Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Juliette Binoche in Chocolat (2000)

This blog is about classic movies. But, although I think that generally speaking I consider classic to be from about 1930-1970, I don’t have a super-strict interpretation of that term. Classic is more about the feel and quality of the movie, as classic is more about the feel and quality of clothing in fashion.

Chocolat is a classic film that just so happened to be made in the year 2000. However, the story takes place in 1959. And if anyone today qualifies as a classic movie star of today, Juliette Binoche certainly would. She is pretty much categorically adorable in every single scene in this movie, but I selected the look above to recreate because I have seen tons of blue-coral color combinations in stores and online lately. This complementary color scheme seems to have been selected as a recent trend.

But, alas, what I wanted to do with this did not come in under budget and given that this is a casual look, I could not present it as at over $250. But, I love this look so much, I am going to present it anyway and then show you how I adapt it to get it under budget.

Here is my expensive interpretation:

Run-Down (Blue and Coral version):
Shirt: The Limited, Pleated Button Front Shirt in Hot Orange, on sale for $31.15
Skirt: Anthropologie, Lane Change Skirt in Turquoise, $98
Sweater: Land’s End Canvas, The Heritage Cardigan in Turquoise Sea, $39.50
Shoes: Nine West, Beaulah Mary Jane in Dark Orange via, $76.26
Belt: Forever21, Elastic Canvas Belt in Brown/Neutral, $6.80
Total: $251.71

And here is my budget version:

Run-Down (Red and Green version):
Shirt: The Limited, Pleated Button Front Shirt in Tabasco, on sale for $31.15
Skirt: Anthropologie, Lane Change Skirt in Turquoise, $98
Sweater: Old Navy, Women’s Button Front Cardigan in Flight of Fancy, $26.50
Shoes: CL by Chinese Laundry, Women’s Greatest Patent Mary Jane Pump via, on sale for $33.15
Belt: Forever21, Elastic Canvas Belt in Brown/Neutral, $6.80
Total: $195.60

I needed to trim at least $50 from my original blue and coral version. The skirt was non-negotiable. This was too close to the original and had pockets on it – a big trend in old movies. So, the next most expensive item in my first draft was the shoes. They are awesome, beautiful coral Mary Janes from Nine West. I knew that the shirt I had selected from the limited was available in red also, and I thought I could find a cheaper shoe in red. So, I adjusted the color scheme to get under-budget.

I found a red Mary Jane on sale and switched the color of the shirt. Then to stick with the complementary color scheme, I picked a sweater that was slightly more green than blue. The skirt can swing either way in color. This trimmed a bit more off of the budget, as this green seems to be more widely available. Overall, I like both versions, but I wish I had been able to find a long-sleeve shirt available in coral and red for the right price so that you could roll the long sleeves over your sweater, as Juliette does. That would have been just perfect.

I think the fact that the same skirt works with two color schemes is very interesting. I wonder if this skirt came in a couple of other “in-between” colors how many other ways you could push this outfit. Could you do a pale yellow and lavender/purple ensemble? What about a lime green and dark pink?

Elizabeth Taylor in National Velvet (1944)

I really can’t remember when I first saw National Velvet. It is lost sometime in early, early childhood. I still watch it fairly often. It is a comfort movie for me: one you watch when you are sick or homesick or tired. This time I had been in a car driving home for about 10 hours and I was winding down to sleep.

Whatever else you can say about her, Elizabeth Taylor is a fine young actress. She is so believable in this movie, it almost seems like a documentary or at least a true story. (It isn’t; it is based off of a novel.) Beyond that, there is an excellent supporting cast, including Mickey Rooney and Angela Lansbury. However, I think the young brother “Donald” totally steals the show and makes this a very funny movie for kids.

I wasn’t really expecting anything from this as far as fashion goes. But right at the end of the film, I latched onto one of Elizabeth Taylor’s outfits that I thought was both interesting and adaptable to modern everyday wear. This is a plaid skirt with a shawl collar sweater, and knee socks.

Here is my interpretation:

Run-Down:Skirt: Eddie Bauer, Short Heritage Wool Wrap Skirt in Black, on sale for $39.99
Sweater: Satori Shawl Sweater in Rosy Red, on sale for $49.99 via
Camisole: Old Navy Racerback Cami in Black Jack on sale for $6
Socks: Hue Linear Argyle Knee Hi Socks in Black, $6 via
Shoes: Mia Riza Red Mary Janes, $69.95 via Zappos
Total: $171.93
National Velvet is strictly speaking a sports movie. In fact, it was named one of the top ten sports movies of all time by the American Film Institute. So, it seems appropriate that several of the items in my version of the outfit inspired by this film come from athletic sources or outfitters.

I began with the skirt because the colors in the skirt would dictate a lot of the other pieces I would need to select. This skirt from Eddie Bauer seems sophisticated and not “lumberjacky”. The non-neutral color in it is a pinkish red.

