Friday, April 29, 2011

Look for Less: Kate's Bridal Style

The royal wedding this morning was incredibly satisfying and I am so glad that I got up to watch it live. It just would not have been the same to watch it on Youtube later today. Kate Middleton really pulled it off! She was poised, elegant, demure, regal -- just everything she needed to be. Her gown was even a bit sexy! These two really seem to be striking a balance between youthfulness and tradition, between having an intimate family affair and understanding their roles as representatives of the state.

Kate's wedding dress was rich with symbolism. The lace was stitiched by the Royal School of Needlework which is housed at Hampton Court Palace and contains the images of flowers representing all four of the areas of the United Kingdom. This includes English roses (England), thistles (Scotland), shamrocks (Ireland) and daffodils (Wales). The symbolism of flowers also played a big role in the decoration of the royal wedding cake. 
This dress strongly echoes another "commoner": Hollywood actress, Grace Kelly. She became Princess of Monaco in 1956 and wore a lovely gown with a cinched waist and pleated full skirt with long lace sleeves and a veil. ABC interviewed Tim Gunn of Project Runway fame about the comparison and he noted that this is a huge compliment for Kate. He also said that Kate went more modern with a tasteful v-neck and not the high neck that Grace wore. This look shows deep respect for the occasion and recognition that is not merely "your wedding" but also an investiture into the role you are assuming. It hits all the right notes.

In a few hours, dozens of knock off reproductions of Kate's gown will flood the marketplace. However, I think that you need not go with a direct knockoff, you can take notes from Kate's (and Grace's) style but not have to purchase a "Kate-in-a-can" look. To that end, I found a few pieces that could easily re-create the "gown-of-the-century" look.

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

1. Bolero: Long Sleeve Lace Jacket, LSLACE, $129 via David's Bridal
2. Gown: Oleg Cassini, Satin Ball Gown with Dropped Waist Style and Sweetheart Neckline, $750 via David's Bridal 
3. Veil: Two Tiered Pencil Edge Veil by Etsy seller arielj, $75
4. Tiara: Rhinstone Jewelry Corporation, Graduated Tiara, $42
5. Earrings: Rhinstone Jewelry Corporation, Victorian Heart Flip Earrings, $53.52

This dress from Oleg Cassini is sleeveless and strapless but has a couple of key elements: the full pleated skirt, the cinched waist and the sweetheart neckline, all of which match Kate closely. To add that modest and lovely lacy touch, add a bolero or lace jacket like the one pictured above.

Accesories are delicate and modest. The tiara is simple and feels antique with a simple two layered veil so you can actually wear it and be covered front and back to the fingertips. The earrings are simple and small drop earrings just like Kate's (which were a present from her parents). Shoes are elegant and dressy with a low heel.

I would be sure to pair this with a small round boquet of delicate flowers, like both Grace and Kate did. Nothing flashy to distract from you and your face. I would also take care to wear appropriate hosiery and undergarments as necessary to carry off this look (since we are not all blessed with a gorgeous princess figure like Kate's, right?)

You can do all of this for under $1,500, with the six main pieces totaling just a little over $1,100. Wow! Princess (or rather Duchess) style for less!!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Budget Chic and the film A Kiss Before Dying (1956)

Hollywood Fashion Vault was thrilled to see Budget Chic (another fashion blogger) trying out a great look from Cat on a Hot Tin Roof as a work outfit. Doesn't she just look fabulous?
This outfit made me want to find out more about Budget Chic and her style inspiration. She graciously answered my questions and gave me a few more leads on great style films. Here is the interview and an outfit from one of her favorite style movies: A Kiss Before Dying (1956). Enjoy!

A Kiss Before Dying
Hollywood Fashion Vault (HFV): What are your favorite style movies?

Budget Chic: Sex and the City: The Movie (SATC 1), A Kiss Before Dying (1956) and Confessions of a Shopaholic
HFV: Can you remember any specific pieces or outfits you wore that were inspired by a film?

Budget Chic: I dupe a look from Cat On A Hot Tin Roof and searched for a hot pink pencil skirt and colorful leather gloves to imitate a look from Confessions. I'm also looking from some 50s flare skirts and dresses from several classic movies that have inspired me, A Kiss Before Dying being one of them.

