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Archive for ‘Lingerie’

“Maggie the cat is alive.”

By , 22 April, 2009, No Comment

The Etsy seller, gracevintage, calls this beauty a “Maggie the Cat Sultry Vintage 1960s Slip” after Liz Taylor’s character in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958).

Sultry Vintage Slip

Sultry Vintage Slip

Elizabeth Taylor In Cat On A Hot Tin Roof

Elizabeth Taylor In Cat On A Hot Tin Roof

No wonder vintage slips are still very much alive! So seductive it reminds me of another set of quotes from the film:

Brick Pollitt: What is the victory of a cat on a hot tin roof?
Margaret “Maggie” Pollitt: Just staying on it I guess, long as she can.

I guess that’s the victory of such a pretty vintage slip too, to just stay on, as long as it can. *wink*

PS Don’t forget to enter my The Get Fab-U-Lush Eyelashes Contest!

Seeing Past Black & White Film To The True Colors Of Vintage Lingerie

By , 31 March, 2009, 3 Comments

Deanna, of Kitsch-Slapped (and about a million other blogs), just posted about how she and her sister could see color even though they only had a black & white TV, which reminded me of a few things…

One being how I perplexed my dad by comparing women on television to past glamour icons. I too had compared some woman or other to Rita Hayworth and he asked me how the heck I knew who she was (and when I knew who Fatty Arbuckle was, he just about fell over). Mom countered with a, “Just about the only things your daughter reads or watches were made before 1960,” in that don’t-you-even-know-who-your-daughter-is? tone that made him both flush & squirm.

That weekend he came home with an armload of classic films he’d rented — just for the two of us to watch — and when we watched them, he chased mom out of the room or shushed her so “we film buffs” could be left alone to enjoy our movies in peace. *wink*

The second thing Deanna’s post reminded me of was how I sometimes see or imagine the color in black & white films — especially the fashions. But mostly I just wish I could see them in all their glory. *sigh*

Unless it’s lingerie and the film is from the 1920’s or 1930’s.

Still from Our Blushing Brides featuring lingerie

Still from Our Blushing Brides featuring lingerie

Whenever I see lingerie in films from that period, like Joan Crawford & gals in Our Blushing Brides, then I happily “know” that what they are wearing is either peach, pink or ivory — with ecru laces.

I know that there may occasionally be other colors (black, for instance, was popular — and easy to ‘see’ on screen, and other pastel shades in blue and green), but when shopping for vintage lingerie or loungewear, the evidence in old catalogs and on vintage clothing store racks supports my visions of ivory, peach, blush & pastel pink lingerie.

1924 Lingerie Catalog Page

1924 Lingerie Catalog Page

There are several likely reason for this.

It has been noted that soft & dreamy pastels were favored by high society at this time (along with an influx of Oriental colors & design influences; mainly seen in dresses, not so much with lingerie); pastel fashions require light colored lingerie. The popularity of pastels at this time is seemingly a combination of a response to the somber dreary wardrobes of WWI and the fact that wearing such light colors was surely impractical to the lower classes who had to work — hard toil would soil soft shades easily, leaving distinct marks of classes.

Pastel Blush COlored 1920s Lingerie

Pastel Blush Colored 1920s Lingerie

I also suspect that home sewing had its affects on color too. Because construction of flapper’s dresses & the lingerie worn beneath them (and the fashions which followed) were based on a straight shift, they were less complicated to make than earlier fashions. This meant it was much easier for women to produce the latest fashions at home using a simple — but fashionable — dress pattern. (Modifying a single pattern slightly, or embellishing it, to create more individual looking dresses.) Those sewing at home would likely copy the fabrics & colors of the days fashions as well, with the middle classes especially emulating high society’s love of pastels. However, fabric would still be costly — especially silks — and likely one made the most of the bolt of fabric they had. A household’s fashions would literally be cut from the same cloth, leaving all the women to have their lingerie in the same shade.

