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Archive for ‘Accessories’

Many People Have Annie Hall All Wrong

By , 15 January, 2009, No Comment

Annie Hall (1977) is one of those movies which permeates popular culture. The quotes are famous and Annie’s wardrobe iconic — so much so that you think you’ve seen it when you really haven’t. It doesn’t help either when movie critics paraphrase the movie down to those memorable quotes and simple phrases, like “it’s the story of the relationship between neurotic Alvy (Woody Allen) and insecure & ditzy Annie (Diane Keaton)”. It’s not that it’s completely untrue, but — and remember, I’m a chick & of a certain age too! — I just don’t see it as that simple. The feminist in me sees Annie’s “evolution” as a mirror for the women’s movement, yes; but more upsetting to me is this conversation about “the Annie Hall look”.

Annie Hall

Annie Hall

First of all, when they say it looks “sloppy” they are just wrong; Annie’s clothes were always super pressed & crisp looking.

Often reduced such words as “mannish” & “androgynous” (I’ve even heard the look described as “cross dressing”), people are focusing on the wrong things. Yes, Keaton as Annie wears hats, vests, tweed blazers, and men’s neckties; but that’s not all she wore. In her singing performances, she wears more of that romantic 70’s look, hair up, long skirt, and some puffy shoulders with more billowy sleeves. While playing tennis, she’s the one with her collar turned up in what we’d now call a “preppy” move.

Annie Hall Playing Tennis

Annie Hall Playing Tennis

And I see her using fashion to express herself, her humor, herself. Like those unpredictable green shoes in this scene:

Shrink Sessions

Shrink Sessions

Her clothing may seem, as it supposedly did to the costume lady on Annie Hall, “crazy,” but is it really? In a time when women were exerting their rights, but unsure how to do so; in a film where Annie is being “educated” by Alvy, so that she’s more in his image; as a young woman from small-town Wisconsin living in big-city New York, trying to keep her roots as well as find her wings; what do you think she would wear? What would you wear?

Her eclectic fashion sense is the composition of all the selves Annie identifies with and is literally trying on.

I saw that most clearly when she’s in California, in the scene at the health food restaurant, refusing to marry Alvy. She may be wearing the California-dreamin’ caftan — but she has one of her vests on over it. She’s exerting herself, her identity, in whatever land she’s in.

That’s the big fashion lesson in this film: Wear what is you.

Most of us cannot copy Annie Hall’s look; Diane Keaton, especially in ’77, was a very thin, straight-built woman.

Cast Of Annie Hall

Cast Of Annie Hall

Wearing such angular, un-constructed, loose clothing on a curvy figure spells disaster.

However, anyone can adopt eclectic fashion accessories like hats (old & new there’s a style suitable for any face), neckties, shoes; anyone can take an otherwise specific or generic look and turn up (or down) a collar or cuffs; anyone can add a splash of I-never-could-have-imagined-that color.

Vintage clothing, shoes, jewelry & other accessories are fabulous in creating your own unique look and style. You need not be tied to the trends being pushed today. You need not ignore your body-type, your individual tastes. You need not present yourself as a cookie-cutter girl in a cookie-cutter world. And for the most part, vintage fashions are less expensive than their modern made counterparts.

I can’t say that Annie Hall was all about the thrift stores and antique shops (that wasn’t expressed in the film); but I believe she would smile at what you dug-up there and how you put it together to express yourself.

Love MGM? Wear Your Love On (The Bottom Of) Your Sleeve

By , 10 January, 2009, No Comment

Show your love of MGM with these vintage sterling silver lion head cufflinks!

Vintage Sterling Lion Head Cufflinks

Vintage Sterling Lion Head Cufflinks

Vintage Sterling Silver Cufflinks

Vintage Sterling Silver Cufflinks

Chic n Cheery Cherry-Red Gloves

By , 30 December, 2008, No Comment

Here Margaret Lee wears chic red gloves with winter white.

Actress Margaret Lee

Actress Margaret Lee

Little red accent gloves will take you just about anywhere — but most of those places will require that you wear pants *wink*

Don’t Step On My Blue Suede Shoes — Or Purse!

