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Jan 12, 2014

Things I Don't Get, Vol. 13 -- The Mod-Sixties Pantdress



Readers, WHAT were they thinking?  (Emilio Pucci in particular)

 





This late-Sixties/early-Seventies look -- presumably a hostess outfit for glamorous dinner parties -- defies easy categorization.

They're not really palazzo pants, even though the hems are wide enough for an elephant to pass through, because they're not just pants -- this is a one-piece ensemble.

They're not culottes, which I think of as pants disguised as short(ish) skirts. 



And when I think of a jumpsuit, I think of something skinny and catsuit-like, don't you?



It's definitely not be confused with a trapeze hostess gown like Simplicity 6794 below, though, hello! -- somebody's blatantly ripping off that Vogue Couturier Pucci pattern up top.
.


What's amazing is how many of these groovy pantdress patterns there were from around 1968 to 1973 -- they're everywhere!

















The best of these look like they're made with slinky silk jersey and have an A-line shape -- no belts or visible waistline, just an unbroken line from armpit to hem (and a bias roll collar, of course).  It's more likely that most were polyester double-knits that are still off-gassing in landfills today.

If you're wondering what happened to this one-piece pantdress hostess outfit, it's not entirely clear.  Some possibilities:

1) The one-piece was so obviously inconvenient for those with small bladders, that it was broken up into separates.



2) Designers -- even Pucci himself -- started gathering the hems, turning them into something akin to a harem pants and/or clown outfits.



 Separated at birth?



3) They lost their original purity of line with additions like elastic empire waistlines, Renaissance-inspired sleeves, and velveteen I Dream of Jeannie vests.  It was the beginning of the end.



Readers, perhaps you're thinking that I actually like the mod-Sixties pantdress.  Perhaps you even think I may long to make a pair myself.  Well...anything's possible.

In closing, is this swishy/culottey/palazzo-panty/jumpsuit-thing a look whose return you long for?

Did you ever wear something like this the first time around (which I believe was also the last time around) - or did someone you know?

Can you imagine wearing something like these pantdress outfits today and would you style it with large circular braids and/or sausage-curl wiglets?



Jump in!



PS -- You can see most of these patterns -- and many, many more -- in my "Worst Women's Patterns Ever" board on Pinterest.

52 comments:

  1. I definitely think a jumpsuit in the form of a form fitting top attached to flared pants could look really nice if it was done correctly, but I would just make separates for ease of dressing. Pant dresses like the ones above, with the exception of the Butterick 5073, look tacky.

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  2. Oh my goodness! I made myself one of these in a linen pink paisley in 1968 in the 8th grade and I LOVED it! I remember thinking that I'd never finish zigzaging the seeminly interminable crotch seams. I say if you feel great, who cares? Great blog!!

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  3. I do like that it looks like you could eat a lot without showing in these get-ups. And I have actually made one of these - Butterick 5073 - for a hipster friend of mine. She designed my logo and I made her 5073 in a cotton jersey. But I'm pretty sure I would never wear one of these myself. I need my clothes to shape me!

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  4. I think you are finally realising why your mother didn't like her robe.
    Love your blog. I have learned so much about sewing.
    Happy New Year!

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    1. Hahahah... I spilled my coffee!!

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  5. My inner monologue started singing Send in the Clowns mid post.

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  6. Oh, man, I remember these! I was in college in the late 60's and wore crap like that. There was this horrible fabric called Quiana (maybe Qiana) that was a sort of slinky poly double knit but thick and awkward and sweaty to wear. Awful! Must have been mass insanity. Claudia W

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    1. I had two or three bridesmaid dresses made out of that stuff. Awful is the correct description. It also magnified every bump and roll beneath it. Not that I had that many back then.........lol!

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    2. I owned a light blue Qiana shirt in 1975-76. I remember rinsing it in the sink in Woolite. It was dry about 15 minutes later.

