How to Dress for a 1920s Themed Wedding

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Vintage themed weddings are a hot trend.  And why not?  Picking a favorite decade to  plan your special day around adds a whole new element of fun to the celebration.  And recently, due to the popularity of shows like Boardwalk Empire and Downton Abbey and the movie remake of the Great Gatsby, the Roaring Twenties has been on the minds of many brides to be.

The 1920s represent an era of decadence, glamour and liberation for women.   Fashion design was influenced by Art Deco and surrealism, jazz music and the discovery of King Tut’s tomb,  which caused a major trend toward anything with Egyptian motifs.    Coco Chanel was the designer whose creations most influenced womens’ fashion in the 20s, including the loose fitting chemise dress worn with long necklaces, which became the hallmark of  “the flapper” look.  Ladies’ looks for evening involved lots of intricate beading, fringe, and sequins with bejewelled turbans, feathered headbands and other decorative hair ornaments.

So if you’re lucky enough to be invited to a formal or “after 5″  1920s themed wedding,  you certainly can’t run out to your nearest costume store and grab one of those flimsy polyester numbers with rows of fringe.   Au contrare!  An occasion like this calls for puttin’ on the glitz,  with elegance and class of course!   This isn’t the time for being wishy washy about your outfit.  For a 1920’s evening wedding event you’ll want to show up looking authentic roaring twenties glam, meaning dressed something like Lady Dudley below. (In case you don’t know who she is, read more about her character here)

Lady Dudley from Downton Abbey

Lady Dudley from Downton Abbey

Coco Chanel once said “A girl should be two things. Classy and fabulous.”  So here are my recommendations for looking classy and fabulous for a formal dress 20’s themed wedding.

•Straight, somewhat loose fitting sleeveless cocktail dress covered with elaborate beading and sequin designs, preferably in a geometric deco type pattern. Some element of fringe is always a plus!  Does not have to be too short! Most women in the 1920s did not wear really short dresses.
•Long strands of pearls or other beads, either worn singly or in layers.
•Opera length gloves. Add a glitzy bracelet on one wrist.
•For the hair, chose a beautiful head scarf or turban and pin a sparkly brooch on it, wear an elegant beaded headband, perhaps with some feathers, or go with a dressy cloche hat trimmed in satin, bows or flowers.
•Find yourself a pair of patterned or fishnet stockings that will match your dress. Hosiery with embroidered designs or rhinestone decorations will work too.  Some flappers even wore stockings with designs on the knees!
•Shoes should have a curved (Louis) heel and be T strap or Mary Jane style.
•Carry a small purse with beaded design and/or fringe.
•For makeup tips to complete your authentic 1920’s look see this article.

 

For more 1920s style inspiration, see our YouTube video slideshow of our exclusive collection of beaded flapper dresses that are very popular for 1920s Old Hollywood and Gatsby themed weddings.  We sell  accessories and shoes to go with them too!

 

Have a glamorous day!

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A Birthday Tribute to Mary Astor

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American actress, Mary Astor was born 106 years years ago today, May 4, 1906.  And though I’ve seen several  movies she has starred in, I never really knew much about this beautiful and talented woman.  So being as it is her birthday, I decided to do some research.

And here’s what I found out! Mary Astor had a very successful film career starting when she was only 15 , that spanned several decades. She had an overbearing, over controlling Dad who pushed her into show business so that he could financially benefit from Mary’s talents.Her  life was literally like a soap opera, rife with scandals, a seriously dysfunctional family, affairs, multiple divorces, health issues and alcoholism.

It’s quite amazing, with all the turmoil in her life, that she was able to play some of the most famous roles in film history and play them very well,  including the part of  femme fatale Brigid O’Shaughnessy   in the Maltese Falcon(1941) with Humphrey Bogart. And that same year winning best supporting actress for The Great Lie, a film she starred in with Bette Davis.   It’s truly a testament to her resilient personality that she could maintain such a high level of professionalism despite continual personal problems that would send most people right over the edge!

Mary Astor

Mary Astor May 4, 1906-Sept 25, 1987

Mary Astor in publicity photo for The Wise Guy (1926)

Actress Mary Astor

Source Self Styled Siren

Here’s Mary with John Barrymore in Beau Brummel(1924).  She was 17, he was 42 and married when they began their torrid affair during filming. He supposedly told her during her screen test “You’re so goddamned beautiful you make me feel faint!”  Now I ask you, what young and impressionable young lady could resist such a handsome  smooth talking superstar?  The poor girl didn’t stand a chance!

