1956 Wrap skirt

Vogue skirt, 1956

I’ve had this pattern for about a year, but I didn’t sew it until just recently. I was under the mistaken impression that it would be fussy to fit and size accurately. I’m not sure why. In fact, this is an extremely easy and forgiving pattern to sew. Remarkably, there is only one pattern piece, and all the shaping is done through darts and folds.

This is the main piece and there’s a waist facing, as well

Although they appear throughout the 50s, there was a strong style trend in 1956 for these high-waisted, tight skirts. It was the era of the “bombshell” — Marilyn Monroe comes to mind and also a young Brigitte Bardot. Curves ruled the day. And not just in women’s clothing. Avant-garde architecture and design embraced roundness and expressed a dynamic fullness. I’m thinking of two buildings in particular that were started around 1956: the Guggenheim Museum by Frank Lloyd Wright and the TWA building by Eero Saarinen, both located in New York City.

The Guggenheim in New York City

Although the Guggenheim was modelled on the form of a snail shell, I can’t help thinking of it as a sensuous feminine design. Its organic form seems to defy the rationalist modernist skyscrapers built for industrialists. There is something subversive about the way it wraps around itself, curling inward ¬†while most of the other buildings shoot upward in competition.

Saarinen’s TWA building similarly defies rationalist thinking. From the outside it looks like a gigantic manta ray.

The TWA Building in New York City

I’ve read some interpretations of tight women’s clothing from this era as binding and restricting women’s movement, or as the hyper-sexualization of women’s bodies in reaction to women in the workplace after WWII. But I think there is room for other interpretations as well. This form-fitting Vogue skirt, for example, has a much more sympathetic construction than many modern day items of clothing. It actually has a “tummy dart” to accommodate the fact that women don’t naturally have flat stomaches. I find this acknowledgement of the reality of women’s real bodies stunning in comparison to the way women today are forced into clothes that don’t respond to their natural shape. I like to think ¬†this wrap skirt is more of a Guggenheim than a skyscraper.

Vogue wrap skirt from the side

I used a piece of leftover denim from my 70’s jumpsuit, and shortened the skirt radically (mainly because I’m short).

Finished wrap skirt in denim with red buttons

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5 responses to “1956 Wrap skirt

  • 1956 Vogue wrap skirt

    […] recently sewed this incredibly easy fitted skirt from a 1956 Vogue pattern I’ve had in my stash for over a year. The pattern is actually one single piece of cloth […]

  • Naomi

    Hi. So glad to have found your blog. Insightful & educational all at once! I am inspired to learn more about art and the many ways it influences our daily lives. This skirts construction reminds me of the technique Chanel may have used in her designs. If you look into it further I think you’ll agree :)

  • pelisa

    Hi Metushka,
    I love this pattern! Thank you for sharing. This is exactly the kind of wrap skirt I have been looking for. Could you tell me the measures of the patterns? Maybe even in centimetres (only if possible)!
    Thank you ever so much!

    • sometimesewing

      Hi,

      The pattern I have is 28″ waist and 37″ hip, but it’s highly adjustable, just by moving the button closures in or out. You should be able to find a copy of Vogue 8926 on Ebay or just a Google search.

      Good luck with it!

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