Flashback: Cotton Sundresses

vintage fashion

This picture of my mother (right) and her identical twin sister (left) was taken in the late 50s.

The sundress was what women used to wear in summer. It was light and unlined, made of cotton, washable and low maintenance (well, it had to be ironed, so maybe it wasn’t so low-maintenance after all…).

When did we stop wearing these dresses? And why? When was the last time you saw a woman wearing a light and easy cotton sundress?

sundresses 1

But there are plenty of pretty summer dresses in shops, aren’t there? Sure, but those dresses are an entirely different species altogether: they have polyester lining and need to be dry cleaned.

Dry cleaning a sundress?!!?? That’s probably the craziest idea ever.

A sundress is the definition of easy, carefree clothing. A bit like jeans, but prettier, and for warm weather (I don’t believe in high-maintenance designer jeans, either). A sundress is something you put on and forget about because you’re on holiday and have more important things to do than worry about your clothes, like enjoying the summer sunhine.

sundresses 2

Yet, I don’t remember the last time I wore a cotton sundress. Probably because they’re so hard to find these days, or because I don’t have a separate holiday wardrobe: what I wear to work is pretty much what I wear anywhere (no formal wear required in my job…)

But I used to wear sundresses a lot when I was younger. And my sundresses were definitely influenced by what my mother used to wear:

retro sundress

Yep, that’s me, copying her… The dress on the right in particular deserves some attention here: I made it myself. That was when I had just finished a 2-year course in dressmaking in preparation for a fabulous career in fashion design (whatever happened to that plan?), I had moved to a small town near Paris and was attending a fashion school.

Oh, you want to talk about the hair… can’t really blame you, it’s horrible. Long story short: this is what happens when hair dye doesn’t turn out as you expected. So, you get a nice pixie haircut to fix it… but you forgot that you have a naturally curly hair that refuses to lie flat and stands to attention never mind what you do… let’s just say that it was a very long summer, and since then my hair has never been shorter than shoulder length.

Maybe it’s time to give the cotton sundress another chance?

How would you wear it today?

Wishing you a sunny summer,


DEDICATION: in loving memory of Ritva L (1 Jan 1942 – 25 Dec 1996)
For more posts in this series, go to Style Icon

Linking up with Stylish Tuesday

Leave a Reply