My daughter does Junior Cotillion. It’s like dance lessons and a practice fancy party all rolled up into one. She doesn’t like the dancing – especially the dancing with boys part – or the manners lessons, but he does like to get dressed up. She gets to put on a fancy party dress and do her hair all pretty and wear make-up. I think that’s a fair trade for having to dance with boys, don’t you think?
Most of the time, the dress is semi-formal which is kind of a wide open category. The only catch is – the girls have to have their shoulders covered. And how many semi-formal dresses do you find with wide straps or fully covered shoulders? The answer is not many.
A simple shrug is all we need to turn a strapless or spaghetti strap dress into something cotillion appropriate. Shrugs are actually pretty difficulty to find. If you do find one, it’s usually more casual than what we’re looking for to wear with a semi-formal dress. They also tend to cover up the bodice, and that’s usually where the prettiest dress details are found.
So I usually end up making them. I thought I’d share the one we made for this year. It’s made from a black stretch velvet with a sparkly swirl design. It work with just about every one of her cotillion dresses this year.
The pattern is one that I made with my mother-in-law. We started with a simple rectangle like the t-shirt shrugs that people make, but it was too boxy and too droopy for fancy wear. We trimmed and cut and trimmed and cut, and ended up with a shape that has no straight lines at all! But the fit and style is exactly what we wanted.
Short sleeves, full shoulder coverage, but stays out of the way of the bodice.
(The straps you see are the ribbon straps we added to stay on the legal side of the no strapless dresses rule.)
Once we worked up the pattern, the construction is actually quite simple. A lining makes quick work of turning under all those curved edges and finishes it off quite nicely.
And isn’t it pretty with the cotillion dress?