Link: Clairol Color Carousel at the New York World’s Fair

The Clairol Color Carousel was the most interesting fashion/beauty-related attraction at the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair. Bill Young’s Nywf64.com has cool content related to the Carousel, including ephemera actually distributed at the Clairol pavilion. Take a peek at mid-60s hair and makeup culture!

“For Women Only! Take a ride on the Clairol Color Carousel. See yourself as a blonde, a brunette or a read head! Your friends will ask, “Does she… or doesn’t she?”

Outfits of the Weekend: Viva Las Vegas, Viva Mode Merr, Viva Pinup Girl Clothing!

Mugging it up in my Deadly Dames Vamp Top, El Dorado Club Filigree Bat Necklace, and great hair and makeup by Rosetta Garcia
Mugging it up in my Deadly Dames Vamp Top, El Dorado Club Filigree Bat Necklace, and great hair and makeup by Rosetta Garcia.

Over the weekend I attended my first Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekender, an amazing excuse to head to Las Vegas and hang out with my new retro fashion friends!

In addition to hanging out with pals, I was able to take part in two wonderful photo shoots (more on those in the coming weeks) and buy some gorgeous clothing!

My favorite buy of the weekend was my Mode Merr Fitted Peasant Blouse in Hawaiian Print plus Perfect Skirt in Black. The skirt’s stretch gabardine was thick enough to support without adding bulk or stiffness, and the high waist and extra-hippy cut was perfect for my crazy pear shape (wearing 2x, my waist: 32-33″, my hips: 48″). Continue reading “Outfits of the Weekend: Viva Las Vegas, Viva Mode Merr, Viva Pinup Girl Clothing!”

Outfits of the Month: Random Vintage, Trashy Diva, Deadly Dames

I’ve meant to share these for a while, but everything seems to get in the way.

Trashy Diva 40s Dress in Olivine Floral
Trashy Diva 40s Dress in Olivine Floral.

First, Trashy Diva’s 40s Dress in Olivine Floral, Doll Dress in Slap ‘n’ Tickle, and Honey Dress in Fuchsia stretch satin. I’ve had the 40s dress for nearly a year, but the others are new.

Love the fit of the Doll Dress, though the Honey is a wee bit big in the armscyes and waist. My current measurements are 44-32.5-48″, and I’m wearing size 16 in both (and size 18 in the 40s dress; the Olivine Floral version ran small).

Next, vintage 1950s! I recently purchased a deep aqua and lavender floral cotton dress (label: Carol Brent) from La Rosa Vintage on Haight in San Francisco. I paired it here with a “Luxelon” acrylic lilac cardigan from Relic Vintage (label: Designer Originals), also on Haight. Continue reading “Outfits of the Month: Random Vintage, Trashy Diva, Deadly Dames”

Falling for Vertigo: 1950s Fashion and Alfred Hitchcock’s San Francisco

Falling for Vertigo

Kim Novak as "Madeleine"
Kim Novak as "Madeleine" views the fictional "portrait of Carlotta" at the Legion of Honor's Gallery 6.

Yesterday was our Greater Bay Area Costumers’ Guild Falling for Vertigo: A Toast to Alfred Hitchcock’s San Francisco event. We had a wonderful time attending a guided tour of the Georgian portraiture at the Legion of Honor (an iconic Vertigo filming site), a nod to the fictional “portrait of Carlotta” that appeared in the film. Afterwards, we visited historic Fort Point, the location where “Madeleine” throws herself into San Francisco Bay, to explore the Civil War-era fort and behold the spectacular views of the Golden Gate Bridge and Marin Headlands. Our day ended with drinks and dinner at the Presidio Social Club (and for some of us, the Top of the Mark). Continue reading “Falling for Vertigo: 1950s Fashion and Alfred Hitchcock’s San Francisco”

New to Me: Pinup Couture’s Laura Top

Pinup Couture Laura Top
Pinup Couture Laura Top - red!

