I have to confess that I have an interest (just shy of an obsession) in vintage fashion. A tour around blogs on the internet tells me that I am not alone! There are blogs and more blogs featuring fashions from the 20th century. It seems that the show "Mad Men" (which I have never seen), has fueled an interest in fashions from the early 1960's (think June Cleaver meets Jackie O). And there seems to be a thriving lifestyle in the UK, harking back to wartime England, and ranging into the world of pin-ups and burlesque queens. You can read all about people who live "authentically", using consumer goods from their chosen era, or following beauty practices, and replicating wardrobes, right down to seamed stockings, waist-cinchers and bullet bras. And then there are theatrical wardrobe professionals or historic re-enactors, who re-create period-correct costumes and study textiles and construction techniques, from corsets to bustles and bonnets.
My interest is quite a bit more subtle. I just like nice clothes. But far from being a fashionista, I'm kind of an old-fashioned girl. I always think the latest fashions are strange and impossibly unflattering on the average woman. I like the tried-and-true shapes and styles. I admit that my preferences are heavily influenced by the Silver Screen, from Claudette Colbert's bias-cut silk wedding gown in "It Happened One Night" to Joan Fountaine's sensible tweed suits in "Suspicion". Who can forget Audrey Hepburn's Paris gown (Givenchy, I think?) in Sabrina? Or Rita Hayworth's alluring number when singing "Blame it on Mame" in "Gilda" Am I the only who thinks the show-stopping pink gown Marilyn Monroe wore in "Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend" when singing the title song, was insprired by Rita's ? And while we're at it, how about Marilyn. I can recall so many of the costumes that she wore - she did have a way of filling them. Like the beaded gown in "The Prince and the Showgirl". Or how about anything Grace Kelly ever wore. (With the exception of her role in "The Country Girl" I really didn't care for the slouchy cardigan and loafers look - at least, not on Grace - it didn't do her justice!) I am a sucker for the over-the-top colorful and frilly costumes in Technicolor musicals. Think Deborah Kerr in "The King and I". (I would dance all night in that ball gown too, and with Yul Brynner!) Or Audrey Hepburn in "My Fair Lady", Leslie Caron in "Gigi", or Judy Garland in "Meet Me St. Louis" or "The Harvey Girls". As I type this, I'm watching Betty Grable (now there's a girl who can rock a costume) and Dan Dailey in "Mother Wore Tights".
I know my fashion tastes are out of step with current sensibilities. I like matchy-matchy. I want to be a Little Miss Revlon doll from the 1950's with a trunk full of outfits that complete a trousseau. I want every outfit to look like it belongs in an old-fashioned dress-shop window, with a complete set of coordinating acessories. (Notice I didn't say matching...)
And that brings me to the subject of dresses. Dresses are experiencing somewhat of a revival. I don't know how long it will last, though. I must admit that I am skeptical of this trend's staying power. Pants are still the default look. I have precious few dresses, and when I think back over the last year, I can think of only 2 occasions when I wore a dress. In June, I wore a dress to my son's HS graduation, and on 12/30, we attended a wonderful 50th Wedding Anniversary (my in-laws) held at a Country Club.
In my next post, I will continue on with my new approach to a lady's wardrobe in 2011. And in case you haven't figured it out from my last post, it involves sewing.