Friday, July 31, 2009

How to Carry a Purse and Wear Gloves Like a Lady - 1968

I never thought the lessons I've been sharing this week about poise and grace would be so popular! Thank you all for your positive comments. It would seem that within a generation or two, we have lost these basic rules for moving like a lady. Today's final lesson deals with purses and gloves.

Today, purses have become a much more important part of your fashion statement than they were in 1968, but the basic rules for how to carry your handbag still apply. Above all, you don't want to appear awkward and unbalanced as though you are carrying a burden. Your purse should be an accessory that you carry neatly and effortlessly.

To carry a handbag, slip your hand through the handle from the outside and let the handle rest on your wrist. Turn your palm up with fingers relaxed. Place your wrist lightly against your waist so the purse rests on the flat of your hip. Don't carry your handbag under your arm like a football, as this can ruin the lines of your dress. Don't carry your handbag down by your side with your arm fully extended, as this can not only bump your leg repeatedly, but also become an obstacle for passers-by.

To carry a clutch purse, hold the bottom of the bag in your hand, resting it on the length of your index and middle fingers. Rest your hand against your hip, letting the bag relax to an angle.

To carry a shoulder bag, rest the strap on your shoulder. In order to keep the bag from swinging when you walk, grasp the center of the front strap to hold it in place. Don't push down on the top of the bag. Don't slip the strap over your head and wear the bag criss-crossing the body. This ruins the lines of your garment.

Gloves have started to come back as an important fashion accessory. Do you know what to do with your gloves?

How to put on gloves:
1. Slip your hand down the glove and gently ease it on by grasping the cuff.
2. If the gloves are snug, smooth the fingers on gently to avoid splitting the seams.
3. Never pull by the cuff, as this can stretch your glove. Instead smooth the glove with upward strokes from the fingers up the arm.
4. Never push between the fingers. Smooth the fingers with upward strokes until the glove is comfortable.

How to remove gloves:
1. Pull gently at the tip of each finger until you can hold the fingertips of the glove.
2. Grasp all the fingertips of the glove in the opposite hand and pull gently to ease your hand out.
3. Never grasp the cuff to pull your gloves off, as this will turn them inside out.

How to hold your gloves:
1. After removing your gloves, ease away any creases and reshape them.
2. Fold the thumb of each glove in and press the two gloves together, palms in, with fingertips and cuffs even.
3. With the cuff end facing out, fold the gloves over the side of your hand between the forefinger and thumb. Hold them in place with your thumb.
4. If the gloves are long, fold them in half lengthwise and place the folded part out, then hold between the forefinger and thumb.

Remember, a lady always wears both gloves, not just one.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

How to Enter and Leave a Room Like a Lady - 1968

This week, we've been looking at how to move like a lady, from a 1968 book. Are you finding these moves awkward? Are you thinking about how you move, and how it looks to others? Are you finding, as I am, that these moves require strong core muscles?

The impression you make as you enter or leave a room can be your greatest asset. Here are some tips for making a good entrance and a graceful departure from a room.

When entering a room:
1. Avoid bursting into a room. Hesitate for a moment in the doorway, compose yourself, and glance quickly around to note names, faces, and the environment. Before you step into the room, you should know where you are going and to whom you will be speaking.
2. Smile.
3. If there is a door, grasp the knob with your hand. If the door opens into the room to the right, use your right hand, and vice versa. Keep your arm straight and open the door as you walk forward. Step sideways and reach behind you with the opposite hand to grab the inner door knob. Step backwards to close the door without turning your back on the room.

When leaving a room:
1. Leave a good impression. Smile.
2. Back out slowly, facing the people in the room. (OK, this is the first rule I have to disagree with. Maybe it's rude to turn my back, but walking backwards out of a room is just weird.)
3. If there is a door, walk up with your back to the door, reach behind and grasp the knob. Straighten your arm and walk forward opening the door behind you. Step to the side, grasp the outer knob and back out of the room, pulling the door closed. You are literally closing the door in your face. (Again, weird.)

When bending to pick up objects, keep your back straight and bend from the knees. Keep your head up. This is not only graceful, it protects your back from injury. to handle accessories.

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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Handling Stairs and Cars Like a Lady - 1968

Yesterday, we looked at how to sit like a lady. It seems many of you are wearing more skirts and dresses now, and this advice from 1968 is quite timely! Ambika wondered about how to get in and out of a car like a lady. Here you are!

