Essays and Musings, Personal Style

On Packing

Ingrid Bergman, "Stromboli" 1950

Ingrid Bergman, “Stromboli” 1950

A few months ago, my husband and I decided it was time to visit Italy again. Since booking the airline tickets and renting an apartment in Rome’s Centro Storico, I have been in a muted state of anxiety over what to pack. Despite the fact that I’ve been traveling to Italy on and off since childhood and am wildly excited to once again walk the streets of Rome, I feel bad about my vacation wardrobe. The truth is, since about my thirties, I always fly into a panic before a trip abroad. If you saw my wardrobe, you would politely say there was no need to panic. After all, it looks as if I have all the necessary basics. But that is just the problem: the basics. When it comes time to pack for a two-week trip, practicality retreats and fantasy takes over. In order to explore the streets of a European city, I suddenly feel guilty about choosing sensible outfits. It seems as if the least I can do is to make the effort to approximate through my clothes the mystique of the cities I will be visiting.

This, I find, is harder to do when you are a woman of a certain age. How to look casually glamorous in comfortable shoes for sightseeing and walking on cobblestones in ninety-degree heat? Today’s trends – the charming floral mini dresses, the sweeping boho skirts, the high-waisted, wide leg pants worn with a midriff t-shirt, the kimonos paired with cut off denim shorts are not tempting options. It seems in the words of Linda Wells, former editor-in-chief of Allure magazine, speaking with Cathy Horyn in 2007, “The choice is to wear something juvenile or be a total killjoy.” Despite the shift in trends and the fact that the options for women’s clothing have expanded exponentially over the years, Wells’ comment rings as true today as it did back in 2007. In refusing youth driven trends and low quality fast fashion chains, I sometimes feel like I am resorting to normcore by stubbornly adhering to my personal style. This, dear reader, is the reason why the last few days have found me craving the kind of clothes Audrey Hepburn wore while living in Rome with her second husband, the Italian psychiatrist Andrea Dotti.

Ingrid Bergman and Roberto Rossellini, Santa Marinella, Italy 1950s

Ingrid Bergman and Roberto Rossellini, Santa Marinella, Italy 1950s

That I turn to vintage photos in order to inspire my packing doesn’t greatly surprise me; just before sitting down to write this, I began going through photographs of Ingrid Bergman in the 1950s Rossellini films, “Stromboli” and “Journey to Italy.” In flicking through the film stills, I realize it is not just the glamour projected by these images of Bergman or the stylishness of the paparazzi shots of Hepburn that I am after. Rather, the images impress me with the ease and confidence of these women of a certain age. Instead of the typical girlish movie star photographs, these pictures document grown-up faces and experiences. When Bergman starred in “Stromboli” she was in her thirties and had just begun an affair with Rossellini that would cause a scandal in the United States for producing a child out of wedlock. The Roman photos of Hepburn reveal a woman in her forties, in her second marriage, raising her son from her first marriage; these are not the better-known “Roman Holiday” pictures of the ingenue in her twenties, floating about the ancient city in ballet flats. In a time when blogs and fashion magazines regularly preach to women about age appropriateness, the images of these two fashionable and graceful women make the claim for considering proper fit and quality before age. Maybe the focus should shift to what’s suitable for one’s body and lifestyle – ageless dressing – over what is age appropriate.

As I begin to pack, I comfort myself with fantasies of a new definition of basic: tailored, well-made clothes in durable fabrics that can be worn many times and personalized with accessories. (I’m thinking vintage and sustainable fashion here). Could it be what’s old is truly what’s new again?

Ingrid Bergman, "Journey to Italy" 1950

Ingrid Bergman, “Journey to Italy” 1950

Audrey Hepburn and Andrea Dotti, Rome 1971

Audrey Hepburn and Andrea Dotti, Rome 1971

Audrey Hepburn, Rome 1972; image by Lino Nanni

Audrey Hepburn, Rome 1972; image by Lino Nanni

Audrey Hepburn with her son, Sean, Rome 1972; image Girani Reporters Associati

Audrey Hepburn with her son, Sean, Rome 1972; image Girani Reporters Associati

 

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Personal Style

Tracking a Mood

“You gotta have style. It helps you get down the stairs. It helps you get up in the morning. It’s a way of life. Without it, you’re nobody. I’m not talking about lots of clothes.” –  Diana Vreeland