Thus, my next find would have to be a shawl collar or cowl neck sweater in a pinkish red tone. I found this lovely wrap one from, which is owned by the same company as Banana Republic, Gap and Old Navy. This seemed to come down pretty low (cleavage-wise) and needed something underneath. I didn’t want to spend much money or have anything too interesting. (Lace would have detracted from the semi-athletic, outdoorsy feel of the outfit.) So, I selected a $6 racerback black cami from Old Navy.

I then needed a great shoe/knee high sock combo. I selected this argyle pair from Hue because they are inexpensive and interesting. I like that the argyle pattern mirrors the plaid in the skirt without being matchy-matchy. I also love Hue tights and socks. They are high quality and always come in tons of great colors.

I could have found lots of black Mary Janes to go with this look. But, I wanted to do something a bit different and more interesting with a contrasting shoe color. I was lucky enough to find this rosey-redish pink pair from Mia via Zappos website. The other elements in the outfit were all either very inexpensive or on sale, so that left room in my virtual budget to get these lovely shoes.

This outfit seems very comfortable and versatile. I would were this to the office or running errands or to the movies. It feels like autumn to me, but in many places could probably be worn well into winter. Even if you lived somewhere cold, you could modify the look with tights and boots instead.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Fashion Rant: Graduation Shoes

It’s time for a fashion rant! I went to a high school graduation ceremony for the first time in nearly ten years and I have to say that the young women graduating did not know how to dress themselves for the occasion.

Graduation is both a formal event and a chance to show the world that you are a mature and marketable human being. It is not a time for comfort or to show off your own wild fashion sensibilities. It is also not appropriate to wear whatever you plan on wearing to the beach party or dance club after the ceremony. This is a time for stylish modesty.

For boys, dressing for this occasion is not fraught with issues. Young men wear clean and pressed pants and a clean and pressed tie. This with reasonable shoes that are relatively clean and they should be fine. Preferably they would get the shoes shined and polished to display appropriate respect for the occasion but it is usually not noticeable if they don’t.

There is one thing that I did wish they would do (or their mothers would do). Please if your child (male or female) is wearing an honor society stole, please press it. It is so tacky for these cream-of-the-crop students to show up with weird creases in their stoles, looking like they opened them in the car five minutes beforehand.

For girls, the problem is mostly concerning footwear, as your shoes are the only things that show from under the gown. You would think that this would simplify things, but it doesn’t. Young girls have such a plethora of choices in footwear that it is almost too tempting to pick something inappropriate. Even though the school told the young ladies to pick black or white closed toed shoe, almost none of them listened. I was appalled to see that out of a class of nearly 250 students only 7 young ladies had on what could be considered appropriate footwear.

Here’s the rule: Whenever you are attending an event where your middle name will be announced in public, please do not wear any of the following things: sandals, toe floss, gladiators, heels over 3 inches high, red shoes (or any other wild color), prints, metallic or shiny shoes, or platforms. Under no circumstances are any of the above allowed at such an occasion. I saw examples of all of these at the graduation event! Here are some visual representations of what to avoid at all costs.

Don't get me wrong, I like alot of the shoes above. I love red shoes and sandals and high heels, but they are inappropriate for this event. The tenor of the occasion is such that it calls for a particular sort of shoe. The program at this graduation said that guest should "enhance the dignity of the occasion" by not shouting when the names were called. I think that the graduates should "enhance the dignity of the occasion" by dressing appropriately no matter how cute they think their hooker heels look with their cap and gown.

For those merely attending the event, you may wear these but for those participating in the ceremony (and faculty that includes you) observe the rule. (Almost none of the faculty had on appropriate footwear. How they expect the young ladies to observe the rules when they do not is beyond me!)

The following categories are allowable but not ideal: peep-toes, wedges, patent leather, or slingbacks. If you get a modest shoe in a subdued color and pair it with appropriate hosiery to tone it down, you can potentially pull off one of these in-between categories.

However, if what I saw at this graduation is any indication of the overall trend, young ladies today cannot pull off in-between. They need a re-evaluation in what is appropriate footwear for public occasions. If they do not heed this advice, they will be hard-pressed to find a job, particularly one in the public sphere.

Given this, what “not” to wear is not enough. So here are my recommendations for what to wear to graduation. Shoe type: Closed-toe pumps with heels 3 inches or less, or ballet flats. Colors: Black or White (Navy, Neutral, Brown or Grey are also acceptable but only if you absolutely must.)

That’s it! If you choose a black or white pump, keeping the heel height modest or a black and white ballet flat, you will have selected appropriate graduation footwear. Here are some examples of choices that I found with minimal effort and all examples are under $50.