By , 29 December, 2008, No Comment

Even if they are faux suede, these vintage high heels and matching handbag in a fabulous electric blue are too incredible for oafish dancing partners.

Vintage Electric Blue Shoes and Purse

Vintage Electric Blue Shoes and Purse

I’m Dreaming Of A White Christmas (#2)

By , 22 December, 2008, No Comment

OK, this here’s a fur post — if you don’t like fur, don’t throw fake blood on my blog; just click away.

I personally don’t have any problem whatsoever with vintage furs; what’s done is done.  And as far as fur in general, well, I can’t afford anything other than vintage… But if I could… Well, I’m not opposed to certain furs from animals, like leather, which are used for more than just fur — like rabbit.

This isn’t technically an “all white” post if you are looking past the accessories, but who can argue with a Debbie Reynold’s holiday pin-up photo? The adorable muff, headpiece and trim are likely white rabbit fur.

Debbie Reynolds Holiday Pinup

Debbie Reynolds Holiday Pinup

Here the dreamy Carole Landis wears an equally dreamy white fur coat.

Carole Landis In White Fur

Carole Landis In White Fur

Vintage Inspired Hats

By , 17 December, 2008, No Comment

Bust magazine announced in their December/January ’09 issue that hats are back, saying in “Hats For Lasses: Craft Your Own Beau Chapeau”:

Headgear is back in a big way, especially fascinators (small headpieces often adorned with feathers), first popular in the early 20th century, and pillbox hats, a classy staple of the early 60’s.

Hats For Lasses Feature In Bust Magazine

Hats For Lasses Feature In Bust Magazine

And then they gave us easy & inexpensive to make instructions for making them — while I prefer actual vintage pieces, I totally recognize that there is always the need to make the perfect hat to complete your ensemble. So go for it!

Instructions For Making Vintage Looking Hats by Callie Watts

Instructions For Making Vintage Looking Hats by Callie Watts

Off The Cuff With Gable, Garbo, And Dietrich

By , 16 December, 2008, 1 Comment

There are lots of elegant bits & bobs we once used to wear that have fallen along the fashion wayside; these are often the treasures of vintage dressing. Cufflinks are such treasures.

Vintage Siam Sterling Silver Cufflinks From No Egrets

Vintage Siam Sterling Silver Cufflinks From No Egrets

Once such a fashion staple that no well-dressed man would be without them, we now rarely see cufflinks on anyone other the very wealthy. But cufflinks don’t need to be all fancy-schmancy, or even all that expensive. Cufflinks come in many styles and designs, from elegant high fashion looks to kitschy fun looks. Often found for just $10 or less for a pair, vintage cufflinks are an inexpensive way to add that unique and spiffy touch to the standard — perhaps even generic — suit and tie.

Vintage Six-Shooter Pistol Cufflinks and Tie Bar Set

Vintage Six-Shooter Pistol Cufflinks and Tie Bar Set

I love men wearing cufflinks — in fact, the first Christmas my husband I spent together while dating I got him cufflinks, a vintage white tuxedo shirt and a smoking jacket. He was, after all, my Clark Gable. *wink*

Clark Gable Wearing Cufflinks

Clark Gable Wearing Cufflinks

You don’t have to be Clark Gable — or even a man — to wear cufflinks though. Both Greta Garbo and Marlene Dietrich both knew that cufflinks were the proper finishing touch to their “cross dressing” suits.

Greta Garbo Wearing Cufflink

Greta Garbo Wearing Cufflink

Marlene Dietrich In Suit With Cufflinks

Marlene Dietrich In Suit With Cufflinks

To properly wear cufflinks, you must have a shirt designed for wearing them. There are several styles of shirts still made today which allow you to wear cufflinks. Look for shirts which mention French cuffs. What we now call traditional button cuff shirts have barrel cuffs and they are not to be converted by any means necessary to allow the wearing of cufflinks. A la Seinfeld:

JERRY: Nice cuff links, by the way.
GEORGE: (Pointing to them) Office Christmas gift. I tell you, this Human Fund is a gold mine!
JERRY: That’s not a French cuff shirt, you know.
GEORGE: I know. I cut the button off and poked a hole with a letter opener.
JERRY: Oh, that’s classy.

