Thursday, March 31, 2011

Suits for Travel - 1956

On Friday, I asked my Facebook fans what they'd like to see on the blog this week. Eleanor requested a post about vintage spring and summer suits for travel. They were so elegant! I'm with you Eleanor. I like to people-watch in airports and I'm always pleasantly surprised when I see a woman traveling in a suit. She looks so much more sophisticated than the majority who are wearing sweats and flip-flops. For your inspiration today, suits for travel from 1956.

Above, Handmacher gray flannel sheath dress with matching bolero jacket accented with a white linen collar. Sold for $70 in 1956 (about $570 in today's dollar.) Hat by Emme.

Davidow wool and mohair tweed suit with matching tasseled scarf. The jacket is belted. Sold for $150 in 1956 (about $1,220 in today's dollar.) Saddlebag styled purse by MacArthur.

David Crystal pale gray glen plaid suit in a rayon/Dacron blend. Dacron? That's polyester. This suit would resist wrinkling and be perfect for those long train trips. Sold for $40 in 1956 (about $325 in today's dollar.) Handbag by Josef.

Mr. Mort lightweight wool sheath dress in buttercup yellow paired with a plaid bolero jacket. Sold for $50 in 1956 (about $407 in today's dollar.) Bag by Maxwell Schill (me want!)

Swansdown wool suit with a bloused-back jacket for more ease during long trips. Sold for $60 in 1956 (about $488 in today's dollar.)

How do you dress for travel? Do you go for chic or do you prefer comfort?

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Spring Coats - 1956

On Friday, I asked my Facebook fans what they'd like to see on the blog this week. Honore requested a post about spring coats. Whatever happened to spring coats anyway? I'm so tired of my gray heavy wool winter coat and my leopard print down jacket. It's time for something different, but my waterproof rain jacket just won't do.

Vintage spring coats are usually made of lighter weight wool or cashmere, cotton poplin, or rayon gabardine. They are often in lighter and brighter colors than the heavy blacks, browns, and grays of winter. 1950s clutch coats are perfect for spring, as they have no buttons and can be worn open on warmer days. The examples shown here are all from 1956.

Above, a bright daffodil yellow clutch coat in lightweight Worumbo wool.

Lilli Ann made this swing coat in lightweight turquoise wool. What a great color for spring!

Bergdorf Goodman exclusive lightweight wool coat tailored with just 2 buttons up high. Came in beige, red, or navy. Perfect to wear over a spring dress!

Warren of Stafford raincoat with a loose back and big buttoned pockets.

Clyde cashmere clutch coat has push-up sleeves that work well with long kidskin gloves. Love that bag!

I've been inspired to store my gray wool winter coat and pull out my vintage 1950s pale pink cashmere clutch coat. Thanks, Honore! What about you? Do you have spring weight coat in your closet?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Wearing White, 1959

Christian Dior

White, white, white is the HOT color for spring 2011, as it was for spring of 1959. Shown here are white garments from that year. Will you be adding white to your wardrobe this season?

Originala white wool fleece coat with dramatic fox fur collar.
Worn with a white skirt by Sloat.

Ben Reig white wool lace sack dress,
accented with jeweled pin and turquoise shoes.

B. H. Wragge white wool doeskin dress with relaxed shape.

B.H. Wragge white wool jersey swimsuit.

Monday, March 28, 2011

How About a Blouse Instead of That T-Shirt?

One of the things I find sad about modern fashion is how casual we've become. Now that jeans and t-shirts are ubiquitous, it seems many of us have lost our flair for dressing well. Though knits are comfortable, most modern t-shirts and knit tops are made of such cheap fabric that they look a bit bedraggled after only a few washings. Why not choose a vintage blouse instead?

A vintage blouse is a great way to bring the past into your wardrobe without breaking the bank. And if you have trouble finding vintage dresses that fit, a blouse will be more forgiving, especially if you don't have a tiny waist. Pair a vintage blouse with a skirt, pants, or even jeans. Layer it under a jacket or cardigan for a look that is polished and different. The blouses shown here are all from 1962.

Shapely Classic blouse printed with blue and green leaves. Sold in 1962 for $5 (about $37 in today's dollar.) Hat by Sally Victor.

Lady Manhattan shirt with French cuffs adorned with big jeweled cuff links. Sold in 1962 for $6 (about $44 in today's dollar.) Hat by Emme.

Vera silk blouse in white with big black dots, worn with a black silk scarf. Sold in 1962 for $12 (about $88 in today's dollar.)

Mollie Parnis white silk blouse with button and buttonhole detail all the way around the collar. Belted in black patent.

Do you have blouses in your wardrobe? Have you ever tried a vintage blouse? Should I carry more vintage blouses at Couture Allure?

Sunday, March 27, 2011

New at Couture Allure - Vintage Party Dresses

New this week at Couture Allure are lots of fabulous 1950s party dresses! Be sure to check our What's New page to see all the new goodies!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Weekend Eye Candy - Hanae Mori, 1965

Oh, how I wish this photo were in color. Hanae Mori's signature butterflies decorate this gown from 1965 with elaborate ruffles down the back and around the hem. Le sigh.......