Getting in and out of a car in a "bottoms up" or "legs sprawled" position can be unflattering and embarrasing (remember Britney?). Here is how to do it with poise and grace.
1. Stand close to the car facing the same direction the car is pointing.
2. Place the foot nearest the car on a line just in front of the seat, and the outside foot one step forward.
3. Lower yourself with your weight carried on your thigh muscles until your head is clear of the car roof and sit on the outer edge of the seat.
4. Swing your knees to the front and bring your feet inside the car.
5. Arrange your skirt.

To get out of a car:
1. Lift your derriere slightly off the seat and straighten your skirt, pulling it gracefully to cover your knees.
2. Slide to the outer edge of the seat, knees together.
3. Place the foot that is nearest the door on the curb, bending the other leg at the same time to keep the knees close together.
4. Step out with the other foot and lift yourself from a sitting position with your thigh muscles, keeping your back straight.

Have you ever had nightmares about making a grand entrance that involved coming down a staircase? Here is how to handle stairs like a lady.

1. Balance is key. Use your best posture. Don't bend your head to look at the stairs. Glance down with your eyes only.
2. Don't lead with your head. Move with your body erect, head up, weight on the back foot and placing your full weight on the front foot as the torso comes over it.
3. Place your entire foot on the step without letting your heel hang over the edge.
4. Take your time!
5. On narrow stairs, place your feet sideways.
6. When getting on busses, trains, etc., face in the direction the vehicle is moving and hold the handrail. Step up with your feet sideways on the steps.

How do you handle stairs when wearing a long dress? You don't want to trip on the hem or hold your dress up too high.

In a narrow skirt, bend your knees and grasp the fabric of the skirt a few inches above the knee. Lift the skirt until it is just above your ankles and glide up or down the stairs.

With a full skirt, use both hands. Bend your knees slightly and grasp each side of the skirt a few inches above the knees. Lift the skirt until it is just above the ankles. to enter and leave a room.

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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

How to Sit Like a Lady - 1968

I found a little book from 1968 the other day on how to move like a model. I thought you all might get a kick out of the rules in this book for basic movements most of us don't even think about. But if you've ever watched old films with women like Grace Kelly or Jackie Kennedy, you may have noted how they moved with poise and composure in public. They learned the rules and practiced. Today, let's look at "How to Sit".

1. Approach the chair holding your best posture. Turn so your back leg brushes against the chair seat.
2. Slide one foot back 2-3 inches under the chair seat.
3. Lower yourself into the seat keeping your head erect and your back straight. Most of your weight should be carried by the thigh of your back leg.
4. Ease down into the seat gracefully...don't flop.
5. For deeper seats or upholstered chairs where you can't slip your foot under, sit as above but on the edge of the seat. When seated, lift your weight slightly and slide back.
To rise from a sitting position, simply reverse the above steps. Lift yourself gracefully in one easy motion letting your back leg muscle do the work. Don't push up using the chair arms.

While seated, arrange your legs at a slight angle to avoid looking to square and boyish. Cross your legs at the ankles or knees. If crossing at the knees, be sure your skirt is long enough to cover your knees. Rest your hands in your lap, palms up.

If you are sitting in a slim skirt, you may have to sit a bit more forward in the chair to keep your knees discreetly covered. If you are sitting in a full skirt, place your hand behind you and grasp the center back of the skirt. Bring the skirt out to one side before you sit down.

Apparently, if you follow all these rules, you'll have all the men flocking around you!

Today, notice how you sit down and get up. Try the above rules. This method will probably feel alien and strange. Now move a chair in front of a mirror and compare how you look when sitting down normally and how you look sitting with the rules. Is there a difference? Which do you prefer?

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Monday, July 27, 2009

Separates Make the Dress - 1949

I talk a lot on this blog about the versatility of separates. Here, from 1949, are some examples of how sewing separates can give you the look of a dress. And, may I just say, I love the little floral posy as an accessory. Pinned at the waist or at the bottom of a V-neckline, they add a touch of whimsy to these outfits. You can find posies like these by doing a search for "vintage millinery flowers" on the web.

Sewn from 1949 Advance pattern number 5173. The V-necked halter top and full skirt worn together give the impression of a dress. Add a short sleeved jacket when the air-conditioning is too cold.

Advance pattern 5173 from 1949

Here, sewn from Advance pattern 5174 from 1949, a sleeveless blouse is matched to a full skirt to make a dress. A self-fabric belt is worn at the waist.

Advance pattern 5174 from 1949

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Sunday, July 26, 2009

New at Couture Allure - Vintage Designer Dresses

New at Couture Allure this week are several great vintage party dresses. We've also added lots of new things not shown here, but you can find them under the What's New tab at our site. There are a few things I wanted to show you today, including a Lilli Ann suit and a Hanae Mori couture dress, but they've sold already. Are you checking the Couture Allure website frequently for updates? We list new items 2-3 times a week!

