Marilyn’s Niagara dress

 

This is an amazing summer dress from the film Niagara, that Marilyn’s character Rose wears on a supposedly romantic holiday with her husband. The story is great too, with a definite Hitchcockian feel to it. Marilyn gets to play a darker role and pulls it off with flying colours.

I needed help to draw up the pattern for this, and my Mum did an amazing job. I’m a hard taskmaster for accuracy! I’m not too keen on wearing hot pink, although the colour looks good on Marilyn with her bottle blonde hair. I chose a teal cotton, which I think looks better with dark hair and pale skin.

Unlike similar reproductions you Ind online I kept the skirt looser from the hips down by cutting it straight, and also putting the split at the back. As there are no pintucks at the front, the curve of the waist to hip was sewn in the side seam. The fastening is a front zip, with the gathers stitched in place.

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Detail on Niagara dress

For a smooth look, I sew bullet bra pads into the top. Marilyn didn’t need to do this, but I think it gives a better shape and makes me feel like I am wearing something underneath! This is a good trick for tops or dresses with cutouts in awkward places. Multilayer bras aren’t always hidden, and stick ons don’t give an authentic vintage silouette. You can buy these from What Katie Did in black or white.

The sandals have been the closest similar to the original photos as I have found so far. See more about these sandals here. I have accessorised with gold hoops and heart charm bangles. I think Marilyn’s bracelet is a chain with a single charm.

In the film, she accessorises with a pale, possibly white, floaty scarf and a white clutch.

I’ve worn this dress to, among other times, a summer wedding abroad and a surfer/ Hawaiian themed party. Red or hot pink go well with teal.

I hope to recreate some of her other outfits from this film in the future. The wool jackets are beautiful.

Summer Stripes

Translating Summer 2016 into vintage and retro styles. Let’s look at stripes.

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Nautical stripes

Going for a nautical or school girl theme. References are Gigi going to school or Agatha Christie’s Poirot ‘Cat Among the Pigeons’ and Endeavour episode ‘Nocturne’.

Mini straw boater/ tilt or perch hat altered from a large boater. I explain how I did this in my ‘Assassination Bureau’ post.

Vintage white lace gloves

White peacoat style jacket – Matalan

Stripe dress and belt – La Redoute

Red Seamed stockings – What Katie Did

Cut out lace-up shoes – Clarks

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Nautical stripes

Some Like it Hot and Thoroughly Modern Millie are great films set in the roaring Twenties. This dress is actually from the Eighties, but the drop waist and knee length lend itself nicely to the flapper style. I sometimes wear this dress with a Sixties twist, as both decades share similar styles.

Mauve straw hat (cloche) – Liz Claiborne

Earrings – Matalan

Dress – ebay vintage

Sandals – Avon

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Fifties style summer stripes

Instead of wearing the dress like a pinafore, I am wearing the blouse over the top, so it looks like it’s worn with a skirt. Tied at the waist, it gives definition without the need for a belt. The stripes are all vertical, and navy and white, but different thicknesses. The pinstripe on the shirt is so fine it blurs in the photo. I’m wearing a tulle skirt as a petticoat to give the skirt volume. For this shape and style, look at photos of Brigitte Bardot for inspiration.

Shirt & dress – Primark

Grey tulle skirt – Mademoiselle R from La Redoute

Black peep toe heels – George at Asda

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My Marilyn style blue stripe dress

There are some beautiful photos of Marilyn Monroe when she was married to Arthur Miller, wearing a blue and white tiered sundress. I was thrilled when I found this similar dress from Joe Browns.

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Fifties pin up half pinned back curls with flower.
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Sixties style office stripes

I think the suede look A-line wrap skirt is a key look for the Sixties, as are block heels. They have both come round again, so it’s easy to find interpretations of these on the high street. Although my skirt is longer, it’s surprising to see photos of Marianne Faithful and Anita Pallenburg, both girlfriends of various Rolling Stones in more modest ensembles than the minis of the late Sixties and early Seventies. Jane Fonda wears a brown suede A-line in Barefoot in the Park, too. Check out my post on this film and her outfits.