White Flats and Pumps:
a) Payless, Nathalie Bow Pump in White, $24.99, 3 inch heel
b) Nine West, Nuncio in Ivory Leather, $49.99, 3 inch heel
c) Mia, Parker Button Flat in White on sale for $34.95 via DSW

Black Flats and Pumps:
a) Madden Girl, Jazminee in Black Paris, $49.95 via Zappos, 2 inch heel
b) Payless, American Eagle Bloom Flat in Black on sale for $12.99
c) Payless, American Eagle Cora Ruffle Flats in Black, on sale for $16.99

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Crinoline Slip: Review

In one of my early posts on Cyd Charisse, I ruminated on whether full skirts are actually still wearable today. Furthermore, I wondered whether it was possible to achieve that 1950s affect with modern skirts. The only suggestion I had was to put a crinoline slip under it to give it a little lift and bounce.

This suggestion came from an experience I had as maid of honor in my best friend’s wedding last summer. The sales girl suggested a full crinoline slip to wear under the dress. This sounded very fussy to me and I thought it probably wouldn’t make any difference, but when I tried it on, it made a huge difference. I think it took this dress to another level of awesome and it gave it a huge push towards antebellum Southern belle that I don’t think it would have quite had otherwise.

So, I searched around to find a short crinoline slip. I found this one on ebay and ordered it. It is only $9.99.

When it arrived I tried it out with a few different skirts and dresses and I like the effect. I think you notice how much room and bounce it gives you more once you take it off. I took before and after photos below. I think it gives me about 3-4 more inches in skirt width.

It does make you feel a bit more formal and glamorous to have such a wide skirt, but it is a bit fussy and stuffy an uncomfortable in the heat. I like this a lot and think it is a useful thing to have but I wouldn’t wear it on a routine basis, only for something special. But for only $9.99, this is a superior find for the vintage/retro inspired wardrobe!

Rosalind Russell in His Girl Friday (1940)

I just finished watching His Girl Friday again! This film is so entertaining! Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell have a Hepburn/Tracy-esque chemistry. Of course I have always loved Rosalind Russell and would if she had done nothing other than Auntie Mame. Although I am also grateful to her for The Trouble With Angels, which at ten years old I thought was the most hilarious movie ever made.

Rosalind’s part was supposed to be a man. It is rumored that the director was having his secretary read the lines to him and he liked the way they sounded coming from a woman, so they rewrote it. Lucky for us he did, because we get to see a representative of a self assured career woman in this film.

Rosalind spends most of the movie in this chalk stripe suit outfit. Her shoes are simple black pumps and her shirt is a high collar deal with decorative buttons. This looks fabulous, but the problem is that no one makes chalk stripe suits for women much anymore and if they did (I couldn’t find any) they would definitely not be too affordable.

So I have decided to take a different tactic with this film. I would create an outfit that does the same things that this one does in the same way, but without the mandate to “copy” that outfit. Thus, my goal with this was to create a bold, self-assured ensemble that says “Look at me” and “I mean business” and “I’m fun!” all at the same time.

Here is what I came up with:

Blouse: Gap, Pleated Tie-Neck Blouse in Optic White, on sale for $24.99
Jacket: Spiegel, Ponte-Knit Striped Blazer, Black and White, $79
Skirt: Hanna Andersson, Modern Stripe Skirt, on sale for $38
Shoe: Jessica Simpson, Debbie Pump in Black Suede via Piperlime, $39.99
Total: $181.98

The bold stripes give Rosalind’s outfit both the fun and the bold appeal. The lines of her suit give it the professional polish. I copied the stripes but added the element of color in the skirt, which makes it a bit more modern and less stuffy. I kept the neckline of the blouse high and found one that had a tie-neck decorative detail to replace the buttons on Rosalind’s. This modesty keeps the potentially wild stripes combination from going off the rails. It also gives it more professional authority. The simple black suede pump does the same thing, but the lines of the pump give a little retro feel and keep the outfit feeling feminine.

Here is a Polyvore version that shows the items layered:

I would totally wear this to work, no problem. Although I would never think to pair stripes with stripes, I really like the result. The narrow color stripes don’t compete too much with the wide bold black and white stripes. I think this ensemble does one better than business casual while not being full-on job interview stuffy and it does this for $181! That’s pretty fabulous, in my opinion!

Elizabeth Taylor in Cleopatra (1963)

It is a widely known bit of trivia that Elizabeth Taylor has the record number of costume changes in this movie: 65. This roster of fabulous costumes includes a dress made of 24 carat gold cloth. This is an amazing epic film and as the title character, it is all about Elizabeth Taylor! She is voluptuous and brazen and bold in the style choices in this film.

