Simplicity 5986: Step Into My Office, Baby. 

The Pattern:
Simplicity E.S.P. 5986, MISSES’ SIDE BUTTONED SKIRT AND TIE COLLAR BLOUSE, copyright 1983 Simplicity Pattern Co Inc.
Skip the boring skirt and let’s get straight to that blouse.
If tv has taught me anything, it’s that this blouse is the absolute epitome of Women’s Corporate Wardrobe.
Sexy Secretary? Yes. Lady Boss? Yes. Power Mom? Yes.
They didn’t include the model’s legs in this photo because she’s wearing sneakers, you know, for her commute to the office.
She’ll change into her heels at her desk.
I’ve never worked in a cubicle, therefor I had this theory for a while that cubicles don’t actually exist in real life, that they are a workplace myth being kept alive in our collective consciousness by the entertainment industry, because cubicles and bull-pen style office spaces create optimal environments for drama. I shared this theory with a friend, who shared his own theory with me: that cubicles in fact totally do exist, and that I should check in with reality.
So now I know.
This tie front style is also called a pussy bow. Before you go thinking too hard about that one, here’s a picture:


pussy bow, as illustrated by Gyo Fujikawa in Baby Animals
I asked my sister the other day if she works in a cubicle, and she was like, “No, but there’s a partition thing…” and I was like, “Good enough.”
So here she is.

The Fabric:
Dark blue silk crepe with red dots. I had three yards of this, I don’t remember why. Am considering making myself a matching one, and then Meghan and I will make a promise to Never Ever Wear Them On The Same Day.

What I Changed From The Pattern:
Not much.

  • Made it sleeveless, finished the armsceyes with bias to the inside
  • Shirt-tail hem instead of straight hem, because shirt tail is easier to tuck in and looks better when left out
  • Changed the double-ended darts (at side fronts and side backs) into open-ended tucks, to give it a softer fit, and to increase the vintage feeling.
  • Two of the five buttons are half-round shanked buttons, and three are regular old flat four-hole buttons. I have seen this happen on vintage garments, where the buttons that will be tucked into a skirt are flat and the ones that will show are dimensional, so I could say it is intentional, and it is sort of, but another truth is that I only had two of the shank buttons.

hey girl, watcha reading?
these aren’t her real glasses, theyre just for fun for the photos
no really, what are you reading?
the ties are this long
this book is a prop!
See that book? Its not real! It’s a prop from Bonnie’s Future Sisters, a play written by (our very own) Meghan Gambling, available very soon through Original Works Publishing. I’ll put a link up once the play is published so everyone can buy ten copies each. 

I estimated 8 hours, and it took 6 hours thirty minutes. That’s a pretty encouraging time frame: if you think in terms of an eight hour work day, this is a one day project. So it could be made one day, worn to the office the next.
Or one could spread that build time over three weeks, like I did.

Sew It Or Throw It:
This is a total sew. It’s a classic look, it all goes together nicely, and it really showcases the fabric.
Meghan reports that within ten seconds of arriving at work in this shirt, she had received multiple compliments.
Which probably happens every day no matter what she wears, but still, I’m pleased.

Oh! Vintage pledge! Bam!

My pledge is to use one pattern from each of the vintage decades that I own, which is 1940’s-1990’s, and this takes care of the 1980’s. I thought the 80’s pledge would be a hard one to pull off in a good-looking way. Pleased to have been wrong on that one. 


18 thoughts on “Simplicity 5986: Step Into My Office, Baby. 

  1. So well written, always, and funny. And great clothes, usually. This one is really nice. The bow is discrete and nice, and the drapey silk in navy and red is sublime. I like the sleeves so I don’t think it would have occurred to me to make this sleeveless but it is great as a little top. I would never have said 1980s.


    1. Ha, yes, sometimes the clothes turn out great, sometimes they are Throws. It’s all for science.
      The Throws are most disappointing when they surprise me, like when I’m convinced I’ve just made my new favorite thing and then I surprise myself by never wearing it (red wool trapeze, looking at you). You’d think by now I’d know what was going to work for my life and what is just a fantasy, or just plain not flattering.
      Agreed, that navy and red is fantastic.


  2. I love this style of top, and I frequently chop off sleeves and make them into a tie neck just for the sake of it, giving me a refashioned new top! The fabric is lovely, I wouldn’t have worn a blouse like this in the 80s… too stereotypically grown up and formal, but now I love wearing them with jeans!!
    Beautiful cat image.


    1. Yes! With jeans and a cardigan is how she wore it to work.
      I was so pleased when I came across that cat with a bow! Gyo Fujikawa books are a favorite around the house. Fujikawa is known, incidentally, for illustrating children of many different ethnicities in her books well before doing so was the norm, so that’s neat.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Sometimes darts are just too much, you know?
      I vote for trying the pussy bow again, it surprised me how wearable this style is. I mean, who would ever think a giant bow would be something grown women would want? And yet there it is.


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