I can’t decide if this vintage two-piece set is more Audrey Hepburn or Ann-Margret… At first I saw Audrey pedaling on a bike. But then I could also see the sex kitten curves of Ann-Margret. I guess every woman has her multiple identities, right?
Vintage style has been influencing the design of wedding dresses since, well,forever! In part this is due to a sense of nostalgia and tradition, but it also had to do with the forever-love of old movies. Thankfully, wedding dress designers know that vintage looks will always be coveted by brides and so vintage inspiration can be seen in contemporary wedding dresses. This means that regardless of your favorite era of film or fashion, you can find a modern-made dress for your special day.
There are many benefits to buying a modern-made, yet vintage-inspired, wedding dress. Contemporary dresses solve the usual problem of finding vintage in your size. And, yes, you’ll have less concerns with tailoring too. But one of the largest benefits of buying new rather than old is that you can get the look you want, but in a style that flatters you and your figure. For example, look at these beautiful wedding gowns which capture the look of that famous gown Audrey Hepburn wore in Sabrina:
It’s like a new look at the New Look — or a new look in vintage bridal! Most importantly, while each wedding gown is reminiscent of that black and white New Look dress by Givenchy, each has its own unique take on the design — and each has its own way of flattering the bride’s body.
Of course, the way to really make your wedding gown your own and look different from another bride who bought her dress off the same rack (or purchased at the same online shop) is the same way to make any dress or ensemble your own — with accessories! Wedding gloves and wedding veils make a big difference in the total look of the bride. More than jewelry or shoes, gloves, veils, hats, etc. are the accessories which are most visible in your wedding day photos.
Here are some inspirational brides from vintage films, featuring unforgettable veils and gloves:
I’m giving High-Fives this Friday to:
1. Dealers Are Your Friends (Or, Why You Should Shop At The Antique Shops): Good reminders of all that sellers of fine vintage fashions go through and why you should be willing to pay their prices.
2. Dreaming of holiday dresses from 1957 with Couture Allure.
3. Authentic Audrey Hepburn fashions up for action at Kerry Taylor Auctions (December 8th).
4. B. Vikki Vintage reminds us why fools fall in love.
5. Wallflower Vintage shows us how vintage keeps creepin’ up on the small screen — this time it’s Ms. Emma Pillsbury on Glee.
If you love & want to wear vintage circle skirts, like this 1950’s black & red velvet circle skirt, but you don’t want to be asked where the local sock-hop is, here are a few notes on making vintage circle skirts relevant today & not a costume on parade:
* The only bad thing about retro poodle skirts & vintage circle skirts is the very thing that makes them so fabulous — all that fabric. With so much fabric, you’ll be tempted to wear a crinoline to give circle skirts their due; otherwise, the patterns, appliques & details will be lost in the (however luminously sequined & beaded) folds. Yet wear a full crinoline most any place these days, and you’ll find yourself facing questions about sock hops and costume parties *sigh*
But remember, what truly separates the poodle skirt from a circle skirt is the volume of the crinolines &/or petticoats. You can wear vintage circle skirts with more subdued (traditionally slimmer, but proper lengthed) slips, for a softer look (and do lots of twirling, curtsying, and anything else to create interest in that beautiful skirt). You can do this — just look at Audrey Hepburn!
* If you love a circle skirt, but it’s the shorter, more square dance variety or otherwise requires a fluffy feminine crinoline, then save it for more formal occasions — or mix it in with more modern & casual pieces (tee-shirts, bolero jackets, really big & wide belts) for an 80’s re-do (we did this in the actual 1980’s too!)
* Look for longer length skirts, especially if you are tall &/or fuller-figured. Short full skirts, plumped with a crinoline or hanging in folds, will make you look plumper around the hips by bringing the eye “out” rather than in a line down. Plumper from skirts equals frumpier and out-dated, so avoid it.
* Do tuck your blouse or top into the waistband of the skirt. This emphasizes your waist, drawing the eye in and down, helping to create a generous hourglass figure.
* If your blouse is just a hair too short to remain tucked in, or it’s so bulky looking when tucked in that it’s a distracting mess, you can smooth it over the waist of the skirt and use a wider belt to “join” the ensemble as well as accent your waist. As a general rule, however, do not do this with tunics or other very long tops as the tunic or top will press the circle skirt down, causing a second “ripple” in the skirt, ruining the full skirt’s lines.
* Circle skirts are not yesteryear’s “broomstick skirts” or other long skirts designed to be layered with tunics, as mentioned above. So also avoid long or oversized jackets or blazers.
* Sweaters, both the traditional feminine cardigan & tight-fitting sweater girl varieties, can be worn with circle skirts. If the former, avoid bulky, over-sized, &/or long sweaters which will hide your waistline; if the latter, remember the rules for tops & blouses: tucked in or belted, please.
