Fifties sari dress

This slightly irridescent silk sari fabric was a remnant given to me as a gift. I don’t feel like orange is a colour I naturally choose to wear, but I thought this was beautiful with the gold embroidery, so I’ve spent years just admiring it draped over a mannequin. My first idea had been a Regency  dress. However, as I never got around that, I eventually looked for some vintage ideas of how to style it into a Fifties dress. My impetus was finding an outfit for a friend’s wedding.

As the fabric is patterned and beautiful standing  alone, I kept to a pattern without making alterations to it. The simple fitted shift dress is accessorised with a detachable sash. This is a nod to the sari. The dress needs little added, so I kept my jewellery classic with a vintage pearl necklace, gold hoops and my gold heels (bought because I love Marilyn’s shoes in Bus Stop).

Indian fabric was used in the Fifties for Western style dresses. The pictures I found made good use of the gold panel of embroidery often found on saris. My first choice was to copy the one shouldered Dior dress with a stitched wrap of gold edging used for the bodice, and a full skirt. The sari I had was only a remnant, and I didn’t have enough. Less fabric meant a pencil skirt and and no gathers. I did get my sash though.

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At the wedding

On the day, I did require some dress first aid when I ripped the back seam of the skirt getting in the car. The trouble was climbing in instead of sitting and swivelling like a lady. I think that’s something you learnt at finishing school. Thanks to my mum’s first aid kit ( for clothes, naturally) I was able to enjoy the rest of the evening without embarrassment!

I think if I get the opportunity to buy a whole sari, I’ll make the Dior dress. Then I’ll just need something to wear it to.

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London trip – Winter 2017

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Theatre and Fashioning a Reign exhibition plans

This January, I went to London to see the exhibition of some of the Queen’s dresses – Fashioning a Reign, at Windsor Castle. For a night out we went to see the comedy  The Play That Goes Wrong. I love packing for a weekend away, and the British weather certainly adds to the challenge!

We travelled up on the train to Waterloo Station on the Friday, in the afternoon. I wanted to wear something comfortable, but nice enough to wear out to dinner, as there might not be time to change.

I wore my taupe or mushroom coloured fit and flare dress by Peter May. I bought this on a previous trip to London, along Portobello Road. I saw it in the window, and thought it looked like a dress that could have easily been worn in a Hitchcock film, like Marnie. This is a perfect winter dress as it is fairly thick Jersey, and the skirt is lined with a soft Jersey. My brother calls this my Jedi dress because of the colour and the wrap effect. The sash is really long and you can wrap it for different looks. I can pull it really tight as it has some stretch.

I accessorised with classic pearl jewellery – the earrings were modern, the three strand necklace and brooch are both vintage. I wore my brooch on the belt, under the gathers of the knot. I always loved how Jane Russell uses the brooch from the hip of her showgirl dress, on the pocket of her jacket in Gentleman Prefer Blondes. This was a popular outfit refresher in the Fifties.

The vintage feathered hat and vintage hatpin stayed put really well, and apart from worrying about the feathers in the wind to start with, I got used to wearing it, and stopped thinking about it. This is the best way to wear hats, so I’m definitely going to try out some more. I love the Fifties fitted style hats, so I’ll be looking to increase my collection.

With the face framing feathers, I wore this hat with my hair twisted up at the back. This is the hair I stuck my hatpin through to secure the hat.

On Saturday, we took the train to Windsor Castle to see the exhibition Fashioning a Reign. My photographer, my friend Gina Walbridge’s took some photos of me in the grounds. Unfortunately, no photography was permitted in the castle or of the dresses we saw.  My favourite outfits were the few from the Fifties, including a beautiful full length full skirted dark teal velvet skirt with a fitted ivory silk bodice. The other dresses by Norman Hartnell and Hardy Armies were beautiful in their craftsmanship, structure and detail.

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The coat, vintage bag and sensible heels were pretty much my uniform while we were out and about.

When we stopped for afternoon tea in Windsor (which had to be seen to be believed, it was so massive!) I was able to show off my vintage teal velvet pleated dress. This is a Seventies vintage dress, but the style and fit work well with Forties and Fifties styling. I wore it with a butterfly brooch and huge turquoise vintage clip-on earrings.

On Saturday night, we went to see The Play That Goes Wrong, just before it went on tour. I would highly recommend going to see it. We laughed so much, I could hardly breathe!

I went for a Twenties look, in a Nineties velvet devore bias slip dress.