Skirt –  Gok Wan for Tu Sainsbury

Block heel sandals – La Redoute

I love these candy stripes. All I need is a retro diner! I made this blouse based on a photo of Marilyn Monroe wearing a similar shirt. It’s a pretty classic shape, so it works for different decades. Watching Miss Marple, especially the newer Marple episode ‘The Moving Finger’ with Emilia Fox, is great for Fifties inspiration. Her outfits are colourful and the overall look is striking.

Beaded fascinator/ hat – similar from Accesorize

Blouse – from vintage pattern

Skirt – ASOS

Petticoat (not seen) – Pinup Girl Clothing

Nude Seamed stockings and other underpinnings – What Katie Did

Mint stilettoes – Dune

Handbag – River Island ( like a Louis Vuitton bag with the metal V at the fastening, but in my price range)

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Edwardian style summer maxi with 70’s belt

I’ll write more on costume drama dressing in a post about this summer’s bucolic fashion theme.

Tunic worn as blouse – George at Asda

Vintage suede belt with hand painted wooden buckle

Stripe maxi skirt – La Redoute

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Regency dress/ late Sixties maxi

Changing accessories can update a dress… from Jane Austen to the Sixties. My mum made this dress for me. Wearing it with a pink lipstick and blue eyeshadow, I still got Jane Austen related comments!

I’m not sure which decade I meant this to be, because I started with a Fifties look, but I think Alex Drake could wear this in Ashes to Ashes, set in the Eighties.

Breton stripe boat neck T-shirt – La Redoute

Pencil skirt and belt – Primark

Patterned jacket – La Redoute

Pointed striped kitten heels – Next

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Vintage Seventies blouse – Edwardian style

When summer comes round, I love to wear Victorian and Edwardian looking clothes. This blouse made by my aunty sneaks into the Stripes category. I always struggle to find a skirt to wear with this blouse, but I recently got this rust coloured skirt at a clothes swap. The lace peeking out is a vintage slip.

How are you wearing your stripes this summer? Any favourite themes?

Rainbow colours

Translating Summer 2016 into Vintage

I love going through Vogue and picking out the trends or photo shoots I like. Then I  select pieces I already own that fit with the key themes. Firstly, wearing rainbow colours.

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It’s amazing how colourful make-up in the Fifties could be, and magazine covers from that era are good references. I bravely tried coral lips and green eye shadow. I should have used more powder later in the day to even out my complexion. I know for next time.

Sunglasses – ‘Amy’ by Boots

Dress – Love Label

Shoes – H&M

Gloves – Vintage, and belt home-made .

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Pink and yellow! The shapes are more early Sixties. Think Brigitte Bardot.

Earrings and crochet top – Vintage

Pink and yellow vest top – Joe Browns

Skirt – Mademoiselle R from La Redoute

Peep toe heels – George at Asda

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This is a mix of eras! Thirties with the round sunglasses and wedges, and Fifties with the pencil skirt. I just need an Agatha Christie setting. I was given the shoes and they go so well with my new top.

Bracelets and possibly earings, top – H&M

Headband – Primark

Sunglasses and skirt – Topshop

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Picking out the turquoise with my vintage earrings.

Floral blouse – Next (altered from a child’s playsuit)

Vest top – Joe Browns

Cardigan – hand knitted from a Rowan pattern

Skirt – home-made using an old favourite as the pattern

Shoes – Clarks

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Marilyn style top

This looks a bit Debbie Harry with the paint print jeans and white heels, but I started with Marilyn Monroe as my inspiration! Hence, rolling my hair up into a Bob, and the Sixties make-up.

Orange Pucci style top – Home-made with Jersey

Jeans- H&M

White heels – Dune

Velcro roller wet set -Short Vintage Hairstyle

My mum let me try out a wet set vintage hairstyle on her short hair. Think Maggie the Cat/ Elizabeth Taylor and Leslie Caron in An American in Paris. Short curls are brought round to frame the face in both.

