My Top 5 Favorite Classic Thanksgiving Recipes

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Thanksgiving turkey dinner

Thanksgiving Dinner 1957

I’ve never seen a sausage draped turkey before. Have you?

Anyway, it’s that time of year again when we throw dietary caution to the wind and allow ourselves the luxury of enjoying massive amounts of mouthwatering calorie laden meals without a hint of guilt. And when I think of Thanksgiving dinner, there are certain classic dishes, that if not on your holiday menu yet, should be included. Not because they were invented by famous chefs or include exotic or gourmet ingredients.  Actually they’re not very fancy at all. They’re the ones my mom, aunts and grandmothers used to make. And I don’t know about you, but one bite from one of these dishes never fails to  conjure  memories of fun family Thanksgivings from the past.  I think of  them as holiday comfort food.  Oh, and did I mention they’re super yummy as well?

1. Green Bean Casserole

 Mix green beans and Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup, top with crispy canned onion rings and bake.  So easy, yet so scrumptious!

Green Bean Casserole

Green Bean Casserole

Find the full recipe from Campbell’s Kitchen.

 

2. Baked  Sweet potato casserole with marshmallows

This vintage photo doesn’t do this dish justice. A side dish and dessert all in one. Can’t go wrong here!

Baked Sweet potato casserole with marshmallows

Baked Sweet potato casserole with marshmallows

Image source

Check out this tasty rendition from Taste of Home.

3. Cranberry Bread

Coming from New England, I love cranberries in all ways, shapes and forms.  And seeing an Ocean Spray can transports me back to Thanksgiving dinner at grandma’s house. She would always crack open a can to serve with the turkey. But one of my favorite recipes is cranberry bread, slathered with butter of course! The combination of tart and sweet, with a hint of orange, is irrisistible.

Thanksgiving cranberry dishes

Thanksgiving cranberry dishes

Ocean Spray has a great classic cranberry bread recipe on their site.

 

4. Popovers

IMO, no Thanksgiving dinner is complete without flaky,  featherlight and fabulous popovers, hot from the oven, dripping with butter, of course!

Popovers

Popovers

 And here’s the original classic recipe from Betty Crocker.

5. Pumpkin Pecan Pie

I forget who in my family whipped up this masterpiece first. But two of my favorite Thanksgiving pies combined into one made me a very, very happy girl and still does!

Thanksgiving pumpkin pecan pie

Thanksgiving pumpkin pecan pie

Image source

This delectable recipe can be found here.

So I shared my favorite Thanksgiving dishes and their recipes.  What are some of yours?

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How to rock a backless vintage style gown without your bra showing!

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Estevez for Grenelle dress 1956

Backless dress by Estevez for Grenelle  1956

Because we sell backless or low back original vintage or vintage inspired evening gowns on our website, we frequently get asked by customers what type of bra to wear with this style.  So I thought it would be helpful to do a post focusing on this.

Backless gowns are an iconic look for formal evening dress. Just think of Jean Harlow in her slinky bias cuts gowns with their plunging low backs.  Though the backless style was quite popular in the 30s, it is actually  timeless, showing up in evening wear from many different eras.. It’s an alluring alternative to low cut cleavage baring looks if you don’t wish to expose too much flesh in front, but still want to appear sensual and enticing.  Because there is no doubt that a woman revealing her back in a dress is extremely sexy in an elegant, understated way.

But,  in order to pull off this style, you need to wear the proper bra, unless you’re perky enough to get away without! The rest of us need something to hold us up in front without the tackiness of showing the bra strap in back, hence undoing that chic, sensual Hollywood glam look we are trying to create.

Luckily there are options. Some may work better than others, depending on how much support you need in front. And if you’re wondering what they wore back in the day for a solution to the backless style…..

Stick on bras from 1949

Stick on bras from 1949

image source

Even back in 1949 they had stick on bras. These remind me of the raviolis I used to make with my Nonna!But today there are several brands of stick on bras to choose from that offer that totally strap free experience.  And they are perfect for backless styles as long as you don’t have to support more than a C cup.

NuBra

NuBra

My favorite brand is the NuBra  with a sticky silicone material that is, well, really sticky!  I find they adhere quite well and are easy to care for.

Backless longline bra 1956

Backless longline bra 1956

Then there’s the backless longline style of brassiere.  Here’s what they looked like back in the 50s.  Not very different from the ones that are available today.  They offer much more support that the stick on ones above.

