Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Vintage’ Category

Barbara Jefford as Lady Lydia Eliott. Note Lydia’s collar, reminiscent of the 17th century Ruff.

She spends all that money on clothes and she still manages to look cheap. No doubt her latest young man tells her bad taste is all the rage.

Lady Lydia Eliott, fictional character played by Barbara Jefford in the British television series The House of Eliott.

A little “mean girl” humor.

The House of Eliott is one of my all time favorite British series. Created by Eileen Atkins and Jean Marsh (Upstairs Downstairs), it features two sisters who face hardships as independent women fashion designers in 1920s London. I own the entire series on DVD and I watch it when I’m feeling low or just need an escape. Of course I pulled it out in Pandemic Year 2020 and that’s when I happened to catch this funny line.

I’m quite fond of Lady Lydia. She’s so biting, she’s hilarious, and Ms. Jefford is wonderful at balancing the cattiness of Lydia with her vulnerability. I think a good snooty character is great fun.

Click here for another post I wrote on The House of Eliott.

Read Full Post »

Last week Nick Verreos, FIDM, Design co-chair, and Kevin Jones, FIDM Museum Curator, hosted a Zoom talk with Ellen Mirojnick, costume designer of the period drama television show, Bridgerton.

This Netflix production is based on the Regency romance novels by Julia Quinn. I haven’t read the books or seen the series, although I did watch enough on YouTube to get the idea. It was my general interest in the costuming that prompted me to tune into the discussion.

Ms. Mirojnick was quick to say that they never intended the costumes to be period accurate, but that Bridgerton “needed to be a bonnet-less world.” The ethos of the production was a “heightened reality.” I gather that there has been a lot of criticism, including quite a bit popping up on Zoom Chat during the talk.

In the first season there were 6000 costumes, all custom-made by the staff of 230. Every character, even background characters, wore bespoke costumes created in the UK. Ms. Mirojnick commented that Americans sadly just don’t have the hand crafting/sewing skills needed for a project like this.

She used the empire silhouette common in the Regency era for women, but she designed fuller gowns allowing for fluidity and ease of movement. She favored layering with lace and embroidered light fabrics. The colors are vivid pinks and purples accented with sparkly jewels. It’s all intentionally over-the-top, like thick gobs of frosting on a sheet cake. The Regency era was more subtle with only touches of embroidery and lace and small pieces of jewelry, if any.

Ms. Mirojnick said that getting the jewels was the biggest challenge. Every piece was hand crafted for each character. “The jewelry was meant to be the period at the end of the sentence of who the character was.” The corsets were handmade by corset master Mr. Pearl and the actresses weren’t too keen on having to wear them.

Although not period accurate, the costumes are still interesting and I enjoyed hearing some of the inside scoop on how they’re created.

Thank you FIDM!

Read Full Post »

It was a mask. Aggressively dazzling in self-protection. The first day I came to see Allendy I wore a draped costume and a Byzantine hat, and I succeeded in intimidating him by my strangeness … A desire to be more interesting, more accentuated. A role. I played the role of a sophistication which was not truly my own. In all this he seemed so right. I began to see how much of an armor my costumes had been. I remembered that to please Henry I wear for him softer and more youthful things, and that I hated when he decided to take me to Montparnasse to meet people in these puerile clothes. I wanted so much my draperies and Russian hat. Like an armor.

Anais Nin (1903-1977), French author.

This quote is taken from the diary of Ms. Nin written in 1932. I found it in an article by Gwendolyn M. Michel titled “A Woman with a Hundred Faces: The Dress and Appearance of Anis Nin, 1931-1932, published in Dress: The Journal of the Costume Society of America.

Ms. Nin refers to her therapist Dr. Rene Allendy, with whom she discussed her body image issues. She felt she was too skinny, flat chested, and not curvaceous enough. (Ironic, as she had the 1920s ideal figure.) Ms. Nin at the time was having an affair with American author Henry Miller, while also she was quite intrigued by his wife June. For a short time she tried to emulate June’s less fashionable more bohemian style. It didn’t work for her.

I think many of us use clothing as armor one way or another. When we dress-up or at least dress differently from the norm, we perhaps intimidate; prompt glances from afar but no actual communication. When we dress as everyone else does we blend in, hiding among the crowds. Both are a sort of protection.

Read Full Post »

Recently I was going through papers looking for something that I didn’t find but I did unearth something else – a letter from me to my mother when I was in college.

