Thursday, June 24, 2010

Ginger Rogers in Follow the Fleet (1936)

Top Hat is hailed as the best of the Astaire-Rogers musicals. Personally, of the ones I have seen, Swing Time is my favorite. But, honestly I watched Follow the Fleet and Top Hat back to back and I liked Follow the Fleet so much better. Top Hat was overwrought with an erudite storyline of too many mistaken identities and double-meanings. And, all of the outfits were so hyper-formal and overdone that I didn’t get any fashion inspiration from it.

Enter, Follow the Fleet. This was Fred Astaire’s chance to try and give himself some working class credibility. He smokes and does everything he can to smash that Top Hat persona. He doesn’t entirely succeed but it is a nice effort. Unlike Top Hat, Follow the Fleet had lots of good style ideas.

Ginger Rogers is – as usual – extremely cute and sassy in this movie. I saw a suit that she wore that I have seen time and again in these old movies – the checkered suit. I decided to take some inspiration from this by layering checkerboard print with another checkerboard print.

Here is my interpretation:

Dress: French Riviera Dress, ModCloth, on sale for $29.99
Blazer: Anthropologie, Checks and Balances Blazer, on sale for $49.99
Shoes: Hush Puppies Women's Lilianna Bow Pump in Dark Red Suede, $52.22 via
Total: $132.20

For this and the next five posts, I will be posting outfits that are only 3 easy pieces to create a finished look. Since all outfits have to have shoes of some sort, this is much harder than it seems. This one is a great one to start with.

I started this look with the blazer. I like the different sizes of checkerboard in this jacket and it is what makes this look hang together with going bonkers. It is on sale at Anthropologie for a great price.

Next, instead of doing a jacket/skirt combo to recreate Ginger’s matching look, I decided to put a dress underneath the jacket and accomplish the same type of thing. This cute dress from Modcloth has that ruffle detail which makes it look like a dress shirt with the jacket over it. And the checkerboard is a different size than both the large and small checkerboard print on the jacket.

Then Ginger has on a chunky heel loafer with some sort of bow or flower on top. I decided to make it a contrasting color (in this case red) to make the outfit a bit more colorful. This one I found has much the same shape as Gingers and it is only $52.

Altogether, this look is only 3 pieces and totals to just over $132. This would be a great day-to-evening look because you could wear this to the office during the day with the jacket and then just remove the jacket to go out at night. The dress could be made more summery by adding sandals rather than heels. The jacket could be mixed into your work wardrobe in a number of ways.

I am very timid when it comes to pattern mixing. Studying these old films is teaching me a lot about how to do right and this blog gives me a comfortable space to experiment and see what I like without dropping tons of money. I would never have thought to put checkered with checkered but I think this really works.

However, I realize that this might not be a reasonable look for most people. To that end, I have collected a number of checkered style dress and scarves so that you can get some of that 1930s-1940s checkered dress/suit feel without going all the way like I did with this look.

Retro Theme: Checkered
Run-Down (from Left to Right):

Dress: ModCloth, Tastemaker Dress, $129
Scarf: Nordstrom 'Ice Crack' Print Scarf in Grey Green, $17.90
Dress: Jones New York, Cube Print Wrap Dress, on sale for $59.99
Scarf: Nordstrom Reversible Check Scarf in Multi Berry, $24.90
Dress: Alex Marie "Diane" Dress, $129 via Dillard’s
Dress: ModCloth, Squared Away Dress, $49.99

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