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Mar 5, 2012

Anatomy of an Ugly Pattern + Vogue winner!



Happy Monday, MPB readers.  Much to cover today so let's get to it.   First, the winner of the current (April/May 2012) issue of Vogue Patterns with my treadle article in it is...

Phoebe!



Phoebe, please email me your mailing address (peterlappinnyc at gmail dot com) and I will get your magazine off to you ASAP.  I am happy to autograph it -- just let me know if I should sign as myself or as Justin Bieber.  Congratulations!

Now folks, on to today's topic.  Most of you will agree that while "pretty" is nice and usually inoffensive, there's something about ugly that gets under our skin like a splinter in the backside and causes endless irritation.   So too, the ugly pattern.

Friends, allow me to introduce Simplicity 9106, a vintage dress pattern from 1970, and our ugly pattern for today.



The back:



I know what you're thinking: is this pattern really that bad?  The answer is, yes.  Let's look at the pattern closely.  It is not exactly what it seems.



See that peplum (Version 1)?  Friends, it is detachable; it's not even part of the dress.  Now you know how I feel about peplums -- or maybe it's that I know how you feel, I forget.  In any case, if you're going to add a peplum, please have the courage of your convictions and go for it.  A removable peplum belt signals a lack of confidence.  It's like architecture that's afraid of being too modern, so adds ersatz neoclassical columns, turrets or other phony frippery.  Tacky, tacky, tacky!





Simplicity 9106 wants to be all things to all people: puffy sleeves straight out of 1939 (which themselves had been stolen off some Tyrolean milkmaid; empire waist (Version 2) that's nothing more than a belt cinched up under the bustline (comfy!); bolero vest straight out of I Dream of Jeannie, and don't even get me started on the ruffled cuffs (Nellie Oleson, anyone?), phony front buttons, or that oh-so Maude Findlay fringed scarf.  







Please, please, Simplicity 9106, join an encounter group (in keeping with the spirit of the Seventies) and find yourself!  And lose the choker.

In closing, I hope you don't think I've been unfair to this 1970 pattern, which must show one of the earlier depictions of a woman of color on a pattern envelope -- a welcome nod to the Civil Rights movement.  Perhaps you owned Simplicity 9106 yourself or you'd like to purchase it.  Dig around Etsy -- it's there!

Readers, confess: did you ever wear polyester double knit dresses with removable peplums?  Did you add embroidered trim to your vests, sport a shag haircut or wear chokers?   If so, we'd like to hear from you!

Have a great day, everybody!

52 comments:

  1. I'll fess up to the chokers and the shag hair cut. Guilty as charged. But I never wore a peplum, let alone a detachable one. (eek!) And it is truly a terrible pattern. Thanks for pointing out that not all things vintage have value.

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    Replies
    1. Oh! But I do LOVE Barbara Eden, and she can wear anything she wants to.

      Delete
  2. Hm, I was born in 1980, so I'm not sure your closing questions really apply to me. That being said, I can answer anyway. In my late teens, I was a goth and yes, I used to wear chokers and once I added black braided trim to a black velvet jacket.

    Judging from pictures in vintage pattern magazines, chokers were the height of fashion in the 1970's, so that bit of neckwear should not be held against this poor pattern. And although I agree that a pattern should commit to being in one or another certain style, I feel I have to point out that the removable peplum has a bit of a history. I own patterns from the late 40's and 50's which include that very feature (mostly dresses with buttoned tops and slim skirts which can be made to look like suits with the aid of said peplum-on-a-belt)

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  3. The target market for that pattern was 16-26 years old, obsessed with style, and living on a shoestring. Being able to change the look with add-ons was a big draw. You could sew up the dress in an evening, and spend another making little bits to change the look. Believe me, we DID. How is this worse than the 40's patterns for collars, cuffs and bib fronts?

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    Replies
    1. In theory, nothing. In practice... :O

      Delete
  4. Sorry, I can't really hate on this pattern. I kind of like the peplum on a belt idea, and the rest just seems un-2012, but not horrible. On a 'we've come a long way, baby' note, I didn't even notice the woman of color on the first pass; it seemed totally normal to have women of different skin tones on a pattern envelope. Maybe there's hope for us...

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  5. I wear chokers and ROCK THEM because I have an absurdly long neck. I'm one of the few people I know who truly can pull off chokers and turtlenecks.

    And that is not a bad pattern. You want bad patterns? Check out:

    Simplicity 9544 (1970?)

    Simplicity 5186 (1972)

    and

    Simplicity 5711 (1973), which I'm certain didn't work on either gender.

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    Replies
    1. The lace-up unisex top (what a combo!) of 5711 - TEARS!!!!

