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Archive for the ‘Vintage’ Category

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Austine Hearst models a Charles James coat for a 1954 Vogue fashion shoot. Photo from the book Charles James: Portrait of an Unreasonable Man. 

Sometimes in my family, they remade old clothes over and over. They would go up to the attic, choose an outmoded dress, and restyle it: take the buttons off one thing and put them on another. In the South in that period before and following the Civil War, when the attic began being filled, they saved everything, so that in my girlhood there were just endless resources: pieces of ribbon, bolts of lace, boxes of feathers, and pieces of fur, buttons, and buckles. Nothing was ever thrown away. 

Austine Hearst (1920-1991), American journalist, fashion model, and socialite.

Perhaps Ms. Hearst (nee McDonnell) was an original promoter of restyled/recycle fashion. She certainly was an admirer of and good friend to fashion designer Charles James, who created the famous Clover Leaf Ball Gown. Ms. Hearst modeled the gown in the 1954 March of Dimes Fashion Show.

The story goes that with the gown came a short evening jacket. Hours before the fashion show, Ms. Hearst had five dozen fresh gardenias attached all over the jacket. It was reported by Bill Cunningham that the scent was “intoxicating.” While walking the runway, she removed the jacket and flung it into the audience. Aaaa choo!

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Vanessa Kirby as Princess Margaret Photo: Harper’s Bazaar

Dressing as Margaret changed my life because it was the first time I went so deep with a character through her fashion choices. She was the girl of Paris, really, always at the Dior and Chanel shows. Costume designer Michele Clapton wanted the clothes to represent Margaret’s internal life. It was about more than being period accurate; her wardrobe had to telegraph what she was feeling and where she was in her journey. For example, the dress she wears when she kisses her forbidden love, Group Captain Peter Townsend , in his office, is off the shoulder and pink chiffon. It’s romantic and free and daring, and it swishes down the corridor as she runs off. 

Vanessa Kirby – British actress. Ms Kirby plays Princess Margaret in the Netflix television series The Crown.

This quote is from an essay in Harper’s Bazaar, August 2018.

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Katie Baritell Photo: Provided

Gatsby Summer Afternoon is fast approaching! Brought to us by the Art Deco Society of California, this popular period event is always on the second Sunday of September, which this year is the 9th.

Last year I had the pleasure of meeting first timers Katie Baritell and her partner Gregg. It was a  birthday surprise for Katie from Gregg, who had heard about the event from his students. The couple are dancers and teach at The Beat in Berkeley. In addition to holding down a day job at Restoration Hardware, Katie is an avid tap dancer and admirer of the classic film Singing in the Rain. Over the past year, she has been further influenced by the ADSC and the various lectures and events they offer at the Bellevue Club.

New to sewing, she decided to make a dress for Gatsby Summer Afternoon with help from her mother. In between taps and stitches, Katie took time for a Q&A with OverDressedforLife.

What inspired you to make your own dress for this year’s Gatsby Summer Afternoon?

I saw so many impressive dresses and outfits last year and felt inspired to create an ensemble that was unique to me. That paired with learning how to sew this last year led me to think – why not make my own? I’ve been working more with costuming and learning to sew with my mom. She has been teaching, helping, and guiding me immensely. I could not do this without her … sewing is hard!

I agree! That’s lesson #1.

Are you using a pattern? Which one?

Yes. Browsing fabric books, I found a Butterick pattern. It’s a 1920s costume with a lace overlay. I decided to shorten the hem and use a lighter palette than that on the pattern’s image. It is now much better suited for daytime and dancing. I need to Charleston after all!

What are you enjoying about making your own dress? What’s not so fun?

I enjoy seeing it come together and working with my mom. It is satisfying to make something from scratch. I am learning skills – one I have had to improve on is patience! Working with chiffon as an over-skirt has been very difficult and trying. My mom noted to check in with her next time so we know what we’re getting ourselves into.

How will you style the rest of your ensemble?

I would like to make a headpiece with the fabric to match. I am also open to the idea of finding the perfect hat scouring vintage shops. I will wear brown shoes purchased years ago from Argentina. They are in the style of the 20s and great for dancing. Accessories to include Gregg’s great grandmother’s watch and my grandmother’s pearls.

