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Navy Floral Dress and Thoughts on the Fit and Flare

Navy Floral Fit and Flare Dress

Oh, the fit and the flare. This silhouette, probably more than any other, has dominated fashion for several years.

Having spent so much time researching and sewing historical costumes, I’ve realized that every decade has an easily recognizable silhouette.

Historically, women’s fashion has represented something about the ideals of its time, and not just beauty ideals but social, political, or artistic.

In the 1920s it was the unrestricted, boyish figure of the modern woman:


In the early 1800s, after the French Revolution, fashion shifted from rococo madness to Greek classicism:


In the 1940s shoulders got bolder and skirts shorter reflecting the influence of war on fashion:


In the 1830s it was… uh, whatever the hell this is…?


Anyway, fifty years from now, how will we look back and define early 2000s style? My vote is the fit and flare.


(these examples are all from ModCloth, they even have a whole section dedicated to F&F)

This style has been lauded as universally flattering and classically feminine. There’s something appealing about the contrast between slim and full shapes. But I think it’s the vintage revival movement that has played a major role in the F&F popularity.

And the style is not restricted to dresses. Sometimes you see it reversed with the oversized, loose shirt paired with skinny jeans or leggings.

It’s certainly a style I keep coming back to over and over again.

The fit and flare is a relatively easy shape to sew. If you can get the bodice to fit then you don’t have to worry about the hips because the skirt is so full. The simple shape is perfect to showcase a fun fabric (Dolly Clackett comes to mind) and there’s nothing like wearing a cute dress to make you feel pretty.

With all that said, let’s move on to this dress in particular:

Navy Floral Fit and Flare Dress

It began with Simplicity 1419 (which I used for this dress) but I made several changes. The floral cotton lawn was too sheer on its own so I fully lined it in navy voile. Each fabric came from different – now defunct – local fabric stores. Double sad.

Navy Floral Fit and Flare Dress

Rather than pleating the skirt, I gathered it and spaced the gathers out so there are four “gathered groups” collected under the bodice darts.

Navy Floral Fit and Flare Dress

I hemmed the lining normally but I bound the hem of the outer fabric in bias tape. I had justenough of this red tape left which closely matched the red in the flowers.

Navy Floral Fit and Flare Dress

I had a navy colored invisible zipper but it was too short so instead of driving five minutes to the store and buying a new zipper like a normal person, I made a keyhole-esque part at the top center back and added a hook and eye to keep it closed.

Navy Floral Fit and Flare Dress

Lastly, I raised the waistline by an inch (something I also did on my last version). This wasn’t a fit issue, purely aesthetic. For some reason I like the look of the ever-so-slightly raised waist on a dress like this.

Oh, and no pockets. ‘Cause I’m laaaaazzzzyyyyyy.

Navy Floral Fit and Flare Dress


So, do you agree with my thoughts on the fit and flare? Is there another style right now that you think deserves the top spot for “2k10s most popular silhouette”? Do you wear/sew F&F dresses?

Comments (21) for post “Navy Floral Dress and Thoughts on the Fit and Flare”

  • I think I can agree with the fit and flare, especially since you mention boxy tops and leggings, though maybe not early 2000s as much as late 2000s-early 2010s. As long as 2010s don’t go to mom jeans I’m happy haha. I love the fit and flare, like you said, it is very flattering and also showcases crazy fabrics, which I am all about. Love your version. The keyhole back and the bias tape as amazing details! Sweet, but not overwhelming 🙂

  • I sew and wear them as it suits my body shape (‘pear/banana’ – bigger below the waist, with swayback as well). It’s just easier to get them to fit me and with my swayback, anything without waist definition makes me feel like I’m in maternity wear. I’ve made this dress a couple of times in cotton poplin and I’m thinking of using the bodice without the split and also doing one with a more V-neck split. I like your modifications/details, the gathers are great for a floaty fabric.

    • It seems like us pears really like the F&F. I, too, have swayback issues so stopping the bodice at the waist means I don’t have to fit that area.

