A little while back I showed you two lovely Stop Staring! cocktail dresses suitable for holiday wear. I promised a third option from Collectif, and that’s what I’m reviewing for you here! Meet Penny, an attractive sweetheart front-cross halter strap wiggle dress made from stretchy black bengaline.
Bengaline is a comfortable, flattering fabric that works incredibly well in vintage wiggle dress styles. The Collectif Penny is no exception. The cut and construction are fabulous, and the fit is very good. This is the kind of dress that is snazzy enough on its own – look at that bodice! – but dresses up really nicely given its neutral color and sleek lines.
Several years ago for Halloween, I decided to bring to life my favorite Patrick Nagel painting. Usually described as “woman with flower in her hair,” the piece is also known as the alternate cover art for Duran Duran’s iconic Rio album.
The first incarnation of the outfit included a royal blue tube top and raspberry capris, both of which I made myself by altering commercially available patterns. Since I’ve gotten a lot smaller since then, I decided it was time to put together a new “Rio” look for this Halloween. This time, I’m using separates produced by popular pin up clothing manufacturers.
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!
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!
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.
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.