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Dinner dress

1939

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

This ingenious design introduced both modesty and freedom of movement into eveningwear. Lore has it that James first conceived it by cutting a crescent shape in the center of the long end of a beach towel, centering it between the legs, and wrapping them in the form of a figure eight. In this more resolved version, the two sides of the fabric wrap counterclockwise around the body, starting from the leg division, extending far enough to cover the center front and back: the front half wraps around the left leg (ending at right back) and the back half wraps around the right leg (ending at left front), causing the hem to form a figure eight. The waist piece, which starts at the right side, is separate and does not take part in the figure-eight movement.

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Details

  • Title: Dinner dress
  • Creator: Charles James
  • Date Created: 1939
  • Physical Dimensions: Length at CB: 57 1/2 in. (146.1 cm)
  • Type: Dinner dress
  • External Link: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Collection Online
  • Medium: silk, synthetic
  • Culture: American
  • Credit Line: Purchase, Costume Institute Benefit Fund, Friends of The Costume Institute Gifts, and Acquisitions Fund, 2013
  • Creator Death Date: 1978
  • Creator Birth Date: 1906
  • Accession Number: 2013.406

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