Ginger Rogers’ White Dress from Swing Time (Updated 2/28/09)

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Brian refused to watch Swing Time with me. More specifically, he said: “I don’t believe this is worth watching just because it’s on some 100 great films list. Do you know how many ‘hundred great films’ lists there are? Obviously someone mistakenly placed this movie on one.” Well, I don’t watch his creepy horror-sci-fi movies, so it works out. Most of our time, our Netflix queues co-exist happily, but on some things, we may never quite see eye-to-eye. (And he was right, he would have hated it. But the dancing was gorgeous…)

This is a dress Ginger Rogers wears towards the end of the movie, most prominent in “Never Gonna Dance.” As may be guessed from the general lameness of the bottom third of the dress, I wasn’t really happy with how it turned out, and I don’t know how the skirt works at all. But, oh well.

Edit (2/28/09): I didn’t like the way this version of the dress came out originally, so I redrew it. The neckline still isn’t quite right, but that’s because the doll’s underwear doesn’t work with the way the dress should be. You can click here for the old version of the dress, or if you want to see the original, you can see how it works on this video of Never Gonna Dance.

12 thoughts on “Ginger Rogers’ White Dress from Swing Time (Updated 2/28/09)

  1. It is quite lovely but as with all good dance costumes- needs to be in motion to appreciate the talent of the designer.

  2. Ginger got to wear some amazing dresses! One of my favorites is a feathered concoction – I thought it was the Gay Divorcee, but now I’m thinking it was actually in Top Hat… Good excuse to watch both.
    My Brian simply refuses to watch anything made before 1960; especially if its in black and white and involves singing and dancing.

  3. Yeah, in motion (and with a correctly drawn skirt) it’d be better, but, oh well. And I think there was a feathered one in Swing Time, with frilled puffy sleeves and a sheer top with buttons down the front, then the knees down were feathery, at least looking feathery to me.

    My Brian will sometimes be a good sport about pre-1960s black and white movies, and liked a lot of mine (we had an epic Buster Keaton streak for a while there) but singing and dancing puts the offering right out of the running…

  4. Very nice! It made me think of a picture I’d seen, of a woman in a beautiful gown… It was very long, white, with an over-skirt that started middle of the left side, at the waist, and then grew longer as it swept across to the right and down, eventually matching length with the rest of the skirt. It was a little like one of the dresses in the video of ‘clothes of the future’; “Ooh, swish.”
    The top of the dress was rather plain, sort of drapey, like it was wrapped around her to create the top. But over it was the really Wow item. A lacy layer that was a little like a short poncho. There was also a white belt on the waist.

    Oh dear, my rambling side has appeared here, too. :)

  5. Oh, and just thought of something about that dress I described… to clarify about the top. It’s like the top of the Pink and Yellow Chiffon 1940s Evening Gown.

  6. Hi All,

    Hope you paper doll hobbiest don’t mind a man chiming in, as I notice the forum comments are all from females.

    I am looking for a pattern for this Ginger Rogers dress so that I may have it made for my wife as a surprise for her birthday. She loves this dress and we both love that fabulous movie, Swing Time. BTW, I do feel sorry for anyone who cannot appreciate such wonderful art as the great American movie musicals! But then, I love to go our fine dining and dancing, play eighteen holes of golf and race stock cars all in the same day, so my intrests are quite varied.

    Question is, does anyone know where I can find a pattern for this dress? My email address is, if so. Thanks. Dan

  7. I have been hunting high and low looking for a pattern for that dress, or a least a detailed enough description of the construction that I could piece it together. Anyone have any ideas where I can find more info on that dress, I want to make it!!

  8. Amy, when Dan left his comment I e-mailed him suggesting you try to get ahold of Erin from A Dress A Day (link in my sidebar) — she might know someone who specializes in reproduction dress or patterns that might work. I don’t actually know much about sewing, myself! Also, my drawing is very flawed — the skirt is all wrong (the real version is much fuller) and the bodice had to be worked around the bra on the doll, so it’s not quite as low as it should be. If you need a reference, the dance sequence from the movie is on YouTube:

  9. You are right about “Swing Time”. Robert Mueller described the dancing as the greatest dancing “in the history of the universe”. Arlene Croce found the dancing of such high quality, it was “beyond words to describe.”…..and the dress does great with those high speed piroettes at the end of Never Gonna Dance. I like sci-fi too, but there’s room in the world for the pure joy and celebration of life.

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