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    3. I remember making several dresses out of Qiana nylon for my female models way back in the late 70's when I was in The Apparel Design program. Hey, a poor design student cannot afford silk! So Qiana it is...

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  7. I think you need to make one and walk around in it! I actually came across a vintage hot pink nightie made like this recently and it does have a "I'm special, where's the party?" feel.

    Since this was way before disney princess costumes were in every store, this was the party princess look. Also, you have to factor in that we all loved the big swooshy bell bottom pants anyway and the bells had to completely cover our shoes and swirl as if we were walking on a sheet of air.

    And yes, they were an absolute total pain in the r**r to get in and out of, especially if you waited too long to find a bathroom! But, even if we didn't wear a one piece pantsuit thingy - our mothers had us in full bodysuit blouses with the three snaps in the crotch that could only be snapped if you were a contortionist! I weighed less than 90 pounds at that time and my mother always had me in full shapewear because that was the only proper/nice girl way to wear the new double knit fabrics.

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  8. As you mentioned, the ladies room is a serious issue here – and that is always the first thing I think about when I see these patterns. I have a real problem having to pull down my entire outfit just to use the facilities, especially in a public restroom.

    If I was six feet tall and weighted 115 lbs, perhaps I could see the point. As it stands, I am just not groovy enough!

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  9. Those are from hell...if you have to disrobe to pee, it's a no-go as far as I'm concerned. (And the style is scary as well)

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  10. It could be done well, but you'd have to be damn confident. Cathy could probably pull it off.

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  11. Yes, the main problem was the huge puddle of fabric surrounding your feet on the public restroom floor. Or rather, trying to keep it off the floor. Otherwise, they were great, dresses that didn't require any attention to modesty.

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  12. Why are the models always posing with their legs wide apart in those huge outfits? Who stands like that in real life? (it's still done today on patterns for "regular" wide legged pants)

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  13. darling Peter, you had to be there…and i was and this was truly glam including the very odd hair piece which had to be styled, huge jewelry, huge eye makeup, etc., etc., etc…and better watch out, Cathy just may get hooked on the look. those Pucci designs were ab-fab

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  14. Oh it doesn't have anything to do with style and especially comfort. I lived these things. It was NEW, everything had to be NEW!!! And of course if you weren't in......well,......it just wasn't done not to be in and all. The same reason we all wore those ridiculaous hiphuggers and if you think those hipsters were any more comfy, they aren't/weren't - thank heavens we (older hippie types) didn't have to go through that again.

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  15. Betcha Cousin Cathy would lurve some made up for her :)

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  16. The style died when slinky, slimy Quiana died. RIP--probably in some landfill as you noted. Elle

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  17. Jen in hot and sunny MelbourneJanuary 13, 2014 at 1:46 AM

    I'm not old enough to have worn any of these (I had a purple velvet dress with red accents at the time) but I think my mum had one in white lace. Oh and my 5yo niece brought out her barbie doll the other day wearing a vintage pantsuit that used to belong to my older sister's barbie. It was a gold and green lame wide legged pantsuit.
    Regarding your pinterest collection, I'm happy to say I've never owned or made any of them, but I think my older sister had the one you have there twice; 9080 that you've labeled as 'mini midi maxi'

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  18. Thank you for the trip down memory lane! I had culotte dresses, easy on and off and the fabric wasn't all that bad...in fact, I remember beautiful prints in soft fabrics that flowed and felt so feminine. Some poly, some rayon, some crinkled, some shiny and some with soft pile but the stuff did not wrinkle, just wash, dry and wear -- so easy care and comfortable. Of course, there were a lot of ugly brash prints around but fabric shopping was fun as there was so much exuberant color and fun prints to choose from. Where have all the colors gone?

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  19. I really do love your blog but the women's worst patterns ever pinterest is offputting and a little offensive, even if it is supposed to be funny. Making fun of yourself and celebrating your individuality is great, but being catty about other's choices is never nice. I'm sorry I peeked at it.

