I needed a simple pullover style dress for one of the days of our recent visit to Greece. We started our day by driving away from Athens (really not for the faint of heart, ugh what a tough city to drive) and heading west towards Corinth. Over the current ancient Isthmus of Corinth, we headed to Epidaurus, which is NOT the very, very famous Epidaurus Amphitheater, above, but rather a very small place on the coast, where one assured me that we would find a underwater sunken city of ancient origins that we could snorkel in.
We found it, it was incredible, we were practically the only ones there:
With the exception of the four people on board this sailboat, we were the ONLY visitors to Epidaurus that day. And that's exactly what they said: in just four feet of water, an entire (small) city in ruins sits on the sandy ocean floor, and you can legitimately snorkel. just above. The walls are still in place and the amphoras that once held the olive oil and wine are huddled side by side in rooms that your body slides over in cold water. Our whole family braved loads of sea urchins on the sandy bottom to swim about 100 feet from shore and explore this place, and I can't believe it hasn't been mobbed, because where else can- do you get as nearly 2000 years old? old ruins without a velvet cord?
We were willing to drive over 90 minutes to arrive early in the day to begin our morning snorkeling. I did however want to wear a dress that would not only cover my costume when leaving the hotel in Athens, but also allow me to take off my wet bathing suit afterwards, so that we could visit the ancient theater of Epidaurus (the largest untouched ancient amphitheater of the world). world!), then continue west to the lovely port town of Nafplion:
I didn't want to be soggy for our lunch by the quayside there, or stroll through the narrow streets where bougainvillas hang from balconies above cobblestone walkways, where we'd have Greek ice cream and feel the breeze from the ocean, all surrounded by exactly ZERO cruise ship passengers. I wanted to feel classy and worldly, indifferent, and fully immerse myself in this sweet little fishing town where no menu item was anything but seafood, seafood, seafood. was heaven.
I also knew that after lunch we would leave to explore Mycenae, an open-air archaeological site:
Mycenae was an ancient stronghold, located atop a high hill, whipped by the wind and subject to periodic intense storms. It's also the oldest place we visited all day, and very, very cool. When we read Greek epic poetry and learn of the battles between the Mycenaeans and…everyone? It's those guys. They were cool before Greece was Greece, and I wanted to browse this site with abandon, and I didn't want to change clothes before.
Basically, like many of us, I was asking for a TON of a single piece of clothing. But since I had a pretty good idea of my parameters: loose enough to easily pull on a bathing suit underneath, structured enough to feel chic at lunch and visiting a small town, functional enough to walk to an old site archaeological, comfortable. enough for a four-hour drive there and back – I narrowed down my options and got to work.
I chose the Arc Style Montana Dress, with the extension pack which offers six additional neckline options.
The fabric is a linen blend from my stash, with this fun splatter print pattern. It's easy to style, easy to wear, and does everything I've asked of it. Unpretentious, but also just refined enough, and with plenty of room to hike, climb, change clothes underneath, and even get some fresh air at lunch.
The Montana design has a very slightly raised waistline, and the expansion pack option I chose has a center front seam with a cute little ruffled collar. The bodice is fully lined, and I don't even think it has darts? If so, they are side darts on the bust, but I don't remember having them sewn on. The whole thing took about 90 minutes of sewing, including the ruffle for the collar.
I was suuuuuper happy with how easy this dress is to wear. The center front seam ends where I don't feel exposed or exposed, but the collar gives a softness to the shape that helps me feel good, even if it's basically like wearing pajamas. I'm also glad I chose the splatter print linen, which offsets any twee quality of the collar.
What I do NOT like about this design is the length. It's billed as a ‘midi' length dress, but it hits me exactly where my calf feels old-fashioned and matronly. I didn't hate it when I wore it? But I think in the photos, the length of this dress, combined with my casual sandals, adds about ten years to my appearance, and it won't work for me.
My plan is to shorten the hem about 4-6 inches and create a little longer babydoll look. Otherwise I would probably grab this dress every time it comes out of the wash and wear it again and again, it's that easy to put on and style.
I talk a lot more about these ideas – how to think about WHAT my life requires of me and use that as a guideline for planning my sewing and choosing a pattern – in my Travel Handmade series at the League of Dressmakers. It's about travel, but also “travel”, and one of the biggest lessons for me was how to frame my thoughts on sewing handmade garments in a way that my sewing serves the life I already have. You can find out more and join us with this link– come and create your own clothes at The league, find your team and develop your sewing!