However, most of these costumes are not wearable except in a very costume party way. But -- I did find at least one that could be adapted for wearing to a cocktail party without costumes. The outfit I choose to re-create is the toga-like ensemble that she wears to chastise Rex Harrison (Julius Caesar) about accidentally burning the Library of Alexandria. Here it is:

And here is my interpretation:
Dress: Arden B, One Shoulder Grecian Dress, $69
Sandals: Nine West, Sheik Ankle Strap Sandal in Light Gold Fabric via, on sale for $43.42
Bracelet: Ancient Bronze Cleopatra Bracelet, $30 via Etsy seller starflowerssilver
Belt: Arden B, Twist Front Chain Belt, $39
Total: $181.42
The historical Cleopatra was Greek by heritage. She was member of the Ptolemaic dynasty which was from Greece and ruled Egypt for almost 300 years. This costume and my interpretation of it incorporate both Greek and Egyptian stylistic elements.

For instance, while I don’t think it would be possible to do a long toga dress and not look like a costume, the short version updates this look nicely. All of the accessories I selected to be gold, following the film itself. The ancient Egyptians believed gold to be the color indicating divinity and it is of course an important color in the film’s plot. (Cleopatra wants to be dressed in her solid gold dress after she is dead so that Antony can see her coming from a great distance in the afterlife.)

The shoes I wanted to be a sandal and strappy but not to look too spindle-like. For the belt, I really wanted to have a snake belt, as an homage to the end of the film and Cleopatra’s suicide. But I couldn’t find one that looked and felt right, so this rope-like twisted belt works instead.

Lastly, I wanted some sort of bracelet, preferably something bold that could stand on its own and possibly by worn high on the arm, as Elizabeth does in the film. I got lucky with this one from Etsy because of the wave-like, triskelion motif in it. You can see in the picture from the film that this motif is actually on the doors behind her while she is wearing the dress! I think this piece is particularly lovely and the price is great.

This look is very sophisticated, sexy and affordable. This would be great to go out to dinner, to a nightclub or a cocktail party. Or – you could just as easily incorporate Egyptian jewelry motifs into your existing wardrobe – or – have one knockout Greek piece to wear, if this felt too costumey. Do you think this look is wearable for you?

Monday, May 17, 2010

Joanne Woodward in The Three Faces of Eve (1957)

I saw this movie when I was very young and it absolutely fascinated me. I watched it again for the first time in a long time the other day. I had completely forgotten that it is based on a true story – the first well-documented case of multiple personality disorder. Joanne Woodward, who was a relative unknown at the time, won the Oscar for Best Actress for this film. (Another bit of trivia: Joanne Woodward later played the doctor in Sybil from 1976 with Sally Field, another classic about multiple personality disorder.)

What I wanted to do with this movie was capture the feeling of the movie in one outfit. I knew that I wanted to find a way to make Eve White’s attire not be boring and I wanted something with a rounded “Peter Pan” collar.

Here is my interpretation:

Shirt: Urban Outfitters, Pins and Needles Peter Pan Collar Blouse, Long Sleeve in White, on sale for $19.99
Skirt: Down East Basics, Samba Skirt in Grey Violet, $26.99
Shoes: BP Maddie Pumps in Grey Patent, $59.95 via Nordstrom
Hair Clips: The Limited, Puff Flower Clip in Grey, $12.50 each times two of them, $25
Total: $131.93

I felt drawn to do another monochromatic look for this movie (like I did for Streetcar). Joanne Woodward seemed to be in a liminal space, perpetually in-between, neither able to move forward or back because of her disorder. This cried out for a gray outfit, which wasn’t hard to imagine since the film is black and white. It is also symbolic because her two main personalities are called Eve White and Eve Black.

The shirt is white, but it seems gauzy and transparent. You could put a grey camisole underneath to emphasize the monochromatic theme. The shirt is demure and somewhat mousy like Eve White.

The grey skirt is simple and no nonsense. It is practical like Jane, the personality that ends up unifying the main character. The hint of purple in the skirt keeps it from being too boring. The shoes, also in grey, are similarly unifying and practical. I end up selecting Mary Jane’s a lot in this project. Something about them feels so vintage and retro to me but still wearable, relevant and glamorous too.

Lastly, I selected some flower hair clips to incorporate the fun-loving party girl personality, Eve Black. You can see from the left-hand mirror image that Eve Black routinely wears flowers in her hair. I think a bit of frivolity in a grey outfit is unexpected.

The prices are great for this outfit: only a little over $130 from head to toe. I was pleased to be introduced to Down East Basics (which has an array of lovely skirts for less than $30) by Design Mom’s blog.

I would certainly wear this outfit to work. This feels like a great rainy day ensemble. If the flowers are too much in your hair for an office, you could try a hat or a gray flower brooch. Also, some jewelry would jazz this up a bit for everyday wear, such as a small string of pearls.

I don’t typically wear monochromatic looks, especially in such a potentially boring tone, such as grey. But, after working on these two monochromatic looks – Streetcar Named Desire and Three Faces of Eve – I am going to give it a try soon.

