Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Clara Bow in It (1927)

It is an amazingly entertaining film for being silent. Clara Bow has undeniable charisma and proves that really you don't need to talk to be captivating, in fact she may prove that words are a hindrance to her kind of mesmerism. This film is where we get the term "It Girl" and Clara Bow was the original. She seems to be utterly natural and un-self-conscious in the film but I would venture to guess that this ease was actually contrived. She has an almost Lolita-ish appeal as the shop girl who lands the handsome rich boss.

The 1920s are a difficult era to re-create outfits from, because most of the looks focus on the dropped waistline popular with flappers. This silhouette produces a boyish look for most women, something we do not find flattering today. Therefore it is difficult to find pieces like this. I did however, find a couple of looks that seem applicable today.

Clara wears this look above when she goes out on a date with her romantic interest to Coney Island. She wears t-strap pumps, a pleated skirt, a diamond print sweater with a printed scarf and a beret.

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

Hat: American Apparel, Unisex Wool Beret in Raspberry, $24
Scarf: Chevron Print Scarf, Pink-Blue, $45 via Robin Dira Unsworth
Sweater: Bluefly.com, Hayden black cashmere Argyle boyfriend sweater, $118.99
Skirt: Urban Outfitters, Sparkle & Fade Knee Length Pleated Mesh Skirt, on sale for $19.99
Shoes: Urban Outfitters, Kimchi Blue, Wingtip Heel, on sale for $39
Total: $246.98

Starting with the basics, I found a gauzy pleated skirt and t-strap shoes from Urban Outfitters. Both pieces were perfect and on sale. Building from there, I found this argyle print cashmere sweater, which mimics the diamond pattern on Clara's top. It is a bit pricey since it is cashmere but two things really put this piece over the top for me: the fit is a boyfriend fit which will hit at the mid-hip area when worn over the skirt (echoing the flapper silhouette) and there is a thin line of fuchsia in the argyle pattern (which will coordinate with the other accessories).

Then I needed to finish off with the scarf and beret. Taking my cues from the fuchsia in the sweater, I decided to go with a very cheeky "Raspberry Beret" -- the kind you find at a second hand store. I think if Clara Bow lived today, I could totally see that Prince song being one of her favorites.

The last piece had to be a chevron striped scarf which played off of the raspberry/fuchsia colors and had the right scale of a print to work with the argyle in the sweater. This one is a bit pricey for a scarf but it meets all of the criteria I had to make this look work well. I think mixing the two seemingly clashing patterns (chevron and argyle/diamond) is a bold lesson from Clara Bow.

This look could work for a casual Friday at the office and easily transition into a date night "pizza-and-a-movie" kind of look. Although it is a bit pricey, the cashmere will make you feel so luxurious and that sweater will last forever. It's an investment piece that you will be able to remix for years.

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