Tag Archives: fashion icon

Princess Diana and her Fashion Legacy

10 Sep

Last week marked the 15th anniversary of the tragic death of Princess Diana. I still to this day recall where I was when I heard the news. I guess this event was one of many of our generations “Kennedy assassination moments”. I was pregnant with my younger daughter, and we were at a family reunion in Dwight, KS over Labor Day Weekend. We stayed in my great-grandparent’s Victorian house and the bedroom we slept in was the master bedroom. It was Kansas, in the summer, there were only window units downstairs, and I’m 5 months pregnant. Sleeping was not a pleasant experience. I remember the smell of the house, the faded 50 year old wallpaper, and staring up at the countless number of flies that hung out on the 12 foot ceilings. I think there was maybe a floor fan to help move the air around, but when ceilings are 12 feet high, a 4 foot floor fan really doesn’t do much good.

Anyway, I remember hearing the news that Princess Diana had been killed and it seemed that all the events of the weekend stopped to watch the story unfold on TV. I had remembered watching the royal wedding (just to see the dress, of course) and wondered really what this beautiful 20 year old wanted to do with an ugly English Prince? I was only 8 years younger than she was, so to watch her style grow and evolve as she became more comfortable in her role as Princess was like watching an older cousin getting ready for prom and being anxious for the day when it would be my turn. Looking back, I’m a bit dismayed that she was in the prime of her fashion life in the 80s. Really, could there have been a more bizarre, extreme, loud, garish decade? But, she was able to take the best it had to offer, and give an entire generation of girls an example of class and dignity and style.

A look back at some of my favorite Princess Diana looks:

The wedding dress, designed by David and Elizabeth Emmanuel required more than 43 yards of silk and 10,000 pearl and mother of pearl sequins. It has a small 18K gold and diamond horseshoe sewn in to the dress for good luck.

1985 Silver lame Bruce Oldfield gown worn to a benefit fashion show. Bruce Oldfield was one of the rumored designers for Kate Middleton’s wedding dress.

1985, at a London movie premier, Diana wore this Catherine Walker strapless pleated floral dress. Walker was one of Diana’s favorite designers, designing over 1000 garments for the Princess. Diana is buried in a black dress designed by Walker. Most recently, Walker designed Kate Middleton’s dresses for her North American tour and also designed the dress her mother wore to the wedding.

Diana became ever more bold in her fashion choices. Here, in 1990, she wore a houndstooth suit in contrasting black, white and red with matching red and black spectator pumps for the christening of her niece. Notice also the lack of hosiery. In the royal family, this was surely a fashion faux pas!

Diana was always very deliberate in her fashion choices when visiting foreign countries. She made a point to look tailored and classy, but always gave some kind of nod to the culture or history of the country she was visiting. Here, in a 1992 visit to Egypt, she chose an ivory safari inspired linen suit.

In June of 1997, just months before her tragic death, she attended an auction at Christie’s of some of her dresses. She wore a simple white linen dress with Chanel accessories. Always classy, always the personification of grace and elegance. Makes you wonder what wonderful things she would have been doing today.

Images courtesy of vogue UK

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Don’t Tell Mom…I may be a Hipster.

9 Apr

My best friend called me a Hipster a few weeks ago. It has obviously had a resounding affect on me, as I’m blogging about it weeks later. Her definition of a Hipster was someone who didn’t like something every one else liked. She said it was because I shop at resale, vintage, and thrift stores. I frequent flea markets, and quite recently Canton, which I’m currently obsessed over now. Thank you East Texas. And because I liked Adele WAY before anyone else did, and now that the whole world is Adele obsessed, I couldn’t care less. So this got me thinking…what is a Hipster, really? If I went by my best friend’s definition, and I try not most days, I’d have to say with shame that I am a Hipster. But before dive into self loathing and start wearing a fanny pack to be “ironic” let me research this term “Hipster” just a little more.

