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Tulle: A Love Story

Monday, February 04, 2008


It's funny how these fashion things go sometimes. For example:

1. A couple of weeks ago, I started thinking about tulle. Mostly because I had to name my Most Wanted fashion item for the D.C. Goodwill Fashionista and I've been obsessed with finding a poufy, tulle-skirted '50s prom dress for the past few years.*

2. And then I fell in love with this awesome vintage-inspired party dress and I started thinking, I really need to get on this tulle thing.

3. And then, in preparation for fashion week, I pulled out my fabulously voluminous taffeta-and-tulle vintage skirt, and tried it on with a little fitted black sweater and was all like, I don't care how much room this takes up in my suitcase, I'm bringing it.

4. And then on the train from DC to Delaware Saturday, I was reading my new Teen Vogue with Blake Lively on the cover (stellar issue, by the way), and I saw a cute advertorial for Lycra-enhanced denim in which they had spritely young ballerinas wear jeans to show how you could plie in denim, if that was something you would like to do. And the girls were wearing jeans under these fabulous poufy tulle ballet skirts (which, incidentally, totally distracted from the jeans).

5. And then, on the way home from the train station, we stopped off at one of (okay, three of) my favorite thrift stores, and I noticed they still had this amazing majorly tulle skirted wedding dress that has been there for the past couple of months. I eye that dress every time I go to the store, which is kind of funny because a) I'm not getting married anytime soon; and b) if I do, it will not be in a big white confection of a dress. And yet, layer upon layer of gauzy white tulle… so, so pretty…

{I have to admire the dress quietly, because I'm afraid if I start showing too much interest in wedding stuff, my mom might have a small heart attack from joy and anticipation.}

6. And then I checked out authentic ballet skirt options online before I went to bed.

7. And then I woke up yesterday and opened up the New York Times and there was Bill Cunningham's page, all about big, romantic skirts and Alaia's "ballerina silhouette" and several pieces that looked a lot like my vintage version (see #3). Crazy.

8. And then I opened Elle and realized that everyone is all about tulle for spring, and was I just not conscious of the fashion industry's immense power over my wardrobe?

9. Finally, I'm going to try to whip up an inexpensive, DIY version (under the sewing supervision of my mother) very, very soon.

*This kills me, because I once owned a fantastic bubblegum pink '50s prom dress from the thrift store, in which the bodice was too small, so I just cut off the poufy pink tulle skirt to wear. And it was awesome. And I gave it away in the Great (and Ill-Advised) Closet Cleanout when I moved from Beijing to Singapore, along with about a hundred other fantastic vintage pieces that I really, really wish I still owned. It's still very painful; perhaps we will have to agree never to talk about it ever again.

11 comments :

Suzanna Mars said...

I'm going to admire this style from afar; my last tulle dress was inspired by the classic Russian corps de ballet costume (as in "Shades"), but black, and it was too, too far ahead of its time and it is much, much too short for me now (as I recall, it lacked what I will call a certain Russian demureness).

My mother had trunks full of tulle party dresses from her days as the belle of the Radcliffe scene.

They were a size 10, which is comparable to what now, a 4?

Isn't it great that this is one trend that you can adequately make at home and that is relatively reasonable financially?

Elaine said...

I like your piece. And congrats on the Gucci Loves NY link! That is great.

DC Celine said...

great post! we all have our obsessive lust-after-items...you just put it so well ;-)

zoe said...

Love the tulle. Another option that I've tried is ordering a petticoat from a square dancing website...interesting place to see indeed.... I elongated the top to wear under a longer skirt to create the silhouette. It has a nice 'Grease Dance-off' effect. the bigger the better.

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