web analytics

Archive for September, 2009

Vintage Wardrobe Must Haves: The Little White Blouse

By , 30 September, 2009, 2 Comments

The Little Black Dress always makes the list of fashion staples to have in your closet. Like high heels, I think little black dresses are easy to find and even easier to splurge on — but what one really needs to be mindful of are the more elusive basics, like The Little White Blouse.

Without little white blouses, what will you wear with your vintage suits and separates? It can be terribly difficult to match or coordinate with vintage fashions because their shades are from yesteryear’s color palettes. Plus, as these vintage photographs show, little white blouses with ruffles, pintucks, lace, and other details are the little touches which make an outfit an ensemble.

Dietrich With Dramatic White Ruffles

Dietrich With Dramatic White Ruffles

This retro Saks 5th Ave. lace blouse has a gorgeous accordion pleats!

Retro Saks Lace Bloue With Accordion Pleats

Retro Saks Lace Bloue With Accordion Pleats

This vintage lace blouse may lack ruffles, but those 3 inch medallions of lace certainly will get attention!

Sheer Vintage Pin-Up Blouse With Loads Of Lace

Sheer Vintage Pin-Up Blouse With Loads Of Lace

Ralph Lauren’s sleeveless Forster Ruffle Blouse is less than $30 (sale found via Shop It To Me) and it will work past summer under suit jackets.

Sleeveless WhiteForster Ruffle Blouse

Sleeveless WhiteForster Ruffle Blouse

And the Venessa Ruffle-Front Blouse, also by Ralph Lauren, is also a good Little White Blouse choice.

Ralph Lauren Venessa Ruffle-Front Blouse

Ralph Lauren Venessa Ruffle-Front Blouse

Katharine Hepburn With Wisps Of White Ruffles

Katharine Hepburn With Wisps Of White Ruffles

If you’re looking for a ruffle to rise above the call of “just plain white,” the Ruffled Racerback Top adds interest as it adds a soft feminine contrast to more severe suiting.

White Ruffled Racerback Blouse

White Ruffled Racerback Blouse

The Escada Long-Sleeve Ruffle Blouse has an incredible ruffle collar that stands up in back!

Escada Ruffled White Blouse With High Collar

Escada Ruffled White Blouse With High Collar

And this retro white blouse has a ruffle that will be visible above most suit jacket necklines as well as a ruffled front and ruffled cuffs.

80's Ruffled White Blouse

80's Ruffled White Blouse

Hedy Lamarr With Bits Of Ruffles

Hedy Lamarr With Bits Of Ruffles

Monkey Fur Capelet

By , 29 September, 2009, No Comment

Stunning vintage 1920’s monkey and sheared beaver fur capelet:

Vintage Monkey Fur Capelet

Vintage Monkey Fur Capelet

The capelet is especially stunning against the royal blue. Below, Gloria Swanson wears a whole lot more monkey fur…

Gloria Swanson Wearing Monkey Fur

Gloria Swanson Wearing Monkey Fur

However you feel about fur, please remember, this is vintage; the crime was committed long ago.

Need a flashy and fabulous fashion accessory? Don’t want to spend to much money? Have no fear, go online and find affordable chic jewelery.
Everything from bracelets to loose diamonds.

Winter Is Coming — And I’m Seeing Red!

By , 29 September, 2009, No Comment

If the cooler weather is making you hot under the collar — but you know what won’t be enough to keep you warm — why not console yourself with a fabulous coat?

Swing into fall with this 1940s red wool swing jacket! (I’m soooo tempted… If only hubby weren’t aways around monitoring my monitor lol)

Soft Red Wool Swing Jacket, 1940s

Soft Red Wool Swing Jacket, 1940s

And for those really cold days ahead, how about this fabulous 1950’s red wool coat with faux fur trim?

Clear Red Wool Coat With Faux Fur Trim, 1950s

Clear Red Wool Coat With Faux Fur Trim, 1950s

Having An Ill-Suited Vintage Moment?

