Tuesday, May 31, 2011

How to Wear Polka Dots

Dear Readers:  Your blog hostess is in need of a break.  This week, I will be republishing random posts from the last 5 years.  As always, your comments and suggestions are very welcome.  Thank you for being here!

Polka dots - you probably either love 'em or hate 'em, but anyone can wear them. This perennial print has a tendency to look juvenile if not done right, though. Here are a few tips for wearing dots without looking too "dotty".

- Mix it up. This dress works because it uses two different sizes of dots. With this mix, the print avoids becoming overwhelming.
- Add solid color accessories. The solid black belt breaks up the dots and adds just the right touch. And guess where your eye is drawn? To your tiny waist.

- Smaller dots work better for dressier styles. The bow blouse at left would look silly in larger dots.
- Or break up polka dots with solids to tone it down. The green dotted dress would be far too much without the white vest worn over it.

- Wear dots in spring and summer. Somehow, polka dots just work better in warmer weather. They're bright and cheery and they send off a more casual vibe.
- Think color! Dots don't have to be white. Orange on purple works great for a casual summer shift. Pink on yellow makes a great swimsuit. Stick with two colors, though, to avoid looking clownish.

All fashions made from McCall's patterns in 1964.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Stretch Your Wardrobe with a Basic Sheath Dress

Dear Readers:  Your blog hostess is in need of a break.  This week, I will be republishing random posts from the last 5 years.  As always, your comments and suggestions are very welcome.  Thank you for being here!

A sheath dress has a figure-hugging silhouette with a well-defined waist. Every woman should own at least one sheath in a solid colored neutral as a wardrobe basic. Such a dress becomes a building block for countless looks when combined with fun accessories. Of course, I advocate shopping for a vintage sheath, as you'll get much higher quality for your dollar. A sheath is a classic look that will never go out of style and looks just a current today as it did 40 or 50 years ago. One of the best things about a neutral sheath? It forms a backdrop, so you notice the woman, not the clothes.

Looks like Jackie Kennedy, doesn't it? This ad, from 1960, actually predates her reign as first lady. This basic belted sheath by Couture International has patch pockets at the hips. Worn with Ben Hur sunglasses and a Jana leather bag.

Basic black sheaths trimmed with white in two ways. Button trimmed sheath by Deb-Time worn with shoes by DeLiso Debs. Jewel-necked sheath by Sue Brett worn with Delman shoes and big daisy earrings. Both from 1960.

When looking for a high quality sheath, check out vintage suits, which often consist of a sheath dress with matching jacket. The jacket will add more versatility to your wardrobe, too! Shown, wool suit by Robert Leonard from 1963.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Last Chance Sale at Couture Allure

Don't miss out on a fabulous bargain during the famous Couture Allure Last Chance Sale!  There are just 2 more days left to grab a vintage dress for $50.00 or a vintage accessory for $10.00.  These items will disappear forever soon!  Here are a few of the great deals on offer.  Click on the link above to see all of the items on sale!

1960s gold brocade evening gown just $50.00!

1950s sheer lilac dress just $50.00!

1960s Schiaparelli scarf just $10.00!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Weekend Eye Candy - Givenchy, 1974

I am inspired by all things 70s right now and this red and white striped silk blouse knocks me out.  Hubert de Givenchy, spring 1974.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Paris Couture: Jacques Fath, 1950

Jacques Fath was considered one of the most important influences in post-war Parisian couture.  These suits and dresses are all from his line for Spring 1950.  Fath was a superb tailor and I covet one of his garments for my collection.  Which is your favorite?

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Bright Pops of Color: 1965

Lately on the website, I can't keep wild printed dresses from the 1960s in stock.  There are more to come, I promise, but for today, here are some photos from 1965 for you to enjoy.  Do you think these prints are flying out the door because of a current fashion trend or are they perennially popular for you?

David Crystal

Mme. Gres

Pauline Trigere

Frank Usher


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Gigliola Curiel, 1956

I've told you a little bit about Italian couture designer Gigliola Curiel in the past.  This dress was featured in a Bergdorf Goodman ad from spring 1956 announcing the arrival of Curiel's first collection for the store.

"Here in all their beautiful glory are the polished, elegant, very cosmopolitan clothes which this talented Italian designer has created for us alone in the whole United States.  Done in the finest tradition of the Italian couture, in magnificent imported fabrics and executed with bold, dramatic strokes, these clothes are not for the timid or unsure, but for the worldly and the very wise.  Shown, Curiel's white silk organdy dance dress bordered and embroidered with clusters of gold French beads centered with rhinestones, its own floating white silk organdy stole.  $975."

$975 in 1956.  That's $8,062 in today's dollar.  I would assume that Bergdorf's only sold a handful of this dress, if that many.  Chances of finding it today, are slim to none, but isn't it beautiful?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Summer Cover-up Dresses - 1958

Tell me honestly, would you have guessed 1958?  Not I!  If I found any of these cover-up dresses, I would have guessed mid to late 1960s based upon their short length and shift style.  Just goes to show, you learn something new every day.  Above, Greta Plattry striped cotton tunic length dress with matching shorts in green and blue stripes.  Set sold for $20 in 1958 (about $156 in today's dollar.)  Mr. John hat.