Mary Astor and John Barrymore Beau Brummel 1924

Mary Astor and John Barrymore Beau Brummel 1924

Here is Mary Astor as Barbara Willis, a prim and proper wife married to an engineer,  and Jean Harlow as a prostitute named Vantine in the movie Red Dust(1932).  Set on a rubber plantation in French Indochina, things really heat up when both women vie for the attentions of Dennis Carson,  the plantation owner played by Clark Gable.  Even though Barbara is married, once Dennis sends her husband  off into the jungle, he tosses Jean Harlow aside and ardently pursues Mrs. Willis, who is powerless to resist Mr. Gable’s advances. Things spiral out of control from there.  Love this film, great acting and gorgeous 1930s fashions designed by Gilbert Adrian.  IMO, any film with costumes by Adrian is definitely worth watching!

Mary Astor and Jean Harlow in Red Dust 1932

Mary Astor and Jean Harlow in Red Dust 1932

 

Mary Astor 1937

Mary Astor 1937

Source~A Certain Cinema

Below is Mary Astor in Dodsworth (1936)  Her gorgeous gown is very much in the iconic feminine silhouette of the 30s with its sheer full bias cut skirt and flutter sleeves worn over a silky curve hugging slip.  Ooo La La! I discovered Omar Kiam was  the costume designer for the movie. He designed for many Hollywood films, including Stella Dallas and Wuthering Heights, before heading to New York to design luxurious, sophisticated fashions for the Ben Reig label.

Mary Astor- Dodsworth (1936)

Mary Astor- Dodsworth (1936)

Image source~ AllPosters

One of the greatest detective stories of all time, The Maltese Falcon, starred Humphrey Bogart as Sam Spade and Mary Astor as the devious dame named Brigid O’Shaughnessy, a.k.a.  Miss Wonderly. Love that name and love the movie!  Wardrobe was by the Oscar winning Hollywood designer, Orry Kelly, who also designed the costumes for Casablanca, Oklahoma, American in Paris, Les Girls and Some Like it Hot, along with hundreds of other films.

Mary Astor and Humphrey Bogart Maltese Falcon 1941

Mary Astor and Humphrey Bogart Maltese Falcon 1941

And here she is in The Great Lie (1941). She won an Oscar for her role as Sandra Kovak, a concert pianist who is pregnant by a man who ends up married to Bettie Davis’s character,  Maggie. After her husband’s plane is lost in South America, Maggie  pays Sandra at visit hoping to talk her into giving the child up to her when it it born in exchange for money.  It’s all I’m saying. You’ll have to watch it to see what happens! Gowns designed by Orry Kelly in this film too.

Mary Astor in The Great Lie 1941

Mary Astor in The Great Lie 1941

She also played Anna Smith, mother to Judy Garland (Esther) and her sisters and brother, in the musical Meet Me in St Louis,  (1944) another of my favorites films with great actors, songs and costumes..  Wardrobe designed by Irene Sharaff,  who also designed for  many other famous films, including the King and IWest Side StoryCleopatra, Hello Dolly and Funny Girl.

Mary Astor and Judy Garland Meet Me in St Lous

Mary Astor and Judy Garland Meet Me in St Lous

Prominent film critic turned director, Lindsay Anderson, said of Mary “When two or three who love the cinema are are gathered together, the name of Mary Astor always comes up and everyone agrees that she was an actress or special attraction whose qualities of depth and reality always seemed to illuminate the parts she played.”

A lovely testament to one of Hollywood’s finest actresses.

Have you had the pleasure of seeing any Mary Astor films? Which is your favorite?

“When two or three who love the cinema are gathered together, the name of Mary Astor always comes up, and everybody agrees that she was an actress or special attraction whose qualities of depth and reality always seemed to illuminate the parts she played.” —Director Lindsay Anderson – See more at: http://www.frontiersla.com/frontiers-blog/2014/03/01/mary-astor-a-special-attraction#sthash.i5vv6MjR.dpuf
“When two or three who love the cinema are gathered together, the name of Mary Astor always comes up, and everybody agrees that she was an actress or special attraction whose qualities of depth and reality always seemed to illuminate the parts she played.” —Director Lindsay Anderson – See more at: http://www.frontiersla.com/frontiers-blog/2014/03/01/mary-astor-a-special-attraction#sthash.i5vv6MjR.dpuf
“When two or three who love the cinema are gathered together, the name of Mary Astor always comes up, and everybody agrees that she was an actress or special attraction whose qualities of depth and reality always seemed to illuminate the parts she played.” —Director Lindsay Anderson – See more at: http://www.frontiersla.com/frontiers-blog/2014/03/01/mary-astor-a-special-attraction#sthash.i5vv6MjR.dpuf

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

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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

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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

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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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