Lesser Known Label-Miss Elliette, the Queen of Chiffon

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

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

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

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

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

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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Birthday Tribute to Classy, Sassy Joan Blondell

Joan Blondell 1931

Joan Blondell 1931

Actress Joan Blondell was born on August 30, 1906 .  Coming from show business parents her stage career started when she was only 3 years old!  Her folks were successful vaudeville performers and Joan and her siblings got to tour the world.  A newspaper article from 1936 claimed every one of her first seven birthdays was spent in a different country.

After leaving her family vaudeville troupe, she ended up joining  a stock company,  entered a couple of beauty contests, joined the Ziegfeld Follies, got a part in the play Penny Arcade (1929) with James Cagney, which finally  led to her career in film when Warner Brothers bought the rights to the play, turning it into a movie called Sinner’s Holiday (1930) in which they contracted her and Cagney to play the lead roles. She ended up co-starring with Cagney in six films. They made such a  great wise cracking pair on screen!

Joan is crowned Miss Dallas in 1926 as Rosebud Blondell

Joan wins  Miss Dallas competition  in 1926 as Rosebud Blondell

Though Joan’s film career spanned many decades, she was in greatest demand in the 1930s.   One of the busiest actresses in Hollywood, she mostly played comedic supporting roles as the wise cracking, tough talking working girl pal to the lead actress or the sassy girlfriend of the lead actor.

She starred in over 50 movies including  Public Enemy (1931) Blonde Crazy (1931) Three on a Match (1932)Gold Diggers (1933) We’re in the Money (1935) Topper Returns (1941) Cry Havoc (1943) A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (1945) Nightmare Alley (1947) The Blue Veil (1951) in which she was nominated for an Academy Award.  She also had a successful stage career on Broadway.

Joan Blondell in shimmering gown

Joan Blondell in shimmering gown

Joan Blondell publicity photo 1930s

Joan Blondell publicity photo 1930s

Joan Blondell in black gown with velvet dots

Joan Blondell in black gown with velvet dots

Joan had always considered herself a tomboy, and not very interested in fashion.  But according to the 1936 newspaper article, when she started dating Dick Powell (whom she eventually married) she gained a new interest in clothing.

Lately (friends date the change identically with the time she began going with Dick Powell) Joan has shown an unusual interest in clothes and has become a joy to Warner Bros designer Orry Kelly for her new found ability to wear them smartly. Previously Joan could hardly be begged or brow beaten into showing up for fittings. “Oh you make it and I’ll wear it-you know what to do” she would say carelessly, then disappear for a couple of days trout fishing before a picture. But now all that has changed.  Joan’s personal wardrobe has taken on such smartness and beauty that her friends can hardly believe their eyes when Joan appears at a dance gowned in the latest mode, cleverly selected.

What a lucky lady to have Orry Kelly, the famous Hollywood costumer, designing outfits for  her movies and personal wardrobe!

Joan was one of those rare actresses who was completely unpretentious and didn’t let fame go to her head. I think this writer, quoted in the book Killer Tomatoes-Fifteen Tough Film Dames,   said it best in describing her~

Joan personifed everyone’s good friend on and off camera. Of all the stars I have interviewed ,wrote Charles Higham,  I have liked Joan Blondell the best. She is unique in my experience in being an actress who is devoid of ego, self congratulation and self pity, and would not dream of quoting a favorable review of herself.  She is down to earth, human and real. This is almost unheard of in saran-wrapped Hollywood. Her accessability, straightforwardness, and quick with a comeback attitude was her appeal and never diminished as she got older.

Truly a wonderful testament to a special lady!  Do you have a favorite Joan Blondell movie?

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How to Dress in Feminine 50s Style for a Late Summer Garden Wedding

50s garden party

50s garden party

Contemporary brides are increasingly being enticed by the late summer garden as a preferred venue for their special day. Emerald lawns, balmy breezes and classic blossoms create a dreamy sense of nostalgia and romance, the perfect setting for unapologetic feminine style if ever there was one. The fashions of the 1950s and early 60s, celebrated the glory of femininity and vintage dresses from that time offer an ideal choice for the alternative bride or her guests who are looking for a pretty, yet less formal look.