HFV: How do you incorporate retro and vintage elements into your wardrobe?

Budget Chic: I love anything structured from the 40s and 50s so I do a lot of peplum jackets, pencil skirts and plan to do more faux fur to get that luxe 50s vibe. I try to mix retro with more current pieces so it doesn't look like I'm always in costume or stuck in a time warp.

HFV: Do you have a style icon? Who is it and why did you pick them?

Budget Chic: Absolutely love Patrica Field the stylist for SATC, Devil Wears Prada and Confessions. Icons are Sarah Jessica Parker (SJP) and a new favorite Kerry Washington.

HFV: What’s on the horizon for Budget Chic? What are you excited about?

Budget Chic: I don't know what direction this blog will take me it, I'll just keep doing what feel right and hoping opportunities will grow from that.

Many thanks to Budget Chic for sharing her thoughts and insights. Particularly, I appreciate the recommendation of A Kiss Before Dying. It is available on Netflix to Watch Instantly. I caught this flick and re-created one of the outfits from it. Here is the companion post to this interview.

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!)

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Another Royal Look from Kate Middleton

Well, I just couldn't help myself from putting together one more look inspired by Kate Middleton before the royal wedding on Friday. These two outfits seemed similar to me and taking bits and pieces from both of them resulted in a very demure but interesting garden party or wedding guest outfit. See my first Kate Middleton post here for more "soon-to-be-royal" fashion inspiration.

The three elements I wanted to pursue in this look were 1) using navy to accesorize a periwinkle or light blue look, 2) mixing in an unexpected floral pattern and 3) utilizing a clutch for a daytime look. Here is what I can up with: Click on the image for a larger and more detailed view.

Dress: Jessica Simpson, Jersey Shirred Dress Night Shadow Crepe Jersey, $128

Jacket: Anthropologie, Cropped Wisley Blazer, $118

Hat: (Optional) ModCloth, Ophelie Hats, “Up the Antique”, $107.99 (Currently sold out but restocking.)
Clutch: Jessica McClintock Large Rectangle Navy Clutch, $21 via Designer

Shoes: Target, Mossimo Pearce Pump in Navy Patent, $29.99

Total: $296.99 (without hat) $404.98 (with hat)

This jersey dress from Jessica Simpson reminds me of Kate's general style. She likes comfortable but structured jersey dresses with some lovely drape to them. This one happens to be in a periwinkle color like inspiration outfit #1 above. Since it has no sleeves, I wanted to use a blazer and found this one that coordinates color-wise but has a unique floral pattern.

Then I added in a basic navy pump and clutch. Both of these are inexpensive items because the two main pieces were over $100. The clutch had to be kept simple and elegant and not be too shiny or over-the-top in order for it to work for daytime wear. With these four pieces, I was pretty pleased with the result. The navy really looks great with the pattern and the periwinkle, one of my favorite colors.

And then I found this hat! This straw hat has a tilted fascinator style to it and would fit right in with this look which has a garden party kind of feel to it. Again, it is very Kate and very British to wear large or tilted hats to semi-formal or formal events. This hat is very unique and elegant and would make a statement without drawing the wrong kind of attention to you. Adding the hat does drive the final total for this look up above $400 but I felt that I would show it to you anyway, since it does add to the final look.

Currently, this item is sold out at ModCloth but they are restocking presently. In fact, all but a few of their hats like this and their fascinators are sold out now! Do you think it is the Kate Middleton affect and royal wedding fever?

She's In Fashion: Kate Middleton

Interesting commentary on Kate's style versus Diana's. Check this out.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A Royal Look from Kate Middleton

Most Americans are caught up in full-tilt Royal Wedding fever this week and I am no exception. Although I truly am glad that I live in representative democracy without a monarch, it does feel good to indulge in a bit of the royal pomp from across the pond. I am just a nut for anything about the British monarchy. I took courses in Britain about King Arthur and studied the Tudors with a serious obsession. (I probably know as much about Henry the VIII as I do about movie musicals -- that's alot.) So, of course, I have read all the hype and the guest list and commentary and whatnot about the upcoming Windsor nuptials.

But I'll admit -- Kate Middleton use to bore me. She was so prim and pretty and one-dimensional. So dispassionate. (Frankly, she was not Diana.) But, I have been caught up in the fervor and now I am a fan. She does have a very mature and classic style and seems to be showing more of her personality lately. And who doesn't love a good commoner to princess story right?

