Wednesday, January 27, 2010

From my grandma's closet...

When I was visiting my Grandma Angelina over Thanksgiving, she mentioned that she had two dresses for me. I immediately perked up.

My Grandma grew up in Brooklyn, then moved to Connecticut when she got married, in 1953. After the incredible choices New York had to offer, Connecticut seemed like a wasteland. Luckily, my grandma had a wonderful friend, Marie, who still lived in New York. Whenever Marie saw something my grandma might like– from china place-settings to bolts of tweed to a dress for an upcoming party– she would pick it up and ship it to my grandma. "Back then," she told me, "your size was your size."

This black dress was one of the things Marie picked out for my grandma. "I wore the dress to a party in the evening, under a tent, and it was the year Stephen was born, 1961," she wrote to me. I love the full skirt and the sheer sleeves. When I first tried it on, I didn't think it would fit! My grandma was so petite. And this was AFTER she had 3 kids! When I came downstairs to show my grandpa, he looked at my grandma and exclaimed, "You were that skinny!?" and we all burst out laughing. (They're always telling my sister and I that we need to eat more!)

My grandma didn't have the original belt anymore, which she told me was wide, so I used a satin sash from another dress and tied it into a big bow.

As my grandma expected, I paired it with wild heels. I thought these Prada platforms would be perfect.

The second dress she gave me is even more incredible. It was made for her, for her honeymoon, by my grandpa's sister, Marianne. Marianne worked as a seamstress at Bergdorf Goodman in New York. When my grandma got engaged, they looked at gowns in Henri Bendel for ideas, and then Marianne made one exactly how my grandma wanted! You can tell from just looking at this dress how talented she is. The covered buttons, the collar, the piping... everything is considered and executed so perfectly.

When I slipped this dress over my head, it fit me PERFECTLY. And isn't the color gorgeous! I don't have anything orange and now I'm wondering why. It's made of silk taffeta.

I really like vintage, but getting a piece passed down from a family member is just about as good as it gets, and getting something MADE by a family member is unreal. My grandma kept these dresses for over 50 years. She told me she couldn't bear to get rid of them or put them in the dress-up box. I'm so glad she didn't. They are treasures.

(All photos © Littlehouse of Style)


Style Artisan said...

Oh, Catherine...these are beyond stunning. They simply take my breath away!

I don't know why, but I teared up reading this. It is so wonderful that she passed these down to you. Not only are you able to love and appreciate them, but you breathe new life into them.

Enjoy! And thanks for sharing their stories with us.

Stéphanie said...


ringtales said...

that is just the classiest shade of orange on the rack, the artist in me wants to name it, sweet delicious burnt orange? Lovely!

But the black dress is just the hottie, hot, HOTTEST! Hot and fun, you lucky lucky woman. By the time I was sixteen my hand did not even fit into my mother's wedding glove that is how tiny she was!

The Prada's are THE icing on the cake and just have me green with envy. Thanks for the fashion boosts.

Christine said...

Stunning, darling! They're gorgeous!

You make me wanna go to prom again!


Beautiful dresses, and even better that they have stories attached. The details on the front of the orange one are glorious, although the black one is so gauzy and ethereal...can't decide which I like better! Lauren

coco said...


Beth Ruby said...

Absolutely stunning dresses.
That shade of orange is divine.
Beautiful dresses and a beautiful post.

Julia said...

Wow, both of these are so beautiful. You're so lucky! And they flatter your figure like nobody's business!


Faux Fuchsia said...

These frockers are KILLER and I am so glad your grandma saved them! Loved the stories behind them too.