotton

Prada designed an entire collection around the drop waist in 2011

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This dress is similar to the top pattern, don't you think?

You can create a drop waist the normal way by sewing two pieces of fabric together or you can create the illusion of a drop waist by adding a strip of fabric at the hip line – automatically extending the bodice

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Some can even be curved 

60s Designer Jean Muir mod dress with scooped dropped waistline in front and a pleated short skirt!
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You can also very easily create a false drop waist with a tied sash

McCall's 6671; ©1963; Misses Dress. Yoked dress with front opening, with or without long set in sleeves. Dress is gathered to organdy lined yoke at back and side front. Sleeves are gathered into buttoned bands. Dress front is trimmed with eyelet edging or embroidered ribbon. Opening is closed with snaps. Round collar; separate tie belt with sleeved dress is worn at hipline. drop waist
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Here are a few patterns which show the 60s drop waist. Most of them feature a simple skirt half. The instructions on the last pattern suggest adding horsehair braiding to create an even more impressive flare. 

(Horsehair braiding was also used in 50s haute couture to give the volume in those big New Look skirts)


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The style was used quite a bit in catalogue and magazine photography, indicating the use in both high fashion and everyday wear

16 comments:

  1. Definitely to Sixties version for me, I love the Quant ones and have several of those patterns (although I'm a bit too scared to attempt them, they look involved!)
    Can't wait to see your version. x

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    1. oh! I agree the Quant patterns look tricky, but I guess you can have a go with some scrap fabric first?

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  2. I definitely prefer the 60s ones, I've got a few drop waist dresses and I think I have some patterns too but I've yet to make one. I'm looking forward to seeing your version x

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    1. thanks! hopefully it goes well if you make one!

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  3. I prefer the 60s one too , even this shape really doesn't fit me .

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    1. true - i think the 80s one really made it look worse than it was!

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  4. Great post Catherine, I really enjoyed this one. I love them in the 60s the most. Though I do have a love for 20s fashion, and it was noticing that the 60s had taken the drop waist from this time that I came to love it. That picture of Chrissie Shrimpton is beautiful, and I can't wait to see the dress that you make. xx

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    1. Thanks Lucy! the 1920's ones are really pretty and I think have the nicest detailing.
      This photo shoot with Chrissie, Linda Keith, Suki Poitier and and Annie Sabroux is one of my favourite shoots.

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  5. Definitely the 60s! Although I'm not the biggest fan of drop waist (I think my legs look really small when wearing drop waist) there is no doubt that it was used in the 60s fashion in the best possible way! Can't wait to see your dress! xxx

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    1. I agree! 80's versions were icky. I found on a few websites that I was reading that a lot of people didn't think they suited drop-waists and I couldn't think why. but I understand now. I wonder if its the illusion of the longer torso?

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  6. I enjoy drop waist on others, but for me, not so much, I feel like I'm too busty to pull it off. I can't wait to see your dress!

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  7. Hi Catherine, thanks for dropping by my blog. I saw your post yesterday right after I had posted on my blog about my drop waist dress and was so excited to see all your fab pics! I tried to comment, but blogger would not let me. I could not comment on any blogger blogs yesterday. We'll see what happens today!! (update: nope, still won't let me post using My open Wordpress ID, I'm trying with another option now). It's funny because I had really forgotten about the drop waist dress also being popular in the 60s since it is so ingrained that it is from the 20s. But, you have some really nice versions here. I love the Burda pattern you chose and think I might get a copy for myself. Thanks for the link!

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    1. Oh how strange! i wonder if anyone else had that problem here. ill check my comment settings too.
      I love the 20's drop waists their so pretty and elegant but the 60s version can be worn during the day which i like also!

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  8. Yay, it let me comment using NAME and URL. There's something wrong with Open ID on blogger, other folks are telling me the same thing, just FYI.

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    1. im might edit my disclaimer to mention using name and url if open ID doesnt work....

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  9. I'm a 60s fashion fanatic! Bring it back! :)

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