It does bother me that the official line has been changed to call her Catherine instead of Kate. That kind of annoys me a bit. Like they are trying to deliberately re-brand the poor girl. Speaking of names, few people know that when Wills becomes king he can choose to be addressed by any of his several names -- one of which is Arthur. The once and future king indeed!

Two things that I love about Kate's style. She looks amazing in blue and is reviving the sapphire engagement ring (I have one) and she loves hats and looks great in them. She wore this amazing cobalt dress (above) to a wedding and then of course her engagement annoucement dress was also blue from Issa. I have chosen to combine these two looks into one look that is re-creatable for American anglophiles.

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

Ring: 4 Carat Sapphire and Diamond Engagement Ring 14K White Gold, $476 via
Dress: Trashy Diva, Doris Dress in Cobalt, $146
Headpiece: Louis Green Milliner, Headband, Black, $80
Jacket: Ruche, Beautifully Studded Tuxedo Jacket, on sale for $58
Stockings: Figleaves Italian Hosiery Sheer Tights in Black, $17
Shoes: Fergalicious Black Patent Women’s Utopia Pump, on sale for $29.99 via Famous Footwear
Total: $330 (without ring) $806 (with ring)

There are a ton of knockoffs out now of Kate's blue Issa dress. However, I made a non-traditional choice and chose this number in Cobalt blue from Trashy Diva as the basis of this look. Trashy Diva is a fantastic boutique line out of New Orleans. Their flagship store includes the dress shop, a lingerie store and an amazing shoe store in the French Quarter. Everything is vintage inspired and fabulous. This dress has the wrapping middle and the right color of blue to mimic Kate's dresses.

Since this dress is sleeveless, I wanted to add a black tuxedo jacket like the first picture of Kate in this post. This one from Ruche is very classy and has some sparkle to it. The price on it is great and helps to compensate for the higher price of the dress.

Following Kate's lead, I selected stockings in a sheer black and simple black patent pumps. Kate tends to wear sheer stockings and while these seem to have fallen out favor stateside, sheer stockings add immediate elegance to any outfit. The pumps are reasonably priced like the jacket.

These four basic elements could easily constitute a special occasion outfit for any American girl and it would look lovely for about $250. But, I decided to have a bit of fun and recommend two additional pieces to really push the British inspiration of this Kate Middleton look.

Like her dresses, there are lots of knockoffs of Diana's...I mean...Kate's sapphire and diamond engagement ring. This one was on sale right now from and is very pretty. Of course this takes the price way over the top but for those with the inclination -- it is a lovely ring.

Lastly, Kate Middleton is credited with single-handedly bringing the fascinator hat back in style in America of late. In this spirit, I have selected a headband from a great retro-style milliner called Louis Green. The headbands provide a bit more support and reassurance for Americans not used to wearing the precariously perched fascinators and they are reasonably priced (versus a hat). This fancy headband is mimic the classic but offset lines and simple black color of Kate's hat above.

I am so excited to see what Kate's wedding dress looks like and how her style evolves as she grows into her role over the next few years. Hopefully she will be a source of fashion inspiration for a very long time.

Classic Movies Streaming Netflix Update 4/26

Each week I check out FeedFliks to see which classic films will be on Netflix's Watch Instantly feature, which I love! FeedFliks (which is free) tells you what has just arrived on Watch It Now, what is coming soon (and when) and what will be expiring soon. This means you can be sure to see things before they go back to the DVD only option. What a great tool!

Once per week, I like to take the extensive list provided by FeedFliks and pull out the classic films and other notable films from those three categories. This makes it even easier for you classic movie buffs to find the good stuff on Netflix.