Backless bra from Bramania

Backless bra from Bramania

This lowback longline bra  from Bramania comes in white, ivory and black and at $30.00 is a great price for the added support it will give you. Shop for it here.

Bra for very low backed dress 1956

Bra for very low backed dress 1956

And this interesting looking invention from 1956 is a regular bra with very long straps that attach to a band that circles the waist to hold everything in place. This offered a solution for support combined with the ability to work with a very low backed dress. Of course, this was meant for a dress with sleeves or wide straps. And I’m not sure with the sides of the bra attached to those thin straps if it would end up moving out out of place during the evening. I’d like to try retrofitting one of my own bras to look like this and see how it would “hold up!”

Bra extender from Nordstrom's

Bra extender from Nordstrom’s

I did find something at Nordstrom’s that works in a similar fashion, though not quite as low.  A strap extender that attaches to a regular bra, crosses in back and attaches in front.  I also found an easy tutorial for how to make your own low back bra extender. This is a great idea for bras you already own that have two or three hooks on them.

So there you have it. And if you have any of your own recommendations for backless  bras, please feel free to share!

Have a glamourous day!

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Mother of the Bride? Consider Vintage for a Chic, Unique Look

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Brocade cocktail suit by Manguin. 1959. Photographer Pottier.

Brocade cocktail suit by Manguin. 1959. Photographer Pottier.

Near where I live there are two dress shops that cater to wedding attire. Their windows display a parade of sumptuous bridal gowns, colorful bridesmaid dresses and smart tuxedos. Then there are the dresses intended for the mothers of the bride or groom. Typically they are solid color, neutral or pastel tones, sometimes with a hint of sparkle. Styles are subdued and the fabrics tend to be some kind of pedestrian synthetic. Having marriageable age children of my own, I am more than a little interested in prevailing fashion for mothers of the bride or groom. When I pass by these shops my immediate reaction is OMG that is SO not me! It’s not that many of these dresses aren’t attractive in their own way,  it’s just that they all seem so…. well, generic. And I’m not alone; I find this to be a sentiment shared by friends and customers alike

There are reasons the bridal industry is predisposed to providing somewhat vanilla fashion for the moms. We all agree that a bride’s wedding is her day to shine without distraction. The last thing a mother wants to be accused of is not dressing appropriately or trying to upstage the bride <<<shudder>>>. But does that mean buying an outfit you don’t love? Does it mean wearing fabrics, colors and styles that make you feel dowdy or frumpy? Isn’t it OK to feel and look chic  on your daughter or son’s wedding day? Of course it is. So what are the alternatives for us non-conformist mothers? How do we satisfy wedding etiquette and our own sense of style?

Nina Ricci cocktail suit in matlasse brocade., 1959. Mike de Dulmen photographer

Nina Ricci cocktail suit in matlasse brocade., 1959. Mike de Dulmen photographer

Authentic vintage clothing offers a treasure trove of unique and elegant choices and there are lots of avenues to explore.  But what comes to mind immediately are cocktail suits from  the 50s and 60s. Flattering matched ensembles with jackets or coats in the most gorgeous materials. A perfectly polished look for fall, winter or spring weddings.  Silk matelassé, metallic and lustrous brocades, rich velvets, peau de soie and alaskine, are some of the choices to be had. Brocades in particular offer a way to wear patterns and rich colors in a tasteful way. I’ve had textile designers tell me that some of these fabrics can only be reproduced at astronomical cost and are now exclusive to haute couture. So you are also getting great value for the price when choosing vintage.

Lanvin Castello cocktail suit of velour imprinted satin.1959.

Lanvin Castello cocktail suit of velour imprinted satin.1959.

Along with lovely fabrics these sets often have exquisite couture embellishments including intricate beading, fur trims and rhinestone encrusted buttons.  But ever too much, just a tasteful touch of glam. Styling from these decades is ladylike, sophisticated, but still figure conscious, lending an understated allure. The 50s sets are usually more fitted. But many of the 60s versions are designed with a body skimming relaxed fit, ideal for those of us whose waistlines don’t nip in the way they once did.

Also, don’t  be afraid of having an outfit altered to fit.  Having a proper fit will bring out your best figure features and lend a more polished look. Just be sure the dressmaker is highly skilled. Ask for recommendations and expect to pay well if you want the job done right.

The following is a selection of 1960’s cocktail suits available online from Tangerine Boutique and Blue Velvet Vintage.