You can, however, often replace the cuffs on any shirt with French cuffs. (As many places offer shirts, both modern and vintage, with French cuffs, it isn’t necessary to do so.) But you must at least understand the basic mechanics of shirt cuffs before you do so. Otherwise, even if you attempt a more proper way of altering the shirt to accept cufflinks, you might be missing the proper fit — and therefore the showcase — for your cufflinks.

Simply put, French cuffs are looser than barrel cuffs; the placket of the French cuff laying more smoothly and not producing the close fit or strain at the wrists that the barrel cuff has.

Barrel and French Cuffs

Barrel and French Cuffs

(Image of shirt cuffs from Shirtmaking: Developing Skills for Fine Sewing by David Page Coffin.)

French cuffs are quite showy (and I mean that in a good way!), which means they require starching and ironing. Especially those with double cuffs. For those sewing or unsure in their ironing, the fold of the double cuff is not at the halfway point. The fold is slightly greater than half — meaning a larger part of the cuff (approximately 3 inches) is folded back over toward the shirt, covering the seam where the cuff joins the sleeve.

French cuffs are not required nor solely made in the double cuff style. There are single French cuffs on shirts which allow you to wear cufflinks, but not be held to the extra work and bulk of double cuffs. A single French cuff is not folded back; the sides lie together pointing away from the wrist and are joined by a cufflink. (Like in the photo of Garbo above, as opposed to Dietrich’s cuff.)

Vintage Face Cufflinks From Cufflink King

Vintage Face Cufflinks From Cufflink King

With vintage cufflinks you not only capture vintage style, but a great bargain too. Even the very expensive ones are worth paying for — they are rare pieces keeping your look unique. And I like to think that you also continue to carry on the happy life & celebrations the cufflinks and the former owner had too.

Cufflinks shown — and for even sale! — from No Egrets at Collectors’ Quest and Cufflink King at eBay.

Will A Rose In Any Other Place Still Smell As Sweet?

By , 11 December, 2008, No Comment

Tired of reaching in your jewelry box for just the right piece with your little black dress?  How about simply wearing a rose?  Don’t worry — it won’t look like his boutioneer if you place it in your cleavage!

Marilyn Monroe With Rose

Marilyn Monroe With Rose

Ursula Andress Wearing A Rose

Ursula Andress Wearing A Rose

The Honorable Hat Of A Dishonored Lady

By , 10 December, 2008, No Comment

It may seem strange to only speak of a hat when the photo is of Hedy Lamarr…

Hedy Lamarr

Hedy Lamarr

But when you find an equally dramatic, high-fashion vintage hat as Hedy wore in Dishonored Lady, you’ve got to!

Dramatic 1940s Cartwheel Hat With Cut Outs

Dramatic 1940s Cartwheel Hat With Cut Outs

The hat was found at Dorothea’s Closet.

(Notice I said it was the perfect hat for a fashion look — I’m not even hinting at a suggestion that a hat will make you look as lovely as Lamarr *wink* No offense, but she was stunning!)

The Knack (And How To Get It) In Romance & Fashion

By , 9 December, 2008, 5 Comments

The Knack… and How to Get It was a British film released in 1965 about the sexual revolution in swinging London-town, complete with a Greek chorus of disapproving members of society’s “older generation”. In the film, bookish teacher Colin (played by Michael Crawford) is frustrated by the womanizing ways of his housemate, Tolen (played by Ray Brooks).

The film opens with a series of mannequin-esque women in tight sweaters and short skirts, robotically waiting in line to get with Tolen.

The Mannequin Women In The Knack... And How To Get It

The Mannequin Women Of The Knack... And How To Get It

Shot in black & white, the mod fashions seem nearly as bland and dingy as an Ugly American imagines London to be. My first thoughts were that we’d shift to color after this initial footage, but the entire film is in black and white. This, along with admittedly few costume changes, leaves little to leap from the screen as far as the fashionista’s attentions go — so why review the film here?

