Kendra’s Fashion Challenge-Night Out in New York City

I was recently contacted by travel expert, Kendra Thornton, to participate in a fashion challenge for her upcoming visit to New York City.  She is looking for style boards with wardrobe recommendations for her trip.  Thinking this was a fun idea, I jumped at the opportunity to put something together.   Kendra did not provide me with any clues as to her own personal tastes in clothing, so left it up to me to come up with an outfit. So I hope she likes a vintage inspired look, because that’s my thing!

Anyway, here are the deets on her challenge~

New York Style: The Fashion Challenge

“I don’t need anyone to give my regards to Broadway because I’ll be traveling to New York City myself soon. A group of friends and I will be spending a few fun days in the Big Apple, and I’ve had a ball planning for our trip. I’ve chosen to book our stay at the luxurious Dream New York City hotel, and I know we’re going to have all kinds of fun together there. Before we leave, I need some help from you.

The Fashion Challenge

New York City is famous for fashion, and I don’t want to step out on a night in the Big Apple without looking absolutely gorgeous in the latest styles. As a mom of three kids living in the Midwest, I could certainly use some fashion tips before my trip. Will you please review the description below of one of the places that my friends and I will be visiting? Then use that as inspiration for your fashion recommendations.

The Bar at Dream New York City

When staying at a trendy Midtown hotel like Dream New York City, you don’t have to go out in order to enjoy a night on the town. One evening during our visit, my group of friends plans to enjoy some time relaxing, drinking and people watching at The Bar. Located in our luxurious hotel, this lounge, reminiscent of a classic Midtown Manhattan bar, features comfortable elegance and sleek finishings accented by the occasional well-placed antic. Perhaps we’ll while away the hours drinking at the marble-top bar as we watching the city pass by outside The Bar’s windows. We’ll definitely enjoy selecting drinks from the Beer Manual, which features traditional favorites as well as a full selection of craft beers. The two huge flat-screen televisions in The Bar make this a perfect place to catch a big game as well, and if the munchies strike, guests can order decadent tapas or light small plates to go with their drinks.

New York Style

Like every world city, New York City has its own unique style, but few cities hold as much sway over global fashion trends as the Big Apple does. That’s why I’m super excited to be getting your expert advice concerning what fashions I should sport on a night out in New York.”

So I’m thinking historic building  built in 1895 , updated inside with a fabulous modern decor.  A beautiful old world meets new world look. I started flipping through my magazines and books on vintage fashion, searching for inspiration that was sophisticated and feminine and would be a fab look for a “swanky” hotel bar in the big city.  I  was drawn to the 1940s styles of peplum tops worn with sleek, narrow skirts.  And I also love classic movies, hence the choice of black and white, which is always a classicly chic combination.  A sophisticated silhouette for a night out in NYC,  with a feminine, timeless flair is my recommendation for Kendra’s night at The Bar at Dream Hotel.

Outfit for Night out in New York City-1940s Style

Outfit for Night out in New York City-1940s Style

Black and white dotted silky wrap peplum top worn with a black pencil skirt that has flirty little pleats in front. Triple strand vintage black bead necklace, multi strand black bead bracelet with rhinestones, peep toe platform heels in black patent with white trim, silver mesh clutch and for a touch of color~ MAC Russian Red lipstick (my favorite!) and OPI nail polish in, what else but Big Apple Red!

Hope Kendra likes it!




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Lesser Known Label-Kay Windsor Frocks

Over the years, while on my many vintage hunts, I’ve occasionally acquired 1950s dresses with the “Kay Windsor” label in them.  Always in cotton, with full skirts and often very pretty prints.  I even have a couple of their adorable little numbers in my own closet! Many were made in really cute novelty and floral prints in bright shades against a black background, which is one of my all time favorite color combinations.   Though not a big name designer label that many would recognize, I would imagine most experienced vintage clothing sellers are familiar with the name and would be quite happy to get their hands on any of their 40s or 50s day dresses!

The company was actually founded in 1939 in New Bedford, Massachusetts by Carl Shapiro and his father.  Their goal was to take the “boring” cotton housedress and transform it into something chic and fashionable.  They made a very successful business of it too, with factories all over New England manufacturing stylish  moderately priced dresses and suits for career women. The company eventually sold  to Vanity Fair in 1971 for $21 million.

