I can’t look at a photo like this without wondering, “How is that made?” In this case, the question is,
“What is the trim on that dress?”
At first I thought those square protuberances along the sides (I don’t know what else to call them) were buttons, as seen on these dresses from 1925:
I’m pretty sure they have a velvety texture. I thought about fur, but they are not rounded at all. My current best guess is that they are strips of velvet ribbon with a loop stitched in every inch or so (maybe closer):I tried lightening the photo in hopes that more detail would show:
The dress seems to be a semi-sheer tunic dress with a longer “costume slip” under it. I think I can see straps faintly through the top. It has a velvet belt tied tightly over the hips and decorated with sparkly beads and tassels at the ends. The sleeves also have two bands of the velvet trim — if that’s what it is. It’s certainly an intriguing look. Has anyone ever seen such a trim on a vintage twenties dress?
[Incidentally, I don’t completely trust the date on the photo; I think the name and date were added from memory when the picture was put into an album, because I recognize the handwriting.]