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    2. The lace-up unisex top (What a combo!) of 5711 - tears! TEARS!!!!!!!

      Delete
  6. I recently came up on 400 patterns for $15...there are some gems but the vast majority are duds. It is so much fun looking at all the hideous styles, knowing that someone at one time looked at it and said to themselves, this will look "soooo great in orange crushed velour and these adult footie pajamas will be so cozy in plaid flannel", where they saw fabulousness I see tacky. I especially love the sister wives chic ones of the early 90s. Anyway, your post made me laugh since I spent all weekend sorting through a mass of tacky and ugly patterns, now I have to figure out what to do with them all.

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    Replies
    1. Start a blog, and feature an ugly pattern a day, or an ugly pattern a week :)

      Delete
  7. Ok- I think the detachable peplum is actually a great idea. Then, down the road, when you decide you no longer like peplums, you can remove it and still wear the dress.

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  8. I actually like View 2. The other views...Meh

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  9. Tears in my oatmeal.

    Off to find a copy of Vogue Patterns.

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  10. I can’t say I remember wearing any of the features of this pattern, but then perhaps I’ve blocked it out. My frugalness likes the removable peplum idea, as long as it doesn’t LOOK like it’s removable. That way, when peplums go out of favor again (or I ask myself, what was I thinking?) I can still wear the rest of the outfit.

    I remember when chokers were in style, but I didn’t wear them. I thought they lived up to their name and felt uncomfortable.

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  11. Please pardon the architecture geekery, but that first building you posted is actually a quintessential Post-Modern style building, a style that was deliberately using classical forms to essentially say, "Hey Modern buildings, stop being so formal and serious all the time!" I could also defend the Lincoln Center building but I'll stop there :)

    In any case, I'm so glad I wasn't old enough to get caught wearing detachable peplums!

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  12. re: "Little Black Car" simplicity 9544. Hotpants! Sigh! I had a couple of sets. Not as tacky as them of course. They were more like long tailored vests (the length of a mini skirt) and shorts underneath them. Not a good description of them, but I suspect a few readers know what I am talking about. I had the bod back then to wear them and get away with it, but not now, sigh!!

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  13. I'm surprised at all the detachable peplum love. I can't help but think there's a joke to be made about fanny packs.

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  14. Double Knit: Yes
    Removable Peplum: No
    Embroidered Trim: Yes
    Shag Haircut: Yes
    Chokers: Yes-although God only knows why- I have an absurdedly short neck.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Okay, I confess. Not only did I sport a shag haircut that looked suspiciously like Mrs. Brady's, my mother made Simplicity 9544 from blue calico for me and I wore it to school.

    ReplyDelete
  16. At about 13, I decided I'd probably die unless I got a shag. Well, my hair was a thick, wavy, black mess going all this way & that. Luckily I had hugely thick eyebrows to match, and so began my unintended androgenous phase. (Adolescent horrors) About 15 years later, I was killin' it in my teal rayon file suit with peplum.

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  17. Is this pattern in your collection?

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  18. I was a teenager back in the 80's... not the 70's. I wore peplums and I had belts that looked like "detachable" peplums. They were made of wide elastic and had a rufle or peplum. To make it worst, I wore the belts with jeans; skinny acid wash jeans probably with skin tight tops. I also wore a lot of chockers back on the 90's.
    What is wrong with the ungly pattern for real? IMO it had too much going on. It has more than one trend at the same time and it looks to me like that pattern was intended to be create a young executive girl wardrobe.

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  19. Can't say I was around for polyester and the shag cuts of the 70s, and honestly my satorial choices have usually been more informed by what the thrift stores have than trends... ;) (Which themselves can lead to some *interesting* fashion choices. I shudder at some of the "gems" I have unearthed that I now wonder what the heck I was thinking when I wore it?!) But I kind of like the detachable peplum... I did make a dress a couple years ago using a 40s pattern with a detachable peplum. (http://elegantmusings.com/2010/07/a-ruffled-peplum-if-you-please/) Granted, just about every time I've worn that dress I wish I had just stitched the darn thing into the waist seam, because it moves around a lot... ;) (And I never wear it without the peplum--too plain!) But as much as I like the concept, not sure I'd pair it with those sleeves that your 70s pattern shows... *shudder*

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  20. Shag hair and chokers. Hey, everyone was doing it. ;-)

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  21. Yes to the chokers, and yes to the most godawful shag I've ever seen.

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  22. I don't quite think you can compare this pattern to PostModern or Brutalist architecture. The point of those is that they are making references but are pared down. This dress is more like the split-level suburban house with applied Colonial detailing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So few ever speak of Brutalist architecture. Loved the "applied colonial detailing" reference - what a nod to what wasn't there.

