Beatnik Fashion: Not every member of the Beat Generation wore a beret!

Kim Novak in Bell Book and Candle

Kim Novak in Bell Book and Candle: a beatnik stereotype

Recently, my friend Gailynne asked me to write an article for our costumers’ guild newsletter. She knows I love mid-century fashion, and she needed someone to write a piece on “beatnik” fashion for our “On the Road” event coming up in November. I thought it would be fun, so I jumped on it! I figured it would be a good way to learn more about the “Beat Generation” and the (old school) hipster culture that inspired – and was inspired by – it.

When most people hear the word “beatnik,” they probably imagine bored-looking bohemian gals in berets and guys in turtlenecks and weird little goatees. These stereotypes are rooted in truth, but like the term “beatnik” itself, they’re not really very representative of the movement defined by the “Beat Generation” nor the people inspired by its counterculture philosophy. The reality is that the intellectuals, artists, and anti-bourgeois iconoclasts of mid-twentieth century America dressed a lot like everyone else.

Legendary San Francisco columnist Herb Caen created the term “beatnik” in 1958, a portmanteau of “beat” and “Sputnik” (as in the Soviet satellite) that – in conjunction with a short report about freeloading hep cats helping themselves to booze at a magazine party – was meant to poke fun at common perceptions of the counterculture. Namely, that the group was full of lazy opportunists with far left political leanings. According to Caen, however, Beat Generation mainstay Jack Kerouac didn’t find it very amusing. “You’re putting us down and making us sound like jerks,” Kerouac apparently told him. “I hate it. Stop using it.”

I’ve linked the newsletter .pdf below if you’d like to read the whole article!

http://www.gbacg.org/newsletter-links/finery-issues/2014_SeptOct.pdf

Holiday cocktail style: Stop Staring! Alexis dress

For those who crave something a little more sparkly and fancy than the Twilight dress I recently reviewed, I present the Stop Staring! Alexis dress in metallic champagne. This asymmetric, vintage-style cocktail dress is the perfect antique metal shade, somewhere between silver and gold. The tone is classy and festive, and the soft stretch polyester is textured to create a lovely, almost lurex-like period look. This is the perfect dress for a Christmas party or New Year’s Eve!

Stop Staring! Alexis Dress

Stop Staring! Alexis Dress

If you were a fan of Stop Staring!’s one-shouldered satin Lovespell dresses, Alexis delivers the same elegant late-1950s/early-1960s styling. This looks like something Elizabeth Taylor would have worn in Cleopatra – no joke! The textured fabric and ruched right side accent my waist and obscure my gut bulge rather nicely, while the sweetheart bodice provides just the right amount of structure for my bustline. I’m wearing Alexis with the Wacoal Red Carpet bustier in 36DD (size down a cup!) and Spanx.

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Holiday cocktail style: Stop Staring! Twilight dress

The holidays are coming, and I’ve collected a trio of dresses that will work for just about any occasion the season might throw your way! The first is the Twilight dress by Alicia Estrada’s Stop Staring!, a ladylike vision in black stretch bengaline and a lace-like net illusion fabric. Stop Staring! is a great American-made vintage reproduction brand designed to fit and flatter a myriad of sizes and body types.

Stop Staring! Twilight Dress

Stop Staring! Twilight Dress

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Fall’s coming – it’s Pantone time!

Fall 2014 Pantones

Fall 2014 Pantones

It’s almost autumn, which means it’s PANTONE TIME! The Fall, 2014 women’s Pantone palette is nice and colorful.

There’s only one brown, and it’s not bad – Cognac, which would make a nice silk evening gown or scarf. Radiant Orchid is a rich pink-purple that reminds me of summer, and Sangria is a hot cranberry tone that says fall without getting all tweedy. Two strong blues, Misted Yellow, and Aurora Red keep things from feeling too chilly. Primary colors are chic and seasonless!

In all, I like it! Do you?

End-of-summer vintage

Here are a couple of lovely vintage cotton non-frocks from the 1950s!

The first comes from Anna at LeDressingdeMabel on Etsy. It’s a lovely drop-waist dress with tabbed shoulders and a gorgeous purple butterfly print. It’s crisp and cute, perfect for hot weather.

Papillon dress

Papillon dress.

Papillon dress

Papillon dress.

The second is another crisp summer beauty from Sascha at LaBelleVIntage. It’s a comfy fiesta dress in my favorite midcentury color combination, green and blue!

Fiesta dress!

Fiesta dress!

Fiesta dress!

Fiesta dress!

Marilyn Monroe’s Grauman’s Handprint Ceremony Dress by Morningstar84

Summer’s almost over, so I’m working hard to clear my warm-weather posts from the blog queue. I promised a review of another wonderful custom reproduction by Esther of Morningstar84, this beautiful version of Marilyn Monroe’s eyelet halter dress from 1953.

Morningstar84 Marilyn Dress

Marilyn Monroe’s Grauman’s dress.

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I Love Turquoise: Trashy Diva Maria and Deb dresses

You know that color theory people throw out there – the one that involves gravitating toward colors that look good on you? Yeah, well, I like turquoise, and apparently, turquoise likes me. I’m also a big fan of Trashy Diva and cute mid century repro, so it was just a matter of time before the 1940s-inspired Deb dress in pastel turquoise faille and the Maria dress in turquoise floral were MINE MINE MINE (cue Daffy duck in “Ali Baba Bunny”).

Trashy Diva Maria dress in turquoise floral

Trashy Diva Maria dress in turquoise floral.

Since I missed out on the embroidered Maria last year, I’ve been pining for another shot at a pretty one, and boy is this turquoise floral print PRETTY. It’s a little greener in person, but it still photographs beautifully. The rich yellow, purples, and pinks really POP against it, and the rayon crepe has just enough texture to make the fabric feel really vintage. In fact, with the separate belt and decorative buttons down the front, this one looks like it’s straight out of the 1940s. I busted out the Remix Rita repro slingbacks and my Bakelite and the effect is pretty authentic. Continue reading

Like the Birdies Sing: DailySparkle’s Tiki Room felt circle skirt

If I’m anything, I’m an oldschool Disneyland nerd. I was born twelve years to the day after Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room opened in 1963, which I fully credit for my obsession with all things tiki, tropical, and Disney! So, when I saw DailySparkle’s adorable Jose the Tiki Bird-inspired felt circle skirt on Etsy, I knew I had to have it!

DailySparkle Tiki Room skirt

My DailySparkle Tiki Room skirt, featuring Jose the Tiki Bird. My top is the “Voodoo Vixen” by Deadly Dames. The wicker purse is by Pinup Couture.

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