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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Essays and Musings

Heroine Chic: Some Thoughts on The Blouse, Part II

Gillian Anderson, "The Fall"

Gillian Anderson, “The Fall”

"The Fall" BBC/Artists Studio/Steffan Hill

“The Fall” BBC/Artists Studio/Steffan Hill

In October last year I published a post about Lauren Bacall and my fascination with the blouse as the ultimate wardrobe staple of the heroine. After recently watching both season one and two of “The Fall” with Gillian Anderson, I am reminded again of the power of this feminine garment. In nearly every episode Anderson, as Superintendent Stella Gibson, wears a silk blouse to work at the police precinct in Belfast, Ireland. Rather than apologizing for her femininity, Stella, much like the heroines Bacall portrayed in the 1940s, dresses attractively. She is not interested in hiding in men’s style suits and sensible shoes in order to prove she is the detective in charge of the investigation of a serial killer. Rather her self-possessed authority becomes vested in soft blouses and heels: in her very womanliness.

What struck me most in watching the series, is Gillian Anderson’s inspiring portrayal of a capable and sensitive woman in command. She is the kind of seductively outspoken character that was once common in film noir, but that is unfortunately rarely seen on contemporary TV. Through the role of Stella, Anderson projects a powerful femininity that is as convincing today as it was in the 1940s.

At this writing, I’m optimistic enough to assert the return of the blouse as the quintessential symbol of heroine cool.

Lauren Bacall

Lauren Bacall

Rita Hayworth; image George Hurrell, 1942

Rita Hayworth, 1942; image George Hurrell

Ingrid Bergman, Casablanca

Ingrid Bergman in Casablanca, 1942

Jackie Kennedy

Jackie Kennedy

Aurora Sansone; image Sartorialist

Aurora Sansone; image Sartorialist

Viviana Volpicella

Viviana Volpicella

 

 

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Personal Style

Marie

Marie works as a sales assistant in Burbank at one of my favorite vintage stores, Playclothes. She’s a gamine from Brittany who has a knack for effortlessly mixing vintage pieces with contemporary clothes in a playful chic way. Here are her answers to my seven essential style questions.

Target sweater and vintage leopard pants

Target sweater and vintage leopard pants

What do you find glamorous?

Glamour for me could be a low cut bias satin gown with barely any jewelry, or jodhpurs with a white shirt. It’s really about an understated elegance.

Who are your favorite designers?

Oh, I have a few! Yves Saint Laurent, Jean Paul Gaultier, Sonia Rykiel and I will add Vivienne Westwood to keep things fair with all the French.

How would you describe your style?

I usually mix contemporary and vintage pieces, so I would say my style is eclectic. I like whimsical or unusual costume jewelry. I particularly love the look of the 1960s’ New Wave. My favorite hobby is to go thrift store shopping; it’s like a treasure hunt. Lots of my favorite pieces come from these outings.

What scent/perfume do you wear?

I have been wearing Eau du Sud by Annick Goutal. But for an evening out, I like to wear Jardin de Bagatelle by Guerlain. I love the scent of vanilla. Occasionally, I’ll wear Eau Sauvage by Dior; although it’s a men’s cologne, it brings back memories…

Is there anything in your wardrobe that you are purely emotionally attached to?

I actually have a lot of things! When I fall in love with something I usually keep it forever. But there are two things in particular that I’m attached to. I have a pair of black cigarette pants I bought in France about twenty years ago. They have kept their timelessness and go with everything. I also have a collection of Breton striped shirts. It is rather an embarrassing addiction because I’m from Brittany.

Who are your style icons?

I really admire Jane Birkin for her casual androgynous style. There is nothing better than a good pair of blue jeans with an oversized white shirt or sweater. I also love Charlotte Rampling and appreciate how gracefully she is aging. Lauren Bacall is forever a great source of inspiration.

What have you learned about style over the years?

To be daring. I don’t believe in following trends and think using your imagination is so much more interesting. It’s important to know your body and what works with your shape. Clothes are a means of self-expression; I see getting dressed in the morning as my little art project.

Elbow details on Target sweater

Elbow detail

Flea market find

Necklace constructed from flea market find

 

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Essays and Musings, The Four Seasons of Vintage

Heroine Chic: Some Thoughts on the Blouse

Lauren Bacall,1944; photo Everett Collection/Rex

Lauren Bacall, 1944; photo Everett Collection/Rex

Lauren Bacall

Lauren Bacall

In the classic Hollywood movies I watched growing up, the blouse was the wardrobe staple of the heroine. As a teenager, I was fascinated by the clothing I saw on film. Even if my life in a small New England town didn’t bear any resemblance to the lives of the stars, my plan in closely observing the heroine was to learn how to dress like one. And so, when my sisters and I would go shopping at the designer discount chain T.J.Maxx, more often than not, I gravitated to the racks of blouses. Tucked into a skirt or worn with pants, long-sleeved or sleeveless, the blouse managed to look both elegant and cool.

In high school, I participated in regional and state student council, and as secretary, I thought wearing a blouse would be the best way to convey my competence. For an after school job, I worked at the local bank, where many of the female executives arrived dressed in skirt suits, paired with white or jewel-tone satin blouses. While reading the employee manual one day, I decided the blouse fit the description of “professional attire” and was the ideal choice for my part-time position as a teller.

I have little doubt that my attraction to the blouse as an emblem of sophistication is due in large measure to Lauren Bacall. What strikes me most in considering those images of her in a blouse is how self-possessed and capable she looked. In her many roles as the heroine, Bacall projected a heady seductiveness that famously blended outspokenness with ironic humor. She was the kind of heroine who made me believe that in speaking her mind, a woman could be both tough and sexy. This projection of strong femininity seems as glamorous to me now as it did when I was a young woman, just beginning to experiment with fashion.

Of course, my hometown in Central Massachusetts was a far cry from the settings that Bacall’s heroines found themselves in. And the silk blouses I owned in the 1980s, with their towering shoulder pads and full sleeves, didn’t fit impeccably like those the iconic actress wore. Even though I currently live in Los Angeles (not too far from Hollywood) nothing’s changed: I still gravitate to 80s blouses when I go vintage shopping in whatever city I happen to find myself in. But now I have a tailor. She snips out the pads and reshapes the sleeves to give me the look of a modern day heroine.

Vintage silk blouse;bag;1990s Chanel turnlock necklace; Vintage Paco Rabanne cuff

Vintage silk blouse; 90s Chanel turnlock necklace; vintage Paco Rabanne cuff; Winfried Kralle vintage embossed bag

Silk wood print blouse

80s Levante silk wood print blouse; 60s unsigned necklace; Hermès Kelly long wallet as clutch

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