      Thanks, caroline!

      Delete
  23. Yes to the chokers and to the shag. I think I still have a shag - albeit slightly updated. I hope. I'm sure I wore polyester doubleknit something because it was around and my mother had just fallen in love with Stretch and Sew sewing methods/fabrics/patterns. But nay to the removable peplum (although I do love peplums). I also had a 3" wide brown macramé belt, that I made myself and wore with my hip hugger very VERY flared jeans. That freakin belt took me MONTHS and many blister to make (it was lots of strands and very tightly knotted) and I wore the heck out of it. I probably made some chokers too, but it's that belt that I remember. (Can you tell?)

    DJ

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  24. Elaine (nobody you know)March 5, 2012 at 11:42 PM

    Is the mullet is detachable as well? I can't make out "dead rat fur" in the notions list, so maybe not.

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  25. Yes to chokers and shag haircuts, even peplums at one time when I was skinny enough to pull it off.

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  26. I remember when shags, chokers and macrame belts were groovy babeee!
    No to the peplums both then and now. (They don't suit me.)

    ReplyDelete
  27. I too hated the styles of the 70's!

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  28. I have heard the seventies referred to as 'the decade that taste forgot". These patterns are pretty tame samples of what was really going on..anyone remember "Herb Tarlek" suits? Loud plaid suits with cuffed pants, coloured shirts (what an innovation!) and wide garish ties? Better to be caught dead in a lace-up-front unisex top than THAT.

    But really... what do you think future gens are going to make of bumster pants, falling-down hip-hop pants with boxers on full display, large dangly side chains, straps everywhere, everything ten times too large, hats on backwards or sideways, hoodies with everything...come now! When you look at today's 'fashion" the seventies stuff seems positively tasteful!(Except for the HT suits; nothing can redeem THOSE)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I had to Google Herb Tarlek but I basically agree with you.

      Delete
  29. Oh, and does anyone remember "CRIMPLENE"? There was a time when you could hardly get anything else in fabric stores! My mother thought this was the fabric equivalent of the second Coming...for a while there she made EVERYTHING in "crimplene" (a type of non-raveling knit polyester fabric; I am sure it is lying there completely preseved and indestructible in landfills everywhere)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No recall of that wonder fabric, but my first necktie was made out of "Wemlon" (tag line: "You get a second chance with Wemlon!"), it was stain resistant.

      Delete
  30. In the 70's I was in mini skirts, cut off short, short, short shorts, platform shoes, tiny tops, and a huge curly natural shag. In the winter, I added tights and boots. And I had 2 little kids! No chokers, too uncomfortable.
    I sewed lots of mini dresses and kids' clothes then.
    That pattern is a good example of the disaster years of fashion. Eck

    ReplyDelete
  31. Sctually I completely disagree; the seventies were when Yves St. Laurent really came into his own.His russian collection was to die for, and i followed it all avidly at the time; in fact the memeory of his Gypsy and Russian collections influenced my personal style for the rest of my life; I happen to have kept a pattern of one of his suits;I was too intimidated to sew it up but I have kept it like a talisman lo all these years, and now it is classified as "vintage" I guess that means I too now am officially "vintage".

    ReplyDelete
  32. Oh, and everywhere I look at the present time I am seeing short skirts, platform shoes and if a recent cruise through the local Ardene was any indication, short shorts (I call them "Whorts", myself) are the big thing for spring just as they have been since the seventies.

    And I see that the populace can expect "tasteful bare midriff" to pop up in unexpected places along with the increasingly ubiquitous "cleavage for day"; they are now being pushed as "office wear".

    ReplyDelete
  33. Of course I wore a choker, that was the style back then!! Now I didn't wear the other stuff, but I DID have the haircut!! I made all my own clothes back then and never bought THAT pattern!! Especially since I didn't like wearing dresses unless I really HAD to!!

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  34. Excellent job deconstructing the pattern. At first glance it looks kind of cute, but it is one of those "don't trust an illustration-only" patterns (of course, they all only had illustrations back then, I guess they weren't to be trusted?). I was in elementary school in the 70s and have never had enough hair for a shag, but I did rock the coulottes and cowboy boots.

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  35. You want ugly? While I'd agree the 1970s have a lot of it, that pattern could be a lot worse.

    How about these modern jewels:

    Vogue

    Butterick

    Burda

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  36. There was this dress pattern called "Tosca" for sale in Threads recently...a giant triangle-shaped thingy with a gathered bottom edge! it was/is unspeakable; I can NOT imagine anyone actually "wanting" to wear that thing!

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