Saturday, August 21, 2010

We're Playsuitin': Part 1

Ah, the playsuit, so adorable, yet so elusive! Along with swimwear, finding a playsuit that fits is one of the Holy Grails of vintage fashion collecting. Do we all recall the scene in "The Girl Can't Help It" where Jayne Mansfield created a lovely picnic lunch by the sea in a stunning yellow and white cotton halter dress. Then she whipped off her button-down circle skirt to reveal her playsuit/swimsuit underneath, nearly giving Tom Ewell a heart attack? These designers were thinking about practicality as well as flattering lines.

I was under the impression that a playsuit was a one-piece garment, but apparently it can be any coordinating set of summer-themed tops and bottoms. Now we've all seen the playsuit Fashion Crimes Against Humanity--typically involving some kind of car show(I'm seeing a theme here). The bumcheek peeking out of the shorts bottom--or eek! a boob from the underside of a top. Althouh the dudes get a thrill out of this, I am in full support of a well-fitted garment! The ladies of the day wore garments (from the 30s on) that were very-close fitting, yet not so much that you are hoping that those threads hang in there for dear life. I am starting to understand that ladies had many more opportunities than we do to have garments custom-made for themselves by local dressmakers. My friend Dettre is regaling me with stories of her grandmother attending fashion shows at department stores where she would simply point at a garment and have it made up in her size. What a dream come true!

For those who do not have a local seamstress at their disposal, I am happy to be of service. Here are some examples of some playsuits I have made this summer, along with a few inspirational patterns. There are infinite variations on these themes. What is a playsuit but a top with a bottom? Or a top attached to a bottom! I have even started with blouse and dress patterns as a template and shortened the bottom of the blouse to fit snugly around the bust. The trick lies in fitting it just so, as these styles are snug and there is little room for error. Gosh I wish I had a staff of talented sewers to help me whip up all of the glorious possibilities!


  1. Oh I love the pants set in the 5th photo! So elegant!

  2. Oh yes, I cannot WAIT to make a set like that!!