By , 28 September, 2009, No Comment

You know how sometimes when you buy a vintage suit jacket, the sleeves are just a bit too short? And then there’s no neat way to lengthen them either, because there’s a line of color demarcation or wear at the edge or something that prevents you from getting that wee bit extra length you need, right? Well, if the shoulders, etc. fit fine, why not consider shortening the sleeves, 1/2, 3/4 etc., and then put a blouse with some fabulous sleeves of its own beneath it — everyone will believe that’s how it’s supposed to look!

Via Shop It To Me’s Sale Mail I found this super classic white broadcloth shirt with fluted sleeves on sale for just $59.99 at Ralph Lauren and I just knew I had to get a few for just such “ill suited” moments.

Rinko Fluted-Sleeve Shirt By Ralph Lauren

Rinko Fluted-Sleeve Shirt By Ralph Lauren

Shake That Circle Skirt!

By , 28 September, 2009, No Comment

I know you’ve quite possibly been getting dizzy from all the circle skirt & Vertigo posts of late (and I promise other stuff is coming soon!), but I couldn’t help but show you this darling vintage powder compact with artwork by Hilda Terry. Look at her shake that circle skirt! (He sure is lol)

Hilda Terry Vintage Powder Compact

Hilda Terry Vintage Powder Compact

For more on Hilda Terry, visit 8HendersonPlace.com.

Kim Novak’s Spiraled French Twist

By , 25 September, 2009, No Comment

I don’t suppose any discussion of Kim Novak’s glamour in Vertigo is complete without mentioning her spectacularly spiraled hair — a unique kink in the classic coif!

Kim Novak's Spiral Coil French Twist

Kim Novak's Spiral Coil French Twist

If that spiraled sophistication gets to you as it did Jimmy Stewart, here’s how to do it. Begin with a simple French twist — only leave the the front section of hair, at the crown, out. Once you’ve made your French twist, take the still-loose section at the crown, and gently pull it back back, gathering the ends.  Coil the ends just off of center above the main twist and pin in place.

Hey, Wallflower Vintage… Here’s Linking To You, Kid!

By , 25 September, 2009, No Comment

Lynn from Wallflower Vintage emailed me to introduce herself and to direct my circle-skirt-loving self to her recent post about a vintage Mexican circle skirt (the skirt is also for sale in her shop!). I have to say that Lynn and her cohorts at the Wallflower Vintage blog are to be much admired (and a bit envied!) for the creativity and effort they put into their blog posts — especially the images. Especially the images and posts where they pair vintage fashions with old pulp novels! I hope they keep that up!

Vintage Fashion Mixed With Vintage Pulps!

Vintage Fashion Mixed With Vintage Pulps!

Circle Skirts Are Conversation Skirts

By , 25 September, 2009, 4 Comments

Another vintage fashion photo by Nina Leen, this one, titled Conversation Skirts, features circle skirts. (I think every mom could use a “play skirt” with trains or cars for occupying little ones!)

Conversation Skirts

Conversation Skirts

Even more fabulous in color!  (Wouldn’t you just love to see more of that weight-lifting one?! )

Fabulous Nina Leen Circle Skirt Color Photo

Fabulous Nina Leen Circle Skirt Color Photo

Dizzy For Kim Novak’s Look In Vertigo?

By , 24 September, 2009, No Comment

For all the things which ail us in Vergito, there’s one thing I and my fellow film-fashion-istas agree upon and that is being haunted by the lovely Kim Novak.

Gazing Upon Kim Novak's Beauty Gazing Upon Another Beauty In Vertigo

Gazing Upon Kim Novak's Beauty Gazing Upon Another Beauty In Vertigo

While none of us would be as creepy as Jimmy Stewart and force another woman to look just like Novak, we do all admit there would be nothing wrong with emulating Kim’s iconic look in Hitchcock’s Vertigo.

Perhaps the look that most accentuates Novak’s fair and classic beauty in a most decidedly nostalgic and dreamy way is that grey suit — yes, that grey suit that Stewart menacingly stalks and deplorably directs his new girl into wearing.

