One of the things I love the most about getting to sing music of the MGM-era is that I get to wear clothes that suggest — and sometimes more than suggest — the era. I figure my upcoming NYC cabaret debut with a show about Judy Garland circa 1944-1954 calls for very specific costuming; however, I've learned the hard way that going vintage can end up with your mother asking you why you're wearing that schmatta. So, when we put together our first Garland theatrical radio show in 2009 (Love Finds Judy Garland), I took the plunge and ordered an actual vintage pattern, picked out the exact color of sky-blue silk chiffon that I'd seen in my mind's eye, and had it made to fit. Here are pictures of the pattern and fabric, Judy in a nearly matching color, and the dress itself:
It's always a bit risky not to be able to try on a frock before you buy it. Terrifying, in fact. This dress turned out to have a neck opening so small that my tiny head (small-size hats fall down over my eyes and I buy children's glasses frames) barely fits through it. I have to put on my eyelashes AFTER the dress is on, or they'd get ripped off trying to get into it. Nevertheless, when I'm wearing it, I even move differently so I think it does the job.
This time around, having failed to find a dress off the rack that suits this new show from a later period in Judy's career, I've once again ordered a vintage pattern online and picked a fabric swatch of an iridescent aqua blue dupioni silk that is shot-through with blue-violet. I hope it will look suitably shimmery and technicolor under stage lights. I wanted a dress that looked late '40s to early '50s, but wasn't too crazily full-skirted — and a neckline that I could get my head through! I also thought sleeves would set it apart, as so few dresses have them nowadays, and a semi-sweetheart neckline is a common one for Judy and I've always liked them. The pattern and swatch are above, and below are a couple of Judy's circa-1950 costumes. Tune-in again around June 3rd to see how it all comes out — fingers crossed. Or better yet, come to the show at Feinstein's/54 Below and see it close up!