Lace and Silk Creme Cami

Lace and Silk Creme Cami

Another reason for the popularity of lingerie in pastel shades during the 1920s and 30s is a practical one. Many lingerie pieces, panties, shifts, slips, camis, & chemises, did dual duty as nightwear and foundation garments, worn under clothing and off-white & peachy-pink shades would match or blend with most flesh tones — if you were “white”, anyway. (And fashion was — and still is — primarily made for white women.) Such neutral fleshy shades would be very practical, diminishing color lines beneath the sheer and lightweight dresses of the time.

1920s Peach Silk Chemise with Ecru Lace

1920s Peach Silk Chemise with Ecru Lace

Such fleshy shades were also in and of themselves sexy — in an age of “dare to bare” flapper fashions, clothing was not only cut to expose arms and legs, but the colors suggested nudity. This would be especially enticing on the more natural-than-forced curves than the past fashion silhouettes where the even looser fitting garments would evoke a peek-a-boo feeling, if not actual body parts.

Lace Bodice on Pink Vintage Full Slip

Lace Bodice on Pink Vintage Full Slip

These are my theories, based on what I know of the times. But what clearly remains of lingerie from this time period are these pastel pieces in peach, pink, blush and ivory shades; and most with lace, crochet and/or tatting accents in ivory and ecru.

If and when you spot authentic vintage lingerie from the 1920s & 1930s in other shades, you should expect to pay more. I suggest you do it — happily. You don’t know if or when you’ll find anything else like it to hug to your chest (or to drape over it later!) *wink*

Vintage Ivory Silk Tap Panties With Ecru Lace

Vintage Ivory Silk Tap Panties With Ecru Lace

When Pyjamas Weren’t The Cat’s Pajamas… Or Were They?

By , 19 March, 2009, 5 Comments

When shopping for vintage fashions from the 1920s – 1930’s, it’s especially difficult to find women’s pajamas and pantsuits. You certainly can find advertisements, editorial fashion articles, and illustrations extolling such styles when paging through vintage magazines…

Vintage Pajama Illustration By A.K. MacDonald

Vintage Pajama Illustration By A.K. MacDonald

In fact, you see them so often it sets your heart to pitter-patter.

Vintage French Magazine Fashion Page Featuring Pyjamas (Yes, That's Louise Brooks, Second From Left!)

Vintage French Magazine Fashion Page Featuring Pyjamas (Yes, That's Louise Brooks, Second From Left!)

But finding such items available for sale is one of the toughest searches a vintage-loving fashionista can have.

Given that flappers were all about freedom, it’s easy to think that fashions with ‘male trouser bottoms’ — which offer more mobility and less worry about ‘upskirt’ issues — would have been all the rage, leaving you to find vintage pyjamas and pantsuits from those decades. But pants and pyjamas were not as popular a purchase as you’d imagine.

Vintage Pyjamas

Vintage Pyjamas

Some of the reason for such unpopular pants has to do with simple economics.

Most flappers, especially in terms of dress, were younger single women. As such, they would have had, in very general terms, less money to fund their wardrobe purchases. (And as most women knew how to work a needle and thread, rather any dress of the time could, in a pinch, be altered to suit a flapper’s style.) Often their living arrangements would limit their ability to entertain at home as well, meaning the lounging pajama was not only unnecessary, but ill-advised in mom and dad’s house where pajamas were tantamount to declaring a morality debate.

Cosy-Leg Pyjamas 1936

Cosy-Leg Pyjamas 1936

Older women who would have had more discretionary income to throw at the latest fashions would have also had, in general, positions which required them to join the stance against pants that their more traditional or conservative friends and family had. So they too eschewed the manly fashions, opting for the ‘more feminine’ skirts — with longer hemlines too.

Louuise Brooks Models Fashions

Louise Brooks Models Fashions

Pants also had the misfortune of being marketed at the wrong time, for once The Great Depression hit, fashion was a frivolity few could afford. It wasn’t the time for new trends.

But as we learned, for the flapper who could afford both her lifestyle and her fashions, showing off one’s legs was a serious priority… And pants were not seen as the way to a man’s umm…. heart.

You can argue that such pursuit to be chased is not feminism; but power is something you wield and that includes the power to attract a mate — should you want one for keeps or the moment. (And this debate regarding sex & power is one that Third Wave Feminists are still having.)