Because in black and white the film is much more of a character study (perhaps this was a calculated move on the part of director Richard Lester, most known for his 1964’s A Hard Day’s Night; I’ll leave that for movie critics to debate), leaving what little eye-candy fashion there is to become iconic & symbolic. At least in this person’s mind.

As I said, the women who visit Tolen are darn-near replicas of one another. Same tight-fitting sweaters and short skirts on the same lithe frames — just their hairstyles set them apart. They become rather unidentifiable and even (surprisingly, for a feminist anyway) unremarkable — you just don’t really care for or about these women. For even as the supposedly sexually satisfied women (we never see a sex act) prepare to leave with their “gifts” from Tolen, they seem without pleasure. When he gives jewelry, there is a cold acceptance. Even when the women given the Green Shield Savings Stamps (the UK version of S&H Green Stamps) lick the stamps to place them in their books, there’s no heat. And you know how sexy women’s mouths and licking are usually made in such films.

Where you might expect the vapid, drugged, zombie state of women in lust writhing and purring over “the man with The Knack”, there is instead the the passionless, mechanical quality of women who all look alike. I can’t help but find parallels to women who blindly follow fashion trends.

In a case of he-doth-protest-too-much, Colin rants angrily about getting a new roommate in his house because he can’t focus with all the goings-on in the house — both the practical issues resulting from the long line of ladies who visit Tolen & the moral & misogynistic improprieties. He puts a sign up, hoping for a monk or a nice quiet girl, but instead, through a series of comical mishaps ends up with Tom (Donal Donnelly), a quirky young man who insists upon painting over everything brown (but really seems compelled to paint everything in sight white), as a new housemate. Just in time too, for Colin is about to go over to the dark side — give up on morals and love — and get lessons in “The Knack” from Tolen.

While the boys are getting things sorted out at home, there’s a sweet, young country girl, Nancy (played by the charming and fetching Rita Tushingham), arriving fresh off the train to London.

Nancy Arrives

Nancy Arrives

She’s completely unlike the other young women we’ve seen. While her clothes are certainly more mod than New Look, she expresses — in fashion and face — a freedom the mod mannequins do not. She’s not just “country” v. “city; she’s alive. This is best shown with her innocent face beneath that plaid newsboy cap.

As fellow passengers voice the societal concerns of the big city ruining the sweet young woman, Nancy enters the London train station and sits down in a photo booth, taking portraits of herself as a hip urbanite. Notice that Nancy has removed her hat — a hat which should be watched as symbolism in the entire film.

Waiting for the photos to come out of the machine, Nancy gets her first rude awakening to what the swinging city has in store. A couple, older man with younger blonde, walk up to the photo booth. The young woman steps inside, draws the curtain closed, and proceeds to rapidly hand her male companion pieces of her clothing — one by one, including bits of lingerie.

Stripping In The Photo Booth

Stripping In The Photo Booth

Until we can obviously understand that she is completely nude in the photo booth; we see bare (or perhaps stocking-covered) legs & her shoes beneath the curtain as she happily poses for the camera.

Nancy, en route to the YWCA, has several other big city lessons in store for herself; including a hilarious scene with a hoodwinking salesman inside a clothing shop. Once she enters she is instantly proffered a dress & pushed into a fitting room by a salesman who says:

I never thought I’d see so much purity of pattern. Absolute rightness. I must please you, and I think I can. Don’t fail me now, because I may never trust myself with a woman again, ever. Try it on. I’m sure, absolutely, I can please you. Show me. Wait for me.

Nancy Approached By Salesman

Nancy Approached By Salesman

The complete pitch is repeated word for word with the next woman who enters the shop — and overheard by Nancy, who mimics him. She still buys the dress — but instead of buying a new hat, keeps her (now) trademark cap.

Undeterred by the slick swinging city & its rude people, Nancy continues on eventually running into Colin and Tom at the junkyard. The young men are there as Colin has deduced his poor luck with the ladies is due to a too-small bed, and Tom has found him the perfect Edwardian iron bed in the junkyard. Tom sees a way to help the naïve and awkward Colin with girls by getting Nancy to come along home with them.