Kim Novak In Iconic Grey Suit In Vertigo

Kim Novak In Iconic Grey Suit In Vertigo

The little grey suit has it’s own story which explains why the ensemble was so suit-ed to Novak’s role as Madeleine Elster. Director Alfred Hitchcock wanted to give Madeleine’s clothing — and therefore herself — an eerie appearance. So costume designer Edith Head selected the grey suit, saying it would be “odd” for a blonde woman to be wearing all grey, as it can tend to wash a fair woman’s complexion. This, along with some other details, would have the desired, “eerie” and haunting effects.

In order for that suit, or any similarly styled grey suit in a curve-accentuating classic vintage style to really work on Novak in such a way, Novak had to be a blonde. But not just any blonde. Neither a brassy yellow or a bright and bold platinum would work; Novak’s hair would have to be a lovely ashy-blonde.

Ashy Not Brassy Blonde Novak in Vertigo

Ashy Not Brassy Blonde Novak in Vertigo

And Kim — as the sough-after lost-lover, Madeleine — has demure lady-like makeup in neutral ashy tones of taupe, grey and light peach lips. This prevailing ash-tone-wash of color is continued in Madeleine’s ensemble — her gloves, for example, are taupe, not, as her pumps are, a contrasting black.

Overall, this use of tonal-wash is much like today’s use of pastels in set & costuming to create the feel of a black and white film. The more subtle colors lend themselves to a washed-out “living in the shades and shadows of grey” look which mimics classic black and white film (save, perhaps, for the film noir style) and when applied to just one character, makes them pale by comparison in ways which draw attention and make them seem less real at the same time.

Why then would Madeleine’s shoes be black? More “eerie” and off-putting by design. Not only would black pumps seem fashion-backward in the 1950’s world of matching accessories (and therefore more “odd”), but Hitchcock had other reasons which likely mirrored, in an odd way, Novak’s personal fashion thoughts on shoes (Novak believed your shoes should “match your head,” as you’ll soon see). It is my opinion, that the black shoes are the one thing that anchor Novak in those scenes as Madeleine; they are the one thing that tether her eerie and ethereal beauty to the world — Jimmy Stewart’s world and the viewer’s.

When playing Judy, however, not all of Madeleine’s fashion and makeup tricks were used. For example, the same neutral ashen cosmetic tones may be applied when Novak’s alter-ego (or true self, Judy Barton) is forced to have a make-over — but note that Judy’s eyebrows are fuller and darker, the eye make-up still more defined, that the soft blurred and blended regal yet ethereal beauty of phantom Madeleine.

Kim Novak as Judy as Madeleine in Vertigo

Kim Novak as Judy as Madeleine in Vertigo

If you are film fashion obsessed like I am, you might enjoy this interview Kim Novak did with Stephen Rebello for The MacGuffin (2004), in which Kim discussed her Vertigo wardrobe:

SR: Costume designer Edith Head was quoted as saying that you arrived on the set with all sorts of preconceived notions about what you would and wouldn’t wear.
KN: I was always opinionated. Once we were making Vertigo, Hitchcock never questioned anything about what I was doing character-wise. Before shooting started, he sent me over to Edith Head, who showed me a set of drawings. When I saw them, the very first thing I said was, ‘I’m sorry. I don’t wear black shoes.’ When she said, ‘Alfred Hitchcock wants you to wear these shoes,’ I said, ‘I’m sure he doesn’t mind.’ I didn’t think it would matter to him what kind of shoes I wore. I had never had a director who was particular about the costumes, the way they were designed, the specific colors. The two things he wanted the most were those shoes and that gray suit. When Edith Head showed me that gray suit, I said, “Oh, my god, that looks like it would be very hard to act in. It’s very confining.’ Then, when we had the first fitting of the dress, it was even worse and I said, ‘This is so restrictive.’ She said, ‘Well, maybe you’d better talk to Alfred Hitchcock about this.’

SR: How did that conversation go?
KN: I went in and he said, ‘I understand you don’t like these black shoes.’ He asked me why and I said, ‘I tell you, black shoes always sort of make me feel I’m pulled down. I’ve always felt that your feet should be the same as the top of your head, so that you’re connected. Wearing the black shoes would make me feel as if I were disconnected.’ He heard me out. And then he said, ‘Fine. When you play the role of Judy, you will not have to wear black shoes. When you are playing Madeleine, you will wear them.’ When he put it like that — after all, he’s the director – I said, ‘OK.’