Below images are ads from Charm Magazine in 1955 so you can get an idea of just how fabulous this dress line was.
These particular styles were designed by Grace Norman for Kay Windsor. The hats are John Frederics designs.

Left~ Matchstick print dress and jacket came in lime and blue, lilac and aqua or green and gold on a black background.
Right~ Parasol print shirtwaister, lilac, rose, gold or turquoise on black.

Novelty print Kay Windsor dresses-1955

Novelty print Kay Windsor dresses-1955

Left~Button front shirtwaister with “Gainsborough Girl” neckline.
Right- Pintuck bodice full skirt dress with jeweled bow.
Both were available in dusk blue, champagne, aqua and dusty pink.

Kay WIndsor cotton/nylon blend day dress-1955

Kay Windsor cotton/nylon blend day dresses-1955

Left~ The Paris Touch with pearl buttoned front panel. Came in navy, turquoise, rouge or charcoal.
Right~ The Scooped Neck Sophisticate. Was available in pink, aqua or lilac flowers on black.

Kay Windsor spring dresses-1955

Kay Windsor cotton broadcloth spring dresses-1955

Prim and proper shirred bodice shirtwaist dresses in solids and prints with white cotton pique collars
with velvet bow accents. So adorable!

Kay Windsor prim and proper shirtwaisters-1955

Kay Windsor prim and proper shirtwaisters-1955

Left~Tabbed empire style full skirt dress.
Right~Coat dress with huge platter buttons.
Were available in navy, plum and grey.

Kay Windsor nylon and pima cotton dresses-1955

Kay Windsor nylon and pima cotton dresses-1955

Also, in 1954 there was a popular television show starring Ann Sothern, called “Private Secretary.”  And just as today, women were into celebrity fashions and many young women wanted her chic “office” look.     So the “Private Secretary” line was created by none other than the Kay Windsor company,  and the television star appeared in many of their ads that  read “a dress chosen especially for you by Ann Sothern.”  (source~Lizzie Bramlett, for the Vintage Fashion Guild label resource.)

So if you looking to add some classy 1950s dresses to your vintage wardrobe, be on the lookout for the Kay Windsor label. Because as their tag line states, they’re “For the Look You Love.”


Have a glamorous day!


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The Ever Flattering 1950s Princess Style Dress

If  you fancy 50s fit and flared dresses , then, if you haven’t already, you need to find yourself a princess style version.   This silhouette is one of my favorites to come out of that era.  A princess line dress doesn’t have a waist seam.  The way it forms to the body is through the cutting and sewing of vertical panels, each one designed to be narrower on top and  widen toward the bottom to give the dress it’s fitted bodice and full skirt shape.  The vertical seaming draws the eye down, so creates a very slimming look.

Nowadays you don’t see many dresses in stores constructed this way. The most obvious reason would be the amount of fabric and labor it takes to cut and sew a pattern design made up of so many pieces.  The more seams, the more it costs to make the dress.  You do sometimes see this silhouette in bridal wear, though.

I only have rudimentary sewing skills, so when I look at a 1950s princess style dress with many panels, it never ceases to amaze me  how all those separate pattern pieces come together so perfectly!  If I had to sew it up, I’m sure the dress would be unrecognizable when I got done with it!

Below  are some examples of 1950s figure flattering princess line dresses.

This dress was made from Vogue Pattern 8234- The yummy color is called “orange ice.” And I love that starburst pin!
From a 1954 Glamour Magazine.

1954 Princess style dress from Vogue pattern 8234

1954 Princess style dress from Vogue pattern 8234. Frances McLaughlin photo

Princess style black and white check coatdress by Leslie Fay.
1954 Glamour Magazine.

Leslie Fay black white check princess dress. 1954- Frances McLaughlin photo

Leslie Fay black white check princess dress. 1954- Frances McLaughlin photo

Campus Casuals Schiffli embroidered dresses. Glamour 1954.
The one on the left is interesting, as it has no defined waist seam on the front panel, but the sides show dropped waist seams.
The one on the right has an empire waist seam so the panels begin just below the bust.

Campus Casuals 1950s princess line dresses-Glamour Magazine 1954

Campus Casuals 1950s princess style dresses-Glamour Magazine 1954

This 1950s  Simplicity Pattern from Etsy Seller Crafty Paneen is a lovely example of the princess silhouette.