Friday, March 25, 2011

Paris Cocktail Dresses, 1965

The hair! The jewelry! The make-up! But most importantly, the dresses! Today, cocktail dresses out of Paris, spring 1965.

Castillo black sheer cigaline over strapless satin lining.

Pierre Cardin pleated black crepe one shoulder dress with rhinestone bow.

Castillo black lace fitted dress with a ruffled lace overdress.

Simonetta black organza trapeze dress decorated with pleated ruffles
flares over a fitted underdress.

Dior white beaded flowers on silk organza with a matching mink trimmed jacket.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Goodbye, Elizabeth Taylor

Taylor and Montgomery Clift in A Place in the Sun, 1951

Hollywood legend and screen idol Elizabeth Taylor has died at 79. Known for her glamour, both on and off screen, her many marriages, and her jewels, Taylor was one of the best actresses of her generation, winning 2 Oscars for Butterfield 8 and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?.

Many of the costumes that Miss Taylor wore in her 50 films sparked fashion trends of their own. Edith Head designed the costumes for A Place in the Sun. In it, Taylor wore a strapless evening gown with a bodice covered in white violets and a skirt made from miles of white tulle over green satin. Paramount studios sent the dress on tour, displaying it in department store windows across the country. Thousands of copies were sold and the style was the look for that year's proms and parties.

In 1959's Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Taylor only wore three costumes: a simple blouse and skirt, this white slip, and a dress that launched a new phase in designer Helen Rose's career. The deceptively simple slip was actually designed more like a dress. It had darts and a side zipper and fit Taylor like a second skin.

Miss Taylor was the one who persuaded director Richard Brooks to allow the third costume for the last portion of the film. Helen Rose designed this white chiffon dress with a plunging neckline to show off Taylor's cleavage. The actress liked the dress so much, she asked Rose to make extra copies and variations for her personal use. In the months following the film's release, Rose received so many requests for the dress, she decided to go into the wholesale garment business. Her ready-to-wear line met with great success.

Taylor will always be best remembered for her role as Cleopatra in the 1963 film of the same name. The photo above was taken by Bert Stern for a Vogue magazine article promoting the film.

Irene Sharaff designed Taylor's wardrobe for the film. She did extensive research in art museums and it showed in Taylor's 65 costume changes during the nearly 3-hour film. The incredible headdresses and wigs and the exotic make-up styles were influential in fashion for years to come.

In this video montage, you'll see several of the costumes shown above in action. It is a beautiful and fitting tribute to one of the greatest actresses of our time. Farewell, Liz. Your legacy will not be forgotten.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Harvey Berin Dresses

Karen Stark and Harvey Berin, 1954

Harvey Berin dresses were prized for being extremely well made and yet only moderately expensive. The company was best known for it's evening gowns and cocktail dresses, although they produced daytime dresses and suits, as well. Mr. Berin began his career in fashion in 1921 when he was only 15 years old. He hired his sister-in-law, Karen Stark, to design the line in 1942. The pair won a Coty award in 1952. Harvey Berin's evening wear was worn by many First Ladies. Perhaps the most famous was Pat Nixon's yellow silk inaugural gown. The Harvey Berin company closed in 1970.

1954: Pale pink satin ball gown.

1956: Black silk taffeta cocktail dress with side drape.

1956: Black wool jersey bodice and satin skirt combined in a beauty of a cocktail dress.

1957: Pink satin peeks out behind black lace

1958: Silk satin bubble hem gown.

1969: Pat Nixon inaugural gown.

At Couture Allure, we just listed this stunning 1950s silk satin party dress by Harvey Berin. It's another great example of the genius of Karen Stark.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Reader Query - Proper Undergarments for 1960s Shift Dresses

In addition to yesterday's question about the proper undergarments for a low-backed dress, reader Tara also inquired about the correct foundations for 1960s shift dresses. Are a bra and panties enough?

I love this dress on you Tara! And you've asked another great question! The fact of the matter is, shift and sheath style dresses from the early to mid 1960s were designed to be worn with a girdle and women still considered them a necessity during these years. It wasn't until the later 1960s, with the advent of knits, pantyhose, and pants for day wear that the girdle loses favor with younger women.

Girdles from this time do become sleeker, though, with fewer seams and newer innovations in stretch fabrics.

And you'll find foundations in brighter colors and prints start to appear. The nice thing about the dresses from this era is that modern body shapers will probably give you the sleek look you want, so it's not necessary to search for vintage foundations.

Most importantly, though, you should wear a slip over your foundations to allow your dress to glide smoothly over them. Here's an earlier post of mine about the importance of wearing a slip.

Tara, while your 60s dresses look great, try wearing them with a body shaper and see if it makes a difference in how they fit. I think you'll like what you see! Thanks for your questions. And if anyone else has questions, please feel free to post them in comments or email me through the website.