Vivien Leigh in A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)

Tennessee Williams was a genius. There isn’t really much to say other than that. This film and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof are masterworks of literature, theatre and film. Watching this movie makes you feel as if you are in some sweltering dream, melting away in chiffon in New Orleans.

Vivien Leigh is delightfully wispy in this film. You get the feeling that Blanche might just float away, like her mind does before the end of the film. Everything Vivien Leigh wears is done to shore up this fantastically delicate feel that the filmmakers create for Blanche Dubois. Almost every dress she wears has ruffles and appears to be very gauzy and pastel. She also wears a lot of chiffon and flowers.

Here is my interpretation:
Dress: Jovovich Hawk Dark Pink Pointelle ‘Carly’ Ruffle Dress via on sale for $139.99 (Regularly: $492)
Hat: Catherine’s, Wide Brim Hat in Hot Coral, $22
Brooch: Newport News, Coral/Jade Flower Pin, $40
Shoes: Etienne Aigner, Unity in Rose via Zappos on sale for $69
Total: $270.99
Here is a Polyvore showing it all put together:

I felt strongly that this needed to be a monochromatic look. It is something about the black and white movies that seem to make me want to go all one color or invent very vibrant colors, nothing in between. Blanche seemed to cry out for pink, so I went with a pink and color monochromatic theme. My only disappointment with this look is that I will not be able to wear it! I look absolutely washed-out in peach. I think blondes like Blanche look divine in pinks and peach though. I punched up the pale pink dress with deeper coral tones in the hat, shoes and brooch.

The central outfit I based this look on is the picture above, but I selected a hat to go with this as well, because she wears a hat earlier in the film when she goes to dinner with Stella. I think that a hat gives this a very ladylike feeling and adds a bit more chiffon.

The dress had to have the wide ruffle collar. I thought this one was perfect and it was a steal. Regularly $492 but on sale for $139.99! The brooch is also pitch-perfect and matches Blanche’s brooch pretty directly. The shoes I improvised a bit on. I knew I wanted them to be coral and be very feminine. These with the mid-height heel and bow on the top work nicely.

Still, this is an expensive outfit. However, I think that the cost is justified because I think this look is really only appropriate for a special occasion, such as a wedding or garden party. Still, a complete semi-formal look for under $300 is wonderful.

This dress also reminds me of another famous dress from the 1983 mini-series, The Thorn Birds. This looks like Meggie’s “Ashes of Roses” dress. Rachel Ward looks amazing in this dress. (As a side note, I think the best quote from that entire mini-series is “You can’t make love for toffee!”)

Everything about the look I have created is demure, eye-catching, ladylike and lovely. Blanche would definitely approve! I would like to think of a way to adapt this look for my skin tone. Perhaps a pale blue dress with more teal or turquoise accessories? What is your opinion on monochromatic looks? Have you tried it for a special occasion?

Saturday, May 15, 2010

My Turn: The Bandwagon Style

I was just captivated by the skirt that I selected for the Nanette Fabray outfit from The Bandwagon! I ordered it for myself in Navy. The grey would not have been flattering for me. I also ordered the same shirt from Gap, as it was so cute and on sale. So, I have re-created this outfit pretty faithfully from my plan.

Here is the result: Run-Down:
Blouse: Gap, Pintucked Ruffle Top $19.99 on sale
Skirt: Land’s End Canvas, Women’s Pattern Cotton Lawn Skirt, Gull Gray Circles, $59.50
Belt: Thrifted, $1
Flower Pin: Purchased a few months ago, about $7
Shoes: Purchased a few weeks ago, Nuncio in Red Leather from Nine West, on sale for $49.99
Out of Pocket: $79.49
Total Cost: $137.48

I think this outfit is pretty fabulous. I like making the red shoes and the red flower focal points. I am not crazy about the thin belt with this. I think I may try a wider belt or just pin the flower directly to the skirt next time. I got pretty excited and grabbed the bag I re-created from my first Cyd Charisse post for this picture, but now I regret that. I should heed Coco Chanel’s advice and always remove one accessory before taking pictures for one’s blog. (More on that DIY bag re-creation in a later post.)

Also, I am wearing a crinoline slip to make the skirt stand up a bit fuller here. I decided to try this out and I really like it a lot. I will be making another post with a full review/report about this later too.

I am posting this outfit for Academichic’s Dress Your Best week because I feel that it serves to positively emphasize several of the areas I listed for DYB week. Here is my list again:

1) Cleavage
2) Waist
3) Ankles
4) Face
5) Broad Shoulders

(Hollywood Fashion Vault is participating in Academichic's Dress Your Best Week. The Chics asked their readers to choose 5 body parts that they love and dress around them for one week, making at least one blog on this challenge.)

I think that this full skirt minimizes my waist and the ruffles on the sleeves provide balance by maximizing my broad shoulders. Again, the Nuncio shoes elongate my legs and highlight my ankles. The ruffles draw attention up to my face even with the printed skirt. I think the whole thing is pretty flattering.

