Another retro-ey work dress, this one I don't love

Since we moved in to the new house I haven't been able to sew (I don't even know where my iron is, currently), but I can share with you a dress I made just before the move and cut out at my crazy cutting party day.  It was really helpful to have a bunch of projects cut out at once!  Now I can make them without worrying about clearing off the dining room table.

Anyway I made this dress using the bodice of Simplicity 2444, a Project Runway pattern that I used on a vintage-ey dress I wore for some of our engagement pics.  The skirt I did differently, using a basic darted pencil skirt pattern.
I used the bias neck band on both...
But on this new one I tried a twisted look, like I've done before on simple modern things.  It worked pretty well, not too lumpy and wide enough that it holds the look better than the skirt I tried it on.  This dress is made of a poly suiting, a $1.50/yard or so find on a half off clearance rack event at JoAnn's.
The fit is pretty good, after I took in quite a lot at the side and back seams.  Crazy modern patterns, shaped to fit like sacks.  I made this one zip at the side instead of up the center back--easier to get into and less noticeable!  All you can see is the little zipper pull hanging down when I raise my arm.

Anyway, the sad story about this dress is, literally as I finished the last bit of sewing, I realized--wait--I don't like clothes that are this close to my skin color.  They make me feel fat.  It's silly, I know, but I don't usually like slim-fitting pale pink tees or tannish camis and blouses.  I feel like a blob with no defined curves or lines.  Obviously this dress doesn't have that problem... but I'm still just not sure how I feel about it!!  I guess I like to stand out more.  What do you think?  I honestly can't imagine how I could wear this dress and like it.  A colorful cardi over it seems weird, like I'd look naked underneath.  A black blazer might be too contrast-ey.  Maaaaybe a colorful belt and shoes... but what color?  Red is all I can think of.  I don't know...

At least it was cheap fabric, but it is frustrating to realize at the last seam on a project, "Wait, I'm never going to wear this..."

41 comments

  1. dye it! if you don't think you'll wear it as-is, you may as well take the chance!

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  2. I wouldn't have thought of dyeing it - but that might not be such a bad idea! My thoughts were learning more towards the belt/jewelry/shoes idea, in red or black. Though with a neutral like that, you could probably pair most any color. Hope you can post an update with your solution!

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  3. Why don't you try dyeing? That way you can give the dress a last chance. Anyway, I think it looks good on you, I think it would look nice paired with red, maybe a skinny belt and a necklace.
    Let us know what you decide :)

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  4. I think this looks fabulous, but I totally understand not wearing clothes close to your skin tone. Red would definitely be an excellent color, but I was also thinking black accents might work - black belt and possibly leopard print shoes and cardigan? I'm thinking fashion on safari :) Good luck!

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  5. Or, since it is poly and the dye might be crazy, you could cut up a potato and some fabric ink and go crazy with some pattern all over that bad boy. Think something like this shirt maybe: http://www.anthropologie.com/anthro/catalog/category.jsp?navAction=jump&id=CLOTHES-AFRICA4&cm_re=Feb_11-_-020711africaoutfits-_-img_outfit4

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  6. I think peacock belt with lime green shoes!

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  7. I'd punch it up with some turquoise - a pashmina maybe or a belt and chunky bracelet. Would compliment your skin tone too. :)

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  8. I love the fit and style of this dress. You could make some fabric flowers for embellishment, or make a wide layered ruffle down the center front. Use tone on tone but vary the textures with lace, tulle or cotton. I love the idea of dying it and might work but would do a test on a scrap of fabric first. I would love to see it in poppy, teal or purple.

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  9. I'm with Linnea - painting a pattern on it would be lovely, especially since polyester doesn't take dye.
    You could also applique on the dress. I found a super-cute Etsy article on that one: http://www.etsy.com/storque/how-to/how-tuesday-circle-spiral-applique-7357/

    It'd look great paired with jewel tones.
    The cut looks amazing on you - definitely give it a shot!