Swaying skirts and nipped in waists… lovely florals, exquisite details and pretty prints, all designed to make a woman feel her most beautiful. Today’s vintage market provides an array of captivating choices and a reputable vintage dealer should be able to make suitable suggestions and will help you with sizing and fit. They might advise you on the subject of appropriate undergarments. Dresses from the 50s and early 60s are made to show off the figure and can look even better with the help of good foundation garments. A petticoat is not necessary but it will create a lovely flair to the skirt, again, a seasoned dealer will help you to pick the best one for the cut of your dress.

Once you have found your perfect frock the right accessories will add polish and even a bit of fun to your look. Comely shoes are a must and so is the perfect little handbag. For shoes you can choose to highlight a matching color from the dress or stick with the basics like white, bone or black. When in doubt,  patent leather is a time honored, summer choice which can be worn with virtually any dress. You will want to coordinate a smart little vintage purse or clutch and for those of you who prefer bold you might even consider a summery straw  tote or shoulder bag. No need to match shoes to bag, unless of course, that is your preference.

Jewelry, hats and even scarves can add further signature to your look. If you are wearing a sleeveless dress, with open décolleté, then you might consider tying a long chiffon scarf around your throat and letting it drape down the back. Infuse a touch of sparkle to your ensemble with a pair of vintage crystal cluster clips or a dash of innocence with a delicate ear drop and you can never go wrong with pearls. Little lacey gloves, vintage sunglasses, a wide brim hat, a silk rose tucked behind the ear…so many different ways to tie in your own sense of expression. One final touch… for all of you sentimental romantics, tuck a dainty vintage hanky in your bag, to have at ready during the ceremony

So…in this day of casual attire…boho tops and jeans, t-shirts and shorts, capris, hoodies, flip flops… as opportunity to get ones girly-girl on keeps dwindling, it’s comforting to know that a grand exception remains. We will always have weddings, especially those lovely summer garden weddings where a woman can dress-up to her hearts content.

Below are some feminine 50s outfits put together for your summer garden wedding inspiration.

50s pointellist print sundress

50s pointellist print sundress

1950s pointellist print dress, 34 bust/26 waist,  ivory Mary Jane pumps, summery vintage shoulder bag and  dainty flower earrings.

1950s floral print Jerry Gilden dress

1950s floral print Jerry Gilden dress

1950s Jerry Gilden Dress, 36 bust 28 waist,  with dainty floral print, navy patent heels, vintage navy mesh purse and blue bead cluster clip earrings

1950s floral chiffon cape collar party dress

1950s floral chiffon cape collar party dress

1950s floral chiffon dress, 42 bust 33 waist,  with gathered shawl collar and open décolleté, little lace gloves, white Mary Jane pumps and aurora borealis cluster clip earrings.

Classic Dame brand 50s style apple green halter dress

Classic Dame brand 50s style apple green halter dress

 Classic Dame brand 50s style apple green cotton sateen halter dress ,  green rosette earrlngs, black cinch belt,  black  mesh clutch and black satin d’orsay pumps. The black accents lend an air of sophistication that would work beautifully for an early evening garden wedding. Dress available in sizes Small-XLarge

Have a glamorous day!

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How To Apply Red Lipstick That Stays Put

Lucille Ball with Red Lipstick

Lucille Ball with Red Lipstick

There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t wear red lipstick.  It’s an easy way to add instant retro glamour to any look and  perks up your complexion, especially if you’re fair skinned, like I am.

But it was through much trial and error over the years before I came up with my favorite way to apply it so that it stayed on.   Knowing how to apply properly, and what types of  red lipsticks work best, enables you to set out for a night of wining and dining without having to touch up constantly.

So here are some of my tips along with a few more from some other red lipstick wearing  gals.   You can experiment with which way works best for you.