SR: How did being opinionated lead to any other disagreements between you and Hitchcock?
KN: I really wanted the chance to express myself and he allowed me that chance. It felt OK because he had heard me out. He felt my reasons weren’t good enough, they weren’t right. I just wanted to be heard as far as what I felt. So, I thought, ‘I’ll live with the grey suit.’ I also thought, ‘I’m going to use this. I can make this work for me. Because it bothers me, I’ll use it and it can help me feel like I’m having to be Madeleine, that I’m being forced to be her. I’ll have it as my energy to play against.’ It worked. That suit and those shoes were a blessing. I was constantly reminded that I was not being myself, which made it right for Madeleine. When I went out of Alfred Hitchcock’s office, I remember his wonderful smile when he said, ‘I’m so glad we had this talk.’ I think he saw that this was going to be good. He didn’t say to me, ‘Now use that,’ he allowed me to arrive at that myself.

SR: Was it your idea not to wear a bra when you played Judy.
KN: That’s right, when I played Judy, I never wore a bra. It killed me having to wear a bra as Madeleine but you had to because they had built the suit so that you had to stand very erect or you suddenly were not ‘in position.’ They made that suit very stiff. You constantly had to hold your shoulders back and stand erect. But, oh that was so perfect. That suit helped me find the tools for playing the role. It was wonderful for Judy because then I got to be without a bra and felt so good again. I just felt natural. I had on my own beige shoes and that felt good. Hitchcock said, ‘Does that feel better?’ I said, ‘Oh, yes, thank you so much.’ But then, I had to play ‘Madeleine’ again when Judy had to be made over again by Scottie into what she didn’t want to be. I could use that, again, totally for me, not just being made over into Madeleine but into Madeleine who wore that ghastly gray suit. The clothes alone were so perfect, they were everything I could want as an actress.

SR: The short haircut you usually wore in your films was copied by women all around the world. Why did Hitchcock make you wear wigs in Vertigo?
KN: That’s right, my hair was short at that time in my career and Hitchcock wanted that perfect pulled-back hair. I already hated that gray suit and then having to go through putting on that wig with a false front — again made me feel so trapped inside this person who was desperately wanting to break out of it but she was so caught up in the web of deception that she couldn’t. The fear of not being loved if she didn’t have on these clothes or wore her hair in a certain way — oh, god, she had nothing left but to kill herself in the bell tower.

The Two Faces Of Novak In Vertigo

The Two Faces Of Novak In Vertigo

Lessons In Vertigo (Hitchcock’s Vertigo, That Is!)

By , 22 September, 2009, 3 Comments

Vertigo (1958), with James Stewart, Kim Novak, Barbara Bel Geddes and directed by Alfred Hitchcock, is another “classic film” you may have heard so much about that you’ve possibly avoided it — but that’s not its only problem.

Now 51 years old, Vertigo is a film which has long been playing on late night on television — a position that puts films into the easily dismissed pile, not only for its too-frequent showings, but an air time left to insomniacs and after-bar munchies-eating persons who turn TV on for some noise once back in a too-quiet house. The results are that a film that most people know is a called a classic is now either too old and junky to watch or a film they’ve seen bits & pieces of and were unimpressed.

Sadly, my previous viewings of Vertigo were of the post-bar & trying to fall asleep variety and so were admittedly hampered. While I knew I wasn’t giving the film a proper viewing, I was very bored. For this reason, when my movie club suggested Vertigo, I wrinkled my nose — but once it was suggested as a Classic Schmassic, I had no way out.

Vertigo Film Poster

Vertigo Film Poster

Vertigo is a rather stylish movie, but it moves slowly…

One one hand, you have lovely details — both for fans of vintage and character points for story lovers. (Early on I was most in love with Bel Geddes who, despite her often poorly written lines, earnestly tugs are your heartstrings; the lack of sexual tension made utterly clear as Stewart takes a look at lingerie artist/designer Bel Geddes’ work.)

Stewart Doesn't Seem To Care About Bel Geddes' Bra

Stewart Doesn't Seem To Care About Bel Geddes' Bra

But on the other, you can’t help but feel a bit impatient for the famous Hitchcock to get going. And even when Hitchcock does get going there are problems.