Remember the Rosalie Macrini dress from last week? It is now sold, but this vintage 1950's cream satin strapless dress by Fred Perlberg comes from the same estate. AND it is new, old stock with the original tag still attached!

Thierry Mugler is hailed as one of the most important designers from the 1980's. This vintage Mugler dress is fashioned from an unusual combination of brown and purple gabardine.

This vintage late 1960's mini dress sparkles with lots of metallic gold thread, huge rhinestones, and beads. The unusual cut-away armholes take this dress over-the-top!

Black velvet is ruched at the center front and forms a fitted bodice with dropped waist on this 1950's party dress. That satin skirt is a full circle when laid flat.

If you march to a different drummer and are always looking for something different to wear, I've got just the thing. This vintage 60's cocktail coat is fashioned of metallic silver cord that has been sewn into a lacy openwork design.
When perusing vintage magazines, I sometimes come across designers that I've never heard of. This dress is by Lisa Meril, an unsung maker of high-end dresses in the 1960's and 70's. Lisa Meril dresses were featured in Vogue, and sold for beaucoup bucks back then. This one, from the late 1960's is mini in length and comes with a matching scarf. I love the silk burnout fabric.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Weekend Eye Candy - Azzedine Alaia 1989

azzedine alaia for tina turner, 1989While we're on the subject of Azzedine Alaia, here is a dress he made for Tina Turner in 1989. A complete departure from the garments featured yesterday, this strapless wonder was made of black silk chiffon embroidered with gold pearls. This dress may have been worn by Turner for her 1990 European tour.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Azzedine Alaia 1992

"When I see beautiful clothes, I want to keep them, preserve them...Clothes, like architecture and art, reflect an era." Azzedine Alaia

I couldn't have said it better myself. Here, three pieces from Alaia's Spring 1992 collection. These pieces were all part of the exhibit "Radical Fashion" at the V&A Museum in 2001.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Bouffant Hair Styles 1963

Sleek cuts with added volume reigned supreme in 1963. These styles were heavily influenced by the popularity of Jackie Kennedy's bouffant hairdo, created by Kenneth Battelle. Warning: Lots of hairspray is needed to hold these styles in place!

Here, the hair is tight to the head at the front, then sweeps up gracefully behind the bow.

In this style, the hair sweeps dramatically from the left front to the right, then back and is blended perfectly. Did I tell you you'll need lots of hairspray?

Swaths of hair are woven in different directions. Hair pins hide under the top piece to hold the front piece in place. Did I mention hairspray?

Here the side pieces are slicked under and pulled to the back of the neck, where they are pinned. The hair at the back is lifted over and swept to the front. And, oh yes, you'll need lots of hairspray!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Accessorize a Basic Dress - 1953

A 1953 magazine offers the following ideas to accessorize a grey dress by Henry Rosenfeld. Using accessories to change the look of a basic dress is a smart way to stretch your wardrobe dollar in today's economy. Spend your money wisely on a simple but high-quality garment that offers a blank canvas to decorate in many ways. Then look for less expensive trendy accessories that will give you a variety of looks for little money.

Here, the dress is worn with a V-neck top that peeks out at the neckline and a wide belt.

A white hat, ascot, and gloves give the dress a completely different look.

Tuck a scarf into the neckline and add wide bangle bracelets. Printed scarves in trendy patterns would also look great.

Wear a scarf or shawl as a topper, or add a jacket or sweater for even more looks.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Vintage Barbie Evening Gown

It's funny, the things that you come across sometimes. Yesterday I experienced a bit of life's serendipity when my daughter brought over a book she came across called "The Collectible Barbie Doll" from 1999. It's a lot of fun flipping through the pages and seeing Barbie fashions through the years, and I promise I'll do a more in-depth look at them soon. As I was flipping, I stopped at the page that showed this outfit:

This Barbie outfit was an exclusive stock #1600 series which was sold only in Europe in 1966. Now, check this out:

This vintage 60's evening gown with matching coat is currently available at Couture Allure! Mine doesn't have a fur collar, but isn't that cool? You can dress as well as Barbie does!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Pretty Peignoir

Do you feel pretty when you lounge in the evening or go to bed at night? When is the last time you donned something to wear at home that made you feel beautiful? And whatever happened to the peignoir set?

Delicate pink flowers adorn this nightgown and matching robe by Rogers from 1964. Who wouldn't feel pretty when wearing this in the boudoir?

Sunday, July 19, 2009

New at Couture Allure - Vintage Designer Dresses

This week, I've been listing a lot of gorgeous new things at Couture Allure, including the following pieces:

This dress makes my heart stop. It's a true rare find by Rosalie Macrini. This 1950's party dress is fashioned in irridescent silk taffeta with dramatic draping and swirls.