Step 1- Foundation
I always start by applying some foundation to my lips.  You could also use a lip primer. That’s going to help create a base to which everything else will adhere.

Step 2- Lip Liner
I like to use a red lipliner pencil. You can use nude, but I find the red liner adds more depth to the red lipstick shade that will go over it.  First outline the lip, then completely fill it in with the lip pencil.  My favorite is the  Lip Liner  by Palladio.  It’s a retractable pencil, which I love, and has a nice creamy matte finish that stays in place, but is not too dry.

Step 3-  Lipstick Brush and Lipstick
A lipstick brush will give you much more control when applying your lipstick over your liner. With red lipstick you want to make sure you you have a defined lip line.  Using a brush helps immensely with this and it is perfect for shaping the lip outline as well, i.e. creating more of a pout.  I also opt for the retractable type so I can throw it in my purse.

As far as lipstick I have found that some types are much better for longevity than others.  Glosses and real creamy lipsticks are going to slide off at the first sip of a martini.   Lately the ones that work best for me are M.A.C. Lipsticks (Russian Red is a fav) and Stila Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick. My current fav is Fiery, a beautiful true red.

With the MAC Lipstick,  I apply with the brush,  blot a bit of powder on lips, then apply a second coat. With the Stila, since it has a wand applicator, I apply, then use lipstick brush to even out and define lip edges.  With either of these my red color stays on pretty much all day or night!  The Stila is especially amazing. I’ve gone out for a full dinner and a couple of glasses of wine and that color has not budged.  The MAC sometimes will need a little touchup.

More advice from other gals who know a thing or two about rocking a red lip!

From the lovely and stylish Jessica of the Chronically Vintage Blog 

Jessica Cangiano

Jessica Cangiano of the Chronically Vintage Blog

A smooth canvas is key, especially with bold and/or dark lip colours, and since I’m prone to very dry lips, I’ll usually take a dry toothbrush and gently exfoliate my lips before I start. Once the skin is silky (or at least not rough as sandpaper! ;), I trace the natural lines of my lip with either a red or clear lip liner (in the case of the latter, such as Revlon’s Color Stay) and then fill them all the way in, too. If I’m out of liner or think I’ll be eating/drinking a lot before I reply my lipstick next, I’ll sometimes swap the liner for a red (as close to my lipstick hue as possible) lip stain instead.Then, either straight from the tub or with a lipstick brush (I’m keen on Clinique’s, but there are tons of great ones out there at all different price points), I apply an even layer of red lipstick all over (my red of choice is Russian Red from MAC). I blot gentle with a Kleenex, apply a light second layer of red lipstick, then blot once more and am good to go.”

 

From the stunning Pin Up Model Amanda Lee

Amanda Lee aka The Jitterbug Doll

Amanda Lee aka The Jitterbug Doll

“My favorite lipstick is a product called Lipsense. It is a sort of lacquer that you apply, let dry, and then top with a gloss. It’s very long-wearing and comfortable to wear (I describe it as a lacquer, but it   doesn’t feel heavy or sticky at all), and I love not having to worry about my lipstick fading, smearing, or bleeding. I wear the color Blu Red–Christina Aguilera wears the same shade, in fact. I first heard about the product when I read an interview with her.

 For traditional lipstick, my two tips are to outline and fill your lips with a matching lipliner, and to blot your lips after applying the lipcolor. I usually apply a layer of color, blot, apply a second layer of color, and blot again. You can also lightly dust translucent powder on your lips (over a sheet of tissue) to help lock the color in place even more. My favorite traditional lipstick shades are Besame Red Hot Red and Besame American Beauty. Revlon also makes some lovely reds that have been around since the 1950s.”

