This dress gives a whole new definition to party outfit, since the woman looks like a wrapped package. The asymmetrical design is gathered across the left shoulder—you can see the fold beneath her large pin, and across along the left hip. While the diagonal wide ribbon is an interesting detail, it draws attention to her rounded stomach above.
I had a very difficult time dating this photo. My first guess was that it was from the 1930s—the skirt length, the wide shoulders, the rather thick heels with small platforms. However, I was unsure and so I turned to my go-to expert on dating old photos, Jen Orsini of Pintucks. She has a great eye and a huge stash of vintage patterns, as well as a career teaching fashion history behind her. Her guess was around 1950. “Here’s why I think so,” she wrote. “Slender skirt (late 30’s through the war years would probably be more ‘A’ line and possibly shorter), small shoulder pads (there were smaller shoulder pads worn after the war–but not the extremely wide ones), hat and hair (if you look at this alone, her longer hair and hat seems to be a 50’s style).”
Jen included a January 1950 Simplicity pattern drawing to bolster her assessment. The dress on the left, #3065, came in larger women’s sizes “so clearly mature women were still wearing crepe and diagonal skirt details after the war (while the younger girls were already adopting the longer lengths and big full skirts in crisper fabric).
You can see I still have a lot to learn, but I have assembled a team of experts to help me out. Thanks, Jen!