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  10. Try a teal or cobalt belt. You can also add trim (navy? red?) to the end of the sleeves, nothing too crazy, but a thin band of color would help to separate it from the color of your arm. You could even do the same thing at the hem. Not to get too carried away, but if the collar could be removed and redone in the same color, it would look more cohesive. It looks like you did a lovely job tailoring it, it would be a shame to cover it up with a cardigan. I think you should give it a chance. :)

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  11. I think an eggplant purple with a moss green or burnt orange accents.

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  12. I know what you mean - I don't wear clothes that are close to my skintone either. I like the idea of dying it. Do you have any scraps of the fabric that you could test? I've dyed polyester before, but you have to use a special dye and it's hard. I found this webpage that has some more ideas for polyester: http://www.pburch.net/dyeing/dispersedye.shtml

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  13. I think it definitely looks older than you probably want to portray. I think if you add a scarf, belt, bold purse, nice heels or something it will look a lot differnt. I love the double pleats.

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  14. Great fit on the dress! I have the same issue with nude colors. I agree with the dying it option. I think that no matter what accents you put with it you, yourself, won't be able to get past the nude color :) Now...what color should you dye it??

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  15. Anonymous2/10/2011

    The first accent color that leaps to my mind is turquoise.

    I could also see it paired with multiple accent colors from the same family or same side of the color wheel, such as purples and blues, turquoise and blues, or, especially, orange and yellow-y colors (rust, mustard, etc.). This is sort of what I'm talking about: http://thesartorialist.blogspot.com/2011/02/on-streetvia-tortona-milan.html.

    BUT - it sounds like accents aren't going to be enough for you, so I agree with other comments that you should dye it. RIT dye (the kind you can find at the drug/grocery store) won't work very well (or at all) on polyester, but there are some dyes for synthetics available here: http://www.dharmatrading.com/html/eng/5590684-AA.shtml?lnav=paints.html

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  16. I think it looks cute, but I think a belt would really make it. And maybe a pretty broach or something. ^^

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  17. I would do a red or black belt and shoes, with a red or black chunky necklace. I think it looks great!

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  18. I just read the comments about dyeing it, I would go with a color like brown that won't be very hard to dye when starting witha tan color.

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  19. what's about purple? :) for shoes, belt or acessoires?

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  20. Belt, brooch, and tights would make it look less nudey. I think?

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  21. I think the skin tone dress is lovely on you! But yes, it is begging to be accessorized. :o) Have fun with it! Maybe a kelly green? Or some fun leopard?

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  22. a scarf like this? http://hudsonjeans.staging.domanistudios.com/app/webroot/blog/?p=3300

    or with a dark blazer? http://www.chictopia.com/photo/show/397780-comfy-nude-lace-vintage-dress-gray-tailored-forever-21-blazer

    this is a pretty color with it: http://stage.mylifetime.com/all-the-looks/all-the-looks-insider-blog/dare-to-wear-malin-akerman

    chunky sweater and dark tights? http://www.chictopia.com/photo/show/370963-slackerbitch-black-gina-tricot-sweater-nude-h-m-dress-black-vero-moda-coat-black-gabor-

    I hope those help inspire you! :D

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  23. I think it would look cute with the shoes that you were wearing with the blue dress and a belt to match ...

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  24. Love the dress and I think you look fabulous. Red would be a nice accent color, but I would add a black belt and maybe a short bolero jacket or sweater in a beat print. Add some colorful shoes and gold jewelry and your good to go.

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  25. I think any deep/bold colored, thick belt would work. I would probably reach for teal/turquoise first, but that might just be because I always reach for the blue family first!

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  26. Anonymous2/10/2011

    Perfect candidate for embellishing...what about some of those fabric flowers in a or semi-sheer red with a pearl in the center or some embroidery near the neck to bring in some color that you do like.