Mom has kept pretty much every letter, card, and postcard I ever sent to her from college (I was in another state) and traveling. I wrote to her a lot and she to me. It was something we just did, regularly. We spoke on the phone as well but that was expensive so we kept calls to once a week or so.

Since my mother moved, all of this correspondence is now with me. Luckily, I am old enough to appreciate their value as a window through which to view the many stages of my own life. A few years earlier, into the recycle bin they would have gone.

This letter was written right before Thanksgiving back when a stamp cost 22 cents. In it I thanked her for a card she sent to me and ten dollars (it seemed I was always cash poor when I was in college, even though I had a part-time job). I told her about a paper I was working on for my British history class and the following:

I put together the most fabulous outfit. I wore the gold and black circle skirt I made (you remember) with the 40s satin jacket you gave me and sheer light green stockings and my brown 40s shoes I bought with you. My jewelry was perfect, a copper leaf pattern necklace that lays flat on my collar bone and these funky 40s (or 50s) drop earrings that are oranges. The whole outfit was just great. I got a lot of attention. You wouldn’t believe how perfectly that jacket goes with the skirt.

I mentioned that I put together this outfit for a reception at a furniture store that I attended with my then boyfriend. I don’t recall that night or the outfit and I don’t have a photo, but I do remember each element of the outfit.

I still have the satin jacket, which has a Don Loper label. I Love Lucy fans might recognize that name; Mr. Loper (1906-1972) was the Hollywood fashion and costume designer who played himself in a 1955 episode of Lucy titled The Fashion Show. I suspect my jacket originally had a matching skirt. (Wouldn’t that have been quite jazzy!)

The skirt I paired with the jacket was a cotton circle skirt that I made. It had a large abstract black stick figure pattern and patch pockets. It was somewhat ethnic looking and an odd match with the dressy jacket but that’s what made the outfit so interesting. I also still have the shoes – brown suede with a slight platform and a three inch heel. I often wear these shoes to period costume events.

The copper necklace (purchased at Emporium, the only vintage store in my college town) I have since passed along as well as the earrings, which were little oranges made of plastic. I like how I played with color and wasn’t afraid to do a mix up. I wish I had mentioned what handbag I chose.

Even though I don’t have a photo, I can still picture that outfit as if I had worn it yesterday and I’m so pleased to have stumbled upon the forgotten evening thanks to a simple letter to my mom.

Read Full Post »

It’s not leggings and an oversized t-shirt, so it’s fashion.

Anonymous

While flipping through the September 2020 issue of Harper’s Bazaar, I came upon a photo spread that included the image to the right. Thinking out loud I said, “This is fine, but there’s nothing fashionable about it.”

I actually like this outfit. From the crewneck sweater layered over a button-down shirt to the brown leather clogs, it’s very much a retro 1970s look. It’s snappy and sporty, however, it’s not cutting edge or unique in any way and I don’t understand why the heck it was in the big September fashion issue of Harper’s Bazaar.

Perhaps my friend is right, that anything other than leggings and t-shirts is what passes for fashion these days.

Read Full Post »

I’m probably in the minority on this one, but I didn’t care much for Lady Gaga’s Inauguration … hmm, what should I call it? Outfit? Costume? Skirt and top? Ball gown?

Whatever we call the Schiaparelli brand ensemble, it was inappropriate for the occasion. Or at least half of it was.

Hear me out.

I know that Lady Gaga likes a grand entrance. She likes outrageous costumes and I think that’s fine for one of her concerts but for the Inauguration of the United States President, tailored pieces are more appropriate than oversized skirts.

I thought the navy jacket and large gilded dove brooch were spot on; her lovely voice and updated, heartfelt rendition of The Star Spangle Banner were stunning, and she looked beautiful. However, the skirt, made of layers of red silk faille, was too voluminous, it took up too much room and looked awkward on that crowded platform.

A skirt like that would be just the thing for the opening night of the opera, the Costume Institute Gala, the Inaugural Ball had there been one. Any formal nighttime event with ample space where its fullness can spread and fill and be completely seen and enjoyed.

Ballgowns (that’s what this was) are not for daytime events. I would have preferred a pencil skirt, perhaps in the same navy fabric as the jacket or in red for a more splashy Lady Gaga look. To keep with her quirkiness, some fabulous vintage shoes – 40s slingbacks or Oxfords with a heel – and a pair of gloves with red embroidered tips as a nod to the original Schiaparelli.

Still, as I said Lady Gaga looked lovely (waist up) and I really appreciated hearing her sing our national anthem with such heart.

Agree? Disagree? I welcome any polite comments from ODFL readers.

