Hot! The “Mrs. Simpson” Dress

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The Facts image from

Fabric: Linen from Jo Ann's — $15
Pattern:  Simplicity 2650, $2
Year: c. 1938
Notions: Bias tape
Time to complete: 2 hours
First worn: October 2011
Wear again? Yes.

Total Cost: ~$17

Ok, so I'll admit that as far as costumes go, this one's going to be a bit too obscure for most folks come trick-or-treating.

"Hey, who are you supposed to be?" 

"I'm Wallis Simpson — particularly Wallis Simpson in Miami."


image from www.harpersbazaar.comEven though I love Halloween, I haven't really dressed up since my daughter was born. So much about Halloween has become about making Pen's costume and her night of trick-or-treating. Maybe if I actually went to adult parties, I'd want to dress up. Probably not. I wear enough "costumes" in every day life and don't need a specific night of the year to pretend I'm someone else.

I had a few ideas for more costumey and elaborate costumes this year but, unfortunately, life got in the way of creating any of those looks. By the time it was Saturday (yesterday), I had decided to make a simple Wallis Simpson-inspired dress to go with some Mrs. Simpson styling. I've had Wallis Simpson on my mind ever since I watched*  Any Human Heart a couple weeks ago. 

While my original plan was to make a dress very similar to her wedding gown, I ended up creating a look based on this blue suit she wore in Miami in 1941. 

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My suit in question is actually a dress from Simplicity 2650. This SUPER EASY dress consists of only five pattern pieces — bodice front and back, skirt front and back and neck facing. Since I omitted the belt and the bow, I cut even more time off of the construction. In total, it took about 2 hours for me to start and finish the dress. The only issue was that it was a bit too long. It turned out to be a good problem to have since I was able to fold over the dress at the hips in order to mimic a two-piece outfit. Oh and yes, there's no zipper.

As far as the photo shoot went, it was nice to depart from my usual smile/pose. To achieve my Wallis look, I need only think that:

  1. I smell a foul scent
  2. I'm silently judging you
  3. Why yes, my husband *did* give up the crown for me!
  4. There's a little crazy behind these eyes

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*By watched, I mean "cried all through the second and third parts, became completely depressed about life and forced myself to turn it off with one episode left." However, I loved Gillian Anderson's styling as Wallis Simpson.


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.


Comments are closed.

  1. Wow, you have the look down pat! Have to say I much prefer your usual warm smile though:). Great dress, as usual. And I looove the shoes.
    Gillian Anderson as in X-Files Gillian Anderson? I totally cannot imagine her as WS… She does have the ability to look cold – good actress! – but like you, she doesn’t naturally have those thin pinched lips a la WS…. neither is she bony like WS – who i think was the originator of the whole dumb can’t be too thin or too rich axiom…
    BTW – thanks for the last make that look! It helped me figure out how to replicate this really cute skirt I crushed on in Austentatious crochet . you rock.

  2. margueritedesigns

    That photo is seriously spooky!

  3. I guessed Wallis right from the top photo! Great job.

  4. I guessed Wallis Simpson too =D Awesome styling, but yes, your smile is definitely preferred here! <3 Hehe LOVE #4 though!

  5. Its a lovely dress. and some excellent posing! (btw-good call on not watching the last bit of any human heart. it did not get more cheery. at all)

  6. Oh well done, I got quite a fright from that first photo – you have captured her scariness!! She must’ve had something though hey? Have you seen The Kings Speech? Where she ruins Edward’s life – scandalous! Gorgeous brooch and the outfit’s proportions really suit you – shiver.

  7. I have the hairs on end with the look of the first photo, you totally captured the essence!! The dress is a great job, so lovely when you use it normally with your usual warm smile. Fabulous!

  8. Haha! I love your costume choice. Obscure famous people (oxymoron…) make the best costumes. You did an awesome job re-creating the look. I actually almost checked that series out from the library this week, not having any idea what it was about – although I well know the story of Wallis Simpson. For some reason we studied her in my French culture class in Quebec. Go figure!