 1950s Simplicity pattern for  princess dress

1950s Simplicity pattern for princess dress

And check out this lovely 1950s ice blue damask princess style dress that we just added to our website.
It has eight separate panels, plus long vertical darts, to create its flattering  fit and flared shape.

1950s blue damask princess style dress

1950s blue damask princess style dress

Have a glamorous day!



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Helen Rose- Costumer and Wedding Dress Designer to the Stars

Helen Rose

Helen Rose

img source A Certain Cinema

It was recently Doris Day’s birthday and I was searching for a lovely picture of her to post on Faceoook, when I remembered that fabulous blue number she wore in  Love Me or Leave Me (1955).  I was curious to find out who designed the costumes for that film,  and  discovered it was Helen Rose. Now  the name Helen Rose may not be as familiar to many as Edith Head, but  take my word for it, she was definitely an amazingly talented Hollywood wardrobe designer in her own right, becoming chief costume designer of MGM Studios from the 1940s until the 1960s!  And as you can imagine it was pretty unusual for a woman to hold such an important position back in the day!

Not only did she design some of the most iconic dresses to grace the silver screen, but she also designed some of the most famous wedding dresses in history, two of the most notable being Grace Kelly’s worn for her marriage to Prince Ranier and Elizabeth Taylor’s gown worn for her marriage to Nicky Hilton.

She actually started out designing costumes for vaudeville acts, then in 1929 headed to LA where she ended up designing outfits for the Ice Follies. She was also hired by 20th Century Fox to design costumes for musicals, before MGM hired her when their designer Gilbert Adrian left. At MGM she worked for head costumer Irene Lentz until the late 1940s when Irene left to start her own ready to wear line. Helen became chief costume designer at that time.

Chiffon dresses were her specialty. Though the fabric is difficult to work with ,  according to an article in the Times,  Helen said she loved the way it  moved and picked up the light.

One of the most famous wedding dresses of all time, Grace Kelly’s beaded lace and silk taffeta gown took six weeks to make and the work of 35 craftspeople from MGM’s wardrobe department.  At that same time Helen Rose was also designing the costumes for High Society, a movie Grace was starring in at the time.

Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier

Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier

Grace Kelly in Helen Rose designed chiffon dress-High Society

Grace Kelly in Helen Rose designed chiffon dress-High Society



This is the wedding dress Elizabeth Taylor wore when she married Nicky Hilton.  The Helen Rose design sold at Christie’s last year for $187,000!

Elizabeth Taylor Helen Rose wedding dress

Elizabeth Taylor and Nicky Hilton

You know that fabulous sexy white chiffon number Liz Taylor wore in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof? Yep, that was a Helen Rose design that started a major fashion trend, with women all over the country snapping up knockoffs!   A timeless style that would look just as fabulous if worn today.

Elizabeth Taylor as Maggie in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

Elizabeth Taylor as Maggie in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

And here’s Doris Day in the stunning blue chiffon costume she wore in Love Me or Leave Me (1955).

Doris Day in Helen Rose design costume for Love Me or Leave Me

Doris Day in Helen Rose design costume for Love Me or Leave Me (1955)

Another of my all time favorite films, Helen Rose designed all the gorgeous gowns for the movie Designing Women(1957)
Starring Lauren Bacall who plays a clothing designer,  Ms. Rose must have really enjoyed coming up with the costumes for this fashion extravaganza!

Helen Rose Gown-Designing Women (1957)

Helen Rose Gown-Designing Women (1957)

There are so many more movies that Helen Rose designed costumes for, I could go on and on.  But here’s a short list ~ Courtship of Eddie’s Father, Butterfield 8, The Last Time I Saw Paris, Million Dollar MermaidFather of the Bride and Mogambo . She  won Best Costume Design Oscars for I’ll Cry Tomorrow  and the Bad and the Beautiful and was nominated for eight other films as well.

When she left the movie business in the 60s, Helen continued to design clothing for the rich and famous and also wrote two books, Just Make Them Beautiful and The Glamorous World of Helen Rose, both of which I need to buy immediately! Then  in the 1970s Helen took her clothes on the road.  Called the “Helen Rose Show”,  it was a travelling fashion show featuring many of her MGM costumes.

When she passed away her collection went to her close friend Marilyn Visel. After Marilyn passed, Barbara Marx  inherited the collection. In 2013 the collection resurfaced when Barbara donated it to the Palm Beach Historical Society for a Film Costumes of the Silver Screen Fashion Show.  It would be so great if the Helen Rose Show was revived. I’d love to see all those beautiful costumes come to a city near me!

