I’ve wanted a robe de style to join my historic closet for at least a year, but haven’t had just the right fabric or the time or impetus to make it happen until this past spring. And as a general goal, I’ve been trying to expand my color choices beyond blues, greens, and reds, because those colors seem to dominate my historic wardrobe. Then this spring, I found gorgeous yellow silk at the local discount fabric store. I convinced myself that I didn’t need it, but couldn’t stop thinking about it, so I drove back to the fabric store a few days later to purchase the fabric.
I was inspired by the styles from the earlier years of the 20s for this particular robe de style, when the skirts were long and full. You can see a mix of robe de styles from the 20s on my inspiration Pinterest board. I didn’t follow any particular image or extant garment, but used them in general to create a unique dress. I really enjoyed wearing this dress and would like to make another someday that I think I’ll make a little shorter, more like later 20s styles.
I chose to accent the waistline of this dress with a ribbon rosette in a contrasting silk ribbon. It has an inner circle of matching yellow silk and a bit of gold sequined lace in the center. It looks a little like I won a prize at a state fair, but I like that it breaks up all the yellow of the dress.
The pattern is loosely based off the information provided by Maria in this blog post about her black robe de style. I scaled up her pattern, made a mockup, and then adjusted it to suit my body shape. The skirt required some math to get the right curve across the top to achieve the high-low hem–the bottom edges are the straight selvedge edges–but aside from that the panels are just gathered to fit the waist, with more gathers concentrated over the sides than in the front and back. The extra bonus about using selvedge edges for the hems is that they have a nice fringed edge that meant I didn’t even need to hem them! Instant hems and a nice lightweight looking skirt. Double win!
I used the opportunity of wearing this new dress to break out a new pair of shoes. Glamorous gold t-straps! (All the credit goes to Katherine for these shoes–she bought them in silver and posted about it which is what directed my attention to the style in the first place.) I bought them about 10 months ago for my birthday but hadn’t had an opportunity to wear them until now.
In addition to the pattern, I was also inspired by Maria’s simple finishing methods. I therefore flat lined my bodice, finished the neck and armholes with bias, and made a side closure. I opted to alternate snaps and hook/eyes for the closure, since Maria (and Katherine, who also made an inspirational robe de style you can see here) mentioned that their predominantly snap closures had a tendency not to stay closed. I had no problems with my closures on the dress’s first outing!
I chose to keep the understructure for this dress separate rather than building it in–that way I can easily use it for a second robe de style in the future! The understructure is mini-18th century pocket hoops attached to a grosgrain ribbon that fastens around my hips. I found that they shifted a little bit while I was wearing the dress, but not enough for me to really notice or care.
Unfortunately, the silk does want to wrinkle every chance it gets. But when the dress is in motion it’s really not very noticeable! I wore the new dress to an afternoon ragtime tea dance, which is what the pictures in action are from. There are 2 more tea dances this summer (one of them is this coming Sunday) and a suffrage rally and formal ball in September, so if you’re in the area and have the time I would love to see you at one of these future events (details here).