Our Uniform, Vol. 2: Eyelet
Starting as an aesthetic coven, of course, the strongest bonds for us have come from sharing fashion we love. Our styles vary, without a doubt, as we each have our own histories, proportions, and even color mood preferences, but it’s not uncommon for us to gravitate toward the same pieces over time, and even wear them at the same time. Every coven has a uniform, after all. In this series, we discuss our forever pieces, and how we wear them. Think of it as a “How To Dress Like The Attic.”
No summer wardrobe is complete without a good eyelet. Traditionally known as broderie anglaise, the style of fabric became popular in the Victorian era and although believed to be invented in eastern Europe came to be named after its early heavy use in England. Broderie, of course, translates to embroidery, and defines the method used to secure the cut out patterns originally made by hand using eyelet cutters. (Most, at least in the mass produced world, is now made using heavy machinery or laser-cutting.) A cut-out would have been secured with hand embroidery stitches, binding it after cutting. In a more risky technique, a pattern was embroidered into the cotton and then very slowly cut out with shears avoiding the threaded pattern at all costs.
It may have lived relegated to underclothes or religious affairs early on, but the industrial revolution also brought this sewing technique to the mass market. In the hyper feminine styles of the 1950s and 60s it decorated collars, sleeves, and hems on women and children’s clothes alike. Many patterns continue in the floral genre today, embedded into certain areas or attached separately as trim, however the advent of machinery has also allowed for more utilitarian patterns such as geometrics, polka dots, and all over symmetrical designs. Eyelet is a wonderful wearable substitute for the more delicate lace; being both lightweight and in a very manageable cotton, a staple of the Attic wardrobe we reach for time and time again.
In this edition of Our Uniform, Olivia, Lauren, and Raquel talk growing up in eyelet and making it our own as adults.
Nothing says summer to me like eyelet. Swiss dot comes in at a close second, but eyelet makes my heart soar and carries so many happy memories with it. Dresses from when I was little that made me feel as girly as I wanted. Skirts from my teens. A See by Chloé dress I splurged on at nineteen that didn’t have any eyelet on the outside but had a beautiful, secret panel of eyelet along the inside. Beautiful. Delicate. Somehow lush. What velvet is to winter, eyelet is to summer.
I’ve gone through my phases with eyelet – two of my favorite summer dresses are colorful eyelet – one green and one navy. These days, I like my eyelet to be ethereal as possible, meaning that white eyelet is my favorite. I love wearing white in summer, making up for the darkness of winter with my wardrobe while the sun drenches the world with an extra bit of serotonin. White eyelet trimmed tops are my easy go-to. Eyelet panels on cardigans. My absolute favorite piece this year though that is now the treasure of my summer collection is an all-eyelet white, scallop-edged blazer. I got my hands on it over Memorial Day weekend, and it’s already my chosen jacket of the year. Comfortable, cool, structured. I love it.
I was married around this time last year in a white eyelet dress. It’s the ultimate look of summer, the one we all picture ourselves wearing in our summer fantasies: sitting on a picnic blanket in the grass, leaning up against a tree, sipping iced coffee, eating strawberries, not minding the heat one bit.
For as long as I’ve been able to choose my own clothing, I’ve owned white eyelet dresses. As my sense of fashion and of myself has changed, so has this dress, but it’s been a constant in my wardrobe forever. During college, my strapless white eyelet dress captured the essence of who I was during the summer I studied in Brussels – young and enthusiastic, with endless energy, admittedly looking for more than academia to fill the long, hot Belgian days and nights. At that time, I paired the dress with the tallest, most colourful wedge heels I could (barely) stand to wear. In photos, you could see how desperately I wanted the heels to be the centre of my look, but it’s the dress that wins in the end; it fits me perfectly, and with bare shoulders and a face without makeup, I am the image of summer encapsulated.
Six summers later – and in flatter footwear this time – I wore a white eyelet dress to my wedding. This version is longer, more flowing, and has straps, but it’s still the perfect summer dress. I always imagined myself getting married in the wintertime, but as I look back at photos now, I was always meant to wear this dress on one of the most important days of my life. My sense of style has always been minimal and simple, and I will be the first to admit I haven’t always put much thought or detail into what I wear; it just hasn’t always been my first form of self-expression. But everyone could see how comfortable and simply happy I was to be wearing this dress – a classic staple that has followed me in all stages of my life, one that was immortalized on my favourite August day of all time.
I don’t think there was a single dress in my wardrobe as a child that didn’t have an eyelet detail somewhere. Even the dark dresses of winter, or Christmas with their reds and greens and velvets, had a trim along the collar or stitched into the lining hem, peeking out as I ran from one place to another. My mother made all of our clothes growing up, so beyond the dresses themselves I remember piles and piles of different trims scattered all over her sewing room. At times I’d even steal a scrap to use someday in my own sewing or simply as a bookmark in my current read. My third year at university I made a pair of wide leg trousers using a few yards of chiffon eyelet fabric that she had given me years earlier. (My greatest regret is probably that I made these to my model’s specifications and not my own, but alas they still live in the back of my wardrobe and will someday probably be framed somewhere in my house instead. They’re amazing trousers.)
As for my wardrobe today, in the summer I basically live in white (a leftover result of my sunny California upbringing — living in the belief that it reflects the heat away — but also I suspect a reflection of Savannah, with its *humidity gothic* vibes permeating every purchase I’ve made in the ten years living here), and this extends to all of my eyelet save for one black dress. I found the white version by chance shopping one very hot spring day with a friend years ago, wore it out of the store that very day, and the next day stumbled upon the black online. I ordered it immediately and live in the white for the better part of summer and the black towards the end when transitioning to my fall wardrobe. Alternating between vertical stripes and leaf clusters, its pattern makes me feel like a Corinthian column. I love full eyelet separates for pairing with other pieces in my wardrobe, be it floral skirts or solid trousers, and found a wraparound, ruffled mini skirt (skort? there’s definitely a shorts component somewhere in its frilly layers...) last summer that I hope to dress up tee shirts and button downs with in the coming weeks.
Olivia Gündüz-Willemin is Editor-in-Chief of The Attic on Eighth. She is dedicated to reading her way through the world and trying to stay as calm as possible.
Lauren Olmeda holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in international relations. She is an editor based in Dublin, Ireland and is Editor-at-Large of the Attic on Eighth.
Raquel Reyes is Creative Director at The Attic on Eighth. She enjoys styling photo shoots, dramatic hair accessories, and old fashioned cocktails.