Thursday, October 1, 2015


For some reason, I've been all about Poiret for the last couple of months. That turned into two projects: a dinner dress and a jupe-culotte evening ensemble.

Yep, you read that right. I wore pants to a ball.

Dowager Countess Grantham, queen of the judgmental side-eye
A pant-ed outfit seemed appropriate for this ball in particular, because it was paired with a women's suffrage rally (more on that soon) and it was our "Chelmsford Abbey Ball." A Poiret jupe-culotte outfit definitely fit with those themes!

look! my legs are separate entities!
all of the dramatic poses!

While I was researching jupe-culotte ensembles from the 1910s, I noticed a few trends I liked: metallic embellishments, stripes up the leg, over-robes (which I didn't end up making, but want to!), and elbow-length narrow sleeves.

the green  ensemble in the back
Poiret with model
But I have to admit that my favorites weren't actually Poiret.

Callot Seurs, 1913 (LACMA via American Duchess)
French postcard, 1911 (via)
Or in the case of Lady Sybil's season one costume, not even an original piece from the teens.

I ended up using a new source for materials for this project: a sari. I found a beautiful silk one on eBay that was being sold as-is (there were some damaged spots in the embroidery and some sun fading). It was such a great find! The silk is a dusty purple color with bronze sequins and gold, bronze, and copper couched embroidery patterns. I adjusted how I cut my pieces to use the embellishments to my advantage, which had the added advantage of meaning I didn't have to finish a single edge! Bonus!

The pants are just two big tubes with a curve at the top where they're sewn together and then gathered into the waist and ankle. The waist is cotton, and there's a structural cotton bodice that the embellished sari fabric is sewn to (and then also gathered into the waist). The sleeves are basically rectangles where half the rectangle is sewn into a tube and the other half is attached to the front and back of the bodice. After attaching the sari fabric, I added a pleated gold silk waistband to break up the purple a little bit.

sorry, ignore the messy progress snap of the pants and sleeves mounted on the cotton bodice
In the end I was really happy with the way this turned out! I have to admit, it was really weird wearing pants--both because normally I would be wearing a ballgown at a ball, but also because I don't wear pants in normal life. But also fun! I especially loved the way the pants moved when I danced.

And look! There's evidence of it!

blurry, but I'm dancing!

fluffy pants butt!

my hairband is leftover gold silk from the waistband

And just like Lady Grantham, Quinn judged my scandalous attire!

"look at her! in pants!"

"I don't think pants will ever catch on"


  1. Is that Jane Austen's quilt in the background of the judgey picture?

    Nice pants!

    1. Good eye! It is indeed--this event was at the Chelmsford Center for the Arts, which is also the home of a Jane Austen quilt made by someone local, I believe.

      And thanks!

  2. Haha, especially perfect, because the shape of my dress and the long pearls is very Dowager Countess! :) Clearly, I'm judge-y and snarky and super amusing!