Click on images to shop.

Satin brocade dress and coat ensemble

60s Asian floral satin brocade dress and coat ensemble-39″ bust 32″ waist

1960's red and black brocade 60s cocktail suit-

1960’s red and black brocade 60s cocktail suit-
38 ” bust 35″ w 41″ h

60s blue brocade cocktail suit

60s blue brocade cocktail suit- 37″b 27″ w 42″ h

vintage 60's blue brocade cocktail suit

Blue floral silk jacquard 60’s vintage cocktail suit-36″ bust 32″ w 40″ h

 

You may start with vintage,  but make sure you finish with a modern note to avoid looking costumey. I suggest indulging in a great pair of heels in a cutting edge style. Have your hair stylist create a fresh modern look for you and choose simple accessories.

Have a glamorous day!

 

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Top Five Retro Inspired Halloween Party Recipes

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Halloween wouldn’t be complete without whipping up some fun recipes inspired by the holiday. I’ve chosen five of my favorites from around the web,  authentic vintage recipes  to twists on the classics, spooktacular concoctions and confections that will be  frightfully delicious additions to a Halloween party menu!

Banana spook cake

Banana spook cake

1. Banana Spook Cake I loved the idea of turning bananas into ghosts .  And you can’t go wrong with the combination of banana and chocolate. Find the instructions from the original vintage recipe for this spooktacular cake at Mid Century Menu.

halloween jack o lantern pasta

Halloween Jack o Lantern pasta

2. Halloween Jack O Lantern Pasta  Such a fun way to serve up spaghetti and sauce , the ultimate comfort food, with a Halloween flair.   And eezy peezy to boot! Find how to  at Shibani Kitchen.

Dr Jekyll Mr Hyde Cocktail

Dr Jekyll Mr Hyde Potion

3. Mr. Hyde Potion A terrifying twist on the classic martini. Vodka, blackberry syrup, lemon juice , lavender and dry ice. For full instructions on how to conjure up this creepy cocktail go here. Don’t blame me for what you may turn into after a few of these!

Pumpkin Mousse Trifle

Pumpkin Mousse Trifle

4. Pumpkin Mousse Trifle Trifles are a tried and true old time-y dessert.  And this bewitching layered beauty of rum laced pumpkin mousse, whipped cream and dark chocolate will have everyone at your Halloween soiree “goblin” down every last bite!  Find recipe here.

Skeleton Cupcakes

Skeleton Cupcakes

5. Skeleton Cupcakes And no retro Halloween recipe list would be complete with out the classic cupcake. Here they are transformed into cute hat wearing skeletons.  And you can save time by buying already made cupcakes and adding the decorations.  Fine the how to here.

If you’ve got any good Halloween recipe ideas, please feel free to share!

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Lesser Known Label-Miss Elliette, the Queen of Chiffon

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Not everyone who loves to wear vintage fashion can afford to invest in collectible top tier designer pieces. But there are still plenty of more affordable labels to choose from where you can get yourself an extremely well made dress or suit. Clothes that will surely retain or even increase in value over time, considering how much more difficult it has become to find good quality vintage clothing in fine condition.

One of these labels is “Miss Elliette”,  a California dress company started by  Elliette Ellis that was in business from the 1950s through the 1990s..  Love her name! Reminds me of  a character from a romance novel or classic film character.

Ms. Ellis was born in  Montreal, Quebec.  She started painting when she was just a young girl and always dreamed of becoming an artist. But when she eventually left home for New York to attend art school, she noticed how so many talented  artists in Greenwich Village were struggling to get by.  Knowing she didn’t want to become another starving artist, she decided on a fashion design career instead and ended up attending the Traphagen School of Fashion.

From an article in The Telegraph in 1968, explaining why she choose fashion design.  “I loved clothes and never saw them as I liked them to be- romantic and feminine.” And if there is one thing that stands out about  Miss Elliette designs it’s their extravagant use of chiffon in party dresses and evening gowns. Can’t get much more romantic and feminine than that!

From the age of 18 she had dreams of owning her own business. After school she worked for dress manufacturer Carl Naftal, where she learned the garment business.  Instead of a salary, she took a percentage of the profits from the  apparel she designed. And she actually ended up making quite a substantial sum from the sales.

