Tuesday, January 24, 2017

The Gatsby Ball

This past weekend I had the good fortune to be able to attend Dardanella's Gatsby Inaugural Ball in Washington DC. But never fear, dear readers, there was nothing political about it! 

Just a lovely, non-partisan, 1920's themed ball held in the beautiful National Portrait Gallery. There was live music, dancing, cocktails and even the chance to tour the museum and see portraits of Presidents past. 

As befitting any historical evening in the DC area, it's always a good idea to start at Gadsby's Tavern for dinner! 

I had an absolute blast learning about 20's fashion, in preparing my outfit for this event. I had so little knowledge of the 20's before I dove into this project. Turns out I really like the mid-late 20's fashion. The outfit I ended up planning, landed itself in about 1926-27. 

The dress and scarf are of silver, silk/rayon burnout velvet, and silk chiffon. I accessorized with pearls, a vintage 1920's watch, red T-strap heels, a fur-trimmed coat, black velvet bag and loads of undies! Way more than I initially realized went under a 20's dress! Oh, and the hair. The hair was the best accessory! I waved it using a 1/2" marcel iron. It took a little practice, but was well worth it!

My mom came, and I dressed her in an awesome beaded dress I bought ages ago and haven't worn, and also my Poiret cocoon coat I made last year for my 1913 evening gown, that was also never worn. 

The event was held in the courtyard and upstairs hall of the National Portrait Gallery, with live music in both areas. The courtyard was very festive! There was a costume/trivia contest which my husband actually won! He was awarded a "Mr. Dardanella" sash for it. I was so excited for him! I think he's really liking going to costume parties. We even upgraded his outfit a bit with a new silk bowtie. Next up, maybe a more authentic waistcoat and bib for his tails.

Of course, I had to go and take a picture with our 30th President, President Coolidge (1923-29). His First Lady, Grace Coolidge, had a fantastic wardrobe!

And then there was dancing! I love a good fox trot! And of course, got in a little Charleston, too.

A couple days before we left, since I was convinced it was going to be freezing, I hustled and made a coat. I'm glad I made it, but I must say, I didn't even need it. The weather was great! The coat is black camel lined in silk charmeuse. More on that in the construction post that will follow.

And my favorite part, the undies! So many underthings under such a simple dress. They're not all shown here, but I wore a bandeau, an envelope chemise, corset/girdle, stockings, a costume slip and then the dress, which had it's own slip, too! That all, too, will be in the next post.

So many layers may seem rather unnecessary under such a loose dress, but I love making them, and I feel that if you don't have the period undies, wearing the clothes over them, no matter how beautiful, don't feel complete. I think, when you feel all the layers, and how they work with you're body, and know that this is what it felt like to wear clothes in whatever era, it feels like a small bit of time travel. And for me, that's much more exciting than just playing dress up!

Cheers, all!


  1. Pretty dress and undies (and shoes)! It sounds like a fun location for an event, too.


    1. Thank you! It was a great location. Very pretty!

  2. Looks like it was a lovely event!! I've been thinking about making a new dress for a 20s event this spring but can't decide on a style. Looking forward to reading the sewing details for the undies!

    1. I realized, the more I looked into the 20's, there are so many more styles than I initially associated with the decade! I'm sure you will find one you love!