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Wet set with Velcro rollers

You will need; Velcro rollers, hair pins, comb, setting lotion, hairspray

Hair should be damp, with a spray of setting lotion brushed through.

1) Start with smaller rollers around the front and sides. Work out from your parting. Mum has a side parting.

2) Use bigger rollers at the back where you want to brush the curls together. The set them, the more volume you get, so this could be used for a Sixties set as well. If you want curls at the nape of the neck, use small rollers or pincurl.

3) Time to paint nails, do make-up, watch a film… Use a diffuser if you want to finish off the drying. I find letting it dry naturally works best for a smoother finish.

4) Take out rollers without pulling the curl out. Comb through with hairspray where you want the hair to lie flat.

5) Use the comb and your fingers to style the curls around your face. Use pomade or styling cream if you need to. Hairspray to hold. A natural hold hairspray works well, so you don’t get crunchy hair.

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Fifties hair and make-up

With thanks to Mum for modelling.

Springtime Outfits

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There were still cold days in April, so there’s that awkward trasition between bulky winter dressing and light summer dresses.

Jasmine Guinness skirt and jacket

Red fine knit sweater (with What Katie Did cone bra)

Dune heels (nice Fifties shape to the heel and toe)

Vintage earrings  from a vintage fair

I haggled for the earrings because there were one or two beads missing. It’s always a good idea to check vintage jewellery carefully before agreeing a price with the seller. With earrings, compare the two, because sometimes the imperfections won’t be noticeable when you’re wearing them, but it might save you a couple of pounds.

Other times, jewellery can be mended. Beads can be redistributed if they look uneven.

Checked wriggle dress – charity shop

Seamed hold-ups – Primark

I took the dress in at the waist, by removing the buttons on the tabs, and stitching them further into the middle. Wearing this dress like a pinafore means I don’t cover the details with a cardi or jumper.

This was a vintage dress from eBay that I modified. I loved the pale green print and the piecrust collar, decorative button placket and mutton sleeves. It was a maxi dress supposedly my measurements, but it looked frumpy and shapeless when I got it.

I chopped the middle section of the skirt out, sewing the bottom edging on at knee-length. I took in the side seams around the bust, which completely changed the look. I also changed the generic small shirt buttons for some vintage ones from our button box.

Emma Peel Chelsea boots – Dune

Cardigan – I knittedbfrom a Rowan pattern in Rowan Tweed

Dress – Vintage. From my Nanna’s unfinished projects. I finished it by adding the buttons and finishing the placket detail with some thin ribbon.

Elasticated belt – Nanna’s, vintage

Stockings – What Katie Did (as well as all my underpinnings in Peach)

Shoes – La Redoute

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Grace Kelly style suit

Earrings – H&M

Jacket & skirt – Matalan. As with most modern clothes I buy, the fit of the waist and hips is cut too straight. I had the skirt waist taken in. As I got this in the sale, the jacket was one size too big, but by moving the buttons over, it looks okay. The boxy fit is in keeping with some Fifties and early Sixties styles, like Grace Kelly in Rear Window and vintage Vogue shoots.

Cropped jumper – designed and knitted myself. Colours and stripes inspired by watching Poirot and Thirties photos.

Bra – What Katie Did padded bullet bra

Shoes – Next

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Vintage scarf, Next shoes, polo shirt: Mademoiselle R from La Redoute.

While always going back in time for my style, I like to incorporate some current fashion themes. The last two include a slight sporty reference with the stripes and polo shirt. – Spring/ Summer 2016 Chanel

Everyday Dressing

If you have found me on Instagram, you’ll see I usually post What I’m Wearing, but I haven’t put them on my blog. So here are some outfits I’ve been wearing recently. Where I can,I’ll list where items are from.

I started out with the dress, from Monsoon, to do a Forties look. However, when I’d put it together it came out with a more Parisian feel.