Do you have a favorite film that Helen Rose designed the costumes for?




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You’re Never Too Old for Your First Pin Up Shoot!

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to partake in a pin up photo session, but felt too shy and self conscious? Do  you love the sassy look of vintage pin up girl images and the glamorous photo stills of classic actresses, but think you’re too old to give it a whirl yourself?  Well, think again!

Recently I decided to surprise my husband because he always says he doesn’t have any good pictures of me.  He’s a yacht captain and when he is out to sea he always wished he had a nice framed photo of his wife to look at while he’s away. Isn’t that romantic?   Yeah, well, it hasn’t happened in all these years because  I never actually had the nerve to have any “nice”  professional photos done. I feel very awkward in front of a camera and never enjoyed being the center of attention.

Then one day I was down in Miami  at the fabulous Terribly Girly Photo Studio, with  Janette Valentine and her talented crew , watching them do a Gatsby style photo shoot for our 20s style dresses.  That’s when the lightbulb went off!   My husband wants a picture of me?  Then why not give him one that totally represents what I love and also do for a living?

But could I pull it off? The whole idea seemed kind of fun, but scary too. Plus I thought, really, this is for  younger gals.  But Janette talked me into it, explaining to me that many of her clients were  over 40!   She assured me they could make me look glamorous and presentable.  So I decided , why the heck not? I would welcome the personal challenge of overcoming my fear of the camera.  And I really wanted to do an “Old Hollywood Glamour”  themed shoot because I love the pin up photos of  1940s actresses in their elegant gowns.  So I immediately started planning  the look in my head!

First off, let me just say, hair and makeup artist, Marilyn San German is a miracle worker!  Below is a before photo of me sans makeup.  Believe me, I don’t let many people see me like this! But I had to show you what a seriously talented HMUA can achieve.

Before photos of my pinup shoot

Before photos at my first pin up shoot

And here are a couple of the after photos, once Marilyn and Janette worked their magic!

My first Old Hollywood Glamour style pin up shoot.

My first Old Hollywood Glamour style pin up shoot.

Old Hollywood Glamour pin up shoot-Terribly Girly Photography

Lying on a sofa surrounded by red tulle!

I really felt weird and self conscious at first, but Janette and Marilyn were so easy to work with, that they helped relax me.  And I have to say I was very pleased with the results and so was my husband. Though at first he didn’t even believe it was me!  Frankly, I couldn’t believe it was me either!  Those girls did a great job.

It really ended up being a fun day once I got over my nervousness. So, to those ladies who have been hesitant to try it,   I highly recommend a pin up shoot as a special treat to yourself,  no matter what your age.   You get to hang out with funny, super creative girls, talk about hair and makeup, play dress up and get pampered. It’s truly a fantastic way to celebrate being a woman.  Oh did I mention?  I’m already planning my next theme!

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Top 5 Tips for Buying A Dress Online that Fits and Flatters

Everyday we get emails and phone calls from gals wanting to know if our vintage and retro dresses run “true to size”,  or if they run big or small.  Or we are told “I always wear a size 6, but the measurements for the dress I’m interested in suggests I need a size 8″, or “I can’t buy this dress if I have to buy a size 14. I’ve always worn a 10! ”

So I thought it was high time I wrote a blog post that demystifies the whole garment sizing issue, along with my Top 5 dress buying tips that will hopefully help make your online shopping experience a little less frustrating and confusing.

Tip 1. Measure, measure, and measure again!  Before I delve into the mysterious ways of garment making, pattern sizing, fabric choices and designer preferences,  the most important thing you need to know before shopping for a dress is……….YOUR MEASUREMENTS!

Tape measures are way cheaper than trips to the post office and return shipping fees!  We have a guide on our website you can refer to on how to properly measure yourself. It also provides a lot more information about garment sizing.

know your measurements

Always measure yourself first!


Tip 2. Ignore the size label-   A lot of people don’t know this, but there really is no size standardization for womens’ apparel.  They tried that years ago and for various reasons it was done away with.  That’s why, today,  there really is no clothing that is “true to size”.  Here’s an enlightening article on why women’s garment sizing makes no sense.  This  is the main reason why you can fit into a size 4 from one designer and a size 8 from another.  It’s doesn’t mean you’ve grown bigger or smaller!  Your measurements are still the same. It’s just that every designer/manufacturer has their own set of sizing standards for their patterns, which has a lot to do with their target customers. Many people refer to it as “Vanity sizing.”    Call it whatever you like, but the best thing to do when shopping for clothing online is to…..IGNORE THE SIZE LABEL  and use the measurement chart* provided, while repeating over and over again “It’s only a number, it’s only a number!”