Coming Soon:
The Navigator, with Buster Keaton (1924) coming 5/15
Seven Chances, with Buster Keaton (1925) coming 5/15
The Thomas Crown Affair, with Steve McQueen (1968) coming 5/1
Shoot Out, with Gregory Peck (1971) coming 5/1
Mary, Queen of Scots, with Vanessa Redgrave (1971) coming 5/1
Family Plot, (Hitchcock's final film) (1976) coming 5/1
Raging Bull, with Robert DeNiro (1980) coming 5/1
The Secret of NIMH, animated (1982) coming 5/1
My Best Friend's Wedding, with Julie Roberts (some Kate Hepburn style outfits here) (1997), coming 5/6
Original Sin, with Angelina Jolie (2001) coming 5/1
Pinocchio, with Roberto Benigni (2002) coming 5/14

Roberto Benigni's Pinocchio

Expiring Soon:
Way Down East, with Henry Fonda (1935) expiring 4/30
Lynch 2 (about David Lynch's filmmaking) (2007) expiring 5/1
Short Films of David Lynch (2002) expiring 5/1
Broadway: The American Musical, hosted by Julie Andrews (2004) expiring 5/1

I also happen to be a big documentary buff and one of my favorite host is Michael Wood. Several of his films will be expiring soon, so check him out while you have a chance!

Michael Wood Documentaries - All expiring on 5/1/11
In Search of Shakespeare
In Search of Myths and Heroes

Yet another passion of mine is learning about food and our food system here in the U.S. Several food documentaries are expiring soon, so again, if you have an interest check them out this weekend.

Food Documentaries
Fed Up! (2002) expiring 4/27
The Meaning of Food (2004) expiring 5/1
The Natural History of the Chicken (2001) expiring 5/1
To Market, To Market to Buy a Fat Pig (2007) expiring 5/1
Fat: What No One is Telling You (2006) expiring 5/1

If you don't already have a Netflix subscription you can start one with a free trial. It is only $7.99 per month to have full access to all of the Watch Instantly movies an television shows, including thousands of classic films. I have used Netflix since 2003 and the Watch Instantly feature since 2006. I wouldn't dream of cancelling my subscription, no matter how tight money gets. It gives back so much to me culturally that the fee is negligible.

Instantly watch unlimited TV episodes & movies over the Internet right on your TV, computer and various mobile devices. Watch as much as you want, as often as you want for only $7.99 a month. Start your free trial today!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Barbara Stanwyck in The Lady Eve (1941) (Take 2)

This is my second look from Barbara Stanwyck's The Lady Eve. You can read my complete review of this fun little film here and see the semi-formal bronze lame look that was also inspired by this film. Suffice it to say that I just love Barbara Stanwyck from her femme fatale roles in film noir to her zanny comedies and earnest feel-good flicks all the way to the 1980s epic mini-series The Thorn Birds, I just love this broad.

This outfit seems to be a bit of a departure for Barbara, as it is a bit too tongue-in-cheek. Perhaps this is because she is wearing it while her character (a con artist) is trying to seduce and dupe Henry Fonda's character. Most of this action happens while they are on a boat, and this look fits in perfectly with our sailor/nautical inspired week this week! The look, while unconventional, is fresh and neat and preppy with a fun twist or two.

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

Hat: Asos Pieces Stripe Jersey Hat, $17.93
Shirt: Old Navy, Women’s Poplin-Stretch Dress Shirt Bright White, $16.50
Vest: Forever 21 Navy Open Knitted Sweater Vest, $19.90
Pants: Talbots, Signature Fit White Denim Trouser Jeans, $89
Brooch: Hooked on You Brooch, $11.99 ModCloth
Shoes: Annie’s Shoes Women’s Olivia Wedge in White Linen on sale for $19.99 via Endless.comTotal: $175.31

I would never think to wear white pants and a white shirt but Barbara shows that this look can be very refreshing. The vest breaks it up and makes it work. I went with a red, white and blue theme because of the nautical feel. The vest is a great price, as is the basic shirt. The trouser jeans in white from Talbot's look flattering and comfortable.

Once those basic elements are in place, the accessories add that fun edge on the preppiest of this outfit. The anchor brooch in bright red from ModCloth and the very cool "Where's Waldo?" style beanie cap that manages to take Barbara's silly nautical nightcap to interesting places. Lastly, I took the same shoes that I used in my women's Fred Astaire look from Follow the Fleet. Such a great price on a versatile summer shoe.

I can imagine wearing this to a seaside barbecue somewhere like Maine in the springtime. You could make it work for more seasons by wearing a short sleeve shirt or going with capris. Either way, I think you would have to have a sense of humor and confidence to really pull this off, but it is too irresistibly cute not to post it.

What do you think? Is this look Where's Waldo on a boat? Or something fun and fresh?

