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.
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.
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.
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.
Will I wear it without the hood? Unlikely. It needs some accessories in this mode.
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.
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.
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.
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.
22 thoughts on “Long blue hooded dress”
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!!!!!!
Thanks! I think the secret of this one is that it feels like wearing pyjamas
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!
Aww thanks! I’ll pass that on to the other half, he does a great job
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.
Thanks! I’m eyeing up a floor length shirt dress for summer.
You look amazing. Love it!
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.
Thanks! I don’t know why they stopped with the wardrobe patterns – presumably they weren’t selling – but this one is a real winner
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
Yes, I could never go back to carrying a handbag everywhere.
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
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
That’s a thought, thanks!
Amazing, as always. I love your zippered pocket trick. I’m going to shamelessly copy you on that!
Sensational! I immediately thought of Grace Jones too!
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.
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