Even though this outfit re-creation was expensive compared to the Leslie Caron re-creation, I think that both the skirt and the shirt can be utilized in a number of different ways and they are both practical additions to my wardrobe.

What do you think of this one? Does the full skirt work in your opinion? Do you like my adaptations to the original outfit plan

Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz (1939)

I was sitting in the waiting room at the doctor’s office reading Harper’s Bazaar and came across a feature about gingham as a new trend and how to incorporate it into your wardrobe. Ever since that article, I cannot get The Wizard of Oz out of my mind.

But, seriously, no one wears a pinafore and pigtails anymore except on Halloween, right? How could I adapt Dorothy Gale to the modern day?

Here is what I came up with:
Shirt: Old Navy, Women’s Puff Sleeve V-Neck Sweater in Bright White, $22.50
Skirt:, Gingham Skirt in Pale Blue, on sale for $70
Bag: Gap, Straw Tote in Neutral, $39.50
Shoes: Madden Girl Karlla in Red, $49.95
Total: $181.95

This outfit is simple and easy. It would be perfect for running errands or going to a barbecue or picnic. I couldn’t believe my luck when I found the blue gingham skirt. The paleness of the blue and the exaggerated size of the print make it less country and less cutesy. I kept the top relatively simple to keep everything from looking like a Dorothy costume. But, I felt strongly that it needed puff sleeves. This sweater does the trick without looking too obviously puffy.

Then I needed two other pieces to round everything out in true Wizard of Oz style. Judy Garland carries a basket tote. I selected an oversized straw tote from Gap as a more modern alternative (oil can optional). The last piece was a great pair of red shoes. If you are going to do this look, you might as well go all out and get the “ruby slippers” too. I utilized the Madden Girl Karlla shoes that I also used in my Rita Hayworth Cover Girl post.

Altogether, I think this outfit works for a sweet (but not too cutesy) casual ensemble. Even with the red shoes and the basket tote, I don’t think it screams Wizard of Oz when you look at it. But, I can understand that some people might not want to go this far into the gingham trend.

So, I compiled a few gingham pieces that I think might represent more moderate ways to incorporate gingham into your wardrobe. What do you think of this retro gingham trend? Could you wear it all-out Dorothy Gale style or would you opt for one or two of the simpler pieces below?

Retro-Theme: Gingham
Skirt: Forever 21, Gingham Short Skirt with Belt in Black/White, $17.80
Dress: Fred Flare, Gingham “I Heart You” Dress, on sale for $39.99
Shirt: Gap, Gingham Western Shirt in Navy Gingham, $39.99
Earrings: Nordstrom, Betsey Johnson “Betsey’s Picnic” Gingham Heart Drop Earrings, $35
Sneakers: Converse Jack Purcell Lurex Gingham Sneaker in Pink via Piperlime, $60

Thursday, May 13, 2010

My Turn: American in Paris Style

I needed only one item to recreate Leslie Caron’s outfit from An American in Paris – the black and white scarf. I ordered the one from my original blog post but while it was on the way, I picked up a small black and white sort of cheetah-print at a thrift shop. Turns out the polka-dotted one I ordered is oblong and just not the right shape for this look. The $1 thrifted one was just right though!
Here is the run-down of what is in this outfit:

Cardigan: Old Navy, Green Cardigan, Gift from Mom, $26.50
Skirt: Gap Outlet, Purchased almost 10 years ago, About $20
Belt: Belk, Donna Morgan, purchased concurrent with dress several years ago, $0
Shoes: Nine West, Nuncio in Black Suede, on sale for $35 (also a few years ago)
Scarf: Vintage from thrift store, $1

Out of Pocket: $1
Total Cost: $82.50

Overall, I really liked how this outfit turned out. I would definitely wear something like this to work. I think my black Gap skirt has seen better days, because in the photo it actually looks somewhat brown. It might be time to invest in a new one.

I love that this styling makes my legs look long and the shoes show off my ankles and make them look shapely. But, the tucked in cardigan makes a buxom girl look more buxom. I am less Leslie Caron and more sweater girl in this outfit.

Altogether, I liked this outfit enough to put it up on the blog as my first attempt at actual Hollywood outfit re-creation and to do so during Academichic’s Dress Your Best Week. Here is my list again:

1) Cleavage
2) Waist
3) Ankles
4) Face
5) Broad Shoulders

(Hollywood Fashion Vault is participating in Academichic's Dress Your Best Week. The Chics asked their readers to choose 5 body parts that they love and dress around them for one week, making at least one blog on this challenge.)

This outfit I think maximizes my bust (even though it doesn’t show any cleavage), shows off my ankles (which have finally returned to normal size post-pregnancy), minimizes my waist and draws the attention up to my face with the scarf. Four out of five isn’t bad for a first try.

What do you think of the outfit and the budget?

And before I go, one shameless shot of the petite bebe and the same green cardigan worn in a totally different way

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Judy Garland in The Pirate (1948)

The Pirate is definitely a cult-classic musical. It is the second of three times that Gene Kelly and Judy Garland paired up. (The other two being For Me and My Gal and Summer Stock.) It was never considered to be a huge success, but I think it is one of the most entertaining films of the period. But then again, I love pirate movies! Gene Kelly makes for a great swashbuckler and bonus: you get to see his legs in this movie! They are as well-muscled as you would expect them to be.

But I digress: This film is super-fun and has some great numbers in it. In one of them, “Mack the Black” she is hypnotized and throws caution to the wind. She gets rid of her bulky period clothes and lets her hair down (literally) and performs for the crowd. It is this costume that I chose to recreate.

Here is my interpretation:

Shirt: Anthropologie, Torsade Tee, $48
Skirt: Karen Kane Embroidered Skirt, $65.90, via Nordstrom
Shoes: Gap, Leather Ballet Flats, $39.50
Bracelet: Gypsy Leather Eco-Bangle, via, $20
Earrings: Silver Gypsy Hoop and Pearl Earrings, $13, via Etsy seller TheSilverDog
Total: $186.40

This outfit is very simple, with most of the interest coming from the jewelry. But, I still had very specific ideas about the shirt and skirt. The shirt had to have some sort of wrap or knot in the center to give it some interest. This tee from Anthropologie fit the bill perfectly. The skirt needed to be mid-calf length and preferably have some embroidery to echo Judy’s petticoats which show when she is dancing. This skirt from Karen Kane has some embroidery and has the swingy, flowing feel. I wish that the embroidery was in a contrasting color but you can’t have everything, right?

The shoes are simple black ballet flats. They need to be very simple in order to keep the outfit from becoming a gypsy or pirate caricature.

The earrings are from a seller on Etsy and they matched the feel that I wanted and kept the price low. They look a lot more expensive than they are. I selected this leather bangle to avoid having to buy several bangles but you get the same effect. I also love that I am mixing brown and black again, something I have been trying to get comfortable with and incorporate more.

Having taken tribal bellydance classes for the last three years, I am very comfortable with this aesthetic and with long skirts, bold jewelry, etc. Is this look wearable in everyday life? Certainly, I wouldn’t wear it to work but on the weekend or running errands, I definitely think this is practical. What do you think?

Jennifer Jones in Beat the Devil (1953)

As stated in my Gina Lollobrigida post, Beat the Devil is a strange movie. And the strangest character to my mind is played by Jennifer Jones. This character, Gwendolyn Chelm, seems to me to be a pathological liar who might well believe the drivel she spouts. Bogart’s character says that she uses “her imagination rather than her memory.” To say the least! As a piece of movie trivia, the screenplay was written by Truman Capote and it has some memorable lines.

Jennifer Jones wears simple, preppy clothes in this film, in contrast to the sexy, uber-feminine attire of Gina Lollobrigida. My outfit based on her character is a combination of two of her costumes.

Outfit #1 Outfit #2

Here is my interpretation:

Shirt: American Apparel, Unisex Striped Short Sleeved Button- Up Shirt in White/Royal Blue Vertical Stripe, $52
Skirt: The Bethany Skirt in Distressed Blue from Etsy seller megannielsenstore, $60
Scarf: Vintage Scarf Geometric Squares Colorful Navy and Red via Ebay Buy It Now for $2.99 Shoes: Nine West, Women’s Topaza Peep-Toe Espadrilles in Red/Natural via, $31.98
Total: $146.97

I took the double-pocket skirt and scarf to be wrapped around the head from outfit #1 and the bold striped oxford shirt from outfit #2. Outfit #1 had some things that I definitely liked about it but it was far too close to the Cyd Charisse outfit I did from The Bandwagon. It is white-on-white and even has a basket purse. But, I took the double-pocket skirt from this outfit though and the scarf around the head, which I love and put those elements with the striped shirt that she wears later to mix it up.

I think the blue skirt and blue stripe in the preppy shirt work well together. I then picked a bold vintage print for the scarf. There are lots of great buy-it-now vintage scarf finds on Ebay. I even saw mixed vintage lots of 40+ scarves for $16, buy-it-now!

I improvised on the shoe. You don’t really see her shoes with either outfit. I picked a red espadrille. I went with red because this outfit has a lot of blue already and the espadrilles seemed to fit with the seaside theme of this film. The red and blue together seem to evoke a nautical feel.

Altogether, this is a fun casual outfit that could be worn shopping or running errands. I got great deals on the scarf and the shoes and the other items are very affordable. The pockets make this look very practical, especially if you are going somewhere where it is not possible to carry a bag.

Gina Lollobrigida in Beat the Devil (1953)

Beat the Devil is a strange film. I think I will need to watch it a few more times to really understand what happened. It has a fantastic cast though and it is very funny. It is basically a farce played as if it was completely serious. Humphrey Bogart, Jennifer Jones, Gina Lollobrigida and a great cast of character actors are all fantastic.

Gina Lollobrigida is so incredibly pretty they focus almost exclusively on close-up shots of her! I had a hard time getting just this one picture of the dress I wanted to use. This outfit is pretty vampy and definitely not office appropriate. But, one should be open to the idea of all-out fabulousness some of the time.

Here is my interpretation:

Dress: Victoria’s Secret Strapless Ruched Dress in Ladybug Red with Black, $58
Shrug: White House/Black Market, Ruffle Shrug on sale for $39.99
Stockings:, Gipsy French Back Seam Tights, $10.15
Shoes:, Seduce Peep-Toe Pumps with Instep Cutout, $44.88
Total: $153.02

If something is a novelty dress, I don’t like the idea of spending tons of money on it. I think this qualifies as practical from a fiscal perspective. Gina’s dress appears to be black and white but after seeing this dress on some of the movie posters, I decided to look for something red and black instead. I think that this strapless dress with a band of black around the middle plus the shrug simulates the wrap-around black effect of Gina’s dress. The ruching mimics the white/red part of her outfit as well. I then went all out and added some back seam tights for a really retro feel (and for their slimming effect) and some vampy peep-toe shoes. So, you see this outfit is not for the meek. But then again, Gina Lollobrigida was anything but meek. I mean see how fabulous she looks sunbathing with Jennifer Jones.

Even with the extras, this look is only a little over $150. This would definitely be a look for going out for a special dinner or dancing. Where else could you wear a look like this?

Katharine Hepburn in Desk Set (1957)

Desk Set is a cute little Katharine Hepburn/Spencer Tracy flick. It is not as good or as funny as Adam’s Rib but it is definitely worth seeing if only for the adorable office attire on the ladies in this film. I decided to recreate Kate’s first costume from Desk Set because I definitely need to get used to the idea of mixing neutrals. I have long been told that wearing brown with black or black with navy is a big style no-no. Academichic states that this injunction is not true, that neutrals “go with everything including each other.” I think what is good for Kate is good enough for me.

Her outfit includes what looks like a brown tweed jacket and a black skirt. She wears a white button up underneath and turns the collar up. You never see the shoes.

Here is my interpretation:

Shirt: Banana Republic, Cotton Button Back Shirt, on sale for $44.99
Jacket: The Limited, Polished Collar Jacket on sale for $49.99
Skirt: Shape fx, Shape and Slim Skirt in Brown Plaid, $49
Shoes: Nine West, Nuncio in Dark Brown, on sale for $49.99
Total: $193.97

I have reversed the color scheme of Kate’s outfit with a tweedy black and white jacket and a brown skirt. The jacket has a tie around it and a high collar: both characteristics of Kate’s jacket. I selected a short sleeve button-down shirt since the sleeves on the jacket are three-quarter length. (I used this shirt before from the first Cyd Charisse post.) Both of these items are on sale too!

I like this skirt because it comes in regular, petite, tall and women’s sizes. I also like that it is longer than many skirts but not ankle length. This matches what Kate’s skirt looked like.

The shoes were a bit tough because you just have to imagine what Kate wore (since, as I mentioned, they never show up on film). So, I did a bit of research. I found this site called Paper Past Yearbook and I searched for 1957 fashion. It had the following to say about shoes in 1957: “The ‘fancy’ shoe with a sharply pointed toe became an accepted fashion in 1957. Acceptance came through the ability of shoe designers to make the pointed-toe comfortable. The ultrahigh spike heel diminished in favor, being replaced by the medium Louis heel.”

These comments led me to select one of my all-time favorite shoes. Yes, I know….who has a favorite shoe? That’s silly. Well, I have a favorite shoe and it is the Nuncio from Nine West. It is the perfect, pointed-toe, medium heel height pump. I have had 5 or so different pairs of this shoe in various colors. Several girls that I work with and I actually watch for sales on this shoe and share reconnaissance with each other on a semi-regular basis. It met all of the 1957 criteria and an appropriate color was on sale too. I selected the Nuncio in what is termed “Dark Brown” but looks to me like a black and brown snakeskin print. I thought this shoe would serve to pull all the neutrals in this outfit together and make it cohesive.

This look is very office appropriate. I would wear this to a client meeting or another event that wouldcall for something in-between job interview attire and business casual. I would wear the white shirt with the collar up, like Kate did. Since these are neutral suit pieces, they could be endlessly remixed to create other outfits from them too. No single piece is over $50: great prices for suiting.

Do you have trouble mixing neutrals? I find I have no problem mixing white with any other neutral and I am getting more comfortable with black and brown together. However, I just can’t imagine a good way to put navy and black together. Is it impossible? Have you ever been able to pull it off?


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