THE JULY DRESS
Since July is the most patriotic month of the year, The July Dress had to incorporate red, white, blue–and stripes! The July Dress is a celebration of American Independence with thick navy and white horizontal stripes, a bold red lip, red heels, sparklers, fireworks, and an Colonial style home for the backdrop. It’s the very first dress from The Monthly Dress Series to incorporate a printed pattern!
July is one of my favorite months of the year! I love getting to celebrate our nation. I love feeling patriotic, and I wanted The July Dress to be a bold expression of America! The horizontal stripes on the dress are a nod to the stripes on our nations flag. Like our flag, I wanted the dress to be bold and clean.
July is also my birthday month! So I decided to make this month’s dress EXTRA “me.” I have loved navy & white stripes for forever and ever. A navy and white skirt was one of the very first sewing tutorials I created on my blog eight years ago. Eight years you guys . . . holy cow! Incorporating one of my favorite classic patterns in this dress really pulled out my own individual style.
It might be hard to believe, but it was actually a bit of a challenge to find this navy/white striped fabric! I’ve always been drawn to this pattern and color combo, but it usually comes in a knit fabric with much thinner stripes. I’ve known July would be navy and white stripes for the past 6 months, so I always kept my eye out when we went fabric shopping.
I realized that this scale of stripes is more common in home decor fabric rather than apparel fabric. So when I broadened my search to home decor stores, I found this fabric almost immediately! The fabric I used for this dress is actually an indoor/outdoor upholstery fabric! It is thick and heavy, which creates a beautiful draping effect with the amount of fabric involved. I purchased 10 yards of fabric for this dress. And just like The June Dress surprised myself by using every last yard!
The stiff fabric was perfect for creating the thick dramatic pleats in the skirt. It holds, folds, and presses beautifully, so while it was an unconventional fabric choice for a full length gown, it was actually one of the easiest fabrics to manipulate and sew. But man..this dress is heavy!
I saw a similar Oscar De La Renta dress in a magazine almost NINE years ago. I remember tearing out the image from the magazine and hanging it on my inspiration board for months and months (I included a picture of this striped dress on my inspiration board below). It was a beautiful navy and white striped gown, I couldn’t get the dress out of my head. And I always dreamed of having an excuse to create a similar dress one day.
Honestly, I really liked the look of all of the stripes going across horizontally, so I made the neckline a very defined square. Also, I love how the 3/4 length sleeves balances out the large pleated skirt.
Furthermore, I designed three very large bold pleats in the front and in the back, and I gave the skirt pockets! Pockets in a skirt or dress are some of the best selling points for me. Since the fabric is a bit more casual, the pockets really fit with the vibe. Combining an outdoor fabric and pockets with the elegant ball gown design create an interesting juxtaposition. I think the dress has a beautiful harmonious balance, and I couldn’t be happier with it.
Believe it or not, the giant bow in the back was actually a last minute addition. I bought what I thought was plenty of extra fabric “just in case”. Once I cut and pinned the dress on my mannequin, I felt like it was missing a “wow” factor. If you have been following along with me for a while you might remember my Take A Bow skirt I designed, manufactured, and sold a few years ago. It is one of my favorite skirt designs ever, and I decided to add a giant bow in a nod to my first skirt I ever manufactured. It was the perfect finishing touch on The July Dress.
I designed the bow to look like bunting in the back. There are a few different ways I could have created the bow, but a patriotic bunting bow matched the July vibe. That said, I couldn’t stop there. I added giant ribbons to the bow that cascade down longer than the skirt of the dress and it was just the dramatic effect the bow needed.
Does the location for this shoot look familiar to any of you long-time Elle Apparel followers out there? I shot The July Dress at the same breathtaking home where I shot my lookbook for my Take A Bow skirt 5 years ago! This is the home of one of my dear friends in my hometown of Camarillo, and it is one of my favorite homes of all time.
When I was scouting out locations for this shoot, I really wanted a location that felt All-American. This clean, white Colonial style mansion is set on a beautiful property that overlooks the city of Camarillo. The tall white Doric columns surrounding the home remind me of the Greek columns on The Jefferson Memorial, The White House, and so many other iconic American buildings.
I revealed The July Dress on the 3rd for a very special reason. Revealing this dress on July 4th might have seemed like a no- brainer, but July 3rd holds a very special significance to me. 12 years ago, on July 3, 2006, my dad passed away from prostate cancer at the age of 49. I was 20 years old and I remember that day like it was yesterday. Also, I remember my very last conversation I had with my dad, him telling me how much he loved me and how much he would miss me. Sadly, I remember the pain he was in, gathering around him with my mom and brothers and holding his hand as he passed.
That next day was July 4th. It felt very strange. How in the world do we celebrate and enjoy this holiday? Do we watch fireworks? If not this year, what about next year? I felt like Independence Day would forever be a sad holiday . . . one that I would want to skip over or forget. But, as the years have, passed I’ve learned to look at this holiday as a day to celebrate this nation’s freedom as well as my dad’s freedom. Freedom from pain, freedom from cancer. He didn’t get to see me discover my love of designing clothing while he was here, but I like to think he would have been so excited about this series.
If he were here…
I imagine him texting me the day before each dress reveal asking to see what the dress looks like, or calling me to find out what I have in store for each new month’s dress. He was always aware of what I was doing in life–tests, work, dating–and he always went out of his way to encourage me. I know he can see me from the other side, but I miss having him here with me.
My dad had a beautiful singing voice and he sang a beautiful song titled “Consider the Lilies” every year when I was a child. We were lucky enough to get a professional recording of him singing it before he passed. Lilies became our way to remember him. We had a beautiful display of lilies on his casket at his funeral and engraved on his headstone. I chose to carry a bouquet of lilies for this shoot in his honor, and I am dedicating The July Dress to my dad.
Photography: Jordan Zobrist
I loved reading all of your guesses for The July Dress and I hope you loved this reveal! This dress holds such a special place in my heart!
Make sure to check back next week for the Behind The Dress: July episode! You won’t want to miss seeing the movement of this dress and what it looked like while I was constructing it. The reaction my boys had to seeing this dress for the first time was pretty priceless too!
Here is the time lapse video for how I created The July Dress…
MY INSPIRATION BOARD AND SKETCH FOR THE JULY DRESS:
The June Dress sketch done by Jill Paz Illustration
SHOP MY LOOK:
VIEW MY OTHER BEHIND THE DRESS EPISODES BELOW:
- January Behind The Dress
- February Behind The Dress
- March Behind The Dress
- April Behind The Dress
- May Behind The Dress
- June Behind The Dress
DON’T MISS ANY OF MY DRESSES FROM THE MONTHLY DRESS SERIES. YOU CAN FOLLOW ALONG ON INSTAGRAM AT #THEMONTHLYDRESSSERIES. OR CLICK ON ANY OF THE DRESSES BELOW TO VIEW THE FULL POST AND TIME-LAPSE VIDEOS FOR THAT MONTH.
Follow along with me on instagram and in my newsletter for updates on The Monthly Dress Tour! Over the next few months we will be prepping to bring these dresses to you so you can experience The Monthly Dress Series in real life! We will be taking these dressed on tour to Pasadena and Utah county later this year!
Want to learn how to sew? Let me teach you with my online video sewing courses! I offer a beginner course and an intermediate course. I walk you through every step of how to create and sew your own clothing. In addition, the videos never expire, so you can watch and re-watch them at your own pace. Also, they make for a great gift!