Friday, January 13, 2012

Backwards, Baby

Since today is Friday the 13th, a day known amongst the superstitious as one during which things have a tendency to go sideways or backwards, as the case may be, I thought I would share a little blooper I noticed in relation to a Jean Harlow gown which I had had the pleasure of seeing in person when I had visited the Hollywood Museum in L.A. back in November.  The short of it is that, recently, I came upon a photo of Harlow in the fur sleeved velvet gown and noticed something which the curators of the Harlow exhibit apparently had not: the gown was worn by Harlow with the v in front, not in back!  As further evidence, by sheer coincidence, I found a newsreel clip of Harlow in that very same gown (see below).  To add insult to injury, as I was composing this post, I noticed there is yet another photo of Harlow in the gown displayed right in front of the actual gown in the Museum (see my photo just below).  Clearly, the curators are displaying Baby's gown backwards.  Oops?


Source


To be fair, 30s gowns can sometimes be tricky in relation to determining which is the front and which is the back, often due to the fact that it was quite common to have a gown dip lower in the back and inset goring that modern wearers might want emphasizing the rear were designed to highlight the hips and so forth.  How to avoid such glitches? 

  1. Look for any bust darts. This will tell you which side is meant to face front; 
  2. Look for side closures (in my experience, button/snap/hook/zip plackets typically sit on the left side waist of garments from the 30s); 
  3. Lay the gown flat or put it over a dress form if you have one and see if you see a difference in hem length (often the back hem will dip lower).        
Sometimes, none of these clues will be there. In such cases, what's a gal to do? Try it on both ways and wear it how you want!!  Btw, if any other 30s lovers have tips or tricks on this topic, I'd love to hear 'em!



9 comments:

Kelly-Marie said...

Oopsie indeed, that's a pretty bad mistake to make considering the picture is in front of it. What a gown though! Thank you for the tips too.

Second Hand Rose said...

Well done, that's really clever of you to spot that. I bet not many people have! I didn't realise they were so tricky but now thinking about it I can understand why. Thanks so much for the tips! XxxX http://thesecondhandrose.blogspot.com/

Debi said...

Good catch! Beautiful gown!

Hannah said...

no way,what a good eye you have the dress is beautiful x

Alli said...

Whoops! What a blunder.....did you let them know? When you look at the dress the way they have it, it just doesn't look 'right'.....the neckline looked a little too high and the arms looked a bit pulled back (if that makes sense, lol). It just isn't sitting properly.

Julie of Fab Gabs said...

I actually have a late 30's rayon day dress that I am sure that I wear backwards, because the closure is on the right. However, no matter what my efforts, it doesn't fit or drape correctly when worn with the closure on the left. So, I wear it the way it fits, and on the rare occasion a fellow vintage snob catches me (it's happened!) I just smile and say that it is great to have options.

BaronessVonVintage said...

Julie, YES, I have definitely seen 30s dresses with the side placket on the right side, too...it is VERY possible you might actually be wearing it right way forward...the main thing is you should like how the garment looks and falls on you. :)

In the case of the Harlow gown, I agree with Allie...the gown looks like it is pulled a bit tight on the mannequin as a result of it not perhaps being designed to wear this way. Hmm, maybe I WILL contact the Hollywood Museum ;O)

Wildfell Hall Vintage said...

oh wow, love this post. I have a 40s dress in my shop right now that I photographed backwards, realized it so showed both ways! they both kinda work so....in this case I like her V at the front though for a little decolletage!

Aurélie said...

I do think you should contact the Museum :)