*A note on size charts-Some companies use generic size charts for all their clothing. This is where it can get tricky. Because measurements  can actually vary  between styles from the same manufacturer. In the case of generic sizing charts, if the company has knowledgeable customer support, they should be able to tell you if a particular style is running true to the measurements listed in their particular size chart. So contact them first to find out.    At Blue Velvet Vintage, because we are a small online boutique, our stockroom people actually have the time to measure every new style that comes in (and if they don’t have the time we make them work 24 hours a day until they get it done) JUST KIDDING!   So that means the measurements in our product descriptions are usually pretty darn close to the actual garment measurements.  That’s why it’s helpful to find an online seller who is actually measuring their products, rather than using a generic chart.  It does  increase your chances of getting  a better fitting dress.

Tip 3. Know your fabrics You have a lot more leeway with fit when the dress you are drooling over for your next party is made of a jersey knit or some other stretchy type material or has a blend of lycra/spandex with something else. So pay close attention  to the fabric content in the description. If the dress is made of a non stretch fabric (called wovens) and you have 38″ hips, then the non-stretch dress size with  36″ hips is NOT GOING TO STRETCH to fit your hips, even if the smaller size has the perfect measurements for your bust and waist.  You always need to choose the size that corresponds with your largest measurement and have the other areas taken in.    Which leads me to this next important tip!

Tip 4. Find a good seamstress   Women come in all shapes and sizes. And the sad truth is  there is no way a designer or manufacturer can make ready to wear “off the rack” dresses that are going to fit every single configuration of body shape out there.  So if you want to expand your wardrobe possibilities,  get over the idea of trying to save money by spending endless hours of browsing for dresses that you think may fit, because you don’t want to pay to have them altered.   With that mindset you severely limit your possibility to have more fabulous dresses in your closet!  Just…..GET YOURSELF A PROFESSIONAL SEAMSTRESS and pay to have her alter your dresses so they fit like they were custom made for you. Even though it will cost you more, you will have way more options for wardrobe choices, knowing you can buy something that doesn’t quite meet your measurements exactly. And trust me on this, you’ll look like you’re wearing a much more expensive dress when you get a fit that is perfect for you!  Especially with evening gowns and other dresses that have form fitting silhouettes made of non stretch fabric,  you should always budget for alterations.  Still beats the expense of a custom dress!  *

*Keep in mind, most clothing nowadays doesn’t have enough seam allowance for letting out.
But most dresses can easily be taken in.

female body shapes chart

Know your shape!

Tip 5. Know your Shape No matter how much you love that 50′s style pencil dress or the mermaid gown with the hourglass silhouette, if your bust, waist and hip measurements are very close (rectangular shape) or you’re a perfect pear shape, then these styles are most likely not going to look flattering on you.   You need to be realistic about your figure. There are lovely silhouettes from every era that will complement and flatter whatever shape you have. Some gals built less curvy can rock the mod 60s look or the 1920s styles. Because  I am more of a pear shape, those styles don’t look good on me. Neither do most pencil dresses.  But I look fab in the 1950s fit and flared silhouettes.  So you just need to figure out which styles are the best for your figure  and purchase accordingly.  This will save you in lost time, return expenses and disappointment.

Ultimately, there are no tips that can positively guarantee you’ll have a 100% foolproof, perfect fit experience every time you’re shopping for dresses online. But, I hope these tips help bring you a bit closer to making your online dress buying experience a bit more stress free!

And any comments you have regarding your trials and tribulations of buying dresses on line are certainly welcome here :)

Have a glamorous day!

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Top Ten Favorite “Old Hollywood” Oscar Dresses

Well, it’s that time again when millions of us tune in to the Academy Awards to see who gets to go home with a coveted Oscar this year.   But, it’s not only the suspense of seeing who’s going to win the prestigious awards, but also our fascination for glitz and glamour that keep us glued to the screen.  The celebrity  fashions worn on the red carpet are  truly the highlight of the show and they’re discussed, dissected and analyzed at length,  long after the event is over.

