I’ve spent the day measuring and pinning boxpleats, making those tiny adjustments for waist and hip so that they fit perfectly. I’ve pinned and unpinned and eased and widened and narrowed til my eyes hurt but I think we’re there! I’m recycling a beautiful piece of Liberty silk which has already had one incarnation as a full, loose pleated skirt. The print is of boats and trees and water and is dove grey, a mustardy sort of yellow, black and blue. It’s been worn all over London, swishing north to Primrose Hill and south to Greenwich Park. It’s been boating in Regent’s Park and out to dinner in Soho but has been looking its age and almost made it to the drawer where things go before they get thrown away. It’s too beautiful for that so it’s been unpicked and washed and pressed and is on its way to loveliness again.
It’s done! The pleats are sewn down to about 8cm below waist and then left to hang naturally. It fits perfectly and swirls out fabulously. There is something about wearing full skirts that makes one feel grown up and womanly. They are extravagant in their fullness, they emphasise the sway of your hips and make your waist appear small. Their shape is that that all little girls draw and most grown up women avoid. As a child I played with my mother’s dresses from the 1950s and loved them and now regret bitterly her generosity in giving them to me. I climbed trees in them and made mud pies in them and left them in the garden after a hard day’s play. They were wonderful dresses with nipped in waists, minutely pleated bodices and acres of skirt. Day dresses made of cotton, one printed with leaves in all shades of green, and evening dresses in shell pink satin and deep, almost black, blue velvet. She must have been in her early 20s when she wore these dresses, so clearly inspired by Dior’s ‘New Look’ while I, in my 20s, clumped around in Dr Martens and hobble skirts, so long and tight that I could hardly move.
Full skirts make me smile a lot and is there anything nicer on a warm day than to feel silk rippling against bare legs?