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