Personally, I usually only see a handful of gowns that really impress me, especially since I’m a lover of vintage fashion and classic “Old Hollywood” style evening wear.   Lately, it seems, many actresses are in a contest as to who can pour themselves into the most revealing, ostentatious,  spectacle of a dress.  For many actresses tasteful, classy dressing seems to have gone the way of the panty girdle!  Not that I have an issue with sexy dressing.  I’m certainly not opposed to dresses showcasing your womanly assets. But my opinion is,  if you want to feature a particular body part, please make it a partial revealing and cover up everywhere else.  It’s overkill to have the breasts spilling completely out of a gown, crotch high slit and fabric so sheer and clinging that they are literally one Louboutin clad step away from a major wardrobe malfunction!  I mean, some of these women don’t even look comfortable attempting to navigate the red carpet while trying not to give us all an anatomy lesson!

So I’ve picked my Top Ten Favorite Oscar Fashion Photos from the past. Photos of  actresses wearing elegant, glamorous dresses and  gowns, styles I’d like to see more of when I  watch the Academy Awards!

1.  Audrey Hepburn’s classic style lace dress was originally designed by Edith Head for Roman Holiday (1953) and a special Oscar night version was  adapted by Hubert Givenchy.  Audrey referred to it as her “Lucky Dress” and had all her costumes designed by Givenchy after that.  A couple of years ago it fetched over $130,000 at auction!

Audrey Hepburn and her Oscar for Roman Holiday-1953.

Audrey Hepburn and her Oscar for Roman Holiday-1953.

2. Grace Kelly’s stunning  seafoam green silk gown worn when she accepted the Oscar in 1955  for The Country Girl (1954). was designed by famous Hollywood costumer,  Edith Head.

Grace Kelly accepts Oscar for The Country Girl (1954)

Grace Kelly accepts Oscar for The Country Girl (1954)

3.  Here is Donna Reed standing with “Ol Blue Eyes” while accepting her Oscar for Best Supporting Actress in From Here to Eternity (1953). Love her full skirted gown with the strapless sweetheart bodice and waist flattering ruching.  Definitely a classy, ladylike look!

Donna Reed with Frank Sinatra accepting Oscar for Best Supporting Actress in From Here to Eternity (1953)

Donna Reed with Frank Sinatra accepting Oscar for Best Supporting Actress in From Here to Eternity (1953)

4. Though she didn’t win an Oscar in 1954, Grace Kelly showed up  looking smashing in a sequin embroidered dress, accessorized by the handsome Clark Gable!

Grace Kelly and Clark Gable at 1954 Academy Awards

Grace Kelly and Clark Gable at 1954 Academy Awards

5.  Norma Shearer wore a sleek, drapey brocade gown to accept her Oscar for Best Actress in The Divorcee (1930).
The  flowers at the waist and the little fur cuffs on the jacket are lovely extra touches.

Norma Shearer accepting her Oscar for the Divorcee 1930

Norma Shearer accepting her Oscar for The Divorcee 1930

6.  Annette Funicello accepting an honorary Oscar for Hayley Mills, who was out of the country at the time. Both she and her presenter, Shirley Temple,
are wearing lovely dresses that are very sophisticated for young ladies.  Though Ms. Temple’s hairdo look a bit matronly, I’m loving Annette’s updo!

Annette Funicello accepting an honorary Oscar from Shirley temple

Shirley Temple presenting an honorary Oscar  to Annette Funicello-1961

7. In 1961 Shirley Jones accepted her Oscar for Best Actress in Elmer Gantry (1960) wearing this sparkly gold and champagne tulle dress with cropped bolero jacket.

Shirley Jones accepting her Oscar for Elmer Gantry - 1960

Shirley Jones accepting her Oscar for Elmer Gantry – 1960

8.   No list of classic red carpet dresses would be complete without a Marilyn Monroe dress! This black sequined tulle mesh
beauty has that ever flattering sweetheart bodice with off the shoulder sleeves that add just the right hint of bareness.
Of course,  with the famous star’s gorgeous hairstyle and makeup and elegant, understated jewelry, the combination
is simply breathtaking!

Marilyn Monroe attended 1951 Academy Awards in this black mesh dress

Marilyn Monroe attended 1951 Academy Awards in this black sequined tulle dress

9. Elzabeth Taylor with husband, Mike Todd, at the 1957 Academy Awards, where he won a Best Director Oscar for Around the World in 80 Days.
I’m totally smitten with her Grecian style gown and that sparkly diamond tiara!

