Handmade and Fabulous: The Tiered Maxi Dress

Do you have a favourite outfit, one that you wore to death, till the colours faded and the threads unravelled?

In Ilonggo, there is a phrase that goes like this: Uba, laba, suksok, mala. Literally, that means ‘take off, wash, wear, dry‘. It’s a colloquialism, referring to that piece of clothing you love so much you won’t even wait for it to properly dry before wearing it again. So you take it off, wash it, wear it damp, and let it dry on you.

I had a few of these garments. In second grade, it was a frilly, poofy, girly red chiffon dress with white lace stripes which made me feel like a princess. In sixth grade, I had two: one was a yellow and orange blouse-and-skirt combo, the other was a one-piece, drop-waisted dress with thin white and blue stripes. These were my first no-frills dresses and I loved how grown-up they made me feel. In college, it was an olive green fitted top which I always paired with a matching above-the-knee pleated skirt. I loved that outfit so much that I wore it to school every week, sometimes twice a week. I wouldn’t be surprised if people nicknamed me ‘Olive’  back then. I sometimes wonder, though, where these consuming attachment to certain clothes comes from. Is it a manifestation of some inner Freudian demon or  do I just need a bigger wardrobe?

Well, Angelina Jolie settled that burning question for me. In 2009, People Magazine featured her in its Stylewatch section, wearing a black Gerald Darel tiered maxi dress as she totted around the globe with her brood of six. Apparently, Ange loves the dress so much that she has been photographed wearing it numerous times (*gasp*!). Of course, it may not be the same dress – she may have 10 of them in black stashed away in her walk-in closet. But one thing Ms. Jolie proved is this: the size of your wardrobe doesn’t explain your embarrassing affinity for that ratty t-shirt. You may have to dig deeper into your subconscious to figure that out.

Back to that dress. It is a black, floor-skimming, 5-tiered concoction with a tube bodice that can be worn with or without straps. I’m not sure about the fabric but whatever it is, the wind loves it. It is rather plain and some people find it ugly (as does my cheeky 8-year-old girlfriend but what does she know, eh?). I, on the other hand, am inexplicably drawn. It maybe the colour (I have a soft spot for blacks) or the shoulder-baring bodice (shoulders are subtly sexy and more or less stay sexy even when I go crazy on the rice) or the effortless elegance it exudes. Or maybe, I’m just a sucker for maxis. Whatever the reason, I gotta have it. And since I can’t afford Mr. Darel, and wouldn’t  splurge hundreds of dollars on a dress even if I could, I set out to make myself one.

Well, here is my copy version. It is, of course, in black but the photos looked better in antique light so forgive the slightly yellow tinge.

If you like this dress and want to give Gerald Darel a run for his money, check out the tutorial section in the next few days.

Thanks for visiting and as always, happy stitching!

UPDATE: Tutorial is now online. Please visit the tutorial section.

You may also like:

Tiered Dress Tutorial

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