Hello dears! I’m back again to share with you all my outfit for my big birthday bash last month. I went through SO many different ideas over the 4 years I had to wait for my birthday dance, one in particular that stuck in my head for about 2-3 years was this simple Shabby Apple a-line banana yellow dress that was absolutely adorable. Though my taste hasn’t changed much since then (if you can believe that!), you can probably tell from the portrait above that I went for a much fluffier, glamorous 1950s retro-princess look than my young teenage self was dreaming of 🙂
I think it’s safe to say the my mantra for this party was You Only Live Once; and along those lines I decided that I wanted a very 1950s teenage princess meets slightly laid-back patio party. So glitzy, fluffy, metallics…the works 🙂 Originally when I really began to plan in earnest what my dress would be, I thought I would aim for a solid coral version of the dresses that the girls wore in this shoot. The HUGE ruffly and über twirl-able skirt sucked me right in! But, I am not one for button plackets or any seemingly complicated details on garments, so that really wasn’t the perfect choice for me. I didn’t want this project to be a drag for me to sew up, with many possibilities of tiny mistakes throughout that I knew would bug me each time I would wear it. In addition, I could never find the perfect fabric for the perfect price or the perfect color, so I nixed that idea.
After I had decided that the ruffled dress wasn’t for me, I thought that I would aim for a simpler 1950s sundress pattern that I could whip up in a flash, but could still feel very summer-princess-ish in, if you get my meaning 😉 The pattern I had selected was a vintage early 60s one with a very simple bodice and slender tie straps, and a very full skirt. Oh yes, perfect! And I’m a sucker for border-printed fabric, and that pattern was designed to accommodate such materials, so I excitedly settled upon this new option for my birthday dress.
Disaster struck when I was picking through the pattern to check to make sure all the pieces were there, when lo and behold, the entire bodice was missing! Oh unhappy day! After searching frantically online for a replacement pattern in the correct size, nothing availed itself, so that idea was smashed to bits. Sob.
In the midst of all of this, I had been shopping for border-printed fabrics, and came across the most gorgeous gold metallic polka-dot border print cotton. Now, I’m usually not the type of gal to dive after any and everything polkadot when my eye lays hold of it, but this fabric made my heart swell. Oh, it was perfect. Nothing, I repeat, NOTHING screams vintage teen birthday party than gold polkadots, tiaras, and fluffy coral crinolines… but I get ahead of myself… so when the simple sundress option was nixed, I was at a loss to what pattern I should use! I had found my fabric, but what pattern? My thoughts wandered back to my Vintage Vogue V8789 pattern, and the boat-neck version of the pattern that had caught my eye before. But Brigid had made up that version for Jessica, and when I tried on her dress, it just looked bleh on me. I’m a very athletic, stick-straight type of gal, and I needed a bodice silhouette that would give me a bit more waist definition and accentuation. So I decided that I would brave the world of v-necks (which are known to look absolutely dreadful on me), and try the second option on the pattern. I loved the idea of cleverly using the border print of the fabric I had selected to create a sort of random sprinkling of gold here and there on the dress, so I had finally come to a decision of what my dress would be. Late one night I ordered the fabric, including a substantial yardage of tulle that I was going to use to make a crinoline to go under the dress, and anxiously awaited its arrival.
I’ll spare you the technical bits and bobs of mock-ups, sway-back adjustments, accidentally cutting out the bodice wrong, having to take out the skirt seam and zipper to make the waist smaller, and all the other mini-disasters and challenges scattered throughout the construction of the dress; and get to the other parts of my ensemble that deserve some attention. Heaven knows, I’ve covered the dress amply enough! 😉
Ohhh! Now I get to tell you all about one of my absolute favorite parts: my gorgeous crinoline! Like I said above, I had originally planned to make a cream tulle crinoline to wear under my dress. The ones available online were too expensive, and I was tired of wearing my old square-dancing crinoline that was worn-out and torn here and there; so DIY it was! But Jessica decided that she would surprise me with a beautiful coral-orange vintage crinoline as an early birthday present, and I really couldn’t have dreamed of a more perfect underskirt.
An antique & gift shop in our local town was going out of business, and was selling out all of its inventory of vintage goods and the like. My crinoline happened to be tucked away with all the other nick-knacks, and when Mom and Jessica stopped by to look through what she had, Jess spied the crinoline and knew instantly that it would be perfect for me. She asked the owner to keep it on hold for her, and came home and told me about it. I was so excited that I might have the option of not DIY-ing my underskirt after all, and the idea of a vintage coral crinoline just sounded too perfect! Brigid, Mom, and I stopped by to purchase the skirt (Jess was busy at work, I think), and wanted to see if we could barter it down a few dollars. In the end, instead of paying the original $20 we got it for $18, and we drove home, myself as excited and happy as a bird!
I took out the original elastic (which had been stretched to an inch of its life!), washed it, sewed a new elastic casing, reinforced most of the seams, and was good to go! It is such a ridiculously fluffy, unique piece; and I am so grateful that I could have worn it that night. It certainly made the very full skirt of my dress swish about beautifully (just wait for the dancing pictures next week!), it makes me squeal to look back on them 🙂
Now as to my little crown, shoes, jewelry, and makeup:
It was tradition in the past in our family for the birthday gal to wear a flower crown, but I could never settle on the perfect flower selection, shape, or anything that really satisfied me. Then Mom suggested that we look at tiaras at Charming Charlie. Oh boy, but did I get excited over that idea! Be a princess for a night?? Who could resist THAT? We stopped in and found the most prefectly regal tiara to slip in amongst my curls. It turned out to be very secure, and though a few arms knocked it here and there, remained perched upon my head for the entire night. Success! 😀
And now for my shoes: I wanted a pair that I could dance in comfortably, that were of good quality materials (preferably nothing synthetic), had a slightly boho/retro sandal look about them, and were of a good price. That’s a large bill to fit, I know, but miraculously Seychelles (a shoe company I’ve only dreamed of purchasing from until now) were selling the perfect pair of gladiator-style sandals, that were dance-proof, leather and rubber, and came in gold, if you can believe that! Outside of every other good thing about them, they were right around $30 on Amazon with free shipping! Score! Oddly enough, I purchased these shoes before I had even selected my dress fabric, so I guess you can say that my choosing a gold polka-dotted material was slightly biased 😉
And as to my makeup, I wanted something bright, yet subtle. In my mind a natural complexion, eyes, and cheeks with a bold lip would fit the bill perfectly. I searched for so long to find the perfect lip product to purchase for my party! I knew that I wanted a bright orange-y red, most likely in the form of a lip crayon; but which brand to buy was beyond me! To make a long story short, Ashley of Bramblewood Fashion gifted me the Butter London Bloody Brilliant Lip Crayon in Ladybird, which turned out to be the perfect, perfect color! Although I did touch it up here and there throughout the party, I was quite satisfied with the lasting power too 🙂
Oh, and in the end, I used the tulle I had purchased for a sash and party decor; which worked out quite beautifully if you ask me 🙂
All in all, my party outfit came together so swimmingly well, I really can’t believe how perfect everything was 🙂 I hope I didn’t bore you too much with all the little details!
-Charlotte, the youngest sister & singer
CREDITS // Author: Charlotte Boyer; Photography: Joanna Christine Photography