Novak Clutching Stewart in Vertigo

Novak Clutching Stewart in Vertigo

First, there was the fact that I knew we, as an audience, have become much more sophisticated in our mystery-suspense movie watching. No, it’s not that we wanted more special effects and higher body counts (as if!), but I figured even my 9 year old would figure out the secret identity switcher-roo and basic plot premise. I’m not boasting that my children are gifted; simply too experienced with (and perhaps even jaded by) mystery and suspense films (and books) today to not guess the plot. Maybe audiences back then were too, maybe this was Hitchcock’s intent; I don’t know and I leave such matters to film critics and the like. But I do know that once I got my kids past the slowly unfolding story to a plot they could easily guess, they’d be bored.

This leads us to the second problem.

After the slow-moving pace and the spoon-fed clues, Hitchcock suddenly jerks us like a fish in a line. Stewart is in the mental ward; then he’s out of it. Me and my film-watching friends asked, “Is he dreaming this?” “Is he out?” “Is he out of the ward or out of his mind?”

Stewart is both.

Out of the hospital and out of his mind, Stewart can’t stop looking for the girl he believes is dead, finding Novak’s face and figure in nearly every woman he sees. When he finds her, he doesn’t seem any less crazy because while we know it’s Novak he doesn’t — yet he forces this woman to dress and look like the doomed lady he loves.

Key Players In Vertigo: Jimmy Stewart and Kim Novak Times-Two

Key Players In Vertigo: Jimmy Stewart and Kim Novak Times-Two

As a woman, these scenes are very uncomfortable to watch and Stewart goes from poor dupe to manipulative, controlling, and abusive boyfriend.

Like how Bel Geddes was just dropped from the film, it may all be done to swing audience favor from Stewart to Novak; but it’s not pretty. Watching Novak be transformed is not a blossoming; it is not movie magic reuniting lovers; it is disturbing and creepy and misogynistic.

And then, when Stewart realizes how he’s been duped, he doesn’t feel pity towards Novak. His anger, aggression and abuse may be the catalyst for curring the very acrophobia which led to his victimization, but it’s not healing; this too is ugly.

Perhaps Stewart would have come around, could have come around (as we the audience would have if we were clued in on a few things, such as the plot holes), but what happens next left all of us sputtering. It wasn’t mere surprise at a (finally) unexpected film twist — it just didn’t seem to make any sense.

“Did his film budget run out?”
“Did we miss something in the back story — all those spoon-fed bread-crumbs?”
“Are we dumb?”

A serious WTF? movie moment — and then the film ends.

My first thought whilst writing a review of Vertigo in my head was, “Watch it and be surprised!” but while actually writing this review, I find myself feeling cheated. And angry. Should a sudden and inexplicable WTF? ending equate to a good mystery and/or suspense? Can you call a film “classic” when the mystery and suspense are so out of character and random that it feels slapped-together?

When the film was originally released, theatre goers didn’t care for Hitchcock’s Vertigo; but since then, film critics have lauded the film classic status, placing it on Top 100 and even Top 10 lists. These film critics have said that audiences didn’t understand the film, didn’t appreciate Hitchcock’s work. But I think the original audiences had it right and that the film critics wrap Hitchcock’s status around the film and make it something it’s not.

Bel Geddes Tries To Make Herself Something She's Not

Bel Geddes Tries To Make Herself Something She's Not

Stewart did a fine job of making himself unlikable (no easy task); Novak may never have done such fine dramatic work as she beautifully did in her two complicated roles; and Bel Geddes was (surprisingly to those of us who only knew her as the aged matriarch of TV’s Dallas) simply heartbreakingly wonderful as the taken-for-granted-girl-who-is-a friend-but-not-a-girlfriend. Had Hitchcock only crafted a real ending that made sense — or left us some of those giant bread crumbs to follow into whatever madness he was thinking — Vertigo could have been good, grand even…

As it is, I suspect you’d have to be a male to look past the creepy misogyny and slapped-on ending to appreciate Vertigo; this is one classic I’m still calling a schmassic.