 Black and white striped cotton dress with drawstring waist by Toni Owen.  Sold for $10 in 1958 (about $78 in today's dollar.)  Hat by Mr. John.

 John Weitz terrycloth tunic dress with fringed hem and sash belt.  Sold for $14 in 1958 (about $109 in today's dollar.)

 Greta Plattry short dress with matching panties in tiers of white eyelet cotton.  Wow, this really looks late 60s or even early 70s to me!  Sold for $40 in 1958 (about $311 in today's dollar.)

Haymaker sleeveless dress with shirt tail hem.  Sold for $14 in 1958 (about $109 in today's dollar.)

Monday, May 23, 2011

Frances Sider - Swimsuit and Play Clothes Designer

Frances Sider, 1957.
 Frances Sider was an American designer of swimsuits, play clothes and sportswear in the 40s and 50s.  I had honestly never heard of her until I came across an image of one of her swimsuits in my archives.  Of course my curiosity was piqued and I had to find out more.  Unfortunately, there is not much known about Sider today, but here is what I did find out.

 Sider started her business about 1938 in New York designing swimsuits and beach wear.

 She was designing two piece swimsuits earlier than most as you can see by these first two images from 1946.

 She also designed play clothes, sportswear and casual separates.  All of Sider's swimsuits and strapless dresses were constructed with inner foundations for support and slimming.

 Most of her swimsuits were available with matching separates so a woman could go from the pool to the town with ease and comfort.  The swimsuit above was available with a separate wrap skirt that turned it into a sarong style dress.

This dress could be made strapless by removing the halter style strap.

 In 1950, Frances Sider became the first designer to be granted a patent regarding the construction of a swimsuit for the inner foundation she designed to go in her swimsuits.  It was attached to the front of the suit only and the panty was separate from the bra at the back for ease of movement.  She called this inner foundation the "Sun Body" and it came in all her suits.  She started designing separate foundation garments in 1951 and was granted two more patents, one for a long line corset and one for a strapless bra.

By the early 1950s, Sider was also designing loungewear and dressier separates.  In 1954, Sider decided to leave her career and closed her business.  At the time, she said she wanted to be at home with her husband and daughter and regretted the years she had missed watching her daughter grow up.  She moved to Florida to be near her daughter sometime before 1957.

In 1957, Sider once again began designing swimsuits and sportswear, this time based in Miami, but her newly launched line was never as successful as it had been in the past and she disappears from media mention by 1958.

Please note: This biography about Francis Sider is copyright of Couture Allure and may not be copied without permission.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

New at Couture Allure - Vintage 1920s Dresses and More

New at Couture Allure this week....well we've got loads of new goodies for you.  The best 1920s beaded dress I've ever had, 1950s and 60s dresses for daytime and nighttime, and some wonderful Vera scarves.  Be sure to check our What's New page to see all the latest additions to the site!

1920s ombre silk beaded flapper era dress.

1920s sheer silk floral day dress with draping.

1950s shantung wiggle dress with bolero jacket.

1960s apricot chiffon pleated party dress.

1950s Alix of Miami illusion lace dress.

Rare 1980s Jean Charles de Castelbajac hooded cotton dress.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Weekend Eye Candy - Helena Rubinstein Wears Schiaparelli

Madame Helena Rubinstein owned this evening jacket from Elsa Schiaparelli's 1938 Circus collection.  The bolero jacket is completely covered in embroidery with elephants and acrobats set against swirls of pink.  As always, Rubinstein adds dramatic jewelry from her vast collection.  For more photos of Rubinstein and her singular style, see my recent blog post about her.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Vintage Swimsuits - 1953

I've always felt that more coverage is sexier than trying to show as much as you can.  Perhaps these swimsuits from 1953 will help illustrate my point.  Do you think these suits are more enticing than a tiny bikini?

And I just love the idea of a little swing jacket as a swimsuit cover-up!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Fashion in Film: Elephant Walk

When Elizabeth Taylor passed in March of this year, the prolific stories and images about her reminded me of one of her films that I hadn't seen in years.  Elephant Walk had entranced me as a young woman because of the stunning clothes worn by Elizabeth Taylor.  It was perhaps one of the seeds that was planted early on that grew to become my fascination and love for vintage dresses from the 1950s.

The film was made in 1954 and Edith Head designed the costumes for Elizabeth Taylor.  The movie was filmed on location in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) and the setting is stunning.  Head does a great job of making the star stand out amidst such exotic backgrounds.

The clothes that Taylor wears might seem out of place on a remote tea plantation if we weren't told early in the film that her new husband treated her to a new wardrobe in Paris on their honeymoon.

Head dressed Taylor in full skirted dresses with tiny waists that accented her ample bosom.  The dresses were always belted and most of the belts had some sort of adornment or beading to draw the eye right to Taylor's miniscule waistline.

Taylor wore this pink peignoir set on her first night on the plantation.  She looked very romantic and beautiful.

My favorite dress in the entire film is this evening gown.  Purple lace sculpts Taylor's figure very tightly and a white tulle full skirt floats beneath it.  You can see the gown in action in this video.

Like the look?  I have this 1950s dress available at Couture Allure that was probably inspired by Taylor's dress in the film.  Pretty, isn't it?