Amelia Earhart

Amelia Earhart

Katherine Hepburn

Katherine Hepburn

image Rick Smolan

Robyn Davidson; image Rick Smolan

Nikki Giovanni, c 1968 (Photo by Pictorial Parade/Getty Images)

Nikki Giovanni, c 1968; Pictorial Parade/Getty Images

Audrey Hepburn

Audrey Hepburn

Edie Sedgwick

Edie Sedgwick

Bianca Jagger

Bianca Jagger

Stevie Nicks

Stevie Nicks

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Weekend Style Inspiration

The Trench

With spring’s arrival I can’t help thinking of the trench coat. According to Women’s Wear Daily, it was Greta Garbo in the 1928 film, A Woman of Affairs who began the trend for women when she wore a tartan wool lined trench on set. Though I live in Los Angeles, where unfortunately it seldom rains, this doesn’t impede my ownership of several trench style coats. A quick scan of my closet reveals four: one in black cotton, another in tan heavy weight cotton, one in moss green wool, and a classic water resistant trench in beige. The ultimate age appropriate coat, the trench imparts a sophisticated tomboy air that is forever chic.

Greta Garbo on set in 1928

Greta Garbo on set in 1928

Lauren Bacall wearing Bogart's trench

Lauren Bacall wearing Bogart’s trench

Audrey Hepburn

Audrey Hepburn

Charlotte Rampling

Charlotte Rampling

Loulou de la Falaise; image Peter Lindbergh

Loulou de la Falaise; image Peter Lindbergh

Diletta Bonaiuti via Harper's Bazaar

Diletta Bonaiuti; image Tommy Ton

via Harper's Bazaar

via Harper’s Bazaar

 

Sofia Sanchez de Betak; Tommy Ton

Sofia Sanchez de Betak; image Tommy Ton

Costanza Pascolato

Costanza Pascolato

via Blueisinfashionthisyear

via Blue is in Fashion this Year

Tommy Ton

Tommy Ton

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The Four Seasons of Vintage

Dr. Scholl’s

While the trend for birkenstocks is still pulling strong into the Spring season, I’m happy to see on the horizon the comeback of the Dr. Scholl’s. I wore them in the late 1990s with skirts and pants, and so was pleased by the Marc Jacobs Spring runway show featuring velvet and satin versions of the comfortable classic.

Marc Jacob's Spring 2015 Ready-to-Wear

Marc Jacobs Spring 2015 Ready-to-Wear

Detail image of Marc Jacob's Spring 2015 Ready-to-Wear

Detail image from Marc Jacobs Spring 2015 Ready-to-Wear

Jean Shrimpton

Jean Shrimpton

Audrey Hepburn

Audrey Hepburn

1973

Life Magazine, 1973

1970

1970

1971

Advertisement, 1971

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Sissy Spacek

Sissy Spacek

 

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Weekend Style Inspiration

Uniform Dressing

I’ve always admired women who know what they like to wear and stick with it day in and day out. My uniform is slim pants with vintage blouses and a piece of statement jewelry. Whether she wore dresses or pants, Audrey Hepburn was always in well-tailored shapes that flattered her dancer’s silhouette.  Two contemporary women who know how to work a signature look are Carine Roitfeld, former Vogue Paris editor-in-chief and Emmanuelle Alt, current Vogue Paris editor-in-chief. Roitfeld is the epitome of flawless chic, preferring well-fitted skirts and shirts to pants while Alt favors a lean silhouette that accentuates her lanky frame.

image via Rex

Roitfeld; image via Rex

Roitfeld; image Sartorialist

Roitfeld; image Sartorialist

Alt; image Sartorialist

Alt; image Sartorialist

Alt; image Tommy Ton

Alt; image Tommy Ton

Rome, 1958 Pierre Cardin dress

Rome, 1958 Pierre Cardin dress; image Vanity Fair

Rome, 1968  Rose Berlin Coat

Rome, 1968 Rose Bertin coat; image Vanity Fair

Rome, 1970 Valentino Couture coat

Rome, 1970 Valentino Couture coat; image Vanity Fair

With Givenchy

With Givenchy; image via Pinterest

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