I recently purchased two barely worn Pinup Couture Laura Tops (size XL, in white and red) from a groovy fellow Pinup Girl Clothing fan. The price was right, their condition is excellent, and the tops seemed like a great way to solve my perpetual problem finding cute, casual tops right for wear with jeans and crops. While the Lauras are cute (love the heart buttons at the neckline), well-made, and comfortable, they aren’t quite what I was hoping for.

First, the tops are short. Whenever I sit or bend over, they pop right up around my waist, leaving my lower back skin exposed. This issue likely unresolvable by sizing up to the 2x, as both the XL and 2x are 24 inches long.

Second, the tops are not long/big enough in the chest area, as the underbust seam hovers just above my bra underwire. While it’s still comfortable and looks fine, this doesn’t bode well for people with truly large or round boobs (i.e., bigger and better boobs than mine, which are fairly average for a person of my height and size). My bust measures 43-44″ and usually takes a 36/38DD/DDD bra, which puts me squarely in the XL area (40-45″) according to the size chart.

Ironically, some Laura Top reviewers have mentioned that despite falling well within the bust range recommended by the size charts, they felt that their boobs did not adequately fill up the bodice space provided. While I wasn’t expecting this to happen to me, I wasn’t expecting to ride the upper end of plausible fit, either. :/

Third, the stretch jersey fabric clings. Maybe this would be less of a problem if I sized up, but the top is already big enough around the waist to give a practical, comfortable fit. I have loose skin on my midriff from major weight loss that peeks through no matter how thin I get, which makes me feel incredibly self-conscious (and is in fact one of the major reasons why I have issues finding fitted knit tops I feel comfortable wearing). Wearing the tops over Spanx or tucked into a high-waisted skirt solves this problem, but that kind of negates my whole reason for buying them in the first place; I wanted to wear them with jeans and crops!

Pinup Couture Gia Top
Pinup Couture Gia Top in burgundy with Laura Byrnes Black Label pencil skirt.

Something else to consider is the darker colorways run a bit smaller than the lighter ones. In my case, the red fits a tad more snugly than the white. Additionally, the white fabric is somewhat sheer; the bodice is self-lined, but the lower part is not. Those who are looking for a bit more coverage in the boob area and more “disguise” in the midriff region may have better luck with the long-sleeved, surplice-bodiced Gia Top, which comes in the same fabric and some of the same colorways.

I’m still on the fence about what I will do with my Lauras. I may trade these up for the larger size and see how I fare, or I may keep them and use them as I can until I lose a bit more weight.

ETA: I ordered the black and pink Laura tops in the larger size (2x), and discovered that the extra fabric in the waist helped alleviate some of the showthrough!

At any rate, stay tuned for some new clothing posts and reviews! I’m anxiously awaiting an order of Hell Bunny dresses from UK-based online store Sirens & Starlets.

Fashionable Emma Woodhouse: Costuming Austen’s Emma Adapted

Gwyneth Paltrow as Emma
Gwyneth Paltrow as Emma, costumed by Academy Award nominee Ruth Myers.

Fashionable Emma Woodhouse: Costuming Austen’s Emma Adapted

Before the 2009-2010 BBC Emma miniseries came out – and before I’d even started this blog – my friends Vic and Laurel Ann of Jane Austen Today kindly asked me to do a quick piece about costuming in the three previous major adaptations of the novel: the 1971 BBC tv miniseries starring Dorin Godwin, the 1996 Miramax theatrical release starring Gwyneth Paltrow, and the 1996-1997 A&E/ITV movie starring Kate Beckinsale.

It’s based on a previous article on Emma costuming I prepared for Ellie Farrell’s excellent Celluloid Wrappers site, which is dedicated to film costume. Eventually, I’ll be adding a section on the Romola Garai Emma to that article.

