1910 Pink Evening Gown with Black Lace and Cream Sash and Gloves based on The Intrusion of Jimmy by P.G. Wodehouse

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I just finished listening to The Intrusion of Jimmy by P.G. Wodehouse. I’ve mentioned it before on this blog, but I love listening to Wodehouse, because his stories are light and simple enough that I can miss parts if I get distracted by housework or chatter, but engaging enough that they keep my mind from dwelling on the dullness of dishwashing. Anyways, I’m always up for a story where boy meets girl, everything that can possibly cause boy maximum humiliation and trouble happens, but all comes right in the end.

The thing I liked best about this book was Jimmy’s character, because although a lot of Wodehouse’s heroes are rather more like Jimmy’s friend, Lord Dreever – the kind of laid-back fellow who pre-empts criticism by describing himself as “a bit of an ass” – Jimmy himself was curious, capable and generous. Now, the first two of those are rare enough, but he also seemed to have a darker side than any of the other Wodehouse heroes I can recall. At the beginning of the book, Jimmy makes a bet that he can break into someone’s house, and later that night a burglar happens to break into his own apartment; Jimmy disarms him, convinces him that he’s an infamous European jewel thief and gets the man to take him along on a burglary, all without turning a hair. It’s not like he views it as a lark; rather, he takes the whole thing quite seriously, breaking into someone else’s house almost as much out of curiosity as he did from the desire to win the bet. I guess his background as a reporter made his ability to keep so calm plausible, but still, that’s all pretty cold-blooded. Things like that made me feel that, as much as I liked him for his curiosity and wit, there was something about him that wasn’t quite right, and even though he never expressed the desire to steal so much as a rhinestone brooch, there was something about him that gave me the feeling that he very well could go in for a life of crime if it was interesting enough. It turns out that in the original story that the book was based on, Jimmy really had been a jewel thief! I somehow feel like he makes more sense to me now, although I can’t really hold his past incarnation against him.

Jimmy falls for a lovely girl named Molly, and taking the standard meet-cute love-at-first-sight Wodehouse pattern to new heights, he doesn’t ever actually talk to her during this process, but just admires her over the course of a five-day trans-Atlantic trip. I always figure that the Wodehouse heroines have the most marvelous, flattering, feminine clothes possibly available to humans, because eligible young men are always falling instantly in love with them, so it’s a disappointment for me that Wodehouse seldom describes dresses in detail. The book is from 1910, so here we have a 1910-style gown, with black lace over a pink dress. I do like the dresses I’ve seen from this year – the shape seems like a nice balance between the Edwardian shape and the straight-up-and-down lines that are coming.

By the way, I’ve never thought to look up what P.G. stood for; it turns out to be “Pelham Grenville.” Might have to swipe that one for our firstborn.

Prismacolors used: Kelp Green, Pale Sage, White, French Grey 10%, 20%, 50%, 70%, Light Umber, Dark Umber, Tuscan Red, Black, Cream, Pink Rose, Clay Rose

1922 Pink Dress with Burgundy Trim and Lace Panels Inspired by the Adventures of Sally by P.G. Wodehouse

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I’m afraid my dolls generally aren’t cut out for the straight lines that make 1920s fashion look so good, but I did a 1922 dress anyways because I just finished listening to The Adventures of Sally by P.G. Wodehouse, read by Kara Shallenberg. Romantic comedy isn’t so much my thing, but it was amusing (and I often listen to audiobooks while doing things like washing dishes, so amusing beats edifying in terms of audiobook content). And of course Wodehouse is Wodehouse, so it was a fun little portrait of the character of everyone involved. Sally, who of course is the main character, comes into an inheritance early on, so I imagine she went out and bought a couple new dresses, and because everyone spends the rest of the book falling madly in love with her I suppose that they were properly cute.

I really like the idea of doing four main themes for October costumes – give me suggestions and I’ll put up a poll closer to October. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, do see the entry for September 4th.

As for my colored pencil guessing game, no one has hit on the exact number yet…

Laura’s Blue and White 1870s Victorian Day Dress from J. Sheridan Le Fanu’s Carmilla

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So yesterday I did the vampire Carmilla’s bloody nightgown, and then I got to thinking how unfair it was that she got all the attention and long-suffering Laura got none. As a matter of fact, I can’t even remember Laura’s name without referring to Wikipedia or my previous entry. Face it, you really have to pile on the lace to make mild victims as interesting as seductive vampire women in bloody nightgowns. And so pile I did, and here is a dress from 1870 that Laura might have worn. To be honest, even though as near as I can tell 1870 is an accurate enough date for the book’s setting, I thought long and hard about going back a few years for inspiration. After all, Laura and her father lived in a castle in Germany in the middle of nowhere and who knows how well Laura kept up with English fashion in between vampire ravishings. But then I thought, she was still a growing girl and if her dresses were two or three years old, maybe she’d have outgrown them and wouldn’t be wearing anything that old? Maybe since her father is sort of vaguely rich, she orders a lot of new dresses? Maybe she spends a lot of time remaking her dresses referring to whatever fashion news she can get, because life in an isolated castle is so boring? So I over-thought this until I got fed up and tried to make an 1870s style day dress anyways, like I had initially planned. Since it’s not a copy of any one dress, it’s probably not historically accurate (I definitely have my misgivings about the way the overskirt turned out) but oh well, it was sure fun to draw.

New poll tomorrow, but this one will remain open for a few days yet…