From Dollie Deville, pin up model and darling doll of the Rockabilly Socialite Blog
Dollie the Rockabilly Socialite

Dollie the Rockabilly Socialite

“My favorite lipstick is Red Hot Red by Besame. I read that it was a recreation of the color Marilyn Monroe wore. It has a nice med red tone, not too blue and not too orange. My tip for making lipstick last is to apply a matching liner underneath. Line the lips and fill them in. Then lipstick over that. I like to over line the outer edges of my top lip in a very heart shape. I don’t like the top lip too pointy! Another good trick is to apply translucent loose powder over your lipstick to set it, then apply another coat over that. Your lipstick will last forever! “

 

Anyone else with helpful tips on keeping your red lipstick lasting please fee free to share!

Have a glamorous day !

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Crane Estate 1920s Style Picnic on the Lawn

Crane Estate 20s Lawn Party-2014

Crane Estate 20s Lawn Party-2014

So after my recent post on vintage picnics, I had a chance to put together one of my own!  Some friends and I recently attended the Second Annual 1920s Lawn Party at the Crane Estate in Ipswich, Ma. The event is truly the “cat’s pajamas” with the majority of attendees dressed in clothing inspired by the Roaring Twenties.  It  is held by Boston Swing Central in partnership with the Trustees of Reservations.

They give free swing and Charleston lessons on the  great wooden dance floor set up at the foot of the stately mansion. And you get to dance to the tunes of the  Baby Soda  Jazz Band all day. There are a bunch of vendors selling all sorts of  clothing and accessories for the vintage lover.  Antique cars set up on the lawn offer great opportunities for fun photos,  A beautiful Italian garden is available for games of  croquet and badminton. And, most importantly, there are the picnics. Everyone sets up on the massive expanse of lawn to relax, enjoy the beautiful surroundings and channel their inner F. Scott and Zelda.

My 20s inspired outfit-Vintage Style Files

My 20s inspired outfit

This year I wore a lace handkerchief hem dress by Nataya, a style that we just happen to  sell at Blue Velvet Vintage!
T strap shoes are Chelsea Crew brand
Hat~thrifted for 1.99     Beaded bag 6.00~purchased at Brimfield Antique Flea Market

Classy dames at the 20s lawn party

Classy dames at the 20s Lawn Party

Vintage vendors

Great vintage shopping!

Beautiful dress at Tangerine Boutique's booth

Beautiful dress at Tangerine Boutique’s booth

More vintage goodies from Tangerine Boutique

More vintage goodies from Tangerine Boutique

Fellow Vintage Fashion Guild member, Melody Fortier, owner of Tangerine Boutique, had a fantastic booth set up with a stunning array of vintage finery.

My Blue Ribbon picnic spread

My Blue Ribbon picnic spread

As if the day wasn’t fun enough, I even won a blue ribbon for best picnic spread! How cool it that?  I was completely unaware that they even judged this sort of thing. So it was a pleasant surprise.

I had recently picked up a great plaid cotton fringed picnic blanket at the SOWA Vintage Market in Boston. (A must visit if you’re ever in the area).  It was only $24.00 and in perfect condition.  When I spotted it I knew it would be perfect for the lawn party.  The blanket inspired me to start looking for more items to put my picnic together.

So the hunt was on! At the Cambridge Antiques Market I spotted the coolest vintage cooler. Snagged that for $30.00 and the picnic basket for $15.00. The cooler will make a perfect ice bucket for storing wine or beer on my tiki bar back at home. The vintage fruit print tablecloth I actually travel with. When I’m on the road for a buying trip I like to take little things I can use to make all the hotel rooms I have to stay in look more homey. I know, it sounds a little crazy, but I love to  have vintage items around me no matter where I land and I think it adds a cheerful touch to your usual generic hotel chain room decor.

Anyway, I thrifted the rest of the items, which is always fun. Picked up vase, glasses, platters etc at Salvation Army.  Everything totalled less than $20.00.  So if you put your mind to it, you can really put together a nice little retro picnic without spending a fortune.  Heck, the food ended up costing more than all the accessories!

Am already looking forward to next years soiree.   And I’ll be on the lookout  for more picnic paraphenalia to add to my collection.

Sunset at Crane Estate

Sunset at Crane Estate

And though the day had been overcast, we were treated to a lovely sunset at the end of a lovely day!

 

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