Twyla Tharp on Creativity

The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life
If there's a lesson here it's: get busy copying. That's not a popular notion today, not when we are all instructed to find our own way, admonished to be original and find our own voice at all costs! But it's sound advice. Traveling the paths of greatness, even in someone else's footprints, is a vital means to acquiring skill.
                                                     Twyla Tharp,
                                                    The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life

I'm a big fan of R&D. Not research and development but "Rip Off and Duplicate". I use it in my work life as a means of creativity all the time. Take a good idea and give a twist or take it a step further. Not only does it give you a starting point, inspiration, and direction all in one, but it also saves you a ton of time. You don't have to start from scratch. Templates are there and you just fill them out with your personality.

Twyla Tharp is distinguished dancer and choreographer. She has worked as a choreographer for her own company, Broadway, television and film. Her most famous film work is probably the glorious Amadeus, which is in many ways a meditation on what Harold Bloom calls the "anxiety of influence". Maestro Salieri is torn apart by his jealousy of Mozart. But the tension over whether we are duplicating or creating need not be such a struggle. The best artists know that it is healthy to reproduce before you produce.

This is also the approach and foundational behind Hollywood Fashion Vault. Use the genius of the classic actresses but also the costume designers and stylist of the glamour mill. You don't have to create style from scratch. These films can be like training wheels to give you the skill and confidence to begin to create your own looks or go farther afield from your sources of inspiration. Use Edith Head, Helen Rose and Travilla. Use Elizabeth Taylor and Audrey Hepburn. Start copying and it can be the fountainhead of your own creative style.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Fred Astaire in Follow the Fleet (1936)

The topic of this post is Fred Astaire's outfit from the musical number "Putting All Your Eggs in One Basket" from Follow the Fleet. Yesterday, I focused on creating a great wide-leg trouser look with red and gray based on Ginger. Today, I will re-create Fred's look for both men and women since it is such an interesting and breezy casual look for both genders.

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

Shirt: Old Navy, Men’s Chest Pocket Chambray Shirt, on sale for $14.99
Hat: Lloyd’s Military Hat on sale $14.40 via
Pants: Old Navy, Men’s Loose Fit Cargos in Black, on sale for $25
Belt: Old Navy, Men’s Basic Leather Belt, Black, $15
Shoes: Dillard’s Converse Men´s Chuck Taylor All Star Canvas Sneakers in Optic White, $39.99
Total: $109.38
The basic elements of Fred's outfit include a chambray button-down shirt with black pants and white shoes. To update the look, I used Chuck Taylors (both cool and budget-friendly). All the basic pieces came from Old Navy. Since an actual sailor hat today would scream costume, I went with a white military cap. If this look had not required a belt, it would have been under $100, but it is still a very economical casual look for a guy.

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

Shirt: Target, Merona Women’s Heritage Utility Shirt in Sunwashed Chambray, $19.99
Hat: Goorin Brothers Helen Cap in White on sale for $24 via Revolve Clothing
Pants: Old Navy, Women’s Tie-Belt Linen Blend Pants in Black Jack on sale for $25
Shoes: Annie’s Shoes Women’s Olivia Wedge in White Linen on sale for $19.99 via
Total: $88.98

This look is so cute for the ladies. Again, the basics come from budget retailers -- Old Navy and Target. The hat is again a white military hat but this one is a little more feminine with a small bow on it. The shoes are a breezy, nautical inspired white linen wedge. The linen pants came with a tie belt, enabling this look to come it at under $100 ($88.98). I love this look because it demonstrates a unique take on mixing neutrals (black, white and denim chambray). This could swing for the office but generally I would wear this as a casual comfortable but pulled together outfit.

Period Movie Fashion Inspiration

Pride and Prejudice - The Special Edition (A&E, 1996)The DuchessMarie Antoinette

This is an amazing site that was recommended by Vintage Vixen. They take still shots from period movies and find people wearing similar outfits on the street. Kind of like the Sartorialist meets Hollywood Fashion Vault.

I found this very inspiring since I struggle to create wearable looks from period films earlier than about 1920. This has reinvigorated my motivation to attempt some of my favorite period fashion films, such as Marie Antoinette, Anne of the Thousand Days, The Duchess and the BBC's Pride and Prejudice.


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