A Matter of Proportion

I spotted this skirt recently at a nearby antique mall, and I really liked it, but for some reason it looked a little off. The mix of colors was so fresh and unexpected, so that wasn’t it.  Still, it left me a bit unsettled.

A check inside the skirt revealed one of my favorite sportswear labels from the 1950s and 60s, Bill Atkinson for Glen of Michigan.  I’ve sung the praises of this label in the past, and I know it to be of good quality and to have a sound design aesthetic.  So what about it bothered me?

I took the skirt from the rack and turned it inside out to examine it.  And there was the story.  The skirt had been shortened.

The bottom squares were originally true squares like the rest of the ones in the skirt.  Even better, there was a band of that same dark pink velveteen that is used in the waistband.  My faith in Mr. Atkinson was restored.

I was impressed that the person who turned this knee-length skirt into a mini did not take the scissors to it.  Instead she turned up the band and half of the bottom squares, which made for a very bulky hem.  I’m guessing it didn’t get a lot of wear as the condition of the skirt was so good.

As a short person, I’ve learned that there is often more to consider when putting up a hem than just length.  Proportion is very important in order for a dress or skirt to look “right.”  Several years ago before maxi-length dresses came back into fashion, it was common on ebay to see 1970s maxis that the seller had cut off to a mini length.  Because the scale of prints in the early 70s was often quite large, the prints were well suited to the maxi length.  But with three feet of fabric sliced from the bottom, the mini versions always ended up looking off kilter.

I’m glad that floor-length dresses made a reappearance in fashion, because it saved many vintage 1970s maxi dresses from the chopping block.

Correction: Spelling error

9 Comments

Filed under Curiosities, Designers, Sportswear, Vintage Clothing

9 responses to “A Matter of Proportion

  1. Perfect timing! Great information, Lizzie ~ researchinhg proper proportions just now, but hadn’t gotten to these issues. Thank you!

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  2. what a fantastic find – great memories of all AMERICAN sportswear!

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  3. And look at how it’s sewn–as if someone had intended to have a very short skirt for just a day or two. I guess we can all be grateful that it wasn’t hacked off.

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  4. I agree that she probably made the hem like that so it might be lengthened again when styles returned to ‘normal’. During that era I took up hems that way on brand new dresses and skirts because few labels could keep up with the ever shrinking skirt length. Needless to say, those hems were never returned to their original length.

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  5. And once they’ve been turned like this for 40 years, I doubt you can get rid of the ugly/discolored crease created by the home-made hem
    Gorgeous skirt.

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  6. Jessamyn

    Okay, I have to ask: “Proportation”?

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