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Diamante wing haircombs

On Sunday morning we travelled home. This was my standby outfit for day or night, so it was slightly wasted on the train, but I like to dress up, like I’ve walked off a Fifites film set!

Four outfits for one weekend in one small suitcase was pretty good packing, and I only took two pairs of shoes. To save space, I didn’t pack rollers, but pincurled my hair each night which worked pretty well, having washed and set it before I went away.

My next trip away will be in late Spring, to Portugal, so I’ll hopefully be able to pack some lighter clothes! In the meantime, I’m still enjoying the tartan, velvet, knits and thick weave fabrics of winter.

London Trip 2016

So, this is a post from the beginning of last year, that I didn’t post because of the lack of photos. Now I’m packing for another weekend in London, this is a good reminder for me to start this year’s blogging and Instagram posts how intend to carry on – better quality photos and keep it regular.

In aid of that, I have enlisted the help of a few friends, one being a budding photographer, so I hope to do her justice this year. She is coming to London, so I’ll have my own personal photographer out in the field!

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Vogue to read on the train. Underground ticket to get around London. Crime exhibition at the Museum of London on Friday, theatre on Saturday night and Vogue 100 at the National Portrait Gallery on Sunday morning.

Basically I had such a good time, there aren’t many pictures! Here are a few.

Advertising for Charlie & the Chocolate Factory in the West End.

Friday night dinner out. The mandatory telephone box photo.

Sunday light lunch in Soho, at Foxcroft & Ginger. Mum wearing a vintage look blouse with high-waisted wide leg trousers.

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Goodies from the exhibitions

The books are always the best souvenirs, as the exhibits can be pored over at leisure and in greater detail. This is especially true as most exhibitions have a ‘no photos’ rule.

I hope I can share some of the looks from Vogue100 over the coming year. Mugshots may not be so glamorous, but it’s interesting to see how certain trends were emulated on the street. A case in point is Ruth Ellis. A glamorous, wronged woman, with a tragic story. How much did her image play in the Presses coverage of her story, and the publics reaction, I wonder?

Back to blogging and London trips, hang in there, and I will post my 2017 trip with more and better photos!

Bladerunner

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Inspired by Rachael in Blade runner – Forties hairstyle

The stylist and costume department must have had a great time dressing the female characters in Bladerunner. I think I could live in this collective wardrobe, but would perhaps cause undue comment grocery shopping in a few of them. Iridescent scales for one.

The mix of 80’s futuristic sci-fi and Forties film noir is spot on and works so well. Forties and Eighties cross over a lot. Think big hairdos, shoulder pads, empowering tailoring for women and even the transparent coat!

Following are my favourite looks from the film, and what I have used from my wardrobe to emulate the most wearable and stylish outfits – those worn by replicant Rachael.

Rachael

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Rachael Blade runner

Rachael has a classic femme fatale Forties hairstyle and make-up, which echo the film noir style of filming this futuristic sci-fi story. Her make-up seems to change slightly through the film, but the basic features remain – strong eyebrows and cheekbones, smoky eyes, red lips, with red nails.

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Blade runner Rachael – hair and make-up
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Eye make-up detail

I found good tutorials for Forties hairstyles like Rachael’s in Vintage Hairstyles.

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The colour palette for Rachael’s wardrobe are muted shades of grey and blues and greens (just about visible on her blouse), that work well with the film noir lighting and photography.

The grey suit with horizontal stripes of tonal fabric is straight out of the Forties, even Marilyn Monroe owned one similar to this, before she was famous. The crossover detail on the neck is also a detail used on clothes in the Forties, as is the matching thin belt. The straight cut and just below the knee length skirts are Forties too.

Under this suit, Rachael has a long sleeved V-neck blouse with pintucks of various colours. This is seen when in Dekkard’s flat, sitting at the piano.

The black suit, in futuristic fabric with a sheen, has a high neck again. The collar looks like a shirt collar, with a diamond shape Art Deco style brooch centrally placed, instead of a bow or tie. At one point she has a clutch with an Art Deco pattern too.

And every femme fatale needs a fur coat.

Notice the heeled court shoes too, if you can. The pair with the grey suit have an interesting two-tone design.

On Pinterest I’ve saved more photo’s of Rachael’s outfits.

The grey suit above is from Vintage Guru. It is an Eighties does Forties skirt suit, with a high waisted pencil skirt and a collarless box jacket. The buttons at the back are a lovely detail and are actually used as the fastening. The buttons around the waist and hips needed moving slightly to give me room to move, and the skirt was shortened from ankle grazing up to below the knee.

