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Posts tagged ‘dresses’

Paging Pretty Princess Me; Table With Anna Reese

By , 8 April, 2009, No Comment

A lot of what we call “classic” fashions remind me of New Look fashions — with a little less emphasis on floofy skirts. I suppose that’s a pretty obvious statement, but heck, sometimes I’m Captain Obvious.

Anyway, after Slip pointed me to Juxzy, I joined and therefore discovered designs by Anna Reese (featuring Chloe & Reese) and I’m completely struck by the “princess” fashions which must be vintage inspired. Simple classic feminine elegance — with shorter more mod skirt lengths. Yum!

Chloe & Reese Faille Dress in Merlot

Chloe & Reese Faille Dress in Merlot

Chloe & Reese Wool Coat with Gathers in Blue

Chloe & Reese Wool Coat with Gathers in Blue

I can’t even do the math — I’m too excited. But, for example, the Chloe & Reese – Wool Coat with Gathers in Blue was $655, but is just $294.75 at Juxzy!

Can’t get in at Juxzy to see? Use code “6a3407” to get into the private fashion club!

Joan Crawford Makes Me Want To Sew

By , 3 April, 2009, No Comment

Every year I tell myself, “This is the year I learn how to sew — really sew.” You know, the kind of sewing where you, eventually, can look at a photo and reconstruct what you see. So far, I’ve just not mustered enough time & dedication to master sewing like that. And when I see an outfit like this one, I nearly weep with regret that I never paid enough attention in home ec when we made that dumb fabric purse (with the handle that was ridiculously too long) and the peasant skirt (three tiers of unevenly gathered sections). *sigh*

Joan Crawford Publicity Photo For Dancing Lady

Joan Crawford Publicity Photo For Dancing Lady

According to the information on the back of this vintage Joan Crawford photograph, used to promote Dancing Lady (1933), this stunning polka dot ensemble was part of Joan’s personal wardrobe:

The use of linen for formal wear is introduced by Joan Crawford, glamorous Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer star appearing in the picture, “Dancing Lady.” She selects a bright red model with white embroidered dots. This frock is trimmed with an edging of white scalloped pique. Linen gloves, pique trimmed, made of the same material sets off the costume.

Joan Crawford's Personal Wardrobe Publicity Note

Joan Crawford's Personal Wardrobe Publicity Note

Oh, how I want to recreate every detail — including those matching polka dot gloves!  It would be worth it to hand embroider every dot onto red linen myself (and that’s about all I would know how to do!)

Cut & Print: Vintage Dresses With Film Flair

By , 26 February, 2009, No Comment

I just love vintage novelty print dresses!

East meets West in this vintage novelty print dress. In true New Look style, it’s a full-skirted party dress — but it features exotic Indian or Arabian scenes which remind the seller and I of Morocco — and therefore brings to mind Casablanca.

Vintage Dress With Moroccan Print

Vintage Dress With Moroccan Print

This pretty frock is covered in a flock of birds — but these cheery birds don’t look like they’ve seen Hitchcock’s film… Then again, maybe that’s their idea of getting close enough for an attack? *wink*

Full-Skirted Vintage Day Dress

Full-Skirted Vintage Day Dress

Vintage Bird Print Dress

Vintage Bird Print Dress

This vintage dress dates to the 1940s and if the print doesn’t have folks thinking about horsing around, thinking of a curvy figure beneath the petal bust bodice will.

Vintage Dress With Horses

Vintage Dress With Horses

Bodice Of 1940s Print Dress

Bodice Of 1940s Print Dress

(If you’re wondering what the film connection to this dress is, I’m going to ask if you really don’t have a Flicka of an idea, my friend. *wink*)

Fashion & Film History Lesson: Designer & Costumer Go Head To (Edith) Head

By , 19 February, 2009, 3 Comments

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”.

Audrey Hepburn in Sabrina

Audrey Hepburn in Sabrina

The nipped in waist and voluminous skirting, tell-tale markers of New Look fashions.

Classic New Look Evening Dresses

Classic New Look Evening Dresses

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.

Audrey Hepburn in Givenchy gown -- with poodles

Audrey Hepburn in Givenchy gown -- with poodles

And so, a style collaboration — and a close friendship — was born.

Givenchy and Hepburn

Givenchy and Hepburn

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.

Jennifer Love Hewitt in The Audrey Hepburn Story

Jennifer Love Hewitt in 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.

Hubert de Givenchy and Audrey Hepburn

Hubert de Givenchy and Audrey Hepburn

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.

Film poster with black dress with slit

Film poster with black dress with 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.

Audrey Hepburn Breakfast At Tiffanys Photos

Audrey Hepburn Breakfast At Tiffanys Photos

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.

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.)

Party Like It’s 1949

By , 27 January, 2009, No Comment

And whirl into the 50’s with this absolutely stunning vintage blue taffeta party dress by Ann Kauffman from Couture Allure.

Vintage Ann Kauffman Dress

Vintage Ann Kauffman Dress

Goldie Hawn’s Black Chiffon Mini Dress

By , 12 November, 2008, 1 Comment

In this classic photo of Goldie Hawn (taken by Bert Stern for Vogue) she wears a fun yet sophisticated black chiffon minidress by Jay Kobrin (for Maisonette).

Goldie Hawn In Black Chiffon By Jay Kobrin For Maisonette.

Goldie Hawn In Black Chiffon By Jay Kobrin For Maisonette.

The flirty skirt and billowing sleeves keep this basic black outfit from looking severe, and the short skirt makes it very mod. Here are a few pieces upon which to build the look:

This leather basque from ASOS has a layered chiffon skirt with delicate pleats.

Leather Basque With Flirty Chiffon Skirt

Leather Basque With Flirty Chiffon Skirt

Pair it with a sheer chiffon nightshirt in black (These sleep shirts are amazingly more practical for me as outer wear — blouses, jackets, etc. — than they are for sleepwear).

Sheer Black Chiffon Sleepshirt

Sheer Black Chiffon Sleepshirt

You may also try the Johnny Martin Ruffle Chiffon Dress paired with another chiffon top or blouse. Then it’s find the black stockings, the perfect fun shoes, tie it all off with a wide satin ribbon in a bow at the front (easy to do with yardage from the fabric shop) and top it off with a large pin or brooch at the neck of the shirt or blouse.