She eventually married an insurance executive, moved to Los Angeles, and started her own business in 1952. Her fashion philosophy, according to the article, was that regardless of what the male designers were doing,  she believed most women wanted to look  feminine, particularly for evening. And she provided her customers with plenty of yards of floaty chiffon, ruffles and sequins to satisfy the most romantic of tastes. And according to this 1972  newspaper article Ms. Elliette’s fashion house purchased undyed chiffon and actually dyed it to match the color of flowers. At that time they offered 35-40 different shades!

1960s Red chiffon Miss Elliette party dress

1960s Red chiffon Miss Elliette party dress

Above is a lovely red chiffon Miss Elliette party dress  from the early 1960s that we recently acquired.  Currently available on our website

Her earlier designs are considered very desirable. So keep an eye out for this lesser known label!

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Classic Dames of TV & Film Halloween Costume Ideas Part 2

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This is my second post on Halloween costume ideas inspired by iconic characters of television and film and the dames who played them.  See Part 1 for additional ideas.

My next favorite character type-

The Flamboyant Vivacious and audacious, she takes the screen by storm and leaves us dazzled with her attention getting outfits that complement her larger than life personality.  These next two gutsy characters epitomize the flamboyant dame.

Sassy, brassy Mae West, in pretty much any of her movies, had a signature look that included an exaggerated, hour glass figure poured into a glitzy gown.  If you don’t already have this type of figure,  use of  waist cinchers, padded bras and derriere enhancing shapewear  will help you pull off this look.  The gown needs to hug the torso and thighs, then flair out into the floor in a sweeping hemline. Think mermaid dress. Mae West’s dresses literally looked like they were painted on. Golden curls are a must and should be topped off with some type of wide brimmed hat  loaded with feathers. Set the hat at a rakish side angle. Add a ton of rhinestone jewelry and maybe a feather boa or fluffy fur wrap. You can’t over do this costume.  The more glitz the better.  For makeup, smokey eyes and a pouty slash of red lipstick.

Mae West-Left "She Done Him Wrong" Right- "Go West Young Man"

Mae West in “She Done Him Wrong” on left, “Go West Young Man”  on right

Auntie Mame, the  delightful and indomitable eccentric with a serious flair for the dramatic in her attire. Whether you want to channel her character as played by Rosalind Russell, Constance Bennett or Sylvia Sidney, the one thing that stands out about Mame, no matter who  played her,  is her penchant for the bohemian and exotic.  Her style was tres chic with a heavy dollop of whimsy. She was the hostess with the mostest who really rocked exotic lounge wear in a big way. Asian print silk pajamas,  vintage kimonos and metallic ethnic print wraps will do the trick here. Add a pair of satin evening slippers and a long jeweled cigarette holder.

Rosalind Russell and Sylvia Sidney in Auntie Mame

Rosalind Russell and Sylvia Sidney as Auntie Mame

Images sources (left)          (right)

Scream Queens And last, but not least!  In keeping with the tradition of Halloween, my final costume category will be the Scream Queens. Horror film’s beautiful and unfortunate women who find themselves living our worst nightmares. Both choices are classic.

Tipps Hedren as Melanie Daniels

Tippi Hedren as Melanie Daniels in “The Birds”

Image source 

Melanie Daniels (Tippi Hedren) in the film The Birds (1963.) In this legendary Hitchcock film, nature goes terribly awry when the birds in a small California town begin to converge and attack it’s citizens…with deadly consequences.  Socialite, Ms. Daniels, is caught dab smack in the middle of it all.

Our character is always smartly dressed, generally in matching skirt or dress ensembles a la 60s style.  Straight skirt and cropped boxy jacket, preferably in green.  Pointy toe pumps and blonde bouffant hair-do. However the most important accessories are the birds and blood!  So muss up that bouffant wig and glue a fake crow on top. Pin another two or three birds to your outfit, rip some holes in it and don’t forget the fake blood spattered on your face and clothing. You need to look like you were being pecked to death by the birds! Fake birds can be found at many big craft shops. floral supply stores and costume shops. For the most dramatic effect use birds that have their wings open.

