Monday, June 7, 2010

Jeni Courtney in The Secret of Roan Inish (1994)

So, after I worked on a contemporary film (Chocolat) and created some looks worn by men in films (Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly), I started thinking about one of my most favorite movies, The Secret of Roan Inish as fashion inspiration. This film made in 1994 but set in 1946 takes place on the coast of Ireland. The main character is a young girl, Fiona (Jeni Courtney). Since I have a 10 month old daughter, I thought it would be fun to do some vintage fashion for little girls and inspired by little girls.

For those of you not familiar with this charming, comforting film, Roan Inish is a story of a young girl who is living with her grandparents and discovering the history of her family. She learns her connection to nature and place and the sea. It is a great movie to watch when you are home sick or before you fall asleep at night and the Irish soundtrack music is wonderful.

Fiona tends to wear practical skirts and dresses with sweaters over them since they live near the chilly Irish coastline. Here are few pictures of Fiona’s attire:

Here is my interpretation for little girls:

Girls’ Run-Down:
Sweater: Gymboree Snowflake Cardigan via Ebay, Buy It Now for $19.99
Shirt: Land’s End, Little Girls’ Long Sleeve Ruffle Collar Peter Pan Blouse in Blue, on sale for $14.70
Skirt: HTG81 Kids, Ditsy Floral Knit Skirt in Heather Grey/Blue, $10.90
Shoes: Kid Express Toddler/Little Kid Mary Ellen Mary Jane in Light Blue Nubuck, on sale for $28.57
Socks: Land’s End, Girls Solid Cable Knee Socks (3 pack) in Ivory, $13
Total: $87.16

I wanted to try some pattern mixing with this look. I thought seems like the kind of thing that this character would do. So I selected a micro-floral skirt to go with the Fair Isle print sweater. I really like the contrast. If the floral had been any bigger or bolder, it would not work as well as it does. The rest of items I kept conservative and practical. The button-front shirt had to have a Peter Pan collar in mind, a detail that is both characteristics for little girl fashion and retro fashion. Then I wanted some warm knee socks and a simple girls’ Mary Jane to finish this look off.

I would totally dress my daughter in something like this if we were say on vacation in a chilly spot or just to go out and play in autumn. I think this is so cute! From a budget perspective, nothing in it is too expensive that she would feel like she couldn’t play in it, which is important in children’s clothes.

I then wondered whether I could do this same sort of look for women too. Nothing in this outfit is an exclusively kids item or pattern. There is nothing that couldn’t be upgraded and made wearable. So here is my interpretation for women:

Women’s Run-Down:
Sweater: Willow Ridge, Fair Isle Cardigan, on sale for $19.99
Shirt: Gap, Mix Match Stripe Peter Pan Collar Silk Mix Shirt, $54.95 via
Skirt: Gap Pleated Floral Skirt in Blue, $49.50
Shoes: Restricted Women’s Scrabble Flat in Blue via Endless for $45
Total: $169.44

Again, I mixed a small print floral skirt with a Fair Isle cardigan and again I like the effect very much. The Peter Pan collar makes an appearance again too. Something about selecting a different collar can give an entire outfit a retro/vintage feel where it had none before. Then I found this interesting flat. I love this dusty blue color and the fact that it ties like an oxford but is more open like a ballet flat or sandal. The shoe did not lend itself to knee socks so I decided to leave well enough alone and let the women’s look be a bit more warm weather friendly than the girls’. I would wear this walking on the beach or perhaps touring a chillier city or somewhere that is likely to be cold, like a museum.

Well, then I thought about what other “little girl” things could be adapted to improve adult fashion. So I decided to do a retro theme board on “Little Girl Classics” and on it I have put the classic little girl example and then a grown up ladies adaptation.

The themes I selected are: sailor dresses, pinafores, Little Red Riding Hood coats, jelly shoes and saddle oxfords. I don’t know if these are little girl classics in all families, but in my family these were things my mother insisted that every little girl should have. Some of them, like saddle oxfords, I got every year. Others have become family tradition, as my mother now insists that my daughter should have them as well. Some of these (like jelly shoes and pinafores) I did not expect to find what I would consider to be a sophisticated wearable women’s option but I was pleasantly surprised. What do you think? Do you have any unlikely sources of fashion inspiration that have panned out for you?

Retro Theme: Little Girl Classics
1. Rare Editions, Toddler Sailor Dress on sale for $15 via Dillard’s
2. Annie Greenabelle, Please, Mr Postman Dress, $99.99 via Modcloth
3. Pumpkin Patch, Girls’ Black Cotton Pinafore on sale for $19.99
4. East by East West Pinafore Style Dress, $133 via Labour of Love London,
5. Michael, Michael Kors Women’s Hooded Babydoll Coat in Red, $109.99 via
6. Rothschild Girls Red Wool Belted Coats, Little Colony Kids, $130.40 via
7. Nina, Kids Cecil Orange Jelly, $25
8. Harbour Gladiator Jellies in Jade $24 via
9. Footmates Leather Saddle Oxfords in White-Navy $52
10. Bass Enfield Lace Up Saddle Shoes, on sale for $48.30 via Bloomingdales

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