  • Your dress is so pretty! I like the idea of the grouped gathers. I also love a good fit an flare..particularly Simplicity 2444.. I like how different they can look in different fabrics. A soft rayon looks entirely different that one in a hefty drapery fabric.

  • I think you’re right about it being the shape of our era – either that or the ‘sack’ shift type shape, like the Named Inari tee dress that everyone seems to be making lately. As a pear type shape, I much prefer fit and flare on me!

    • I think the sack-shift is an up and comer. I don’t see tons of people on the street wearing it yet and I live in a kind of “hip” town. It’s a very mod look and will probably get more popular in the next few years, like a trickle down effect.

  • Yes this is my kind of dress and I have made lots in this style. I love your version and the detail on the back with the keyhole is a super feature, I also like the bias tape on the hem. A lovely make. x

  • Your dress looks lovely on you. However, I have to disagree with the “universally flattering” label for fit and flare dresses. I am very thick through the waist and carry all my weight on my stomach, and this style of dress looks (and more importantly, feels) terrible on me. Give me a sack dress that highlights my comparatively slim hips and legs any day! I don’t think that it is possible for any dress shape to be universally flattering – human bodies are so varied that there is no way that one style can look great on all of them.

    • After sewing so much historical clothing I don’t believe in “flattering” anymore. The idea of what looks good on someone changes with fashion trends. It’s never constant. If it was we’d all still be wearing boot leg jeans. Those were supposed to look good on everyone, too, but now it’s all about the skinny jeans.

      • That is SO true! I was laughing at myself the other day as I sewed my daughter a dress with batwing sleeves and a cowl neck – very now, and from a 1985 pattern! Ten years ago we would have cringed, in 1985 we loved it, and it looks like in 2016 we like it too. It’s all cycles and what our eyes get used to at different times, and it continually changes.
        I often have issues with the term “flattering” anyway, as I think in our society it is equated with “makes you look thinner”. But that’s a whole blog post (or thesis)!

  • Isn’t it odd how we categorise styles? To me, this isn’t ‘fit and flare’, but more of a skater dress style. Fit and flare, to me, indicates a more skimming shape, usually in princess panels. THAT’S the shape that is fairly universally flattering, as it’s easier to decide how much skim you want over your lumps…this shape works for anyone with a defined waist. Not me! lol

    • I always thought this style made people look like they had a waist because of the sudden contrast of the close fitting bodice then the poofy skirt. It reminds me of early Victorian fashion where the goal was to have a tiny waist so they made everything else giant – huge skirts, big sleeves, wide shoulders. Anyway, no shape works for everyone.

      I do like princess panels in bodices and dresses, though. Makes it easy to fit a garment as tightly or loosely over your body, like you said.

  • Such a lovely dress with great detailing! I also enjoyed reading your post on fashion shapes/styles. I love this shape – great for pears like me… I’ve been enjoying it since I started wearing 1950s vintages dresses from Goodwill in high school back in the 90s… it’s nice to see them popular in mainstream fashion/sewing patterns now too.

  • Love the dress. That sounds like something I would do- adjust the pattern and use the zip I had! I love these dresses.


  • Love this dress, and bet it looks fantastic with one of your new petticoats under it too!

    I find that modern fashion always borrows from a previous era which makes it hard to categorise any style as truly Teenies. The fit and flare is borrowed from the fifties, I see a lot of nineties fashion about at the moment too and every other 20th century fashion episode seems to crop up now and again. Other decades reacted to changing styles due to reactions to what was going on in the wider world at the time….more freedom and start of women’s rights (20’s), war (40’s), return of the joie de vivre (50’s), simplicity, the coming of the teenager (and the surge of homemade fashion patterns) (60’s), flower power and breaking away from the establishment (70’s), the establishment ruling again -power dressing to the max (80’s) and the grunge “we care about nothing” of the nineties. Now? It seems that in the Internet age trends transcend any previous political statements that they used to have. We take inspiration from all decades of the past as well as nations the world over and I don’t think there is any truly modern fashion statement that we have made and that will stand the test of time for this decade.

    Or maybe I just need to be not living the decade before I can understand the fashion!

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