I’m not going to go into details about the great midi debacle of 1967-1970 because I wrote about it at length last year. I wanted to show this set though to point out just how confusing the issue of dress length was at the time.
The set is from Ladybug, which might be surprising if you remember that label from the early to mid 1960s. Ladybug, the junior division of The Villager, was known more for their conservative prints and preppy separates, not for pushing the fashion edge. Maybe that is why they were hesitant to go full out midi, and instead compromised with the short/long look.
Without the vest, the dress looks a lot shorter. It is a great little dress, made from wool tweed, or possibly a blend; this was the late 1960s after all. The bias cut adds so much to the design, as does the leather trim. But unfortunately, the leather is actually fake, and did not age well.
I can see that this is inspired by the work in leather and wool that Bonnie Cashin did for Philip Sills in the 1960s. Unfortunately the real leather pieces of Cashin often did not fare any better than did this cheaper version. Neither leather nor plastics age well without careful preservation.
I didn’t take a photo of just the vest, but I’m glad the set is still together so as to give an accurate picture of its story. Without the matching dress, one would be tempted to place the vest later in the 1970s, as it is so reminiscent of Maude and her famous long vests.
And while I’m mentioning Ladybug, here is what comes to my mind when thinking of that label. As I said, Ladybug was the younger version of The Villager, a brand famous for blouses and shirt dresses made of little prints. Each Ladybug purchase came with a little stickpin in the form of a ladybug.
These pages are from a Ladybug catalog insert in a Seventeen magazine, 1965, and are very typical of what the brand had to offer. It was the All-American college girl look, which was fading fast in 1965 due to the Swinging London Mod girl look.
It does seem like so much of the study of history is interconnected. I’m currently reading Seven Sisters Style by Rebecca C. Tuite, a history of the clothing worn by the young women at the Seven Sisters colleges. Villager and Ladybug were a big part of that look in the late 1950s and into the 60s.