Tuesday, December 7, 2010

7 December 1956 “Cocktail Dresses”

Next week I am hosting a cocktail party here at my home. I am only just now preparing to make my dress.Diorcocktaildress56 Here is a Dior Cocktail dress from this year 1956. As you can see, skirts are still very full, in fact getting fuller, but hemlines are moving up a bit. I really like the hem to hit just below the knee when it is full. This dress is strapless.
56cocktail Here is Betty Furness (famous tv commercial spokeswoman for westinghouse) in 1956 in a floral cocktail dress.
What I have been considering is a sheath dress of dove grey dupioni silk with a sheer full overskirt, such as these.overskirtdress b5032 You can see that the pencil skirt part of the dress is just hinted at through the sheer guaze of the overskirt.
cocktaildressvogue Now, I also have this vintage dress pattern which is meant to be a cocktail dress. I have made it in cotton as a day dress and it was quite comfortable. I have, therefore, thought of making this dress in the dove grey dupioni silk and simply have the entire dress covered in the sheer grey.
I like both a full and a pencil skirt. A fuller skirt is more fun to move in, obviously, but I think both look nice. My fuller figure is often shown off better in a sheath as it grabs in the right places to actuate a gal’s assets.
greysheer1 This is the grey sheer fabric I have for the dress. It is hard to photograph, as it is so sheer. It is covered in little grey/silver satin bows. Here you can see it over a very 50’s grayish pink lining. I have also considered making the sheath dress out of a pink silk, similar to this in shade, with the grey floating over that. I really love grey and pink together and it is a very 50’s palette. Only, I might like the subtlety of the grey silk with grey organza over it. What is your opinion readers?
How many of you are throwing or going to Holiday parties that allow you to dress up? If you aren’t why not throw one? It doesn’t matter if your in the middle of the corn belt or in NYC, a gal loves to dress up. You might find many of your friends would love the chance to be ‘fancy ladies’ for an evening.


  1. I think the grey with the grey over it would be lovely for a more fancy event. The pink, I think, is a fun color for more "raucous" occasions. Though, I realize a cocktail party isn't exactly a riotous event, it calls for more flirtatiously fun colors.
    I adore that Dior dress!

  2. Donna, I think the Betty Furness dress is fabulous. Actually I like all of them and I think you are correct about the sheath dress on you. You look great in that style. The addition of the over-skirt would add a bit of fun. I love grey and pink together too. Very sophisticated combination. So as you can see I'm no help at all. LOL
    I hope you have a very successful party and Please have someone take pictures. I love to see what you do.
    Julie in WA

  3. I think the gray sheath dress with the sheer gray overskirt would be very, very chic! I really love that pattern. So cool.

  4. I cannot wait to see the finished result. I think you should go for a pink pencil skirt dress with the lovely sheer fabric over (full skirt over pencil), since it will not look like anything else in your wardrobe (as far as I know). And such a dress will be fabulous for all kinds of parties. I would love to throw a Christmas party, but unfortunately all my weekends have been booked for months. But I will dress up going to other parties. Dressing up is the best for a gal to do. :)

  5. I like the gray on gray. I am also a bit envious. I just don't remember the last time I wore a pretty dress.

  6. Now I am really torn, I like the subtlety of the gray with gray with a silver strappy shoe but the pink with gray is also more 'frivolous' as you would have for a party dress. Maybe I will do the pink/gray for cocktail and then a similar style for an evening dress will be all gray but ball gown length. Possibly have the sheer (a different sheer, this was the last of the yardage that I bought this summer of that sheer) full skirted over long floor length pencil/straight skirt. And the full sheer over skirt being shorter in the front and then gradually sweeping down to floor length in the back. We might be throwing a New Years eve party too, but that would also need a cocktail style dress, unless I make it formal, men in tux, ladies in evening wear. We shall see for that one, but party dresses are probably better for that type of occasion.
    Ardenlynn-why not throw a party yourself and put on the invitation, 'cocktail dress or 'dress up party dress' something along those lines. Even if the boys are party poopers, I bet you have some lady friends who would love to dress up!

  7. i am voting for the "grey", which i guess i would call silver for the occasion. :) i love silver and gold for holiday occasions, b/c really, when else can you wear it?? it would look lovely with either pearls or rhinestones.
    i just went to my husband's company christmas party, and i have to say, was one of the most dressed up ones there. i was able to wear a red silk wrap blouse, black cocktail pants, and my vintage rhinestones. what fun.

  8. another thought...could you make the sheer part removable, so you could make both pink and grey dresses to switch off?????

  9. I vote for the grey on grey dress. So elegant! You could always add color with a wrap,evening bag,or shoe. Or put a fabulous brooch on. Or a rockin' shade of lipstick. Ack! I'm jealous! I loved Kelly's idea about the removable overdress.

  10. Hi 50's Gal,

    I'm a long time follower but have never posted. I vote for the grey on grey. I hope you make the Butterick pattern as I have the same dress pattern but haven't made it yet. I'd love to see the finished product first!

    I find your blog very inspiring. Though I do work (self employed so I can work my own hours) I do find myself very much a homemaker and love the homemaking arts.

    Keep up the great work!

  11. It's funny you mention the removable overskirt, because I think I will make the gray/silver silk sheath and then make the overskirt a sort of full apron. I will edge the bottom and make the waistband/apronstrings out of either a coordinating silver/gray or else make that a fun metallic. Then I will have two dresses in a sense and then can also wear the overskirt with a pink sheath. This way it may do double duty for this party as well as New Year's Eve. Good ideas all.
    Carpe Diem-wonderful to have you comment. I am glad you consider yourself a homemaker who also works. I believe we have many such followers who easily walk that line of homemaker/career woman.
    I love the idea of blue cocktail pants. I think a pair of peacock green/blue cigarette pants in silk-satin with a long open full skirt you tie, but still view the pants (Like a hostess set) in a peacock gold/blue brocade would be so chic' for the Holidays.

  12. Can't wait to see the finished dress! I love dressing up! I wear dresses and skirts every day, which is not the norm for ladies at my office. We'll be having our office holiday luncheon on Friday, and I'll be wearing one of my dresses that has a full skirt.

    Mary Ellen
    The Working Home Keeper

  13. I'm going to an ugly Christmas sweater party Friday night. I think my sister will win the prize for ugliest sweater. We went thrift-store shopping this past weekend looking for ugly sweaters and hit the jackpot!

  14. Rachel, I bet that you'll have a great time at that kind of party. How hilarious!

    Donna, I vote for the grey over grey. While I adore pink I think the grey is more elegant and more appropriate for the style of the dress. It will look beautiful with a number of accessories and colors and dark vintage looking lipstick. But this is just my opinion. You're wearing the dress!


  15. If you make the pencil skirt with the full sheer overlay, be sure to make the overlay separate so that you can wear it with or without the overlay. That would make it much more versitile.

  16. Beautiful choice of gray over the pink. I have been thinking of doing a cocktail dress this year myself. Although I am working new years eve, I am free for three days over christmas.
    I love to dress for the holidays. Hope to see your dress soon.


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