 

Fay Wray as Ann Darrow in King Kong

Fay Wray as Ann Darrow in King Kong

Image source

Ann Darrow (Fay Wray) in the film King Kong (1933). On a remote tropical island, beautiful Ann Darrow faces peril after becoming the object of affection of a monstrous gorilla, King Kong. After being dragged through the jungle by her massive admirer, Ann’s outfit is a little worse for wear. Some of her most memorable scenes are in a shredded dress which reveals the better part of her silk slip beneath. The bodice has been reduced to a rag clinging to one shoulder and her skirt is in tatters. Any white lacey vintage slip will work. For the dress, shred up a plain day dress that buttons up the front.  Find something that is already in poor condition. You can find distressed vintage dresses on Etsy, just use the words “for study” or “repurpose” in your search. Or pick up something cheap at a thrift store that you don’t mind ruining. Like so many of the silver screen starlets of the day, her hair was bottle blonde and wavy. And if you’re really creative you could sew together a giant gorilla hand, stuff it, and wrap it around your waist!

Do you have any cool Halloween costume ideas based on tv and film characters?  Please share :)

 

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Halloween Costume Ideas Inspired by Legendary Dames of TV and Film-Part 1

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Halloween dress up is just a few weeks away, the time of year when you can unleash your inner fantasy girl with complete abandon.  Need inspiration? There is no better source than Hollywood when it comes to bigger than life dames, from Ingénue to Femme Fatale and everything in between. Not sure where to begin? There are tons of online blogs, Pinterest pages and websites dedicated to movie and television  idols. Just do a search for greatest female characters or female stars of the silver screen. Once you have found your muse the next step is getting the look.  In this two part blog I’m going to pick 5 different leading lady character types. For each one I’ll list two legendary actresses and talk costume. So let’s get started.

1. The Ingénue She is young, innocent and spirited. Irresistible to all. Two top character examples of the Ingénue are…

Holly Golightly (Audrey Hepburn) Breakfast at Tiffany’s, 1961. Holly’s chic, café society look is quite easy to capture.  Start with a simple little black dress, sheath style and fitted. Add a multi strand pearl necklace and long black gloves. Finish with nude stockings and black pumps. Holly’s signature hairstyle is a French twist or updo with lots of volume. Go heavy on the eyeliner. Other accessories to consider would be a long cigarette holder and a little black purse.

 

Audrey Hepburn as Holly Go Lightly

Audrey Hepburn as Holly Go Lightly

Publicity still from Breakfast at Tiffany’s- Image source Vintage Movie Star Photos

Mary Ann Summers (Dawn Wells) from TV show Gilligan’s Island in the mid 1960s. Mary Ann embodies wholesome. Her look is fresh as a daisy and easy to emulate. Short, shorts (cut off jeans are fine) and a cropped sun top or camp shirt, tied up under the bust. Handkerchief prints or gingham work for her girl next door look .   Wear hair in side pony tails with lots of tease on top. Pony tails should be tied with white ribbon bows. If you really want to go all out, do a beach bunny spray tan. Complete the outfit with classic white Keds sneakers.

Dawn Wells as Mary Ann Summers

Dawn Wells as Mary Ann Summers

Dawn Wells publicity photo-Image source Retrocrush

2. The Femme Fatale  Seductive, mysterious and fraught with danger. She manipulates men to do her bidding and plays with their heart, often with tragic consequences. Two iconic Femme Fatale characters are….

Phyllis Dietrichson (Barbara Stanwick) Double Indemnity,1944. Stanwick plays a bombshell housewife with dark ambitions.  This housewife prefers tight fitting sweaters with a high neckline, NO exposed décolleté, that’s important. Sweater should be a soft pastel or cream color. A simple form fitting high waisted black skirt comes next, something that accents the derriere. Belt cinched below the waistline.  Black  pumps, nude stockings  and dark sunglasses. It’s all about looking proper with a seductive twist. Hair for this look should be golden blonde in a shoulder length 40s style with bangs. Stanwyck wore a wig in the film and you can find similar style wigs online.

Barbara Stanywyck as Phillis Dietrichson-Double Indemnity

Barbara Stanywyck as Phillis Dietrichson-Double Indemnity

 Barbara Stanwyck in Double Idemnity-Img source Gallery Hip 

Gilda (Rita Hayworth) 1946 . Rita plays the provocative sex goddess who taunts and teases every man around her.  Slinky, shoulder baring, hour glass dress in satin fabric, slit to the upper thigh.   Long black gloves, glittery rhinestone necklace and strappy black heels.  Arched eyebrows and crimson lips for makeup and the crowning glory…  waves of long red hair parted to the side.

Rita Hayworth as Gilda

Rita Hayworth as Gilda

 3. TV Moms.    From the wholesome Jean Cleaver to the sex bomb Peg Bundy in Married with Children, to the wild,wacky Edina Monsoon in Absolutely Fabulous,   sitcom Moms are an iconic figure in television history. So lots of costume ideas to choose from.  Here are two of my favorites.