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    1. Me too! The board is subtitled "An affectionate look at some of the zanier styles of the past." Giggling at how we dressed once-upon-a-time is, if not universal, certainly commonplace, and part of making fun of oneself, imo. I lived through the era of nearly all those outfits and I remember them well. I'm sure we'll be giggling 30 years hence at how we dress today. No malice intended.

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  20. I was a child in the 60's and had a set of harem pants pajamas, a la 'I Dream of Jeanie'. I think I could have had a lot of fun as an adult in the 60's, love the fashion styles!

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  21. Oh I do remember these- but was always too short and stout to wear them. In the 70s I loved and wore full length clown suit/overalls/coveralls that hung straight down from the shoulder straps to the elasticised leg hems hiding my figure and not hampering movement, but yes a total pain in a public toilet....

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  22. I adore the look. I was a bit too young to have ever worn it. But veronica and betty were always in something similar. I would make it today. Wear it and rock it.

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  23. I loved making and wearing these! I still have a piece from my favorite - a swirly, orange-y, pink-y paisley cotton sateen with a nice drape. I made the bolero from 8254. It was great to have something that fabulous in the 8th grade. Quiana! My (later) boyfriend loved the colors, he got a lot of shirts out of it. Cathy coud really work one of the Puccis. Thanks, Peter.

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  24. As I recall, in some parts of the country and the world, it was still taboo for women to wear pants. I know it was in my high school. But since this looked like a dress, it was deemed allowable even before culottes were allowed.
    So, I suspect that accounts for the popularity - it was a "women's rights" thing in that time. Seems to me if you were going to wear something that long and easy to trip over you would just wear a dress. But then, as a guy, what do I know?

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    1. Oh, I forgot! That's right! We couldn't wear pants or shorts to school so our mom's made these for us instead! I remember in 9th grade, we were allowed a special jean day. A huge deal when we weren't even allowed to wear pants to school yet. My mom wouldn't buy me a pair of jeans for the day - so unbelievable - I took out the sideseams of a way too small pair someone gave me - added 2" wide braid trim down each leg - plus braid trim at the hem. I should make myself a pair of those now!

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  25. They were fabulous and on the high end, elegant. They had flow and they felt heavenly. There was a grace and elegance about them at a formal event. You felt covered, did not feel as though a breeze would reek havoc, and felt totally confident instead of trussed like turkey. It was the apogee of "The New Look".

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  26. Ha! Antithesis of the New Look.

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  27. As silly as you might thing these are, they represented freedom. The previous version of fashionable hostess wear was more likely to be a fitted cotton blouse tucked tightly into either a floor length velveteen skirt or a pair of tight cigarette pants. Just try lounging in that kind of outfit. And, these came in jersey knit or a machine wash dry (no iron) polyester sateen that had some heft and little of the shine those fabrics have now. They also complemented the era's sky high hair (take a look for the mound of rolled curls) or waist length hair, fake eyelashes and Louis heeled little shoes. Candy pink lipstick and a cocktail ring, anyone?

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    1. You're right, butt doesn't the discomfort/effort of the towering hairdos and caterpillar lashes diminish the freedom a bit?

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    2. But so much more comfortable than long-line bras and panty girdles. Even slim, young women wore these undergarments into the early '70s to give their close fitting clothes the right line.

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    3. I meant to say, "...to give their close fitting dressy clothes the right line." And to finish out the thought... Depending on the fabric (and your makeup and shoes), you could be dressed up for a party without tight foundation garments or, if your outfit was floor length, also without stockings or pantyhose. That was a huge plus in hot, sticky weather. My mom's younger sister had several of these (somewhat like 2249) in wild, swirly Gucci-type patterned fabric.

