Long blue hooded dress

A woman wearing a long clingy navy blue dress with a draped hood stands in front of a pale blue wall. She has short greying hair.

This dress is the second item in a set of projects inspired by recent Saint Laurent designs. This particular project was inspired by the jersey maxi dresses from the RTW Spring 2023 show. There were several variations shown, but the common features were that they were floor length and clingy with a very narrow skirt, high neckline, and often had a drapey hood. Quite a few had open backs or were sleeveless, and most were made in slightly sheer fabric. They remind me of the sort of thing Grace Jones wore in A View To A Kill but even slinkier.

A model wearing a long clingy sleeveless dress in damson colour with a draped hood walks down a catwalk. She also wears big sunglasses, gold earrings, and chunky gold cuff bracelets.
Saint Laurent Ready To Wear Spring 2023 look 8, vogue.com

I don’t lead the life of a Bond villainess so some compromises had to be made. The basic silhouette could be copied, but my dress had to have sleeves and a back, and be in a somewhat sturdier fabrication than the original. I thought a viscose ponte with plenty of elastane would probably provide the right combination of drape, elasticity, and coverage. Mine’s Croft Mill’s luxury ponte in navy. I wanted the sapphire colourway but they didn’t have enough in stock, and now I’m glad I went with the navy as it’s much more subtle.

The pattern I used as a base is an old favourite: the dress fromVogue 8866, a now out of print wardrobe pattern from 2012. I made it floor length and straightened out the side seam so it falls vertically from the hip rather than tapering into the hem. I made my usual additions to the bodice and sleeve length for Vogue, and as always made one size smaller than the size chart recommended.

Vogue 8866 line art
Line art from out of print Vogue 8866, sew-direct.com

The original design has a slit in the top of the centre back seam with a hook and eye fastening at the collar, but I used an invisible zip in the centre back instead. I considered trying to do without a centre back opening at all, but even in a stretchier knit I think I’d struggle to get this over my head without one. I kind of wish I’d made the zip longer so I could step into the dress; it’s not the easiest thing to put on.

The seamlines on the Vogue pattern don’t bear much resemblance to the inspiration dresses. The Vogue has raglan sleeves and a centre front seam whereas the originals have regular set in sleeves and the front is generally cut in one piece. Normally this sort of difference would annoy me, but I think my version benefits from the extra seamlines. It doesn’t have the sheer fabric or skin showing that the originals do so a bit of extra design interest helps.

A closeup of the shoulder of a woman wearing a blue knit dress. The picture shows a raglan shoulder seam and a centre front seam, both with top stitching

The hood is a separate piece: it comes from a vintage 80s Vogue pattern: 1439 by Alke Boker from 1984. Keeping it separate not only has the advantage of simplicity, it theoretically makes the dress more versatile.

A photograph of a paper sewing pattern envelope. The pattern is Vogue 1439. The envelope has a picture of a woman in a black boat neck batwing dress with a gathered skirt, and a sketch of a woman in the same dress in yellow but with the addition of a hood. The designer name on the pattern is Alke Bokers

Will I wear it without the hood? Unlikely. It needs some accessories in this mode.

A woman wearing a clingy blue long sleeved maxi dress stands against a light blue wall. She has short greying hair and wears yellow Adidas trainers.

The original pattern has the hood cut on the bias but that makes it an incredible fabric hog. The hood doesn’t need to stretch in order to fit, so the only reason I can think of for doing it that way is to make a woven fabric drape better. I cut mine on the straight: I’m using a knit and a drapey one at that, and it saved at least half a metre.

I knew this dress needed to have pockets. I don’t carry a bag any more so clothes without pockets don’t get worn. But pockets on a knit dress usually sag and spoil the line. I’m usually prepared to live with that for the sake of having somewhere to put my keys and phone. but for this style the sleek shape is everything. I put invisible zips in the side seams and attached pockets underneath by sewing the pocket pieces to the seam allowances after the zips were in. I was pleasantly surprised by how well it worked. I’ve got my usual stuff in the pockets in all the photos and it doesn’t show unless you’re far too close. Definitely going to do this on future projects too.

A photograph of the side seam of a knitted dress with an inseam pocket closed with an invisible zip.

The runway photos show how narrow the original dresses are. There’s no walking slit. so only tiny ladylike steps are possible. I almost added a side slit to my dress but at the last minute decided it would be too much of a departure from the shape I wanted. I can’t run in this without hitching it up (so elegant) but it’s more wearable than I expected; it works perfectly well for a day working at my desk.

A woman wearing a clingy blue longs sleeved max dress walks away from the viewer towards a fore escape on the side of a pale blue building. The dress has a hood which hides her head. She also wears yellow Adidas trainers.

When worn down the hood doesn’t behave well. It tends to rotate around my neck and end up back to front. I suppose I could come up with some way to attach it to the dress – little snaps or a button and loop – but it doesn’t seem worth the effort to go back and retrofit it now.

A woman wearing a clingy blue long sleeved maxi dress stands side on against a pale blue wall, looking over her shoulder. The dress has a hood worn down. She has short greying hair and wears yellow Adidas trainers.

I’ve been pleasantly surprised that I’ve worn this a few times already. And I think it has some of the vibe of the inspiration dresses. Silicon Valley had better watch out.

Thanks to my husband for the photos.

A woman wearing a clingy blue long sleeved maxi dress stands by a fire escape on the side of a pale blue building. The dress has a hood which she wears over the back of her head leaving some hair visible. She wears yellow Adidas trainers.

22 thoughts on “Long blue hooded dress

  1. What a wonderful dress and a great read. You look lovely and the dress looks like so much fun to wear. I love the navy color but I’m partial to a rich and dark navy. Makes me think perhaps I sure consider more interesting and pretty things to wear while at home!!!!!!

  2. Stunning dress! Super chic! Love the neckline, the color and the long length. A favorite make of yours . The photography is also wonderful..you were made for this dress!

  3. That’s very cool. And I like it with the sneakers! I find that floor-length dresses and skirts are super-easy to wear, they work just like pants as far as shoes and color silhouette.

  4. Fantastic dress and a clever idea to put in the zippered pocket to maintain the sleek line. I like the raised neckline on it. The Vogue wardrobe patterns were great.

  5. Thank you, thank you for the side seam invisible zip idea on side seam for structure to stop pockets sagging. I have left pockets out of some knit dresses to stop sagging and it always makes me reluctant to wear the dresses – such a faff with no pockets

  6. When I first saw the YSL dresses, I have been really stunned by them. I find them so chic. But haven’t thought about making one for myself. Maybe also because I wouldn’t have known where to find a pattern for the hood.
    I totally agree with you concerning the extra seams, with the non see through fabric, the Raglan is a nice extra detail.
    It is hard to believe, that you have something in your pockets, they are so invisible, really great.
    Thanks a lot for showing this interesting project to us!
    Best Regards, Tina

  7. You have a great knack of bringing your visions to life…just so inspiring! A suggestion for the hood swiveling.. do you think sewing a small weight into the lower front … like a washer or fishing line weight, might convince it stay put with out pulling on your neck? I know I have read many suggestions over the years to add a pice of cut off zipper tape or a small coin into bias cut necklines to help the drape. Thanks for sharing…Chris in Florida

  8. Another great project Catherine, I was a great fan of the wardrobe pattern series. Usually, four or five patterns in one packet was a boon for a young me with my sparse disposable income.

Comments are closed.