Need a little drama in your life? How about this vintage 1960's evening gown by Bill Blass? The ostrich feathers at the hem are dyed to match the colors of the velveteen print of the gown.

These coat and dress sets fly out the door whenever we find them, so don't hesitate if you like this one. Chester Weinberg designed this vintage 1960's set in wool brocade and wool knit. The brocade print of the coat is outstanding!

How about a bright pop of color? You can't beat this vintage 1970's blouse and maxi skirt set in vibrant orange and hot pink with huge polka dots.

I just love the kooky embroidery on this vintage 60's dress, and I know you will too. Animals are embroidered in a Tree of Life design on avocado green wool.

Pauline Trigere was known for using unusual details in her designs. This vintage 70's evening gown has an attached belt with a huge hammered brass buckle.

From the 1980's, this emerald green suede jacket by Yves St. Laurent Rive Gauche closes with the most exquisite jeweled buttons. This suede is butter soft, like velvet!

You'll find lots more new listings at Couture Allure this week! Here's a link to our What's New section of the website. Enjoy!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Weekend Eye Candy - Mainbocher Evening Gown

Mainbocher's 1950's strapless evening gown is fashioned in an unusual cotton fabric woven with Lurex threads in a plaid pattern.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Marimekko Dresses and Hats 1961

In April 1961, Vogue magazine featured these dresses and hats by Marimekko of Finland. Marimekko had just been introduced in America and was initially carried exclusively by the Design Research store in Cambridge, Ma. Design Research was a forward thinking store that carried household goods, accessories, furniture, and now clothing from modern European companies.

The Design Research Store in Cambridge, MA

The Design Research look was the basis for today's Crate and Barrel and Pottery Barn stores. Design Research closed it's doors sometime in the mid 1970's, but is fondly remembered by many Bostonians today, including myself. As a teenager, the DR store was always a favorite haunt of mine. Of course, I never could afford to buy anything, but I remember the colorful and wild prints of the Marimekko clothing being sold there.

Today, there are many Marimekko dresses being sold online that are advertised as vintage, but are actually modern reproductions of the vintage designs that have been made by Marimekko in the last 10 years. The best way to tell if the dress is vintage or not is to look at the label. If there is a modern fiber content and care label, you know you've got a modern dress. If you're lucky enough to find a Marimekko dress with a Design Research label inside, you know you've got a true vintage dress. Of course, all vintage Marimekko dresses don't have a DR label, but it is one way to be sure.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Vintage Design Thai Clothing

I first became aware of the Design Thai label from a several page spread about them in a 1975 issue of Vogue magazine. Based in Bangkok, all Design Thai garments were sewn and hand finished in their workrooms there.

Jackie Ayer was the designer for Design Thai. She was able to work with a rich collection of Design Thai cotton fabrics that were hand screened in vibrant tropical colors and designs. Above, a crane print in aqua and white fashions a kimono jacket and palazzo pant. The set sold for $128.00 (about $520.00 in today's dollar).

The construction of Design Thai garments is of the highest quality with hand finished details like bound seams and hems, hand set zippers, hand set linings, and hanger loops. Here, a bird of paradise print in vibrant aqua and pink fashions a top and pant with matching scarf and quilted tote bag. The set sold for $144.00 (about $585.00 in today's dollar).

Design Thai dresses, resort, swim, and loungewear were carried by high end stores like I. Magnin, Bergdorf Goodman, and Lord & Taylor, as well as luxury specialty boutiques. Here, a cotton gauze beach cover-up hides a matching bikini swimsuit. The set sold for $100.00 (about $406.00 in today's dollar).

Design Thai garments were popular from about 1965 - 1979. How about a feather print halter top combined with a love bird print maxi skirt? The set sold for $102.00 (about $414.00 in today's dollar).

My favorite? This bird of paradise print hooded caftan in vibrant aqua and pink. Sold for $104.00 (about $422.00 in today's dollar).

At Couture Allure, I am happy to have found several pieces by Design Thai that are now available for sale on our website. Make a statement at your next summer party!

This vintage late 1960's set features a cotton top with a matching cotton quilted skirt. and wide obi style belt. Aren't the colors gorgeous? $105.00 at Couture Allure.

This set from the 70's features a pretty purple floral print on black. The wrap top is fashioned of sheer cotton batiste. The matching broadcloth maxi skirt is accented with 3-dimensional flower centers that are appliqued to the print. $135.00 at Couture Allure.

This vintage 70's maxi dress features a green geometric design on cotton broadcloth. Be sure to click into the listing to see the unusual neckline treatment. $95.00 at Couture Allure.