Lucy Arnez (Lucille Ball) TV sitcom I love Lucy, 1950s.  Quirky and endearing Lucy was always getting herself in and out of trouble. Her fiery red hair is trademark and a must if you want to do this costume justice. Lucy is known for full skirt dresses with polka dots or check prints and white collars but any 50s full skirt cotton dress will do as long as you wear a petticoat and apron.

Lucy photo lucilleball4copy.jpg

 

Img source Photobucket

And then there’s there’s the dark comedy of Carolyn Jones, as the mom to her very strange Addams Family. Morticia  makes a great gothic Mom costume for Halloween.   Long black form fitting gown that flares toward the hem.  Deep V neckline and long sleeves. Attach panels of black chiffon or netting to the sleeves.  Wig of long black hair that parts in the middle.  Carry one red rose.

The Addams Family with mom Morticia at center

The Addams Family with mom Morticia at center

Stay tuned for part 2 in my Halloween Costume post.

Have a glamorous day!

 

 

 

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Hollywood Glamour Fashion Exhibit-MOFA Boston- Part 2

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Last week’s blog was Part 1 on my visit to the Hollywood Glamour Exhibit at the  Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, including photos of beautiful movie costumes, info on the famous designers who created them and the actresses who were lucky enough to wear these beautiful outfits. Today is my second installment of photos and facts on these iconic fashions from Hollywood’s Golden Era.

Travis Banton hostess gown worn by Marlene Dietrich

Travis Banton hostess gown worn by Marlene Dietrich

Marlene Dietrich in Desire (1936)

Marlene Dietrich in Desire (1936)

In 1936 Marlene Dietrich played a jewel thief in Paramount Pictures, Desire.  She steals a valuable strand of pearls named “tears of the mermaid.” Love that name!
Travis Banton, whose imagination and designing skills were directly responsible for the mystique of Ms. Dietrich’s character, incorporated chiffon, fur and feathers for probably the most glamorous hostess gown I think I’ve every seen!

Edith Head design for Betty Grable

Edith Head design for Betty Grable

Betty Grable in gold lame gown designed by Edith Head

Betty Grable in gold lame gown designed by Edith Head for This Way Please (1937)

I have to admit, I do love me some shimmer!  And shimmery fabrics, like the gold lamé  used in this fabulous halter gown, were used quite a bit during the early eras of cinema as the fabric translated beautifully on black and white film.  Edith Head designed this for Betty Grable in the movie This Way Please (1937). 

FUN FILM FASHION FACT- Aside from looking beautiful on screen, with the advent of  the  “Talkies” ,  soft, flowing fabrics like chiffon, lamé and satin were often used because they didn’t make any distracting noise that could be picked up by microphones.

Two piece outfit designed by Irene for Greer Garson

Two piece outfit designed by Irene for Greer Garson

Greer Garson in Julia Misbehaves (194*

Greer Garson in Julia Misbehaves (1948)

Above is Greer Garson in a photo from Julia Misbehaves (1948) wearing a blouse and skirt designed by Irene Lentz.  Usually referred to as just  Irene, she was a California fashion designer who ended up working for MGM in the 1940s after Gilbert Adrian left there.  She is known for her evening gowns and exquisite tailoring.  I absolutely love this two piece ensemble. Though it is not as formal as some of the other outfits in the exhibit, this is one I could totally envision myself wearing to a fancy cocktail party or dinner. That is if I were fortunate enough to to find something even remotely as lovely as this!  The embroidered design around the neckline and down front of the blouse along with the shimmery satin overskirt adds just the right amount of interest to take simple separates to a whole new level of glamour.

Schiaparelli gown for Mae West

Schiaparelli gown for Mae West

Mae West in Every Day's a Holiday (1938)

Mae West in Every Day’s a Holiday (1938)

Famous Paris couture designer, Elsa Schiaparelli, created this rich purple silk embroidered wool twill dress for Mae West in Every Day’s a Holiday (1938).  Set in the Gay Nineties the costumes from this movie inspired Ms Schiaparelli’s 1939 clothing line, which was sold in department stores. Even back then women wanted to wear celebrity fashion!

FUN FILM FASHION FACT-  Mae West’s curvaceous figure, which measured 35-25-35, was the inspiration for Elsa Schiaparelli’s “Shocking” perfume bottle.