These navy separates go well as a suit, with the skirt I made and the vintage heels echo the Art Deco detailing featured in Rachael’s outfits.

Here are some other outfits from my wardrobe, inspired by Rachael.

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Pris

The spray paint futuristic make-up is one I want to use for a party. Chokers are back in vogue,and something I wear anyway, but my stocking’s stay under my clothes. It looks like Pris is wearing a playsuit.

Zhora

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Zhora’s clear raincoat

This clear PVC swing coat is something I’m still looking for. I was surprised when researching this to find that clear plastic raincoats were fashionable as early as the Forties. The swing shape makes this unusual, as most available now are trench coats or hooded poncho’s.

I love the stand up mandarin style collar and the large oval top stitched pockets. The piping around the yoke and the small pockets on the chest are fairly traditional, but I like that the edges of the sleeves and hem are not outlined, but you can only see them when the light catches them.

Anyone out there able to make this? Get in touch, please!

Over-the-knee boots are finally back in fashion. Not that if they weren’t it would stop me wearing them, but to be fashionable means one is able to buy a pair easily. The spikes are less practical, and I like the thigh cuff, which reminds me of Princess Leah’s slave outfit, with the intricate metalwork.

See my posts about The Avengers and Mrs Peel for more on over-the-knee and thigh high boots.

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Zhora’s showgirl outfit

The show ‘outfit’  (I use the term very loosely) of iridescent scales or body gems looks amazing, and could be nodded to with a sequined flesh tone top or body, worn with more conventional skinnies or would even look good with a fluid silk skirt.

The gems would be great party make-up.

 

Gilda dress

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Rita Hayworth wears this simply stunning black floor length evening dress in the film noir Gilda. Gilda wears this dress to the nightclub to make her old flame jealous and provoke a reaction, since they keep falling out. During the scene she sings ‘Put the Blame on Mame’ and removes one glove, burlesque style.

As seen in the photo, the dress is accessorised with long black satin gloves and peep toe shoes. In the film Gilda also wears a diamond necklace close to the collar bone.Some shots show her with a fur stole or coat.

I envy the amazing fit of clothes on film, especially from the 30’s to the 50’s.While the original appears to have been black, I think she would have looked amazing in emerald green, especially with her famous red hair.

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This is my dress rehearsal for a dance I was going to, and below, the photos with my hair and make-up done.

I am wearing a vintage diamanté necklace from my Nanna, sheer gloves from What Katie Did, peep toe heels with a slight platform. The girls in the Forties did platforms first! 

I found this dress on http://www.thecelebritydresses.com. I can recommend their ASOS collection, as this dress proves. They offer made to measure and ready to wear sizes as well as a choice of colours.

Her hair has had the curls brushed out to give more volume, and lots of pomade or hairspray must have been used to keep the smoothness. While Gila sings, you can see her hair get more curls.

The Forties glamorous make-up focused on a bold lip and more natural looking eyes. This was Hollywood, so false eyelashes were used to lengthen the lashes, but not to thicken them.

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Gilda dress

Now for the party!

1930’s style Rowan knit

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This knitted top is a pattern called Charleston from Rowan magazine 39. The designer was inspired by the 1920’s and 30’s. The drape is intended to be on the front, but having looked at some 1930’s evening dresses, I put the drape at the back.

The fashion was to have the detail at the back, while often having a high neck a the front. Silks and satins are perfect for drapes and bias cut skirts. It was a challenge to knit and attach the drape to hang nicely.

The idea of attaching or incorporating jewellery into ones clothes is coming back into fashion. Check out Prada and Chanel for modern reinterpretations. I’ve started wearing my vintage brooches on my coat and jacket pockets.

This aspect of the 30’s style is reflected in the beading along the front, back and in the straps. I used clear and pearl beads (each threaded onto the wool – Rowan Kidsilk Haze) so there is just a hint of sparkle. The fine lace pattern around the waist/hips adds interest. I enjoyed knitting this and it is comfy to wear as well as pretty.

Some close-ups of the beading at the back and the lace.

 

Original 1910’s dress (Downton Abbey style)

This beautiful, delicate dress was entrusted to me by one of my friends. It belonged to a relative who wore it during the period, probably, 1910’s – notice the looser fit, the belt at the natural waist, shin length.

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Made from silk, tortoiseshell belt buckle, which has possibly been replaced. Embroidery of flowers, pin tuck pleats, peter pan collar and front detail.

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Embroidery on skirt
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Pin tucks on back
Collar, back
Collar, back
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Front panel
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Belt
Sleeve cuff
Sleeve cuff

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