Object Lesson: The New Dickie

May be silly to say. But not so silly to wear. By Loryn Hatch
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It's a tough word to say without a slight snicker—that funny little flap of fabric traditionally designed to deliver added warmth and protection to the neck and chest sans the bulk of a giant winter sweater. You may even remember the dickie's 19th-century tuxedo predecessor in any number of classic comedy skits where it was used to garner big belly laughs every time it sprung out of a cummerbund and into the face of a funny guy (think Elmer Fudd conducting his orchestra). But more than a century later, designer Shelly Steffee has transformed this storied piece of functional garment history into something much better than a silly comedy prop.
Renowned for her subtle detailing and sharp yet feminine cuts, Steffee has taken an otherwise awkward accessory and turned it into the perfect wardrobe embellishment. Looking at the current trend for functional, convertible pieces, Steffee became inspired by the fashion of turn-of-the-century immigrants who preferred clothing that could be easily removed and washed without the hassle of cleaning a whole suit or dress. Despite the piece's fluid, silky fabric, this modern dickie maintains a classic form, with a tall neck and front and back flaps that sit perfectly beneath Steffee's matching V-neck blouse. Available in satiny shades of black and cameo and finished with Victorian-style ruffles that extend into elegant, gathered pleats, the piece adds new detail and dimension to your favorites without any extra padding or fluff—no kidding.
Shelly Steffee satin dickie, $175, available in New York at the Shelly Steffee boutique, 34 Gansevoort Street, 917-408-0409. For more information go to www.shellysteffee.com
May be silly to say. But not so silly to wear.
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