 

Historic Costume: Greco-Roman Chiton and Lady Emma Hamilton’s Attitudes

Kali as Emma Hamilton
Me! In Ionic chiton, performing one of Lady Emma Hamilton’s Attitudes (I forgot to take off my glasses!). In some printings of Friedrich Rehberg’s sketches engraved, this is called “Cleopatra Seduttrice.” It is probably based on artistic rendrings of Agrippina offering libations at the tomb of Germanicus (suggested by John Wilton-Ely and confirmed by me). There is a priestess statue from the macellum (marketplace) shrine in Pompeii that strongly informs this pose and in its restored state includes a libation bowl in one hand. It is sometimes referred to as Agrippina.

Because I love Greco-Roman antiquity, I needed to make myself a chiton. Because I’ve performed Lady Emma Hamilton’s famous, classically-inspired tableaux vivants twice in the last twelve years, I needed to make myself a chiton. Because chitons are awesome and I like them, I needed a chiton.

By this point in the blog post, you might be asking yourself, “What the heck is a chiton? Who is Lady Hamilton? And those “tableaux” thingies?” I know it sounds like a strange combination of ideas, but it’s honestly not as complicated as it seems. In fact, the chiton – a very simple women’s  (and men’s!) garment originating in ancient Greece and widely used as a basic dress or underdress for women in Roman eras – is extremely easy to make and wear. But I’ll get to that in a second.

Emma, My Inspiration

Cleopatra Seduttrice
Rehberg’s drawing of Lady Emma’s “Cleopatra Seduttrice” attitude, likely influenced by both Roman and modern (as in, Renaissance onward) renderings of Agrippina (or others) offering libations to the gods.

First, the Lady Emma part of the explanation. Our English Regency society puts on various events dealing with events and culture from the late Georgian period of British history. In the course of preparations for a ball honoring the great naval hero Lord Horatio Nelson, I somehow got roped into playing a role. And not just any role; I would be recreating Lady Emma Hamilton’s famous “attitudes.” Lady Emma performed these silent tableaux from 1787 through the 1790s and into the early 19th century, sparking several high-profile imitations and influencing modern dance and other forms of performance art over a hundred years later. Now, this was 1999 and I was crazy busy trying to finish my last year of law school. The last thing I probably needed on my plate was a performance of some sort, but for Emma Hamilton I made an exception.

Priestess from Macellum in Pompeii
Restored priestess sculpture from the macellum (marketplace) shrine in Pompeii. Sometimes referred to as Agrippina, her pose is similar to Rehberg’s drawing of Emma.

Continue reading “Historic Costume: Greco-Roman Chiton and Lady Emma Hamilton’s Attitudes”

Edith Head: Star Costumer

Edith Head
Edith Head in the 1970s.

This piece was originally written for the Greater Bay Area Costumers’ Guild’s Finery newsletter, to introduce our Vertigo-themed costume event on February 11, 2012.

Despite her long studio career and a stunning cache of major awards (including a record-setting 8 Oscars, the most ever for a woman, and 35 Oscar nominations), costume designer Edith Head is a star whose name isn’t readily recognizable to most people. Her work, however, is instantly familiar to almost everyone. She’s the woman responsible for the iconic fashions appearing in mid century classics such as Roman Holiday, To Catch a Thief, Vertigo, and Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

Head spent 43 years at Paramount, worked 14 years at Universal, and collaborated on various projects for other studios over the years, aggregating a portfolio of work totaling several hundred movies. “I do so many films that I would only like to send you work that is outstanding, or of importance to your collection,” she wrote in 1967 to the Wisconsin Center for Theatre Research, in response to a request to create an “Edith Head Collection” at the University of Wisconsin.

Her diverse collection of designs includes everything from period fashions to fantasy creations. Though she downplayed cutting-edge contemporary fashion’s influences on her work (“What is shown in Paris today is a dead duck tomorrow” she once said), Head was also in many ways a fashion trend setter. The popular demand for sarong-style dresses in the late 1930s and 1940s, for example, grew out of Head’s iconic designs for Dorothy Lamour in The Jungle Princess (1936). Continue reading “Edith Head: Star Costumer”

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