Read Full Post »

We live surrounded by cloth. We are swaddled in it at birth and shrouds are drawn over our faces at death. And yet there persists a stubborn belief that clothing and cloth are frivolous subjects – unworthy of serious notice – despite their overwhelming importance to human evolution.

Kassia St. Clair, British journalist and author.

This is, in part, a quote by Ms. St. Clair from the inside jacket of her book The Golden Thread: How Fabric Change History (Liveright Publishing).

I’ve started off the new year with this book, dipping back into non-fiction after reading quite a lot of fiction in Pandemic 2020. Having taken a textiles class in 2017, some of the information in this book is a welcome refresher, but I’m learning new things too! Such as the Vikings used wool to fashion their ships’ sails. I’m looking forward to the chapter on lace and I’m very intrigued by “Rayon’s Dark Past.”

Read Full Post »

Watching on television the Biden/Harris Inauguration, I enjoyed the style parade: shades of blue and purple, long coats, dress suits, and pantsuits. There were gloves on everyone, usually color coordinated or black. No hats on this cold winter day, but long windswept hair instead.

Ella Emhoff’s handbag looks vintage to me.

It was all very nice and very expected. Then, something unexpected – my eyes widened when the camera followed a tall woman descending the inside stairs. “Who is that?” I actually said out loud, admiring her unique inauguration choice of a brown and tan tweed coat with sparkly amber colored stones sprinkled around the shoulders and a pointed white collar. I also liked her practical yet chic headband.

It turns out the young lady is Ella Emhoff, Harris’ stepdaughter and the coat is a Miu Miu design. Now she’s all over the fashion press, #NewStyleIcon.

But there’s something I noticed that others have not and that would be her handbag, which looks to be VINTAGE. Overtaken by the coat, no one is talking about the handbag. Is it vintage? I can’t say for sure, however, the short handle, the shape of the bag, the frame and clasp plus it looks to be made of fabric, tells me it’s vintage (could be 30s-50s) or at least it’s vintage inspired. Either way, what a charming touch!

Read Full Post »

I was inspired by stylist Bella McFadden to sift through my closet and do some of my own 90s styling. Using a skirt of that era, I put together an outfit that I actually remember wearing to a family dinner, circa 1997. Then I thought about how someone like Ms. McFadden might take the same skirt and create an outfit for today adding other 90s pieces but creating a completely different look.

My original outfit includes a silk blouse by Kiss of the Wolf and a velvet quilted jacket with a mandarin collar. By then I was already in the habit of including vintage touches (1930s-60s), which I believe make any outfit much more interesting – in this case the 1940s shoes and handbag with a Lucite handle. I wore two strands of pearls, one in cream and one in grey, which matches the grey buttons on the blouse. The large Victorian jet ring is a favorite of mine that I wear more now than I did then. The bracelet is a 1930s faux pearl cuff. Adding the vintage pieces and wearing a simple jacket makes this outfit almost timeless. Almost. The skirt gives it away.

I had fun putting together a 90s retro outfit using the same skirt and other pieces I have in my wardrobe which date from that era. Back in the day, I would not have worn those shoes nor the fancy fishnets with that skirt but I was thinking Bella McFadden and what she might have done with the same pieces.

I layered the simple t-shirt with a camisole and added a couple of silver chains for a mix and match look. I pulled my hair up for a touch of quirky and those sunglasses are Anne Klein II from Macy’s. I’m not much of a belt person but this woven leather belt adds some needed edge as does the crossbody purse. Of course if I’m going to sport this ensemble today, I need a mask.

So there we have two completely different looks using the same skirt. It’s all down to the styling!

Read Full Post »

If you’re feeling down internally, make yourself look bomb externally. Whenever I’m like so bummed, I will make sure my outfit is extra on point that day so that I feel really good.

Bella McFadden (AKA Internet Girl), stylist and fashion retailer on Depop.

Depop is a shopping/resale app based out of London. Ms. McFadden is an internet sensation, having done quite well on Depop reselling and restyling thrift store finds (she buys a lot of quirky new stuff, too). She says she’s the number one seller in North America. She also offers what she calls “bundles” or basically a styling service. (Reminds me of Stitch Fix but for clients all about thrift clothes and specifically interested in 90s/Y2K style.) Click here to see on Youtube how Ms. McFadden puts together her bundles.

I agree with Ms. McFadden’s sentiment. We’re all feeling a little bleak after pandemic year 2020, but I can’t think of a better way to lift the spirits than to plan a stellar outfit and wear it!

Check back on Wednesday for a little surprise inspired by Ms. McFadden.

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »