Thursday, April 28, 2011

Virginia Leith in A Kiss Before Dying (1956)

This film was recommended to me by Budget Chic as being a great source of vintage style inspiration. And it certainly was! Joanne Woodward and Virginia Leith play sisters and they both dress wonderfully. However, I was also pleased to find A Kiss Before Dying to be a very entertaining film too! (Read my entire interview on style movies with Budget Chic here.)

This movie was like a cross between Marilyn Monroe's Niagara and A Place in the Sun (Elizabeth Taylor). It has at the heart of it a murder mystery, complete with much duplicity and greed. Like Niagara, it has all of the satifying dramatic music and murderous intrigue. Like A Place in the Sun, it features a man desperate for upward mobility who might be held back by a pregnant girlfriend. Robert Wagner is utterly convincing as both seemingly devoted boyfriend and unrepentant murderer.

This recommendation also introduced me to Virginia Leith, who I had never heard of before. She is actually a very appealing and believable actress, who began her career as a model. Her resume, however, seems filled with campy cult classic titles such as Fear and Desire, Black Widow, Violent Saturday and The Brain that Wouldn't Die. It seems to me with a little luck her career could have taken a different track and she could have been a household name.

The outfit I chose to re-create first was a simple, casual look that Virginia Leith wears when preparing for her engagement party.

Here is my interpretation: (Click on the image for a larger and more detailed view.)

Shirt: J. Crew, Perfect Shirt in Linen, Lemon Twist, $79.50
Capris: Ann Taylor, Curvy Cotton Twill Capris in Black, $68
Belt: Forever 21, Wide Everyday Belt, $4.50
Flats: Rocket Dog Memories Ballet Flat in Black, $39.95 via
Total: $191.95

Ah, simplicity! Basic black capris with a basic black belt and basic black flats. The surprise is a gorgeous bright yellow linen shirt worn cinched around the waist with the wide belt. This is a lovely look and so easy and casual. This could be worn just running errands, going to a party or barbecue, or to work on a casual Friday. I love the combination of the black and yellow, like a pretty honeybee. Black and yellow together are a very classic and retro color combination. The shirt and pants are both quality pieces that could be endlessly remixed to make lots of other great outfits. And the price came in under budget! How chic! (Thanks Budget Chic for the tip!)

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