  9. Ohhhh you really got that scary eyes look down. And the dress ain’t too shabby either.

    i seriously thought this was a relative of yours doing a fill-in.

  11. Wow! You portray her beautifully! If they make another movie about her, you should be cast!

  12. That’s kinda scary…

  13. Oh, wow! You are Wallis Simpson to a T!!

  14. Great idea – you totally nailed it! Lovely dress, as always, and perfect styling.
    Also I have to watch that PSB special! Looks great!

  15. I love the description that you give as to how you achieved the look on your face for the photo shoot!

  16. Brilliant! Before I read the description I thought you were channeling Edith Piaf though – the eyebrows maybe. :) But upon seeing those photos of Wallis, I see that you got her spot on.

  17. Wow! You *nailed it* with that first picture! And that color is gorgeous on you!

  18. Mena, what a great look.. When I clicked on it and saw the picture, I didnt know it was you.. I thought it “kinda” favored you.. I assumed a sister or family member had filled in for
    Great photo and great dress [looks just like the skirt and top!]
    Happy sewing.

  19. Thats awesome! I had to do a double take ont he first picture – well done :)

  20. I didn’t recognize it was you! great costume!

  21. Great dress and you’re really funny! I mean SPOOKY! xoxo

  22. Thanks, Francesca! I like smiling too! I actually had to take a couple pictures while smiling just to keep me sane. :) I’m glad to be assistance with MTL.

  23. Then mission accomplished. :)

  24. Thanks! I’m glad some folks could tell!

  25. Thanks, Stephanie! It’s kind of crazy how much of a difference a smile can make.

  26. Thanks! Yeah, I kept on saying “it has to get happier.” And, nope.

  27. Thanks, Trish! I’m glad it was well-enough done to induce shivers.

  28. Great dress, hilarious post. :-)

  29. Holy cow, Mena! I didn’t even recognize you at first – I think you really NAILED the “crazy behind the eyes”! :)

  30. Thanks, Rosy! I do like smiling far more that my creepy little grin.

  31. Thanks, Lisette! There wasn’t a ton of Wallis and Edward in the movie — it’s more about another guy. I have to say that the Wallis and Edward stuff was the funniest part of the entire thing!

  32. Then, mission accomplished. I got nothing on your look in this week’s Oona Does It!

  33. Thanks, Leigh Ann!

  34. If it isn’t a little scary, it’s not Halloween. :)

  35. Thanks, Katie! If you’re going to watch the series, just make sure you’re not in a sad mood to start.

  36. Thanks, Tracey. It really did help!

  37. Thanks, Donna! Piaf was another choice I was considering, but I would have had a harder time pulling that one off. :)

  38. Thanks, Sarah. Yeah, that picture was my favorite but I had to have actual views of the dress for the other ones.

  39. Thanks, Judy! I was wearing some contouring make-up to make my nose and cheekbones look a little different but I’m glad I was so convincing!

  40. Thanks, Barbara! Just a little makeup (ok, a lot) and no smile makes a difference.

  41. Thanks, Wendy! I really forced myself to channel Wallis in that one. :)

  42. Are you going to do a post about Pen’s costume as well? I’m really curios what you made.

  43. Oh absolutely – I just meant that all those looks you described (Smelled something foul, secretly judging you, etc.) are exactly what your face says in the first one! Loved this dress and look!

  44. Love It!!! Great crazy behind the eyes smile on your pic. You got it right. I hope you went back and finished the last episode, but you will cry more. I actually did the loud sobbing in my pillow crying. WS is one crazy !?!?!?!

  45. Thanks, Erica! I didn’t watch the whole episode, but I did watch the very end. Seriously, I cried for like three days after watching the *really* sad episode.

  46. Fantastic Mena even if life gets in the way it never shows, how did you not laugh doing those facials? This post was lots of fun.

  47. Perfect! Although I think you should still make the turban just for the heck of it, then if you get invited to an adults party this or next year, you’ll have the whole look ready!