Now that I have a daughter, and I am continually outraged by the mainstream clothing choices for her (Heart on her butt. Really?), my sewing machine is calling me. I know I should have sewed little overalls and camp shirts for my son, but those seemed so complicated. Buttonholes! And there were always stripes and cargo pants in the boys department, just like I wear. I have nothing against shopping across the aisle for her, but I am also not opposed to more pattern, color and volume than the tomboy uniform. I need more reds and dramatic purples in my life, not more tulle. Or butterflies.
Which is exactly why my mother sewed for me. Marimekko jumpers and overalls, most of which my brother went on to wear. The overalls anyway.
So I started looking for clothing patterns. And I quickly found that my taste in kids' clothes is the same as my taste in furnitutre, art, architecture and tchotchkes. All 1960s, all the time. I love the typography, I love the illustration, and I love the clothes. I've found a new retromaniacal niche to waste time in, one where the pleasures come cheap and on whispery brown paper.
Like my borrowed Marimekko wardrobe, these swing shapes make a graphic statement all on their own, and don't traffic in ruffles, puff sleeves or bows. Add glasses and 86 the socks, and that could be me in the red shift. What's old is new again, and red Mary Janes, killer bangs, and dark tights are very this season. I recently tried on a houndstooth cape (a lot like this) in a thrift store. If it had decent pockets, I might have bought it.
Where once mother-daughter outfits infantilized the mom, if I make one of these dresses, my daughter willl be showing me up, style-wise. The irony is that my dream is to put my daughter back in the dresses and tights my own mother liberated me from. She sewed to give me better unisex options, but those patterns don't thrill me like these do. I don't think dressing more like an old-fashioned girl, as long as it's a mod girl, will get in her way at all. Add sneaker Mary Janes and leggings to the red folkloric number above and she'll be just fine on the playground.
And nobody needs to tell me: she'll rebel by asking for a prairie dress. Here's the pattern, just in case.
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