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Posts Tagged ‘The Great Gatsby’

Image courtesy of Art Deco Society of California.

When you think about it, the characters in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby are not exactly likable people, but I suppose that’s not the point. They’ve got style and we like that.

Those of us who yearn for the elegance of the early 20th century have our own time machine called Gatsby Summer Afternoon. Produced by the Art Deco Society of California, the afternoon is a period costume picnic held at the Dunsmuir Hellman Historic Estate in the Oakland Hills.  In its 27th year, Gatsby Summer Afternoon happens on Sunday, September 11. 

Attendees arrive all decked out in 20s to 40s attire and set up picnic sites using only vintage gear and vintage-style food (hello Jell-O and tea sandwiches). The afternoon includes a display of vintage cars, music by Don Neely’s Royal Society Jazz Orchestra, dancing, croquet lessons, touring the Dunsmuir mansion, and perhaps winning one of the contests for: Best Car, Best Costume, Best Charleston, Best Picnic Site, Best Hat.

Girl Reporter interviewing classic car owner Roberto Isola in 2010.

Last year I attended as Girl Reporter on assignment for the San Francisco Chronicle. This year I will volunteer to work the event, which I find to be a great way to meet people and stay busy. As for my costume, well that’s the really the fun part. I considered wearing a chiffon floral dress authentic to the period, but it’s fragile. So, to avoid any costume malfunctions I’m opting for a modern made sheath dress in the 20s style.

I was concerned about the hem length on the dress, which hits just above the knee, but I discovered in researching that between 1926 and 1928 hems were indeed above the knee. Since bare legs were not the done thing, I’m pondering a rolled stockings look.

Last year one of the costume judges mentioned to me that an essential aspect to a winning outfit is cohesion. Thirties shoes paired with a 20s dress is jarring to the trained eye. To help attendees get it right the Art Deco Society of California has helpful tips in their website.

I’ve got the dress, a straw cloche hat, and Art Deco jewelry but shoes are the final challenge. Wish me luck and stay tuned.

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