Monday, June 25, 2012

vintage paper dresses.

campbell soup paper dress
Andy Warhol's Souper Dress via The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Would you wear a paper dress? 

Having come across my very first paper dress that's for sale in the shop here, I did a little research on them. While the paper dress has its merits & some limitations for sure, I would most certainly wear a paper dress!

The paper dress craze was a short-lived one, invented by the Scott Paper Company in 1966 as a marketing tool. For a dollar, women could buy the dress & also receive coupons for Scott paper products. While shapeless & unattractive, the paper dress proved popular with women ordering half a million of these dresses in less than a year.

 As a fashionable trend, the paper dress was a sartorial representation of the throw-away ethos of the period. This was a time in history when people had just gotten used to disposable cutlery, plates and diapers. Convenience & instant gratification were a novelty & these dresses could be hemmed with only a pair of scissors! Score! Matchy-matchy hostess of the party getup? Not so much.

Paper dresses were even the cover story of Mademoiselle magazine in 1967!
“In terms of how much pow you get for your pennies, the paper dress is the ultimate smart-money fashion! And the news in the paper is this: surprisingly pretty prints, clever new shapes that would do credit to an origami expert. (Surprisingly long life too: as many as 12 outings).”  —”The Big Paper Craze” Mademoiselle, June 1967.

retro paper dress ads
vintage paper dress ads from modernkiddo

As the trend took off, companies began to experiment with style and fabric, adding other materials to the paper to make a sturdier garment that could even be washed. 
 Most of them were composed of 'Dura-Weve', which was cellulose reinforced with rayon. They were still more fragile than cloth, but were not likely to rip at the slightest move. Many paper dresses featured Velcro closures, adding to the 'space-age' mystique. My paper dress has a few snap buttons down the front! 
In their short history, paper dresses became more stylish than the original, patterned with '60s paisley and psychedelic prints & even some that could be decorated by the consumer. That sounds like creative DIY fun, and dare I say the paper dress is pretty perfect for packing on trips! It's paper-light!

  The iconic 'Souper Dress' runs upwards of $8000 if you can get your hands on the statement pop art piece. Alternatively, these are some super cute styles available on Etsy at the moment. Isn't the window packaging just perfect for showing off the print? The packaging has me sold! If you're planning to go on a trip sometime, especially to some place warm & sunny, why not pack a paper dress? 

floral paper dress
60's paper dress in the shop
retro mod dresses
left, center, right

All that said, the paper dress is flammable after a few washes because the protective coating is stripped off the material. Other reports suggest that the paper dress tears.

As a convenient & short-term form of dressing, the idea is a great one.
Think it'll make a comeback? 

 - info from here & here


  1. My first thought was 'but... what if it rains?' so I was pretty relieved when you said they had a coating on them! They look pretty cool though, especially the Campbell's dress.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...