Hot! The Say “No” to High Necklines Dress


Long ago, when What Not to Wear was something to watch on BBC America and not TLC, I was given (or rather the fashion disaster was given) sound advice on dressing a big bosomy woman: don't wear high necklines! I've heeded that warning ever since and with very rare exceptions will never wear a high neck or turtle neck.

With that said, I'm not quite sure why I spent a great deal of time making a dress with a neckline like this. The pattern is an old Hollywood Patterns number which I purchased at the Vintage Fashion Expo in San Francisco last month. This was my first adventure with an original 1940s pattern and I would have to say it was a bit of a nightmare to put together.

The fabric I chose was incredibly difficult to work with and the instructions called for a lot of folding over and stitching instead of using linings or interfacing. I actually felt I failed miserably, threw the pieces aside for a week and then came back and reworked the entire bodice. That's why the neckline is higher (I added a neckline piece with interfacing) and I went the route of pleats instead of gathering. I also added cap sleeves because I was just too tired to fiddle with the thing anymore. The dress is longer than the pattern indicated because I wanted it to have a slightly more 1930s feel.

IMG_7238Here I am wearing it at the Vintage Clothing and Style Festival. While the dress wasn't a complete failure, I have a hard time imagining that I'd wear it again. Still, I learned a lot about working with 1940s patterns, synthetic silks and buttons.


Mena Trott

Mena Trott started The Sew Weekly to document her attempt to sew all of her own clothes in 2010. Since then, she's made over 125 outfits and has way more clothes than she needs.


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  1. You are amazing and so inspiring!!! I’m curious what the original pattern was? And I think you look great in the dress!

  2. Agreed, the dress looks wonderful on you. What Not to Wear is good for guidelines only, I say. Thanks for the detail you’ve described in the process – it’s a good reminder for me (an impatient beginner sewer) not to take on too ambitious projects immediately. Nothing like a difficult task to discourage you from continuing to practice…

  3. I quite like the dress and I love high necklines, but being busty myself I understand why one shouldn’t usually wear them! However, you look darling in it!

  4. i think it looks adorable on you. good for you for persevering through the frustration!

  5. Wow, I say drag it out at every opportunity. It flatters you. Just stunning.

  6. I saw the pattern sketch ( in your Flickr group and was wondering if you could just remove the collar and bias bind the gathered raw edge to bring the neckline down some?