As a tailor apprentice I learned that very often you put lining in a dress. I do love the clean finish it gives a dress, but for my everyday dresses I must admit I find lining suffocating, too warm, heavy and it restricts my movement. I would of course still line an evening gown, but otherwise I stopped lining my everyday dresses, even the ones I wear in winter. Very often my dresses are made with fabric that has a bit of stretch, and then I also loose that feel of extra ease if I use normal lining. Yes, I know you can buy lining with elastane, but often that sort of lining becomes more expensive than the actual fabric for the dress, which I think is a bit crazy! So that solution is also only for special occasions. I do sometimes line thin cotton dresses with a cotton gauze lining. That is a comfortable solution and it’s very nice to wear on a hot summers day. It’s all very good until you want to wear stockings in the evening. I’m sure you know that feeling of your dress/skirt following your stockings. It’s not so nice. So I needed something else to solve that issue.
Turning to our grandmothers for help, and also walking around the thrift stores a lot, I noticed the underslips. I remember my own mother and my grandmother wearing them when I grew up, and back then I thought it was sooooo old fashioned and would never have imagined I’d ever wear one myself. But here I am with a whole collection of thrifted slips (see photo above). I especially love the vintage from thrift stores, because they are normally longer than the ones I can buy in other shops. I don’t wear mini skirts any more, and that seems to be what they are making slips for nowadays. They are so short that they don’t really have much effect if your dress is below your knee. Slips are one of the thrifted things I do not wash at 60 dg. Instead I check them throroughly before buying them and then I wash them twice on 40 dg., if I find it nessasary.
Dress shields and sweat protection.
I love dresses with sleeves, but I hate when you are sweating and it shows under the arms. Our grandmothers also had a solution to that. Dress shields. Probably also the fact that washing wasn’t as easy, made them come up with this. Once again I turn to my time as a tailor apprentice where we used to make dress shiels for a lot of the evening gowns to protect the armscye from being blemished and the sweating to be visible. You basically make two oval circles (10-14 cm diameter) for each armhole, sew the right sides together, leaving a small hole to turn them inside out. The hole are closed by hand stitching. Then you fold them where the fabric is on the bias. You will have a bigger part of the circle inside the dress than in the sleeve, and you sew press studs onto the seam allowance in the dress and accordingly on the dress shields. Then you can take out the shields and wash only them separately. You can also sew them on and then either leave them in permanently or unpick them for washing if the dress itself can not be washed. Obviously the biggest benefit of the dress shields today are that they prevent, to some extend, that sweating will show through the dress. My dresses are often made of cotton and will easily be washed, but I like the protection. On silk, lace and other delicate fabrics you will of course also benefit from the fabric itself being protected. I have noticed that the dress shields you buy ready to wear is made out of two half moons, shaped after the curve of the armscye in the dress. I think my methods works fine, but I will also try the other method. The great thing about making the dress shields yourself is that you can make them in the same fabric (or a matching colour) as your dress. See the photo below for a sneak peak of the dress shield attached to the dress.
If you are a woman who loves to wear dresses, like I am, you might find these two tips useful. I’m wearing a slip most days now unless it’s very warm, and it’s much more comfortable than the lining. And now that the danish summer and the hopefully warmer weather is coming, I will start experimenting more with wearing dress shields. I have only just moved into that area myself. Lastly you’ll see a photo of me wearing my duvet cover dress with a thrifted slip underneath and the dress shields attached. Ready to go and listen to my daughter singing with her choir in our local church.