Seamed hold-ups – Primark

Gloves & belt – vintage

Scarf – La Redoute

Jacket – George at Asda

Dress – Monsoon

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Teddy girl workwear

Coat – Soft Grey, La Redoute

Blouse – Madamoiselle R, La Redoute

Trousers – H&M

Loafers – Dune

Ring – Matalan (like Dior joaillerie)

Blouse & pumps – La Redoute

Bustier – New Look

Jeans – Vivien of Holloway

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Librarian chic

Glasses – Muriel, Dsquared2

Hoops – I hunted for a pair like this for ages, like Marilyn’s in Niagara. I got them in a last chance to buy sale. Moschino did a pair like this last season.

Dress & belt – La Redoute

Cardigan – H&M

 

Jumper – I knitted this, inspired watching Poirot, set in the 1930’s.

Skirt – My original Soft Grey skirt wore out, so I used it as a pattern to make a new one.

Bag – River Island

Shoes – La Redoute

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Blue

Not really a vintage look, but everything went together so well. Everything except the bag is from La Redoute.

Jumper – Next

Belt – Vintage

Shoes – Dune

All underpinnings for a vintage shape are from What Katie Did, unless otherwise stated.

Marilyn style sandals

Here are two pairs of beautiful sandals I found in the Dune sale. I always look out for styles I like from old films. These are Fifties style, but I especially noticed these styles while watching Marilyn Monroe films.

 

Black sandals – Marilyn by Dune

Mink satin sandals – Majestic by Dune

There’s No Business Like Show Business

One of the dresses Marilyn Monroe wears in this film is a smart day dress in pale blue. You can find copies of this dress to buy online now, but when I watched the film and wanted the dress there weren’t any! With the help of my amazing mum, we worked out a pattern to make it.

The bottons are plastic covered with the fabric and also slighty padded. It’s comfortable to sit down in! The belt is made from the same fabric and I just used a pull through buckle. I starch the bows so they don’t droop. As you can see, the fabric creases, but they also fall out easily.

I have to use bra extander straps to lower the back of my What Katie Did bra, so I get a smooth line at the back without underwear showing, but keeping the vintage shape. My seamed stocking’s are also from WKD.

I’d love some triangle earrings like Vicky. The closest I’ve seen so far are some gold ones at H&M.

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Choosing outfits for a weekend in London

I’ll be in London for three days, so want to plan 3 day outfits and 2 evening outfits.  My shoes need to be comfortable for walking and getting around the Underground. Heels beware gratings!

Day 1 will be travelling by train and carrying my luggage (so 1 handbag & 1 weekend bag). Also, museum. Out for dinner in the evening.

Day 2 is wandering, possibly a market (Portobello Road?) with dinner and theatre in the evening.

Day 3 will be at a gallery, and travelling home.

Pyjamas need to be sensible and matching (if there’s a fire drill at the hotel I want to be happy to be seen in public!)

Above are 2 evening outfits. I’ll probably wear the lilac dress to the theatre.

My travelling and Museum outfit with option of cardi or denim jacket. Mid-height heeled Mary Jane’s that I regularly wear because they are comfortable.

The dress will probably be Saturday, and I can put my flats in my handbag (with shoulder strap). I’ve co-ordinated my daytime pieces so I still have some choice.

I have managed to stick with 1 coat, 1 handbag and 3 pairs of shoes. I only have this to carry!

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I hope to post some snaps from out in the field in the next week or two. Need any advice on packing or have any questions, let me know, and I’ll try to answer.

Pola’s cats eye glasses

 

When I first watched ‘How to Marry a Millionaire’ I decided if I ever had to wear glasses, I’d have Pola’s. Pola is the ‘blind as a bat’ character played by Marilyn Monroe. So, my checklist: Cats eye shape, but not too narrow; Black graduating to clear frames; Diamante along the eyebrow. Not too much to ask, surely.

I was so pleased when I had to get glasses, but the hunt for my dream glasses took a while. Reader, I found them.

These are the Muriel model by DSquared2.