Sunday, March 15, 2015

Sew What?! An Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Matchy-Matchy Ruffle-kini

While it has heretofore gone undiagnosed, I am certain that I suffer from profound Matchy-Matchy Syndrome.  The symptoms exhibited themselves early on, when as a child, I sat starry-eyed watching Doris Day in a 1962 fashion sequence from That Touch of Mink in which mannequins at Bergdorf Goodman modeled luxurious lounging pajamas of acid-green brocade with matching robes, smart skirt suits with linings to match the blouses, and mink coats with interchangeable, satin overcoats meant to coordinate with every ensemble.  Since then, the height of chic was defined for me by a woman's ability to have everything match, a theory which has not always served me well.

My matchy-matchy fate was sealed when I watched Bon Voyage!another seminal film from that fabulous year for female fashion, 1962.  In it, Deborah Walley wears one of the coolest (and hottest), matching, seaside ensembles that has ever graced the silver screen - a wacky tacky matchy-matcherson's dream come true!

Deborah Walley as wild woman in Bon Voyage! (1962)

Living in one of the sun-worshipping capitals of the world, I have seen many
a far-out swimsuit.  None have ever come close to rivaling the sophisticated
savagery of Ms. Walley's leopard-print bathing costume with matchy-matchy

Have you ever seen a suit suite like this?!!
Everything about the outfit is oversized - the hat, the glasses, the duffel bag, the style!
As Bon Voyage! is a Disney film, it is possible that old Uncle Walt, considering the bikini
too risqué, ordered the addition of the criss-cross modesty straps with the belly-button bow!
In my opinion, this could very well have been the precursor to today's monokini and those
much-coveted "Scandal Suits" presented by Cole of California in 1964.

Having enjoyed a winter season in California that was close to breaking records for its mild manner (aside from a recent, freak hail storm), my thoughts easily stray to summer.  As a result, I have been revisiting many of Deborah Walley's beach-bound performances in Gidget Goes Hawaiian, the AIP Beach Party movies, and, of course, Bon Voyage!  Consequently, my first real "Sew What?!" project for 2015 is an itsy-bitsy, teenie-weenie, matchy-matchy RUFFLE-KINI!!!

This navy, white, and citron-yellow floral-print cotton was
purchased at my favorite place for my favorite price - 99¢ per yard!
It had been sitting in the stash for years waiting for just the right project.
Because the flowers are printed in large scale (7-8 inches), and I figured
that my best bet in diminishing the material's overtly flower-power
message would be to gather the fabric into miles of ruffles. 

It takes miles of ruffles to make a Ruffle-Kini.

To send this outfit truly over-the-top, it was imperative to find a finishing touch that indeed went over the top...over the very top of the hat.  As shown in the illustration, I had the idea of a long fall cascading from the pinnacle of the Put A Lid On It! Sun Hat.  As it happens, fake hair - even "cheap" fake hair - isn't all that cheap.  I found an online distributor of the finest polyester fibers masquerading as human hair, but the ponytails were always the most expensive pieces.  I decided to take a chance on an eight-dollar, twenty-nine-inch, clip-on, bleach-blonde extension and pray for the best.  When I got the "hair," I just removed the clips and rolled (and sewed) the hair into a ponytail.  I don't think my makeshift fall would fool the likes of Vidal Sassoon, but I am happy it turned out so well.  The following images, taken by our pal, Fabian Fioto, are the soon-to-be-legendary results of a photo shoot which we lovingly refer to as, "Legends of the Fall."

After all, any outfit is made by the fall!
Even after sewing all of those ruffles, I had exactly enough fabric to
make a matchy-matchy hat, beach bag, cover-up, and ruffled mules!

Nobody told me how much work it was to apply so many layers of ruffles to a bikini.  About halfway through the process, I was all the way ready to give up - out of both frustration and concern that the result would look like a bulky baby's bathing costume!

And I was afraid that the ruffles would look too juvenile!
I think Mary was able to prevent things from going too far
in the diaper cover direction!

For each piece, I either made my own pattern or made it up as I went along.

"I'm forever blowing bubbles!"
What you can't see in this photo is Mr. Tiny and Allie going blue in the face
trying to blow as many bubbles into the frame as questionable result.

The only photo I took all day was this behind-the-scenes shot.
Never having had an on-set hair expert, we felt very lucky to have little Allie on
hand.  Working so diligently at taming the fall, it might have been nice if Fabian
let her use the ladder once in a while to climb to the top of Mount St. Mary!

For me, there is no denying the greatness of the above photos.  However, when I stopped "directing" and truly left Mary, Fabian, and the afternoon sun to their own devices, the photos became really special. 

We were lucky enough to have the use of some beautiful friend's beautiful home for the afternoon.
They were gracious enough to let us shoot indoors and out!

I'm allowed to say , "Wow," because I am neither the subject of the
 photo nor the photographer.  All I did was make the lousy ponytail hat...

How to stuff a ruffle-kini!

This one is my favorite.

Or maybe this one...

Or maybe this one...
After Fabian had taken exactly one million photos of her in the bikini, Mary changed so Fabian could get some photos for his own portfolio.  I decided to do as the cool kids do and photo bomb; I snuck behind the bar and popped up just as the shutter clicked.  Initially, Fabian was none too thrilled with my hijinks, but we all ended up thinking the photo was pretty cool!

I'm not sure that there is any cure for Matchy-Matchy Syndrome, let alone any treatment.  Furthermore, I'm not sure that I would want one anyhow; much like Deb's beach get-up, I think it would be impossible for this matchy-matchy leopard to change his spots!

Whether you prefer matchy-matchy or mixing-and-matching, wacky tacky
will always encourage you to make with the fake hair and WHIP IT!

As always, a huge THANK YOU to my compatriots, Fabian, Allie, and Mary, for elevating my crimes against fashion into something beautiful!!!  Thanks also to our hosts for endangering their position with their home owner's association and neighborhood watch group by opening their beautiful Beverly Hills home to our ragtag bunch!  MERCI BEAUCOUP!!!


Mr. Tiny


  1. BRAVO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Perfect team, for a perfect shoot!
    Love your outfit and Fabian's pictures are really great!

    1. MERCI!!! I just hope these kids don't get too popular and professional to work with me again!

  2. I'm old enough to have lived and loved the days of match-matchy and, like all trends, it will trend again.

    1. I hope so. For once in my life it would be nice to be "on trend."

  3. It's wonderful! And a totally fantastic photoshoot too. Bravo!

    1. Thank you very much! I'm lucky to be surrounded by such talented people!

  4. Your are perfect in the last photo. Nerdy guy pining after Hot girl......

    1. Except that, in this instance, the "hot girl" is my sister. I am more likely plotting her demise so I can take center stage!!! And who are you calling "nerdy"??????? Hahahaha!!!

  5. You never cease to impress Sir!

  6. This is so flippin' awesome, Chris!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    1. Thank you!!! If it was just my sewing project, it wouldn't be that impressive. I give all the credit to Mary & Fabian!

  7. I like it. Oh no, have I lost the battle against matchy-matchy. If I have, I don't want to be cured.