I recently became reunited with my copy of a Victoria and Albert book on novelty fabrics, and most of the patterns featured were dress fabrics. Aha! That's the way to use these prints. Carolina Herrera used some novelty prints in her Spring collection a few years ago, and the effect was utterly charming. Of course, you wouldn't want a closet full of these prints. That would be far too whimsical and would make mi and matching way too difficult. But still, can't you see having a Summer dress made from one of these breezy fabrics?
"Sea Horses", cotton, Calico Printers' Association, England, 1936
"Gentlemen Prefer Blondes" designed by Ralph Barton, crêpe de Chine, American, 1927. (Though I am a brunette, I do find the humor in this print!)
"Surfers", cotton, English, 1937
"Mothballs and Sugar", designed by Edward Steichen, crêpe de Chine, American, 1927
Image at top: "Masks" designed by Jean Cocteau, silk crêpe, French, 1938