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  27. Anonymous2/10/2011

    Well, I'm not a fan of skin-toned clothing myself, but it is absolutely in style right now, and your dress is lovely in itself, so maybe you can make it work.
    Try it on with bold-colored belts and scarves, as others have mentioned. Maybe a big bead necklace or a big brooch? I would hate to do all the work of painting or appliquéing if you still don't think you'd wear it.
    If it really can't work for you, do a blog giveaway - for non-beige contestants only!

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  28. I agree with Kim. I was thinking maybe some red bias trim around the hem & sleeves. Pair that with a pretty red fabric flower brooch.

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  29. Anonymous2/10/2011

    Hello. I love your site! I understand what you mean by the skintone color, but I think you should play around with different belts and shoes you have. Just a bit of color could make a huge difference. The broach idea someone suggested what nice too. I think the biggest thing is to get some color by your face... necklace, broach, earrings, etc. I loved all the jewel tone suggestions. And really liked the safari colors idea. Shades of brown and tan would look great and really elegant. If none of those options work, I would trying dying it. I've dyed poly before using just RIT dye. It worked, but the color wasn't deep. So keep that in mind and play around with some scrap pieces first. I hope you post your solution. Would love to see how it turns out. I do think you should play around with it, because the fit on you is fantastic. Good luck! Rachel in Singapore.

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  30. Really?! You look amazing in this color and I think you should wear the heck out of it. Colorful accessories make it versatile, but it's great as is...surrender the self-consciousness and own this one.

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  31. I'm not a fan of wearing skin-ish colors either! I just feel naked or like I'm showing something even though I'm not. If someone does a double take at me, I want it to be because I'm wearing something awesome, not because they think I'm naked.

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  32. Anonymous2/11/2011

    Couture embellishments. Hand appliqued motifs. They do not have to be fussy, either.

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  33. Wow, you guys, so many good ideas!!
    I hadn't thought to add some edging under the sleeves and neck, but that really would add the definition that a nude dress lacks.
    I think it's telling how many of you suggested turquoise accents!! I will have to get something turquoise and try it out, and you're totally right, that would be a good color combo.
    I could also rock some embellishments... hm... wonder how much fabric I have left over! I also could try dying some scraps, but it is poly, so it might not accept the dye...
    Again, thanks a million! I love hearing your ideas!!

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  34. Janine2/11/2011

    I am currently a fan of aubergine or eggplant, which I think would look great with tan on you. I found a cardi not too long ago at Old Navy and also at Ann Taylor Loft in this color, my daughter paired it with a super soft lettuce green and it was fantastic! A black belt with a houndstooth jacket would be a cute business look as well.

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  35. Dancing Scottie2/11/2011

    I second (third, whatever) the applique idea. 3D fabric flowers like you'd turn into a button instead of 2D quilt style applique or maybe lace? It is skin-tone so why not lace cut to a shape (say asymmetrical on the lower right skirt and left shoulder?). Even ribbon or other design on the skirt with a coordinating cardi would eliminate that "nothing under" the sweater feel. I'd love to see teal or aubergine lace (lace being any open work type fabric, really).

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  36. Add a belt and all will be fine.

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  37. Justtory2/13/2011

    The dress looks gorgeous on you! Absolutely lovely work. I also think purple would work great on brightening up the look.

    Can I ask, what pattern did you use for the pencil skirt portion of the dress? It suits this dress perfectly.

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  38. such a great dress! you're so good at sewing. Maybe you should add embellishment of some kind since the dress is pretty much a blank canvas. Lace overlay or lace or a design or something? A colorful belt would also be nice.

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  39. What abouta dark brown cardigan? Then it'd be in the same color family, but add some contrast around your face and arms.

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  40. Rachel2/18/2011

    The dress is a great shape and a good fit on you! I can't wait to see what you try to spice it up!

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  41. I love the pumps in the first photo. Would an animal print spice it up enough for you? Not sure of the neckline, but maybe an animal print scarf gathered and pinned to frame the neckline.

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