In any case, less purchases of pajamas and ensembles with pants during the 1920s and 1930s means less of these gorgeous & sophisticated vintage pajama styles are available for purchase today. Which means when you are lucky enough to find it, you’ll pay a pretty price for it. But you should happily do so, for you know-not when you’ll find it again…

Vintage Satin Lounging Pajamas

Vintage Satin Lounging Pajamas

Which brings us to the expression, “the cat’s pajamas” (or “the cat’s pygamas”).

Like “the bee’s knees,” the phrase means something or someone is the best, a charming desirable, splendid or stylish. Unlike the “bee’s knees,” the phrase has been traced to its origins. It was coined in the 20’s by Justin B. Smith, and made popular by cartoonist Tad Dorgan‘s use of the expression. While the word “cat” has a long history of association with women & their wiles, it not surprisingly resurfaced strongly in the roaring 20’s to refer to the unconventional flapper spirit. Combined with the word “pajamas”, for the new fashion trend, the expression captures both the inherent “female nature” as well as the new “masculine” path. Like feminine curves in the straight masculine lines of pajamas, a charming & stylish paradox is achieved. Voila!

The irony, of course, is that while flappers & their pajamas enjoyed a relatively short run at the time, the phrase continued…. From the unflappable flappers to the blushing pin ups to present day.

The Cat's Pajamas Pin Up

The Cat's Pajamas Pin Up

(Note: Thanks to A Slip of a Girl for showing me the pretty vintage illustrations by A. K. MacDonald!)

Rolled Stockings, Bees Knees, And All That Jazz

By , 18 March, 2009, 13 Comments

The first time I heard the song And All That Jazz from the movie Chicago, the line, “I’m gonna rouge my knees. And roll my stockings down,” struck me… Did women once rouge their knees?

Zeta-Jones wearing rolled stockings in Chicago

Zeta-Jones wearing rolled stockings in Chicago

Yes, Virginia, like courtesans who rouged their breasts (or, more accurately, their areolas), flappers heightened the color of, and therefore the attention to, their knees. My guess is though, that they rouged post placement of their stockings. *wink*

1920-flapper-wearing-rolled-stockings

Woman From The 1920s Wearing Rolled Stockings

Why were knees so important? Well, as we (I hope) all know, the 1920’s were about female liberation, especially in terms of fashion. Gone were the bustles and skirts which rendered women unable to enjoy even the simple joy of riding bicycles. Without the bottom part of the hourglass, less emphasis was put on the top half, and corsets which whittled waists and pronounced bust lines were escaped.

Now, I’m not against corsets or figure forming via foundation garments, but if it’s not fashion but rather enforcement which limits activities, akin to foot binding, then I’m not a fan. And to some extent, Victorian dress was as much about women’s place in society as it was the placement of breasts — about the ease and accessibility to life and their own sexuality.

Naturally, such freedom would lead to a mocking fashion frivolity in which women, especially young women, would relish in the abandonment of fashion’s constraints & an exploitation of fashion loopholes such as higher hemlines to express themselves, their attitudes and their intentions to live life fully.

Where once legs and even ankles had remained lily white in the dark shadows of skirts, now flappers dared to bare. They exposed skin to kisses of sunlight, trading the pasty pallor of invalids for the rosy complexions of those who lived life fully. As skin kissed by sunlight is also exposed to kisses from beaus, flappers used bare skin and its coloring to garner attentions and announce intentions. Like bees to flowers, flappers drew admiring glances and those that gave them. They used the natural appeal of revealing what had so recently been forbidden to see — and they used the artificial appeal of cosmetics.

It’s no coincidence that a more portable & easier to apply form of lipstick (in the tube) and other cosmetics (in compacts) were made at this time. And as odd as it may seem to us to color the knees, legs were all the rage so why not color & accentuate them?

Legs were so much the rage in the roaring 20’s that there was even the expression, “the bees knees” which means Its origins aren’t completely clear, but two theories seem possible…

One is that because bees carry pollen back to their hives in sacs found in the middle of their legs (the ‘knee’, if you will), the phrase alludes to the goodness to be found around the bee’s knee. Euphemistically, it’s racy; which certainly fits the 1920’s. And it reminds me of those lines from Maya Angelou’s Still I Rise:

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Speaking of dancers…

Another possibility for the origins of “the bee’s knees” may be found in the dancing legs of Bee Jackson. Jackson, once a member of the Follies, is said to be the first white girl to feature the dance we all associate with the 20’s and flappers, the Charleston.

