Dress Diary #1: Think Pink? Think Again
Updated: Oct 13, 2020
Blush, coral, dusty rose, baby doll, and fuchsia. When you think pink, what do you think?
Pink is one of those odd colors that is now so un-apologetically feminine, bordering on crass and classy simultaneously. Both pretty and obscenely, derogatorily girlie.
Pink ladies, the smack of bubble gum, sorority girls, flamingos, Mean Girls, Marilyn Monroe, Elle Woods, baby FDR. Considering the feminine obsession with pink is partially due to massive 1950s advertising campaigns, it does make the color slightly condescending.
Me, personally, I'm caught in the hypocritical conundrum of never being caught dead in pink. But if I had any guilty pleasure, it would be pink. Not to wear, but as an aesthetic.
There's an era of taking back things. Taking back words, derogatory phrases, oppressive and offensive ideals and images, twisting them back and fashioning them into one big middle finger. I like that.
So, our very first Dress Diary is dedicated to pink.
Refashioning pink into something both feminine and anti-feminine. Sexy and stout. With the beauty of a blushing rose and the smell of a Harley Davidson. Taking back the color and deciding what we will with it.
So what have we got that's pink?
Our first dress is a late 60s/early 70s pale pink lace dress, trimmed with satin ribbons. Resting just off the shoulders with a pleated band of matching lace, an ever-so-slightly plunging neckline and flowing skirts, it is quintessential femininity. The dress doesn't have a brand label, but does have the classic American union-made label.
SIDE NOTE: The American union label is a staple of vintage collecting. Dating from the early 1900s, it is useful guide to date clothing depending on the design. Members of the union, known as the "International Ladies Garment Workers Union" or ILGWU, were skilled seamstresses, representing well-made quality clothing, many of which survive today.
It's lined in a stiff polyester and edged with light organza for extra floof. (No, floof is not a real word, I just made it up.)
Despite the small details and charms of the dress, what makes it unique is the thick crochet-like lace. One-of-a-kind with varying designs, the lace is patterned to alternate in a layered, scalloped skirt.
The dress looks like a blushing hippie. Not quite as rough as Woodstock, but definitely a flower child who likes the occasional roll of grass. How about a bohemian wedding, the neckline hanging lazily off the shoulders, with bare feet feet, wild hair, loads of mismatched jewelry and a tattoo or two. Paired with a Volkswagen and a busload of hippies, and there ya go.
Our second dress is a similarly feminine 1960s sweetheart. Made of light chiffon with embroidered flowers, it fashions both baby pink and blue colors to make for a charming facade.
The dress is partially sheer, with billowing poet sleeves, pleated around floral embroidered cuffs. Beneath the chiffon is a layer of polyester lining of an identical pink, and beneath that is a full blown petticoat of pleated pink tulle (to yes, give the skirt extra 'floof'). Cinched at the waist is a blue satin ribbon with an ornate bow, in classic 60s style.
This dress does not come with a designer tag, but does come with a union-made label and is impeccably made.
To fashion this baby doll fantasy? A dress like this is so beautifully feminine, but as a conquest of femininity. Yes, I like flowers. Yes, I like pink. Yes, I might like a little modesty (but only by daylight). Wear it as battle armor, of full-blown, full-bodied feminine expression. .
Bringing us to our third dress is mid-century glamour, courtesy of 1950s darling: Fred Perlberg. A purveyor of sweeping skirts, silks and satins, he was known for his collection of dance and party dresses of full-blown feminine fashion.
The fabric is illustrious, a shiny two-toned taffeta of slightly muted pink, not quite coral, not quite pale pink, something in between a dusty rose interwoven with a silver sheen.
Strapless, with a knife pleated bodice and added featherweight boning, gives an hourglass curve to the bust. And flaring out the skirt is a light yet structured crinoline made of netting for extra 50s fullness.
While we're talking about the 50s, let's talk about a young Marlon Brando atop a motorcycle, the fast cars of James Dean, rocker rebellion and leather clad boys. This dress might be classically feminine, but there's some spunk to it. It belongs on a Harley, with a weathered biker jacket.
Like the fashionable mob wife or studded punk princess, 50s counter culture has got its Queen. In full regalia with red lipstick, tulle petticoats and sharp winged liner, her kingdom is the gasoline stations, drag races, and the open road.
Let pink reign.
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