Elizabeth Taylor and Mike Todd at 1950 Academy Awards

Elizabeth Taylor and Mike Todd at 1957 Academy Awards

 10. And last, but certainly not least, Vivien Leigh in this fabulously feminine floral  number designed by Irene Lentz.
She wore it in 1940 to accept her Best Actress Oscar for Gone With the Wind (1939).

Vivien Leigh accepting her Best Actress Oscar for Gone With the Wind

Vivien Leigh accepting her Best Actress Oscar for Gone With the Wind

Which one is your favorite?


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Rita Hayworth Inspired Glamour Gowns

One of my all time favorite classic films is You Were Never Lovelier (1942) starring Fred Astaire and Rita Hayworth.  It has everything I love in a movie-music, dancing, comedy,  romance AND  glamorous fashions!   The costumes were designed by none other than Irene Lentz,  the legendary Hollywood designer.  And though I’ve seen this movie at least four times, I never tire of watching it, especially for the exquisite gowns Ms. Hayworth wears.  Beautiful evening  dresses with full,  flowing chiffon skirts, lace overlays, appliques, sequins and illusion netting. Watching her artfully glide across the dance floor in these stunning creations never ceases to put a smile on my face!

So when I began to source some new evening gown styles for the website I had these dresses on my mind. They are so romantic that I wanted to find styles that reminded me of that Old Hollywood feminine elegance of the 1940s that Rita Hayworth captured so well in the film.

Here are some publicity photos from the movie to illustrate the types of gowns Ms. Hayworth wore. Notice she is well covered, but there is always a little teasing hint of sheerness, a bare shoulder or back, a titillating glimpse of skin,  making for a very sexy, yet still very classy look.  These outfits certainly prove you don’t have to bare everything to look sensual and womanly.

Photos of Rita Hayworth and Fred Astaire in You Were Never Lovelier (1942)

Photos of Rita Hayworth and Fred Astaire in You Were Never Lovelier (1942)

So after some extensive searching I came up with this lovely selection of gowns below.  They’ve definitely got that classic glamour vibe that I so admire and think any of them would make you the star at any formal event, such as a prom or wedding. An occasion where “you were never lovelier” , just like Rita!

Rita Hayworth inspired gowns

Rita Hayworth inspired gowns

Click on links below for color images and more information!

1. Dusty pink chiffon gown  with silver embroidery, sequins and rhinestones.
2. Black chiffon gown with sequined lace overlaying a champagne satin bodice, black satin corset style waistband with rhinestone jewel accent.
3.  Elegant black gown with a full, silky skirt, mesh bodice covered in sequined, beaded lace appliques.
4. Strapless sweetheart bodice gown with gold embroidered design, rhinestones and beading, black chiffon over champagne full skirt.


Have a glamorous day!


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Is that really an Authentic “Vintage” dress you’re buying?

Lately I’ve been noticing a disturbing trend.  We have been getting more and more emails from gals who have been searching for  vintage dresses online and discovered an authentic vintage dress of ours that is no longer available ,  then emailing us to ask when we are going to restock it.  Of course this is impossible, since authentic vintage dresses are not replaceable.   This used to be an isolated incident.  Now it is a daily occurrence.  At first I couldn’t figure out why so many people would keep asking us this, even though our product descriptions clearly state whether it’s a  true vintage or vintage STYLE or Inspired piece.  Basically when we call something a  1950s dress it is an honest to goodness, vintage dress from back in that era!  And our new clothing is also clearly described as vintage inspired, retro,  vintage style50s style dress1920s reproduction dress, etc, etc……You get the picture!  We’ve been selling this product mix for years and have never had the amount of inquires like this until recently.

So I started doing some research to try and figure out why.  And it didn’t take very long!

Just do a search on Google, Bing, Yahoo or search any of the social/fashion bookmarking sites for any of the above phrases  and you’ll see gazillions of results, many of which will never take you to authentic vintage clothing of any kind . You know, the one of a  kind,  unique pieces that were actually made back in the day. This is causing a serious amount of confusion for consumers, as more and more women are making purchases and don’t even  know what they are buying!  And, believe me, it is happening a lot. We actually have had customers buy authentic vintage dresses from us who thought they were new!   Then they email us afterwards about how much they like the dress , but wish they could exchange it for another size because it didn’t fit!