Dancer Bee Jackson

Dancer Bee Jackson

Bee Jackson went on to become a world Charleston champion and her legs were insured for a whopping $10,000. Surely the glimpses of this Bee’s knees could garner a catchphrase along with admiring glances and erotic thoughts, and inspire other young ladies to dance and to show off their legs with short hemlines.

Obviously, such states of fashionable undress were seen as brazen & inappropriate by many; and not all women dressed (or acted) like flappers. While the moral majority & fashion minority may not have agreed, everyone knew of flappers and rolled stockings. In fact, there was even a 1927 film called Rolled Stockings.

Rolled Stockings Movie Poster

Rolled Stockings Movie Poster

The film stared the fabulous and iconic Louise Brooks as Carol Fleming, the girl two boys — actually brothers — Jim and Ralph Treadway (James Hall, Richard Arlen), fall in love with. The movie is believed to be lost, so not only have I never seen it, but don’t know a soul who has. However, there are a few remnants of its existence, such as promotional photos like this one:

Promotional Louise Brooks Photo

Promotional Louise Brooks Photo

You’ll no doubt notice that lovely Lulu is not wearing rolled stockings — but the irony continues! According to Hal Erickson:

Not unexpectedly, one of the publicity photos taken for this film was a close-up of a pair of rolled stockings, ostensibly filled by the trim legs of Louise Brooks; in fact, Brooks refused to pose for this cheesecake shot, whereupon her legs were “doubled” by her co-star, Nancy Phillips.

Rather strange for a woman who posed for nude photos… I guess completely bare equals “artistic nude” while rolled stocking promotional photos are exploitative? Or maybe she thought rolled stockings ruined the lines of a lady’s leg?

In any case, I can’t find a single photo of Louise with rolled stockings — but here’s one of Louise with her younger sister, June, who is wearing rolled stockings.

Louise Brooks (L) and Sister June (R)

Louise Brooks (L) and Sister June (R)

June looks so sweet — like a young woman wearing knee-highs, not some risqué flapper. But that’s just the way time — and stockings — roll by… *wink*

Reproduction Rolled Stockings Movie Poster

Reproduction Rolled Stockings Movie Poster

Truths About Buying Vintage Fashions

By , 18 February, 2009, No Comment

There’s an article on buying vintage fashions over at Chloe Jo’s GirlieGirlArmy — a guest blog by Chrissie Eden Våzquez called How to Shop for Vintage. I’m usually happy when people write about buying vintage fashions, but I have a few bones to pick…

The first vintage fashion shopping tip is this:

Before you even begin looking for a vintage gown, find a tailor in your area that you can trust to handle any alterations or repairs necessary. Keep in mind that an evening gown can be a rather large and labor-intensive project. If you’re going all out for a black tie type of event, you want to allow time for proper handling of delicate fabrics, as well as any detail work like beading. A rush job might cause irreparable damage to a one of a kind piece, leaving you scrambling last minute to find a back up dress.

The advice on the importance of being selective in choosing a tailor is sound — but after all these years, I’ve never used a tailor or had any alterations done. There are a few pieces I’ve set aside for such things. But to say that you need a tailor, let alone before you buy, seems inappropriate. I bet just hearing that puts a lot of people off buying vintage.

So I’m here to say that a tailor is not a requirement for buying and/or wearing vintage clothes.

Should you require alterations, repairs or otherwise require the services of a seamstress or tailor, be as picky in selecting them as you would be a cobbler to work with vintage shoes.