I like that you’re using family pieces. That adds charm and authenticity.

What do you like the most about attending Gatsby Summer Afternoon?

Everything! Haha. I was amazed at the level of detail and enthusiasm around making the environment truly feel like a step back in time. Everything, down to the fork and knife, provided a delicious taste of the 20s. The Royal Society Jazz Orchestra and dancing could not have been more fun. I think that (fittingly) was my favorite part of the day.  Hope to see you on dance floor!

IMG_20180801_130000Thank you, Katie. We’ll make sure to catch you and Gregg out on the dance floor. Don’t forget to enter the Charleston dance contest AND the costume contest. 

Gatsby Summer Afternoon, Sunday September 9, 2018. Dunsmuir Hellman Historic Estate, 2960 Peralta Oaks Ct., Oakland, CA. Click here for more information.

See you there, old sport!

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#overdressed4life

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Zack Pinsent. Photo: BBC

Why dress up in jeans and a t-shirt if you can go along to Tesco dressed as Napoleon or something?

Zack Pinsent, British tailor who specializes in Regency period clothing.

Zack dresses full time in period clothing. He’s a part of a new BBC television show, My Friend Jane, which is all about modern day fans of Jane Austen.

Speaking of period clothing, later this week I am on my way to Costume College. For the very first time I’ll be joining the ranks of other period clothing enthusiasts for three days of fashion history lectures and workshops such as:

  • Making the Phantom Bustle
  • 18th Century Coat Construction
  • How to Set an Authentic 16th Century Ruff

… just to mention a few.

I am most interested in fashion history so I’ll be headed to the lecture classes. I’m looking forward to learning about 18th century fabrics, changes in women’s fashions 1774-1784, Hanbok – modern historical Korean dress, and much much more!

Costume College is an annual “costuming arts conference” brought to us by Costumer’s Guild West, Inc.

You can be sure I’ll be writing about this and posting on Instagram.

Follow along #overdressed4life.

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Here’s my outfit for The World of Frida Kahlo opening reception. I decided it would have been kind of silly for me to try to copy Kahlo’s unique style. But I wanted to give her a nod so I did my own thing keeping her in mind.

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The skirt reminded me of Kahlo’s billowy dresses. It belonged to my grandmother and was made in Mexico, circa 1950s. I paired that with a simple cotton peasant style blouse. The purse is from the 1920s and my signature shoes are 1940s (look at the OverDresssedforLife logo). Flowers in the hair is classic Kahlo and I went with a single white one, which suits my face better than the flower headband. (Looks great on her though.) That belt has added just the right touch to so many outfits – it’s beaded and a gift from my sis-in-law (thanks Lori!), probably vintage. To add a little color around my neck I’m sporting a shell and turquoise necklace that I remember seeing on my mother back in the 1970s. I wore silver and turquoise rings and bracelets (also my mother’s) and those cat eye shades are new.

I really enjoyed shopping my own closet and creating this ensemble. I particularly got a kick out of using so many family pieces. For sure there is more of this outfit in my future. It’s comfortable and festive … perfect for a summer evening drinking sangria out on the deck.

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Cher 1986 OscarsSonny and I always dressed outlandishly. People thought it was wild, but we were really proud of the way we looked. I got that early: the not caring what people thought. Because really, who cares? I liked the dress. I trusted Bob. I had the body to pull it off. 

Cher, who needs no introduction.

This quote is from a Q&A with Rita Wilson for Harper’s Bazaar.

Cher is talking about the Bob Mackie dress that she wore to the 1986 Oscars. (Pictured)

When she got to the mic to announce the winner for Best Supporting Actor, she said –  “As you can see, I did receive the Academy booklet on how to dress like a serious actress.” LOL. Apparently Cher was miffed that she hadn’t received a nomination for her work in Mask.

Well, what I have to say is this – just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.

Although I question Cher’s taste in fashion/costumes, she has an amazing singing voice and she’s a talented actor. She won Best Actress in 1988 for Moonstruck. And now she’s back onscreen in Mamma Mia 2.

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