* Do not wear with socks & saddle shoes or tennis shoes; this makes the outfit look like the old bobby soxer costume. Instead, opt for flats (with or without hosiery), kitten heels (with stockings or pantyhose), or, for that retro 80’s style, with granny boots (as shown below on Pony from Pony & Pink) or lace-up ankle boots and brightly colored socks.
Even high heeled stilettos can, depending upon the material of the skirt, the occasion, and the shoe itself, can be an incredible combination for the fashionista who is willing to draw attention to herself.
Just remember that unless your fashion trademark is wearing saddle shoes, avoid the saddle shoe re-do.
* Mix in pieces & accessories from all time periods. A bold Bakelite brooch from the 40’s pinned to a classic white tee & 80’s booties; a 50’s pin up sweater, 80’s Madonna bangles, vintage patent leather peep-toe Mary Janes from the 60’s, and a cloche hat from the 30’s; whatever you’ve got in your closet, dear *wink* (Just like Doe Deer!)
Perhaps there’s nothing more iconically American than the cowboy. And this lady is iconic herself, though not so oft seen as a cowgirl… Any guesses?
Happy 4th of July!
When most of us think of or visualize Audrey Hepburn, we see her simple elegance (at least when she wasn’t playing roles wearing period costumes) But Audrey did use accessories; she just wore less of them at a time and let each speak boldly. For example, head scarves.
Few today think of head scarves as a beautiful way to frame your face, but these practical pieces are found on the cheap — often for less than a dollar!
Audrey (and her costumers) made use of scarves on hats too.
We sure don’t wear fashion hats like we used to, so such dramatic statements are usually reserved for very special occasions, but just think of the extra life you can get out of your hat if you consider working it with a scarf from time to time? (Your wedding hat won’t look the same year after year if you change it up!)
These last two are stretching “scarves” a bit… But what is a wrap but a very big scarf? *wink* And you sure can’t beat these looks when it comes to bold fashion statements! Makes one reconsider raincoats & even cloaks to go for a dramatic wrap.
You likely recall the lovely gowns Audrey Hepburn wore in Sabrina; this one in particular is a classic example of the chic “Parisian” look Sabrina returns with — proof of her being “all grown up”.
The nipped in waist and voluminous skirting, tell-tale markers of New Look fashions.
The fashions may be the iconic vintage look many of us call ‘classic’, but the story behind the dresses Audrey wore are lesser-known.
The beautiful strapless white organdy gown, embroidered by hand with black and white flowers, was not the creation of legendary film costumer Edith Head — even though she won the Oscar for it. Rather, it was the work of designer Hubert de Givenchy.
Givenchy was one of the first (if not the first) couture designer to break into film costume design. He was hired to design the creations to illustrate & accentuate the grown-up, sophisticated Sabrina upon her return from Paris. As the story goes, it was Hepburn’s idea to have real couture fashions used in the film; director Billy Wilder agreed. When Givenchy was told that ‘Miss Hepburn’ had arrived to see him, he’d expected Katharine Hepburn:
But when the door of my studio opened, there stood a young woman, very slim, very tall, with doe eyes and short hair and wearing a pair of narrow pants, a little T shirt, slippers and a gondolier’s hat with red ribbon that read VENEZIA. I told her, “Mademoiselle, I would love to help you, but I have very few sewers, I am in the middle of doing a collection, I can’t make you clothes.” So she said, “Show me what you have already made for the collection.” She tried on the dresses–“It’s exactly what I need!”–and they fit her too.
Givenchy also said:
Later I tried to adapt my designs to her desires. She wanted a bare-shouldered evening dress modified to hide the hollows behind her collarbone. What I invented for her eventually became a style so popular that i named it ‘décolleté Sabrina'”
We would come to call it The Hepburn Look.
And so, a style collaboration — and a close friendship — was born.
Edith Head, however, did not care so much for The Hepburn Look — at least not enough to allow shared credits for the costuming on Sabrina. As reining queen of Hollywood costume design, she wielded incredible clout, and her complaints about having to share the credits with Givenchy couldn’t go unnoticed; Paramount & Wilder would need to appease her.
In order to prevent her from quitting the movie, they gave her full screen credits for Costume Designer; and gave not a one to Givenchy. While Head (&/or her team) did create the majority of the costumes, it’s obvious to anyone who has seen the movie that Givenchy’s gowns are the most memorable designs — literally providing the look for the film.
The white organdy gown with floral embroidery is so iconic, that it was one of the dresses recreated for Jennifer Love Hewitt to wear in the 2000 TV movie, The Audrey Hepburn Story.
Obviously Hepburn & Givenchy went on to become life-long friends — and to create more memorable fashion moments, with Givenchy designing the fashions she wore in daily life and in film.
That alone could have been the “living well is the best revenge” ending. But it’s not.