The information on knowing your measurements for sizing is good, as is giving yourself lots of time to shop (the latter is especially important if you’re looking for something to wear to a special occasion). But then she talks about foundation garments and my hackles rise a bit…

Dare to think about underwear. Vintage silhouettes were very heavily shaped by the wearer’s undergarments (think about the bullet bras of the 50s and the tiny corseted waistline that defined Dior’s New Look). {EDITORS NOTE: YOU CAN FIND AUTHENTIC BULLET BRAS ONLINE ON BULLETBRAS.NET} The dress may look different on you than it does on a mannequin or on a model wearing period undergarments to complement the style. If you’re determined to keep it authentic by wearing a vintage or vintage inspired corset or bra, ask the seller if they have any recommendations. However, if you value free breathing or don’t like the idea of wearing someone else’s undergarments, relax, and remember that it’s your dress. You can have it restructured or changed any way you want! As long as you’ve followed tip #1 and acquired a good tailor, you should be able to rework the gown so that it is more flattering to your body without the use of bionic underwear.

One of the primary reasons for buying & wearing vintage clothing is to have the fabulous fashion silhouettes, so having them restructured to change the silhouette defeats the primary purpose!

And it makes me cry — even die a little — on the inside.

Taking out the waist & flattening the skirts on New Look fashions is like nipping the waist & putting a bustle on a flapper’s dress — it can be done, but heaven’s why?!

(I know some folks restructure vintage fashions. Usually people do this only when there is no other way to salvage the piece, saving the beaded top from a nearly destroyed party frock, for example.  Some, I’m sure, do much more… When they own them, that’s their choice, of course, but gone is the real vintage style.)

Yes, you need the proper foundation garments to get the proper silhouette; but no, you do not need to give up “free breathing”, nor do you need to “wear someone else’s undergarments”.

Vintage bras & girdles are not the restrictive nightmares you might imagine. Many of them are, when worn in the proper size, no more uncomfortable than today’s spandex lingerie.

You can buy authentic vintage lingerie which has not been worn — typically described online as “New Old Stock” (NOS), “New With Tags” (NWT), or “New Without Tags” (NWOT).

But if you cannot find the proper vintage foundation garments in the correct size, don’t overlook modern makers.

Here’s a (very short) list of modern makers of lingerie designed to give you & your fashions a vintage silhouette:

BulletBras.net (currently only carries Bullet Bras™)
Cameo Intimates (vintage & more risqué styles)
Petticoats A Plenty (aka crinolines — which I’ve written about here)
Secrets In Lace (also carries a large collection of authentic Rago Shapewear — the same stuff you often see listed as “vintage” when it’s actually a modern-made piece)

A few modern makers also continue to make girdles, long line bras, slips, etc. I’ll try to cover more of them here; but I also recommend A Slip of a Girl, the lingerie blog heavily devoted to vintage lingerie.

So, kids, don’t worry so much about getting a tailor or fear fancy underpants — just go out and explore vintage clothing.  It’s not always easy, but I think that’s part of the fun.  And wearing it, transforming yourself in to those silhouettes of yesteryear, is heavenly.

Irma La Douce Redux

By , 12 February, 2009, 2 Comments

I’m so excited! Angela of Dorothea’s Closet (she also has a physical vintage clothing store in downtown Des Moines) sent me an email about my The Retro Parisian Street Chic Of Irma La Douce post — here’s a reminder photo from that film:

Irma La Douce Street Chic

Irma La Douce Street Chic

Here’s Angela’s email:

Hey there! I just started an ad campaign locally with a friend/model/artist after a photo shoot we did last week….inspired by seeing your post on your blog w/ pics of Shirley MacLaine in Irma La Douce! Actually, I need to add that to my own blog and link you now that I think of it.

Anyway, the pics are all located on my website www.thenoirboudoir.com (linked from that lingerie page by a pic of Emily at the top), attaching a few to titillate. Just thought you’d like to see what you inspired by sharing those awesome pics of Shirley!!

But before I show you some of them, I should tell you that the photos are of model and artist Emily Svec dressed perfectly Parisian street-chic in pretty vintage lingerie in shades of 1960s aqua! (Angela says the 60s babydoll will soon be added to her Etsy shop, Scarlet Bird — so if you’re drooling over it, keep checking or email Angela at admin@dorotheasclosetvintage.com!)  UPDATE: It’s just been added to her shop here!

And thanks, Angela, for letting me know — I hope the ad in Cityview works wonders for you! (It sure does for me!)

