1950s. One-piece black lace and point d’esprit bobbinet over black rayon cocktail dress, closing in back, with a peach rayon modesty panel, three-quarter-length sleeves and a full, mid-calf skirt. more »
1950s. One-piece black lace and point d’esprit bobbinet over black rayon cocktail dress, closing in back, with a peach rayon modesty panel, three-quarter-length sleeves and a full, mid-calf skirt. « less
The dress bodice has three main elements. At the waist, a black rayon lining fabric overlaid with a black dotted or point d’esprit bobbinet encircles the body, with a front panel and two back panels joined at the side seams. It is 69.9 cm / 27.5 in. wide in total, and at its highest in front is 11.4 cm / 4.5 in. and at its lowest in back is 3.8 cm / 1.5 in. Its top edge is cut into eight peaks, sewn to the scalloped lace edge of another panel of point d’esprit. This element is backed with a peach rayon bodice lining covered in cream chiffon that provides both structure for the dress and coverage for the bust. The peach lining is sewn to the dress only at its bottom edge and at the back opening and is sleeveless. It has a single front panel with a total of six darts: on each side of the bust, one dart rises from the hem, another drops from the top edge, and a third emerges horizontally from the side seam to sharply define the fashionable bullet-bra silhouette of the 1950s. It has two back panels, each with another dart to shape the bodice to the curve of the back. The lining is 25.4 cm / 10 in. at its highest in front, and drops off at the sides to 12.7 cm / 5 in. at center back. The lace-edged point d’esprit it supports is itself cut into three panels, rising above the peach lining in front with a T-shaped panel cut to include the sleeves. The back panel of the point d’esprit is 40 cm / 15.75 in. high at center back and is sewn to the front at the 22.9 cm / 9 in. long side seams, 12.7 cm / 5 in. long shoulder seams, and with 21.6 cm / 8.5 in. long half-scyes that join the backs of the sleeve heads to the dress. Because of the cut of the front panels, there is no scye seam in front. Each sleeve has a small triangular gusset added in beneath the arm for ease of movement and the sleeve is sewn into a tube along the underside of the arm. The bodice has a high neckline with one hook at the back of the neck. From there the back is left open to the top of the peach lining, where a 33 cm / 13 in. long zipper continues into the skirt and closes the dress.
The skirt has three layers of fabric, each 63.5 cm / 25 in. long. The innermost layer is made of two half circles of black rayon lining fabric, each 34.9 cm / 13.75 in. wide at the waist and 236.2 cm / 93 in. wide at the hem, sewn smoothly to the waist seam. Over this is a black tulle supportive layer, made with three panels lightly gathered to the waist seam. The last layer is a 459.7 cm / 181 in. long rectangle, gathered tightly to fit the waist. Professionally made, with a store label reading “The College Shop, Manchester, N.H.” This dress shop was owned by Christine Recoutes Nassikas Costibos, who emigrated from Greece as a young child in 1909. While she herself was never able to fulfill her desire to further her education, her poignantly-named business and determination helped send her two sons to college. A scholarship for female students in need was established at the University of New Hampshire in her name by her family. Machine-sewn.