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    4. Oh, Peter, I used to be able to put my waist length hair up in a mountain of curls and spray it into submission in under 15 minutes. Once you have the knack, it's easy and stays put. The lashes are another matter as I'm allergic to the glue.
      And, btw, what bra? A pair of little panties, and you're done if it's summer as the fabrics weren't see through.

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  28. @Gene Black - you are correct - my school district was "no pants for girls" unless it was going to be *extremely* cold, and then slacks only, no jeans. I think it was in 1970-1972 sometime when we could wear pants/jeans, but no shorts.

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  29. I don't really like these patterns, but there's something about the one that the girl is modeling in the second image that appeals to me! It's kind of fun and different, especially in that print and with the big hair. I think this style would look really cool on someone tall, maybe paired with platform shoes and chunky bangles.

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  30. I actually have always wanted to make #7361. I think it is super cute. And yes, I would wear it with ponytails.

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  31. I made Simplicity 7361 in 1969, the floor length version, in a fabric rather like the one on the model in the centre of the pattern. It was a woven polyester, I believe (contrary to what you think, no one made this in jersey) and wasn't at all sweaty or horrible but draped and hung beautifully.
    I made it on an old Singer treadle machine, the only one in our College of Education Hall of Residence in the UK (I was a 19 year old trainees teacher at this point.)
    I wore it to a Moody Blues gig in Portsmouth, UK and had loads of lovely comments about it. It was a dream to wear, yes, the bathroom issue was a bit of a pain but we were young, it was a college gig and we had the Moody Blues.....

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    1. Wow! It's 1969, Portsmouth, UK, the Moody Blues are playing, and you're groovin' in your custom made pant dress, there's a movie here!
      Oops! 'scuse me, I need to pee! Be back in an hour!

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  32. Given the right time, the right place, the right fabric, and the right body - almost anything can work. But oh my, I can't imagine how y'all managed it in the bathrooms . . . especially public ones.

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  33. Yikes! I had to wear this style as a bridesmaid dress way back when! Totally inconvenient come potty time!

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  34. I think these look exotic while worn by a Bond girl (I'm thinking Bambi or Thumper), but I have never seen one on a real person that was flattering. I think they were thinking they were out of creative inspiration and that they hated women.

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  35. Actually wish I could pull off something like the 2249! Yay that one, others not so much.

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  36. nobody I knew wore those in the 70s and you certainly did not see them on the streets.

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  37. My mother had two, both in big crazy prints, black on white and brown on white. She wore a hip belt of big metal plates with them, and I loved the look. For dinner parties mostly, No keys in bowls at the end though.
    AND, I OWN ONE and WEAR IT. It is modern, I bought it in London in 2011, it is a crazy, fabulous comfortable garment and I wear it for dinner parties. I also was commissioned to make one, in around 1991, which was more fitting and slinky, and had contrast draped cups, almost like the top of a bombshell dress. The looks was hot for a while there while culottes and gauchos made that brief reappearance. So, yeh I get the look. :)

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  38. I need Vogue 2249 immediately! Or, at least by the summer. It's perfection. As is Simplicity 7359, but only when sewn up in the actual-tigers print anchoring that illustration. As for trips to the ladies, I'm thinking you just hike up one of those voluminous legs and pull it over to the side and go. Sort of like a wet bathing suit pee with heaps of fabric to foist up and over?

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    1. It's what I usually did. The snap crotch body suits got the same treatment, I had fits if I unsnapped trying to get it done up again. Never wear a body suit over panty hose,or shapewear without a split crotch. TMI?

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  39. My Mom made this stuff and a lot of it was most definitely double knit poly!

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  40. I have a few of these in current (yes you can still buy them) and in vintage. None are heavy polyester double knit. I love them! So casual and comfortable yes dressy if you want it to be. I have a Lord and Taylor in a heavy cotton white with flowers the others are a light weight knit. I have a strong bladder so I never have an issue and I get tons of compliments!! Give me some of your patterns. I would make it.

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