Mae West's custom platform shoes

Mae West’s custom platform shoes

And last, but not least, these fascinating platform shoes made of wood and leather, were specially designed for Mae West.  Because she was only 5 feet tall, these shoes within a shoe added another 8 1/2″ to her height.  Heck I thought the platform shoes I wore in the 70s were tall!   In all her movies she always had on long dresses, so all you could see were the silver shoes peeking out from beneath. Ingenious, yes?  I wonder if it took much practice for her to get used to walking in them.

Which oufit is your favorite?

Have a glamorous day!

 

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Fabulous Old Hollywood Fashion at Museum of Fine Arts- Boston- Part 1

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Hollywood Glamour exhibit at MOFA Boston

Hollywood Glamour exhibit at MOFA Boston

Back from a recent trip to New England where I was  very fortunate to catch the Hollywood Glamour  exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.  On display were gowns designed by some of the early movie industry’s most famous costumers.  I can’t begin to describe how excited I was to be so close to such amazing creations, outfits that were actually worn by legendary actresses of the 20s, 30s and 40s.   And since cameras were allowed, I was able to take photos to share.   I’ve broken the post up into two parts since I got a little carried away with the picture taking.  So come back to see the rest of these beauties!

Travis Banton gown for Mary Ellis- Paris in Spring 1935

Travis Banton gown for Mary Ellis- Paris in Spring 1935

This lamé gown was front and center of the exhibit and was simply breathtaking in person.
Attributed to Travis Banton, who designed this for actress Mary Ellis in the movie
Paris in Spring (1935).

Mary Ellis-Paris in Spring 1935

Mary Ellis-Paris in Spring 1935

FUN FILM FASHION FACT - In the very early years of film, designers had to experiment with ways to make the costumes really stand out on black and white film.  And some designs were problematic for the camera, such as dresses heavily embellished with jewels. So often they used cold cream to dull the finish on stones so they would not cause camera glare.

Chanel 20s beaded dress

Chanel 20s beaded dress

 

Actress Ina Claire in Chanel dress-1926

Actress Ina Claire in Chanel dress-1926

Chanel designed for stage and screen. And in the early 1930s she created costumes for a few films at  Metro Goldwyn Mayer.  But according to the studio her design aesthetic of simple, elegant silhouettes didn’t translate well on the silver screen. So, though she is one of the most famous fashion designers of all time, her Hollywood costume design career was short lived.

Travis Banton dress for Carole Lombard in No Man of Her Own (1932)

Travis Banton dress for Carole Lombard in No Man of Her Own (1932)

Carole Lombard in No Man of Her Own

Carole Lombard in No Man of Her Own

Another Travis Banton beauty.  This silk chiffon gown is completely embroidered with bugle beads and silver metallic thread.   The tiny beads created a luminous, shimmering effect on film.  Plunging necklines and backs were a hallmark of 1930s fashions, and the figure hugging silhouette could only look its best with no undergarments worn beneath.  Being as it was pre-code, racy dresses like this were still allowed on the screen.

Adrian black velvet gown designed for Greta Garbo in Inspiration  1930

Adrian black velvet gown designed for Greta Garbo in Inspiration 1930

Great Garbo publicity photo for Inspiration 1930

Great Garbo publicity photo for Inspiration 1930

This luxurious black silk velvet gown with bejewelled neckline that Greta Garbo is wearing was designed by the famous Gilbert Adrian for her role in Inspiration (1930). Adrian began dressing Garbo when he came to work for MGM in 1928.  The style of clothing he designed for Ms Garbo helped form her onscreen persona, which was often that of a mysterious, devastatingly alluring, femme fatale.

Gilbert Adrian gown for Jean Harlow in Bombshell (1933)

Gilbert Adrian gown for Jean Harlow in Bombshell (1933)

Jean Harlow in Bombshell

Jean Harlow in Bombshell

In the movie Bombshell Gilbert Adrian was going for a good girl/bad girl look for Jean Harlow.   Sensuous silk satin was used that would caress the actresse’s curves, a low neckline and plunging draped back combined with the flowers and multi tiered peplum is a wonderful contrast of sexy and sweet.

FUN FILM FASHION FACT- This is the gown Jean Harlow wore when she added her hand prints in the wet cement in front of Grauman’s Chinese Theater in 1933.

