Jun 3, 2011
What can you say about Ginger Rogers that hasn't already been said on a million other sewing/vintage style blogs? I'll try to come up with something. I've actually written about her a few times, early on, here and here.
Growing up, I adored Ginger Rogers and the more I learned about her the less I liked her. Aside from her politics -- don't get me started -- she apparently wasn't much fun to work/be/live with. As recounted by someone I knew years ago who performed with her in Hello Dolly, she was very grand and very cheap, at least by that time in her life.
But let's not let facts get in the way of fiction. On screen, especially in the late-Thirties, early-Forties (her heyday), Ginger was wonderful fun. Working women, especially, identified with her. You always knew, whatever part she was playing in the film -- and she was usually a shop girl or dancer -- that she'd worked hard to get where she was. Nothing had been handed to her, and she was tough, which endeared her to struggling Depression-era audiences.
And how lovely she looked. Obviously she didn't dress herself, but she wore clothes beautifully, having been blessed with a lean and lithe dancer's body. The films she made with Fred Astaire at RKO are classics and her on-screen contributions are equal to his, especially in the later films. When they dance, I watch her.
Whatever her personality quirks, Ginger Rogers endured; she started in movies in the Twenties and was still working in the Eighties. I saw her live at Radio City Music Hall in 1980 in her nostalgic one-woman (and a zillion effeminate chorus boys) show, and I remember being very entertained by it. She even autographed my program!
Cathy has been begging me to make her a Ginger Rogers-style dress and I'm kind of eager to make one too. The styles are easy to find: nearly any late-Thirties secretary dress from a pattern company like Hollywood or DuBarry fits the bill, and I recently found one that had a lot of the elements from the dress pictured up top, which Ginger wore in the Pick Yourself Up number in Swing Time, one of the very best of the RKO Astaire-Rogers musicals.
Here's what I recently bought on on Etsy:
Another shot of the Pick Yourself Up dress:
If you inspect Ginger's dress (you can click on it to supersize) you'll notice it has a fitted midriff yoke. I may or may not try to recreate that. This Hollywood pattern, currently for sale on Etsy, has a similar yoke, but I will not pay $35 for a vintage dress pattern.
Ginger's skirt is pleated and it seems to wrap across the front, below the midriff yoke (or does it? If you inspect the top photo you'll see it looks like the layers overlap for additional fullness; in the video below not so much). What do you think a dress like that was made out of, silk?
Anyway, this is what I'm thinking about sewing next, or soon, though things could change, as they sometimes do.
On an unrelated note, if you haven't contributed your recipe for a happy life on yesterday's post -- or you'd like some good instructions for whipping one up this weekend -- please have a look. Some wonderful comments -- and a lot of wisdom -- were contributed.
Thoughts about Ginger/the Ginger dress?
Happy Friday, everybody!
Ginger as I saw her:
In her prime: