1940s Fashion: The Arlena Dress

Hi, I’m Katie from What Katie Did, and welcome
back. Today I’m going to tell you a little bit about
our Arlena dress. Most of the clothing in our collection is
inspired by vintage pieces that I’ve had in my wardrobe for up to 25 years, and are unfortunately
too well-worn and too damaged to wear anymore. So, the whole dress collection came from selfishness
really that I had grown to love all these pieces so much and I still wanted to wear
them. So that is basically where most of our dresses
come from, and Arlena is a bit different to that. I actually found the original dress in a vintage
store called East West in Chinatown in Los Angeles. And the condition of the dress was really
good and the pattern for it was amazing. But the dress, it really was in pristine condition. There was no reason to be inspired by it other
than I really liked the design. The original piece had an amazing print, and
I am looking at being inspired by the print, but to begin with, we just made it in claret
rayon, and the claret rayon is a deep red. It doesn’t match exactly with our claret seam
stockings, the claret seam stockings are slightly darker, but it’s a pretty close match. If you have a look on our website, you’ll
see that this dress actually looks a little bit lighter, whereas in reality it is pretty
close to our claret seams. It’s made from rayon and the skirt is cotton
lined. It doesn’t need any particular lingerie to
go with it, you can wear this with any bra, although it would look amazing with a bullet
bra because it is inspired by the forties and fifties. The skirt is cotton lined, and one thing I
found when I was trying on the samples of this is I did have a ridge because my corsets
around the hip. So what we did is we added a cotton lining
which minimises any wrinkles around the hip. But what we did do was when we photographed
it on a model is that we put her in one of our Dixie girdles and I would really recommend
wearing this piece with a girdle. If you do get a line around the hip because
it really smooths out the line and gives it a smooth finish. The skirt is slightly A line, which makes
it easy to walk in because it’s always, I walk a lot and I enjoy dancing so I want something
I can move in and have fun in. So it’s made so you can move in it, but it
is cut slightly tightly over the hips, which means that if you don’t wear the right underpinnings
or your hips are slightly bigger, you might get an underwear line here. So I would recommend wearing it with an open
bottom girdle, even our corselette just so you have a super smooth line under clothing. The original version of this dress had a zip
fastening at the side and I have a love hate relationship with zips, especially zips at
the sides. I’ve found that reproduction vintage quite
often the zip gets stuck halfway up and then suddenly it goes up and it pinches your skin
and it’s a major ouch. So this time with our dress, we’ve put buttons
up the sides and of course buttons were more commonly used in the forties so that’s another
feature which is period correct. They are slightly fiddly to do up, but just
a zip is also fiddly to do up and I can tell you that they don’t hurt when you pinch your
skin, you’re not going to pinch your skin using a button. So that is why I’ve used buttons. I’m not aware of anyone else using buttons
in this fashion for me pro vintage. So you’ll have to let me know whether you
think what you think, whether you would prefer a zip or whether you like the buttons. I personally prefer the buttons, but if you
let me know, we can do a photo on it and see what you guys think. Just like all our clothing, this dress, Arlena
dress is hand wash. We find that if you hand wash something, you’re
more likely to look after it. And if you wash it separately, you don’t have
to worry about the dye running or anything like that. So we’re looking at making fashion items that
you’ll turn to again and again that will last and stand the test of time. As I said before, the vintage pieces I’ve
worn, I’ve been wearing them for up to 25 years and it’s only now that they’re getting
to fall apart and showing their age. So I’m hoping that our dresses will last just
as long as the vintage originals. I should point out to you that our Arlena
dress is quite long. And this was something I thought seriously
about when I was sampling it because it was slightly longer than we’d expect dresses from
the forties or fifties to be. And I was thinking, should I chop a bit off? And in the end I decided to make it the same
length as the actual original. If it was good enough for someone in the forties
it’s good enough for us. But again, this does come down to feedback
from you. As I said, I was thinking about taking a little
bit off. If anything, I find vintage repro-clothing
is slightly too short, so maybe, maybe you’ll be happy having a longer length. It might be that moving forward, we do need
to take a couple of inches off. It might be moving forward that we need to
offer two lengths, but please get, if you try this dress, please get back to me and
let me know what you think because we can change it and anything is possible. It’s very early days for our range addresses,
so if he didn’t have any questions or you have any comments, please get in touch and
I’ll catch up with you soon.

8 thoughts on “1940s Fashion: The Arlena Dress

  1. I love it! The buttons r great, not great with long nails but who cares lol. I agree with vintage repro being too short. I like the length of yours. One thing u didn't tell us was the price. xx Wish u would have shown us the original.

  2. Pretty!

    Handwash items tend to wait for the washing quite a while, thus getting little use. Unless I use the handwash cycle in the washing machine, of course.

  3. Have you ever considered making vintage style slips? The only other company who produces them are Emmy, but the cost plus UK shipping is rather steep. My true vintage silk slips are so fragile!

  4. Very elegant, love it! I personally love the longer length, I'm often frustrated by how short even repro dresses are, if things aren't comfortably below the knee I tend to steer clear. Love the fabric choices too, and the consideration for underpinnings! Buttons on the side- yes!! I despise side zips, often fiddly or awful to do up on an actual human body. I've entire dresses I've given up on wearing because they require a second person to zip it shut even though the dress itself actually fits. Excellent design! Very excited 🙂

  5. I love the buttons! I sew my own clothes and have a small collection of vintage patterns and I've seen side buttons in at least one of them, Vogue 9589 from the 40's. It was my first time doing side buttons and I loved them! Made it feel more authentic to me. 😃👗

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