Edith Head got her comeuppance on Breakfast at Tiffany’s where the closest she and her department got to Holly Golightly’s fashions was to make “some plain clothes and doubles for the Givenchy dresses”. And Givenchy saw to it that she was credited merely as “supervisor” rather than costume designer; it was likely an incredible insult to a costumer of her stature.
One of the three copies of the black sheath dress from the opening scenes of Breakfast at Tiffany’s, which sold at Christie’s for $923,187 in 2006, was presumably made by Edith &/or her team. This dress was not used in the film but it is believed, due to the slit, that Givenchy designed this dress for promotional purposes, as the film posters feature the dress with a saucy slit.
Unfortunately, Breakfast at Tiffany’s wasn’t even nominated for an Academy Award; but Audrey in that black dress (and with that wicked cigarette holder) lives on as one of the most memorable images in cinematic and fashion history.
Breakfast At Tiffany’s is one of my all-time favorite films. Sure, you’ve got a good argument for racism with Mickey Rooney playing Mr. Yunioshi. Yes, the movie is vastly different from the book (spoiler: there’s no romance between Holly Golightly and Paul “Fred” Varjak, but a deep friendship, in the novella by Truman Capote — there can’t be, Paul’s gay). And, naturally enough, once you learn that Marilyn Monroe was considered for the part that Audrey Hepburn so superbly played, you can’t help but wonder just how that would have changed so many things… And not just in the film either.
But say all you want, Breakfast At Tiffany’s is a delight.
Great fashion, trashy parties with the swank & swagger of the ‘it’ people in your crowd, the complete independence to live as individually (& even unorthodoxly) as you can — isn’t that just what your 20’s are supposed to be?
My first apartment was inspired by Holly Golightly — not just the film posters on the walls and the orange tabby cat, but we also awoke to the muffled ringing of a phone stored in a suitcase so as not to harshly wake us. (I also had several luxurious sleep masks; but blindfolded nights and midnight baby cries are dangerous combination, so the masks are what you’ll now find tucked away in my suitcases — waiting for ‘someday’.)
I suppose I ought to discuss the terrific vintage fashions in the film… But those fashions are so iconic that I’m under the impression that you all know the fashions & how to emulate the look by now — it’s nearly ‘old hat’. *wink* (If not, please let me know and I’ll work up a post about that.)
Instead, what I’d like to do is show you some gorgeous proof of the inspirational power of Breakfast At Tiffany’s.
Hopeless, a couture lingerie company owned and operated by Australian sisters Gabrielle and Dominique Adamidis, has an entire line of lingerie inspired by Breakfast At Tiffany’s. And it’s stunning! There’s the Holly Bustier & Briefs; the Cat Garter Belt; the Yunioshi Bustier, Garter Belt & Briefs; the Sally Halter Bra– even a Trawler Apron!
Like true designer creations, they are “inspired by”, not rip-offs, and they have real vintage appeal — with a modern appeal. I’m sure Holly would have loved these stunning pieces.
The one piece that puzzles me a bit is the stunning Fred Bra. Is that named for Holly’s brother Fred — or does it refer to Holly’s nickname for Paul?
Hmmmm… Maybe it only matters to a film buff. Anyway, they are just stunning enough to keep you from getting in the buff too quickly.
Did I mention these Hopeless lingerie pieces are stunning? *wink*
A great glamour look of 50’s was called the Parisian ‘Doe Eye.’ This makeup look, which put the focus on the eyes, was as new & exciting in the 1950’s as lipstick was in the 1920’s. To a large extent the ‘winged’ look is still with us today, but the 50’s version was a bit more natural looking.
To give your eyes this ‘winged’ yet natural look, shown here on Sophia Loren, follow these steps.
Step One: Using a light shadow in a neutral brown or grey, shadow the lids lightly from lashes to brows
Step Two: Apply a slightly darker shade to the crease, and blend the shadow up & out toward temples.
Step Three: Next we apply black eye liner to the eyelid. Apply liner in one straight line, keeping the liner as close to the base of your lashes as possible, starting at the innermost corner, drawing it towards the outer corner, where you fan the liner upwards & out (toward the temple).
Step Four: Lightly line the lower lashes from the outer 1/4 to meet the line on the upper corner, still in one unbroken line, keeping the eye liner as close to the base of your lashes as possible.
Step Five: Very gently blend the liner — think ‘soft’, not a heavy smudged look! For better eye liner staying power, you can use the tip of an eyeshadow applicator lightly dipped into the darker shade of eyeshadow and softly trace over the eyeliner.
Last Step: Finish with several coats of mascara.
A variation on the doe-eye look is the cat eye, exhibited here by Audrey Hepburn.
This look, often worn with pale lipstick shades to further emphasize the eyes, is also called the ‘Bohemian’ look of the 50’s.
The application changes are few:
* Use the black liner all around the eye, still staying as close to the lash line as you can, and gently soften it so you do not have a harsh line. Think Holly Golightly! *wink*
* Concentrate the application of mascara on the outer edges of the eyes.