Easy makeover for an ’80s dress

Isn’t it lucky we still have fashion to cheer us up after horrible news? To be honest, I was actually slightly surprised that the sun even rose yesterday, but rise it did. In fact, the weather was so lovely that I decided to attend high tea at the Park Hyatt wearing this gorgeous flowery, flouncy dress (I blogged about the high tea here). I found the dress at an op shop last month for $5. I’m not usually a floral print person, but the colour, tassels and ruffles won me over, even though it didn’t look quite right (this is my “not quite right” face):

The shoulder pads and loose waist (originally shirred elastic, but over the years I think the stretch had dropped out!) made it look like a shapeless sack (with ruffles!!) but both those problems were easily fixed. First, I ripped out the shoulder pads. 

Fortunately, they were only tacked in place with a single running stitch so ripping them out took about one minute. If you are going to remove shoulder pads from a garment, take into account how they are set in – sometimes they are simply too integral a part of the garment to be removed (for example, if they are attached between the outer fabric and the lining of a jacket). Also, most of the time the garment is cut to allow for shoulder pads so consider how the fabric will drape differently if you remove them.

In the case of this dress, the material is flowy and I could tell it would be OK to take shoulder pads out. I’m actually not sure why they were there in the first place, because I think the dress drapes a lot better now! I remedied the loose waist by simply tying a printed scarf around the waist – it might not really be that obvious because the print kind of ties in with the print of the dress, but it changes the silhouette a lot.

I’ll possibly create a more permanent solution to the loose waist problem, such as sewing waist ties to the sides of the dress or something like that when I get time, but when you’re running late for high tea, using a scarf as a belt is not a bad way to fix things!

The story of this dress could end here, but funnily enough, I found a very similar one* at Vinnies Ringwood last week. I was invited to check out the newly renovated store and shop up a storm (yes, there will be a post coming up!). This dress is one of the many things I scored that day, but it caused me to make another “not quite right” face… 

…which again quickly turned into a “that’s much better” face when I took the shoulder pads out.

As much as I love a refashioning challenge, an easy one like this makes me happy too. I even did a little dance for you to prove it.

Now that I’ve demonstrated why I never dance in public, how about the more pressing matter of what to do with the shoulder pads I removed? Never mind, I have plans for those. Shouldn’t be too hard to add straps and make them into a bikini top (and they’re already padded, making them perfect for the less well-endowed among us ie me).

*And now for a bit of a fashion history mystery. The reason the two dresses are so similar is that they are both by the label “ML Collection Melbourne”.  

Does anyone know anything about this brand? When Lady Melbourne took her spot next to me at high tea she asked if the flowery dress was a Diane Freis number, then on seeing the label hypothesised that it could be Mary Lipshut’s private brand. 

While that would be very exciting, I think realistically these dresses are by a fairly generic company which just happened to design fabulous frocks. However, if anyone has information to the contrary, I’d love to know about it, so get in touch (the comments function is a bit temperamental on this blog so email me at fourthdaughter@gmail.com or tweet me at @Leeyong_Soo). And if you like the dresses, get hunting for them – I’ve turned up two within a few weeks of each other for just a few dollars at op shops, there must be more out there!