Why is this a problem? Because real vintage clothing is a often a collectible commodity that is scarce and potentially increases or at least retains its value over time.  That is not necessarily the case with new vintage looking clothing.   Just like furniture, you can buy a real antique piece or a new reproduction that looks like the old style.   The original is  usually quite different from the modern  in terms of  rarity, construction techniques, textiles used and value.

So you can see what I mean, here are a couple of examples I found on a recent Google search for  50s dress and vintage dresses .  The  first one is described as a 50s dress, but in no way looks anything like one and it is new from a very well known department store.  The second is described as a “vintage dress. “  Though very cute, it is  obvious from the very short skirt that it is not authentic.  Hmmmmm.  

50s dress?

50s dress?

faux 50s dress

Vintage dress?

And here is one of the main reasons why this is happening.  Because the “vintage look” has become more popular, many companies vying for top search engine results want to optimize their websites for popular search terms to drive customers to their sites.  I mean, heck,  that’s what everyone with an ecommerce site needs to do and there is nothing inherently wrong with that.  But if you’re driving traffic to your site based on misleading search terms that don’t accurately describe your products,  then that just makes the online shopping experience for the consumer more confusing!

And let’s face it, the bigger companies, with bigger  budgets, usually rise to the top of the search results.  Consumers, of course, trust the brand name companies and assume their products are being described accurately. But that’s not necessarily the case.  And the search engines, themselves, certainly can’t distinguish between which terms are being accurately used to describe products.  So this creates a problem when you’re trying to find the right product, in this case,  genuine vintage clothing.  I know I have ended up wading through pages and pages of results, that lead to nothing that was even remotely close to the authentic vintage item I was searching for.  It can get pretty frustrating.

So here are some helpful tips for those ladies who are searching for the real deal!

•If  it available in multiple sizes, then it is NOT an authentic vintage garment.

•If  the description states Made in China, it is NOT authentic vintage, though some would argue China made clothing from the 1990s is now vintage.  But that’s a whole other issue that I won’t get into right now.

•If  the garment has an invisible zipper, it most likely is NOT an authentic vintage piece, especially if you found it through a search for 50s dresses, or 40s dresses. They did not use invisible zippers back then.

•If the skirt is very short, it most likely isn’t a  true vintage dress, unless you’re looking for an authentic 60s minidress!

If searching for flapper dresses, be aware, authentic ones are extremely rare and not form fitting. So most of what you see online listed as a flapper dress or 20s dress is most likely a new “modernized” version of dresses from that era.

•And finally, if you’re looking for real, one of a kind,  vintage clothing, try searching using more specific terms  like authentic, true, one of a kind,  or genuine in front of the item you’re searching for.  You’ll probably have better luck that way, since online search for vintage clothing  these days has become a minefield of misinformation.  It is definitely buyer beware!

Has anyone else had a similar experience when trying to shop online recently for vintage clothes?  Do you even care how companies describe their clothing, as long as you like it?




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Unlike Perez Hilton- I Really Like This Dress!

Heck, it’s a free country where we enjoy free speech. And that’s a great thing!  So everyone is entitled to their opinion on how celebrities look, act and dress.

But apparently, on Twitter,  Perez Hilton slammed Ariana Grande’s dress that she wore to the Grammy Awards and she almost had a meltdown on the Red Carpet because of this.

And here is a photo of the alleged offensive frock-

A floral print 50s inspired dress by Dolce and Gabbana

Ariana Grande in her pretty 50s style dress at Grammy Awards

Ariana Grande in her pretty 50s style dress at Grammy Awards

Now as someone who regularly wears and makes a living selling clothing that looks similar to this,  I am well aware that there is a market for this look.  Just as there is a market for many other kinds of looks. That’s what makes fashion so interesting.  It’s a fun way to express your own unique self! There are many choices for many different tastes.  And I, for one, think her dress is classy, feminine and timeless.  It is refreshing to see a young woman dressed this way and I hope she continues to do so.  I think it makes an outstanding signature look and she could be a role model for women her age.   I am very tired of seeing the same old skin tight, cleavage and thigh baring outfits on young women, which,  IMHO,   just lacks imagination.

So, Ariana, please don’t stop dressing like this just because of someone else’s opinion!   If you love the look, own it,  and just ignore anyone who doesn’t like it.  It’s only an opinion after all.

What do you think? Do you like her retro look?

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