Here are just some of the fabulously new retro-styled photos that you can find from that photo session inspired by my post and Shirley MacLaine as Irma La Douce:

Emily as Shirley as Irma

Emily as Shirley as Irma

Emily in retro aqua lingerie from Dorotheas Closet

Emily in retro aqua lingerie from Dorotheas Closet

Emily in vintage lingerie with feathers

Emily in vintage lingerie with feathers

Try Breakfast At Tiffany’s To Inspire Your Good Nights!

By , 5 February, 2009, No Comment

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.

Capote wanted Monroe to Play Holly

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’.)

Audrey as Holly Golightly wearing sleep mask

Audrey as Holly Golightly wearing sleep mask

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!

Stunning lingerie inspired by Breakfast at Tiffanys

Stunning lingerie inspired by Breakfast at Tiffanys

Hopeless vintage inspired lingerie

Hopeless vintage inspired lingerie

Sexy little Trawler Apron

Sexy little 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.

Holly Golightly inspired lingerie

Holly Golightly inspired lingerie

Black silk lingerie by Hopeless

Black silk lingerie by Hopeless

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?

Hopeless Lingerie Fred Bra

Hopeless Lingerie Fred Bra

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*

Think Valentine’s Day Is A Lot Of Bull?

By , 3 February, 2009, No Comment

Even if you feel hopelessly single, don’t stay home and pout — put on a pretty party dress & knock ’em all dead! This fun party frock from the 50’s has more than just a red print going for it…

Vintage Red and White Party Dress

Vintage Red and White Party Dress

It’s covered in a cheeky matador and bull print — so dance, show-off, twirl and make all the men say “Torro!” as they charge you!

Bull and Matador Print

Bull and Matador Print

Pretty party frocks like this, and the one shown here, require crinoline petticoats. Like any slip, you should coordinate if not match the petticoat to your dress. Depending upon your style, you may be able to get away with just one white one (or just one black one); but don’t skimp and use an ordinary slip because you’ll feel as let down & flat wearing that vintage party dress as your skirts are!

I’ve have very poor luck finding vintage crinolines in wearable conditions. If it’s not the elastic which is dried and cracked or stretched beyond use, crumbling between your fingertips, there are problems with the netting itself — more crumbling, or too aged to properly fill out the skirting of the dress. Thankfully there are some modern makers of crinolines. Just be advised that you don’t want to go cheap — the lower prices may be tempting, but you’ll quickly find yourself with the same problems as vintage pieces.

Instead, opt for quality makers of vintage styled petticoats — like www.petticoatsaplenty.com. They lovingly produce their petticoats slips by hand — each and every layer!

White Crinoline Petticoat by Petticoats A Plenty

White Crinoline Petticoat by Petticoats A Plenty

And they even out-do vintage slips because these are made with a super fine, soft tulle — nothing like your grandma’s scratchy itchy net!

And right now (for just a few more days), you can save on 15% on shop stock &/or 10% off on any made-to-measure petticoats. Now through February 5th (2009), contact PetticoatsAPlenty through their contact form and mention “A Slip of a Girl” to get your discount. (It’s that easy, but the official notice on the offer is here.)

Citizen Kane Fashions?

By , 29 January, 2009, No Comment

Do you think this is what Charles Foster Kane had in mind when he murmured, “Rosebud?” *wink*

Vintage Sheer Chiffon Peignoir

Vintage Sheer Chiffon Peignoir

A sweet yet stunning vintage sheer chiffon peignoir set with embroidered rosebuds on both the nightie and the matching robe.

Vintage Peignoir Set With Rosebuds

Vintage Peignoir Set With Rosebuds

Close Up Of The Vintage Nightgown Bodice

Close Up Of The Vintage Nightgown Bodice

The Retro Parisian Street Chic Of Irma La Douce

By , 28 January, 2009, No Comment

In Billy Wilder’s Irma La Douce (1963) the too-honest policeman Nestor (Jack Lemmon) falls in love with Paris prostitute Irma (Shirley MacLaine). Along with being a comedic story of mismatched people, the film features what most fashionistas would call mismatched colors. For while Irma has a signature color (green), she isn’t worried about matching shades.

