Happy Birthday to Barbara Stanwyck and Ginger Rogers!

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Today I’d like to feature the fabulous style of two of Hollywood’s most famous , and glamorous, actresses.  Both born on this day, July 16th,  Barbara Stanwyck   in 1907 and Ginger Rogers four years later in 1911.

Barbara starred in over 80 films throughout her career – in addition to her television roles on The Big Valley and The Colbys.  In 1944 she was the highest paid woman in the United States.  She was an amazingly versatile actress. But when I think of Barbara Stanwyck, I can’t help think femme fatale,  as she excelled in film noir roles, one of my favorites being Double Indemnity.

Femme Fatale Barbara Stanwyck in Double Indemnity

Femme Fatale Barbara Stanwyck in Double Indemnity (1944)

And I highly recommend watching Lady of Burlesque, especially for the sensational costumes.

Barbara Stanwyck Lady of Burlesque 1943

Barbara Styanwyck in Lady of Burlesque (1943)

Not only was she known  for her outstanding skills on screen, but also her kind manner offscreen. After working with her  in the 1952 film Clash by Night, Marilyn Monroe said she was the only one in Hollywood’s older generation who had been nice to her.

 Barbara Stanwyck, in a dark green suit by Edith Head for the 1940 film 'Remember the Night'.

Barbara Stanwyck, in a dark green suit by Edith Head for the 1940 film Remember the Night.

She often worked with designer Edith Head in her professional and personal life, who understood and designed for her long waisted figure using waist embellishments and focusing on the bustline.

Another Edith Head creation for Stanwyck in 'The Great Man's Lady 1942.

Another Edith Head creation for Stanwyck in The Great Man’s Lady (1942).

She took home an Emmy for her work in television but is often called ‘ the best actress who never won an Oscar’.

Our other birthday girl , Ginger Rogers ,  was asked by a reporter who should win an Academy Award in 1942 – and she named Barbara as her frontrunner. Ginger Rogers,  herself,  was no stranger to the Academy Awards.  She took home an Oscar in 1941 for her role in Kitty Foyle.

Ginger Rogers and her Academy Award for Best Actress in 1941.for Kitty Foyle

Ginger Rogers and her Academy Award for Best Actress in 1941. Photo: © Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences/Cliff Wesselman

Her character in the film also created a big fashion trend in the 1940s  , the Kitty Foyle dress. The dress was a shirtwaist style with short or elbow-length sleeves ,  made in dark fabric with a contrasting light collar, typically black or navy with white.

The original Kitty Foyle dress.

The original Kitty Foyle dress.worn by Ginger Rogers

And when it comes to spectacular evening gowns how can you not think of Ginger Rogers? In the 1930s Ginger Rogers wore some of the most beautiful evening dresses in her dance scenes with Fred Astaire. Bernard Newman designed many costumes for Rogers, including her infamous ostrich-feather dress in Top Hat.   She collaborated with Newman on the gown and Fred Astaire hated it because the feathers shed all over the place when dancing their “Cheek to Cheek” number . But after she walked out on the set, they finally allowed her to wear it, but only after a seamstress did a better job of anchoring the feathers to the gown.  It now resides in the Smithsonian.

Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers dancing to Cheek to Cheek in Top Hat

Fred Astaire dances with Ginger Rogers in her ostrich feather gown in Top Hat (1935)

Below is one of my favorites – a white art deco inspired gown designed by Newman for the 1936 film Swing Time.

Ginger Rogers in Swing Time . (1936)

Ginger Rogers in Swing Time . (1936)

Check out this gown from our Blue Velvet Vintage store  that reminds me a lot of Ginger’s look in Swing Time .

Click on image for more info.

30s style ivory sating deco evening gown

1930s Style ivory satin Swingtime gown

Happy Birthday to two of Hollywood’s most talented and fashionable style icons!

Do you have a favorite Ginger Rogers or Barbara Stanwyck film?


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2 thoughts on “Happy Birthday to Barbara Stanwyck and Ginger Rogers!

  1. Oh yes, Jessica. Wouldn’t it be fun to conjure up all these gorgeous fashions at the wave of a wand? We can certainly dream:-) I’d like to have someone wave a wand over me to make me dance like Ginger too!

  2. Oooh, now where did I put my magic vintage wand? I want to wave it and have everything both of these stellar starlets are wearing fall into my closet right this very moment! :)

    There are so, so many great films for both that it’s hard to pick just one favourite for each. For Ginger, I especially love her films with Fred (Swing Time, Follow the Fleet, etc), and for Barbara I’m especially fond of Double Indemnity and Christmas in Connecticut.

    ♥ Jessica

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