It was with much thought that I named this dress. I mean, what exactly does one call a creation in gray wool? The Gray Wool Dress, while not exactly wrong, doesn’t quite have that certain sort of ring to it. But I knew, from the beginning, that it simply had to be in gray wool. I was aiming for a calm sort of casual dress, with enough interest in cut to make it pretty for ordinary days.
First, I decided, let’s not stick with the ordinary waistline. So I raised it, for fun, and watched what happened. The result was this: the skirt turned into a fitted, flared and multi-seamed contraption, the sleeves went from set-in to stylish raglan, and a funny sort of collar draped itself around the neck. Wow, I thought, that’s delightful! Let’s keep going!
So I fussed with the sleeves a bit, gathering them into a band with a tiny placket. (The thought of that sleeve band still thrills me up one side and down the other!) And then, I realized, we had to have a bow at the waistline. Suddenly I had a thought, which I jotted down next to the sketch: With fun lining? it said.
When I got to the fabric store, I found the gray wool of my dreams easily. If you have ever shopped for fabric before with any definite sort of idea of what you want, you will know that often you don’t find what you like. This time, it was almost the first bolt I touched. How wonderful was that? And then I looked for the lining. It proved a bit more elusive, but only because I had trouble deciding which color of satin I should use. There was a veritable rainbow to choose from! In the end, I went for a lovely cornflower blue, and stuck it inside the bodice and the sleeves. (You can see it peeking out in the photo.)
When it came time to name the dress, I reflected on everything I’d done with it. Yes, it was a calm fabric (how much more relaxed than gray wool does it get?). But look at the detailing! Remembering the exuberance with which the dress had almost designed itself, as well as the surprise ending that was the lining, meant that in the end, Joie de Vivre was actually quite suitable as a name. And it was far more interesting than just calling it Gray Wool!