Shirley MacLaine as Irma La Douce

Shirley MacLaine as Irma La Douce

As far as the film goes, the mix & match green wardrobe gives MacLaine’s Irma the perfect blend of independence & sophistication with underlying notes of few bank notes; Irma is street chic.

Retro Parisian Street Chic

Retro Parisian Street Chic

Usually, as anyone who has run around town with bits of thread from her navy jacket will tell you, when one creates monochromatic outfits or wardrobes, great care is taken to dress in the same tone. Just little things, such as accessories, are allowed to be just a tad lighter or darker, highlighting such details. But Irma just seems to pile on the green — “seems” being the operative word here. It’s clear that great pains are taken to make her ensembles work.

Creating a signature color look requires dedication. These tips are especially wonderful when wearing vintage clothing. We all know how difficult it can be to find a skirt to match a fabulous jacket… We all know the pain of passing up the otherwise perfect vintage shoes just because they are the wrong shade… We all hate to leave the vintage clothing shop without that perfect fitting 1960’s Leslie Fay green brocade suit, but you know you’re never going to find anything other than white to wear with it, and you already have enough problems like that…

Retro Leslie Fay Suit

Retro Leslie Fay Suit

But with tips from Irma La Douce, you can go from ‘mismatched’ to ‘street chic’ and never pass up a perfect fitting vintage bargain again!

Begin with that perfect something — your favorite color itself, a pair of the prettiest mod Mary Jane shoes you’ve ever found that fit perfectly, your most recent thrift store bargain. Whatever it is, you’ll be building from that color.

Mod Mary Janes

Mod Mary Janes

Every little thing, every accessory, must be in that color. Some items, like authentic vintage green stockings may be difficult (but dreamy!) to find…

Vintage Moss Green Stockings

Vintage Moss Green Stockings

But you can supplement with new hose.

The color is worn right on down to the lingerie (and in Irma’s case, in her the decor of her apartment as well). The beauty of such monochromatic street chic is that you can mix and match new with vintage, making it easier to shop — so even when you cannot find a vintage green bullet bra in your size, you can buy a new green bullet bra. But, tempting as it may be, don’t wear all matching lingerie — the kick to this street chic is the mixing to match, not buying perfectly matched.

Secrets In Lace Lingerie

Secrets In Lace Lingerie

The shades or tones in your signature color ensemble may be different, bright green with moss green, etc., but they should not clash (no lime green, for example).

Occasionally, as Irma herself did, you may include a basic black skirt or some such. It may be worn until you find the perfect color replacement — or used to fool the eye by keeping shades that are too dissimilar apart. But it should also accentuate and draw the eye towards the main color, like Irma’s skirt plays up her green stockings.

Irma La Douce Street Chic

Irma La Douce Street Chic

Those who wish to look taller &/or slimmer may wish to wear a single matching shade over most of their torso, like this 1940’s Gilbert Adrian suit, using blouse, lingerie, and accessories to build additional shades without breaking the single long line of color.

Vintage Gilbert Adrian Suit

Vintage Gilbert Adrian Suit

Makeup is most decidedly not done all in the same color. Whatever color you dress in, wear makeup that flatters you and doesn’t blend ‘you’ into the outfit; fashion is about showcasing you, not having people say, “Look at the lump of green coming down the street!” Green eyeshadow? Perhaps. But lips and nails painted red are not only more attractive and seductive than green shades, but red lips and fingertips are contrasting accents to Shirley’s beauty.

Red Contrasts Green

Red Contrasts Green

Even when Irma is not wearing come-hither red, she wears peaches and creme makeup to accentuate her peaches and creme complexion.

Intimate Beauty Moment with Irma La Douce

Intimate Beauty Moment with Irma La Douce

When creating a signature color, it helps to be seen wearing the color everyday — but should that bore you, you can remind others with small touches of your signature color (ribbons, jewelry, and other accessories) in your other outfits. And even if you do not wish to limit yourself and your wardrobe to a single signature color, you can adopt such tricks to create a single outfit. Any special vintage piece can be the starting point to your own retro Parisian street chic.