Robert Kalloch deisgn for Noma Shearer in Her Cardboard Lover (1942)

Robert Kalloch deisgn for Noma Shearer in Her Cardboard Lover (1942)

Close up of evening jacket designed by Robert Kalloch

Close up of evening jacket designed by Robert Kalloch

Norma Shearer and Robert Taylor in Her Cardboard Lover (1942)

Norma Shearer and Robert Taylor in Her Cardboard Lover (1942)

This stunning evening jacket, designed by Robert Kalloch for Norma Shearer to wear for Her Cardboard Lover (1942), is made of a rayon twill with silver metallic threads and embroidered with intricate bugle beads and sequins.   Robert Kalloch was not quite as well known as some of the other Hollywood designers like Adrian, Banton and Orry Kelly, but he did have an impressive career in fashion, which began  with him designing extravagant evening gowns for royalty, the social elite and costumes for stage actresses.  Eventually Columbia Pictures brought him to Hollywood to add some style and class to their films.  He also designed for MGM studios from 1941-43.

That’s all for now! Part 2 coming soon…..

Hope you enjoyed my little show and tell on Hollywood fashion history!

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A Birthday Tribute to Film Noir Legend, Jane Greer

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Jane Greer

Jane Greer was born Bettejane Greer on Sept. 9 1924 in Washington DC and she came into this world destined for success.

Groomed from childhood to feel at home in the spotlight, she took  part in childhood beauty contests and talent shows. At 15 she was afflicted with Bell’s Palsy, which paralyzed one side of her face. But Jane worked tirelessly on facial exercises and was able to overcome her disability.  She was a very determined young lady! Left  high school in her senior year to sing in club bands,  continued to model and dreamed of a career in acting. At age 18  she was chosen to model the army’s new WAC uniform which was featured in Life Magazine. There she caught the eye of Howard Hughes. Hughes was captivated and had little trouble convincing the aspiring actress to come to Los Angeles. There her screen career began. Hughes was an unbalanced man, emboldened by wealth and driven by jealous obsession. When Greer made it clear to him that she intended to have a life of her own he retaliated both emotionally and professionally. Their struggle was bitter and it hindered her career but she was eventually able to sever the ties.

Despite the road blocks that Hughes threw her way, Jane Greer managed to become an accomplished actress. The 1940s brought us some of Hollywood’s most powerful female screen characters and none is more riveting than the part she played as Kathie Moffat in Out of the Past (1947).  In this acclaimed film noir, Greer masterfully reveals the cold dark heart of her character while the audience remains mesmerized by her beguiling beauty and poised demeanor. Greer was a dedicated professional who understood the nuances of facial expression. RKO promoted her as “the woman with the Mona Lisa smile.”

Jane Greer as Kathie Moffat Out of the Past (1947)

Jane Greer as Kathie Moffat- Out of the Past (1947)

Her Kathie was never over the top… a whisper of a smile as she worked her charms, soft beseeching eyes while she boldly lied and, most frightening of all, that cold glint of excitement just before she pulls the trigger. Pure genius! The camera loved her polished glamour. She had a drop dead figure that made everything she wore seem fit for a fashion magazine.  Edward Stevenson, Hollywood costume designer for films such as Citizen Cane, It’s a Wonderful Life and a favorite designer of Lucille Ball,  created Greer’s wardrobe for  Out of the Past and The Big Steal.

Her opening scene outfit for Out of the Past was elegant innocence… The cut of the dress skimmed the actresses form, modestly highlighting every curve.  It had a sweetheart decollete and youthful capped sleeves. She wore a matching portrait hat set back on the head. No hint of the lethal character to come. In The Big Steal (1949), Greer plays Joan Graham, a gutsy gal in pursuit of a thieving boyfriend. On the theater poster she wields a pistol, dressed in a bombshell halter gown which Stevenson designed to show off her pin up curves. Certainly not a dame to be messed with!

Jane Greer publcity photo-Out of the Past

Jane Greer publcity photo-Out of the Past

Jane Greer-The Big Steal (1949)

Jane Greer-The Big Steal (1949)

Greer is best known for her 1940s film characters. However her acting career, although not prolific, continued into the 90s. Outside of her profession she lead a full life. In 1942 she married Rudy Vallee but they divorced just one year later. In 1947 she married Edward Lasker. With him she had three sons. She found great joy in raising her children and later became dedicated to charity work. Time was kind to Ms. Greer, she remained a beauty all her days and will forever hold a place of honor in film noir.

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