I noticed that despite this being a blog mainly about style, it’s been a while since I actually wrote about CLOTHING. Maybe it’s because I’ve only just recently become somewhat adept at hair and makeup, and new things are exciting. So anyway, I decided to write about something I’ve felt quite strongly about for some time now, my love of the swing dress.
This is not a love I’ve had all my life. When I was a kid, no dress was big or poofy enough for my taste. If I dressed the way I wanted to in my fantasies, I would have needed to block off whole streets to get around. But then, I grew up. An appreciation grew in me for all things sexy, sleek, adult.
When I saw swing dresses, I thought they were horribly frou frou. They were too juvenile and too girly. I wondered how a girl could be taken seriously in them. However once I started to really explore my love of vintage style, I knew I couldn’t avoid them forever. I didn’t have to like them, but I did have to give them a chance.
And this is a perfect example of why stepping out of your comfort zone can be a great thing. I purchased two simple halter swing dresses in blue from Trashy Diva on clearance for 35$ each, and they immediately revolutionized my wardrobe.
First of all, these particular dresses were about as simple as a plain white tshirt. They begged for some artistic expression. There’s something incredibly appealing about something you can make you own, but that already has the hard work done for you. On one of the dresses I spent days sewing a white ribbon trim an inch or so above the hem. This is now my “sailor dress”, inspired by a dress from Pinup Girl Clothing that I neither could afford nor ever saw available in my size. The second I dyed black, or at least I tried to, since it ended up coming out a dark navy. It’s just as well, because now I plan on sewing a black ribbon to the hem of that one and the two can be good and evil twins.
What I didn’t expect, but should have if I had thought about it any length of time, was how unbelievably comfortable they are. They’re hands down the least restricting thing you can wear below the waist. I feel like I have nothing on at all, and have been tempted many times to fall asleep in them. This is why I find it incredibly amusing when people are so stunned by just how “dressed up” I am to do every day normal activities. One pizza guy nearly lost his damn mind. I’d hate to see how his girlfriend dresses.
But above all else, I would have to say that the most appealing thing about the swing dress is how flattering it is on every body type. Like I’ve said about other vintage style clothes, they don’t hide your curves, they celebrate them. If you don’t have any to begin with, these dresses will create them. Either way, they’re incredibly easy to get in your size, since your hip measurement doesn’t factor in at all, perfect if you’re a different size on top than on the bottom. This is the most universally flattering and easy to wear clothing item I have ever encountered. My mom once had to poke me in the ribs to prove I wasn’t wearing a corset, while I had decided on that dress because I was planning on stuffing my face that day and knew no one would be the wiser. I scoff at people who say their hips are too big, or they’re just generally too fat. I PROMISE you, a swing dress will make you look amazing.
Then finally there’s something to be said about the fantasy factor. If you’ve ever had that familiar weirdo dream of prancing around in Victorian gear, the swing dress can give you the same feeling as being a proper civil war lady without actually looking anywhere near so odd. The way they move when you walk, the beautiful upside-down flower shape you see when you catch yourself in the mirror – all these things are the subtle little somethings that make swing dresses make me feel good. Even when I’m not in the mood for one on a particular day, if it’s all I have to wear and I put it on anyway, it still makes me feel pretty, still puts me in a better mood, so I wonder how I ever could have considered putting on anything else.
So now the formerly anti-frou-frou me is slowly building up a collection. I just got my first true vintage swing dress a couple weeks ago, a gorgeous copper number probably from the early 1960s.
Even if you have any doubts, try one, just once. Get it cheap, because it’s easy, or make one, because that’s easy too. You’ll see. I’ve seen this change of heart happen in others besides myself, and you’ll probably see it in yourself too.