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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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Learn about the complex history of the Kashmir shawl at The Boteh Kashmir & Paisley exhibit on now at Lacis Museum of Lace and Textiles.

IMG_20180629_183815612Featured in this unassuming display are examples of both hand and machine woven shawls popular in Europe during the 18th and 19th centuries. The common shawl motif we know as paisley was originally referred to as boteh, a Persian word that means bush or shrub. Shawls began to appear in the eleventh century made from the fine underbelly hairs of the Himalayan goat. Using a twill weave, each shawl was handwoven and could take up to three years to complete.

In the 1700s these shawls became prized objects  when Kashmir royalty gifted them to occupying British officials. The fashion for Kashmir (cashmere) shawls among the wealthy in Britain and Europe created a demand impossible to fulfill.

Fast forward to the early 1800s when the Jacquard loom was created allowing for mass manufacturing of fabrics with intricate designs. The fashion for shawls, available only to the wealthy, could now also be enjoyed by middle-class Victorian women, although the quality must have varied.

IMG_20180629_184353649Lacis has hung the shawls on walls each with a magnifying glass to allow for an even closer look. Some of the collection is displayed on mannequins, which gives the viewer a good idea of how they were worn and why they were so popular, particularly during the fashionable hoop-skirt era. The fullness of the skirt is a perfect means for showing off one’s expensive shawl.

As you enter the exhibit there is an Introduction Label (museum speak), offering some history and general background. Along the way there are Object Labels with descriptions and dates of each shawl and illustrations of how women sported their shawls.

I recommend this exhibit to historians, textiles enthusiasts, weavers, costumers, anyone interested in fashion! The Boteh of Kashmir and Paisley is on now through February 2, 2019. Lacis Museum of Lace and Textiles, 2982 Adeline Street, Berkeley.

On a side note – the fashion history podcast Dressed: The History of Fashion recently posted an episode all about the shawl. For a detailed explanation of the history check out Cashmere With a ‘K’: The Controversial History of a Shawl.  (Not the most professional presentation, but still very informative.)

 

It’s quite confusing in fashion right now. You have to be doing something that you really believe in. I believe women should look glamorous in this moment in their life.

Carolina Herrera – American fashion designer.

This quote is from comments made to WWD during NYC Fashion Week in fall 2017.

I agree that a little glamour back in our lives is a good thing. Ms. Herrera’s spring 2018 line is all about ladylike glamour. Here are a few of my favorites.

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Can a shirtwaist dress look any better than this?

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Love the buttons! Here’s where comfort meets style.

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Let’s bring back the party dress.

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Love this the most! Why? Because it’s a quintessential 1920s drop-waist silhouette but with a modern twist. It is, however, calling out for accessories. Perhaps matching silver cuff bracelets one on each wrist and a hat! I’d also put her in a heel.

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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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Congratulations to the Bedford Gallery, who must have broken opening day attendance records on July 8th with their latest exhibit The World of Frida.

The Bedford Gallery is housed in the Lesher Center for the Arts located in downtown Walnut Creek. The World of Frida has two elements: 1. A traveling exhibit, Frida Kahlo Through the Lens of Nickolas Muray, which is a collection of photographs of Kahlo taken in the 1930s & 40s by Nickolas Muray, her Hungarian lover and 2. Juried exhibit of 150 artists from around the globe who have created works of art inspired by Kahlo.

We arrive for our 1pm early entrance, surprised to see a long line of attendees waiting outside to get in for their 2pm entrance time. Many seem to be enjoying the anticipation, braving the heat by waving fans and keeping themselves occupied chatting with one another. The line pops with bright colors, as Frida Kahlo enthusiasts are decked-out in her honor dressed in long skirts topped with shawls and flower headbands. Among the crowd are quite a few little girls with their mothers, looking oh-so-cute also sporting the Frida Kahlo look.

Once inside, the lobby is buzzing with energy and confusion about where to check in. We stand in a long line, watch as people cut in front (bad form!) and after 20 or so minutes we squeeze into the gallery.

It’s shoulder to shoulder with the artists and their families, Bedford Gallery members, and a few press. What a challenge to actually see the art but we persevere, weaving through the crowd seeking available pockets of air and heading for any piece of art not too mobbed. There are the usual iconic references – lots of butterflies, animals, and flowers – in paintings, sculptures, a video, and even fabric.

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Photo: Richard Aiello

I’m drawn to the more subtle pieces, for example Vicki Gunter’s clay sculpture of ribs and spine painted blue, which Gunter tells me references Kahlo’s Blue House. Some of the rib bones are paint brushes and some fingers with red nails. The vintage glass buttons as embellishment are a nod to Kahlo’s sense of fashion. “I used to be a dancer, ” Gunter explains. “And I did healing … I connected with what was going on with her physically as well as emotionally.” (As a young woman Kahlo was seriously injured in a bus crash, which resulted in broken bones and a lifetime of pain and surgeries.) Gunter started with the well known Kahlo quote that came after her foot was amputated – “Feet, what do I need you for, when I have wings to fly?”

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Three generations of Frida enthusiasts: Melissa Nerling with her mother Denise and daughter Ramona.

 

Part of the day’s festivities is a Frida Kahlo look-a-like contest. Over 40 people enter, both young and not-so-young. Each struts their stuff on the outside platform while the audience claps in support. Some contestants take the “More is More” approach with added accessories such as stuffed toy monkeys, paintbrushes, a bird cage, layers of chunky beaded necklaces, and the Kahlo classic – flowers in the hair, but supersized.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Photo: Richard Aiello

There is also a fashion show with models walking the runway in lovely lace dresses and balancing colossal size head pieces made of flowers and twigs.

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Portrait of Frida Kahlo by Nickolas Muray, 1941.

What a fun, if chaotic day, full of spirit and certainly love for all things Frida. I particularly enjoy the vividness of Muray’s photographs and I’d like to go back to take more time with them. I also appreciate seeing how modern artists reinterpret the Kahlo images that speak to them.

Throughout the afternoon I find myself wondering what Kahlo would have thought of the event – the look a-likes, the art, her status as an icon. I suspect she would be quite taken aback.

The World of Frida is on now through September 16, 2018 at the Bedford Gallery, Lesher Center for the Arts, 1601 Civic Drive, Walnut Creek, CA. $5 adult entrance fee is a true bargain.

 

 

 

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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Thank you to my Chicago pen pal, Cynthia, for sending me this fabulous vintage card.