Using the guise of promising to help Nancy find her way to the YWCA if she helps them, the three roll, carry, and float the bed through the city back to the house. (At some point the bed is now white as if Tom had painted it along the way.)

Rolling Bed Through London

Rolling Bed Through London

Floating The Bed Home

Floating The Bed Home

In this part there’s plenty of humor, including when Nancy, perched on the bed as the boys lift it to carry it down significant stairs, says, “I’ve been picked up now, haven’t I?”

This clearly disturbs Colin — but things will only get worse once the three get back to the house and Tolen decides to show-up his housemates by putting the moves on Nancy.

Tolen Putting The Moves On Nancy

Tolen Putting The Moves On Nancy

Tolen believes women must be dominated (that is part of “The Knack”), and his aggression frightens her. Colin seems oblivious, but Tom tries to assist; however Tolen eventually seduces the her into leaving with him on his motorcycle. Tom convinces Colin that the two need to save the poor innocent girl from herself and Tolen and they set off to chase the couple on foot. What ensues includes a Benny Hill/Keystone Cops chase scene.

Tolen and Nancy lose them and duck into a park. There Tolen really puts the moves on Nancy. She nervously says “no”, then demands he leave her alone — mocking Tolen. But she takes things too far when she starts calling him “Mister Tight Pants”, distracting herself. The conflicting desires have her falling to the ground in a faint. This is where the boys come in, assuming the worst, that Nancy is dead.

Park Scene In The Knack

Park Scene In The Knack

As they argue, Nancy sits up and yells, “Rape.” Not once, not twice, but endlessly throughout the town, even once she starts to tell a cop but decided not to. (As a feminist, I have to say I was rather put-off by this at first — but eventually you just have to laugh at the absurdity, especially due to the length of this scene.) Nancy even goes door-to-door. She knocks and when the door is opened says just the one word, “Rape,” to which the housewife says, “Not today, thank you.”

Nancy arrives back at the house before the boys, strips and remains in Tolen’s room, still insisting she’s been raped.

Nancy Nude In Bed

Nancy Nude In Bed

Now Colin takes the lead and confronts her, telling her she’s not been raped. The combination of their individual positions and mutual insistence becomes an elixir or sorts, and now Nancy claims Colin was the one who raped her. This is so laughable to Tolen, that Colin’s ego is affected and he falters for a second. Even Nancy seems to be insulted by Tolen’s reaction, so she starts saying that Colin “raped me marvelous super!” Colin responds by saying that he could, he would — he’d like to but he didn’t. Eventually Nancy & Colin consummate the claims in Colin’s new big bed.

Nancy and Colin, A Couple

Nancy and Colin as a Couple

Everything is settled for the couple now; Nancy will be living there. But Tolen is now upset by such impropriety. He heads off to some sort of pre-scheduled meeting with a fellow womanizer named Rory — one he feels is not as good as he. He gets there and Rory’s women now fill the Albert Hall (“now we know how many holes it takes to fill the Albert Hall”) — not merely preventing Tolen from entering, but even trampling him in their blind (cold) lust.

Tolen Trying To Get Into Albert Hall

Tolen Trying To Get Into Albert Hall

Tolen, a very changed man, now joins the chorus of disapproving society folk, while the rest go on and live happily ever after.

A very unusual and thoroughly enjoyable romantic comedy about remaining true to yourself — with lots to think about in the regarding fashion too. It makes me want to go out and get a plaid newsboy cap.

Plaid 1960s Newsboy Cap

Plaid 1960s Newsboy Cap

PS I have to add that my heart was taken by the wonderfully mad, childlike (not childish), painting-everything-white, Tom. I wondered why he didn’t get the girl. At one point Tolen wonders too. Maybe he’s gay. “Are you a homosexual?” he says to Tom. Tom replies, “No. Thanks all the same.”

While it clears up one issue, I’m still wondering why Tom’s left single.