If Aline’s definition of Hipster is correct, then my mother might’ve been the first one. Dare I say I’ve turned into my mother…? Nope, I will not admit this as of yet. According to my good friend, Google, a Hipster is someone who follows the latest trends and fashions. Well, that makes almost every girl in the free world one then. However, according to my distant cousin, Urban Dictionary:

“Hipsters are a subculture of men and women typically in their 20’s and 30’s that value independent thinking, counter culture, progressive politics, an appreciation of art and indie- rock, creativity, intelligence, and witty banter.”

Oh dear God, it is not looking good for me right now, and I know many of you are starting to feel the same. Or at least I hope you are. However I have to say, perhaps this all has to do with the way I was raised. I thought that it was important to have independent thought, not go-with-the-flow, and appreciate intelligence and creativity. I certain appreciate intelligence in my friends, otherwise, the conversation is quite dull. Urban Dictionary goes on to say that while “Hipsterism is really a state of mind, it is also often intertwined with distinct fashion sensibilities. Hipsters reject the culturally ignorant attitudes of mainstream consumers, and are often seen wearing vintage and thrift store inspired fashions, tight fitting jeans, old school sneakers…” From this I have to conclude that while Hipsters do not like to look like every one else, they all dress alike…? The article later concludes that they all dress in a fashion depicted in that of Urban Outfitters and American Apparel ads. They also reject the stereotypical male/female archetypes that society portrays as “good-looking”. And while stores like Old Navy, The Gap, and American Eagle now carry “worn-style” jeans, they are simply following a path that Hipsters have carved out before them from wearing thrift store clothing that is worn that way, because it was worn that way.

I have to wonder now, what will the Hipsters of tomorrow be wearing, since everyone is going to start wearing what Hipsters wear? Are the outfits going to become more and more outrageous as time goes on, simply to avoid finding a look-alike crossing their path? As a woman, there is truly nothing worse in this world, or at least to me, as walking down the street to my favorite restaurant, glowing about how awesome I look in my new ensemble and coming upon another girl wearing the same thing. Thank you Forever 21 for making this happen more often than not. Even as most recently we’ve had girls come in the store looking for vintage prom dresses. After all, it would be the end all be all if a girl showed up to your prom in YOUR dress.

So it looks like the world is going the way of the Hipster after all. I don’t think this is such a bad thing. I may have to say that as I may unwillingly admit I do fall under this category sometimes. When I am not taking my kid to school early in the morning, not going grocery shopping, and not going to or from the gym, I tend to dress myself according to my own standards that may not match up with everyone elses’. A girl likes to look her best, and not like someone else’s best. Good luck to all you fellow Hipsters out there! I’m sorry to bring such news to you on this rainy Monday. Take pride in who you are, and please don’t forget to appreciate intelligence, Hipster or not!

A Tribute to Mrs. O

13 Feb

Ending my month long run of vintage fashion favs, I could no longer hold in the urge to dish about the one and only, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. Before she was Jackie O, or even Jackie K, she was Jackie Bouvier of Southampton, New York. After a world class education at Vasser and studying abroad in France, she returned to Washington D.C., to graduate from The George Washington University with a Bachelor of Arts in French Literature. Following graduation she landed the job of “Inquiring Photographer” for the Washington Times-Herald. Being a New York born gal, she had a witty and fun personality that made it easy for her to do the job and pose those inquisitive questions that a pretty lady with a smile can only get away with asking. While her family ran in the same social circle as the Kennedys, it was this position that got her face to face with the future President of the United States. In one of her biographies, of which I own several, it was this interview where she and Jack had their first intimate encounter. Afterwards she told a friend that while she found him quite charming, she couldn’t see herself with a man like him. The representative, about to be senator, was undoubtedly being groomed to become President, and she didn’t know if she wanted to be that kind of wife. A wife that would stand behind a powerful man in his shadows always putting his needs above hers. Such a modern thought for a woman of her time. She did however decide to begin dating him, and their history began.

And so did the fashion legend that is Jackie. She was now the wife of the most notable man in the world. She had to dress the part. And always dressing the part of what most consider “a true lady”, she quickly set the precedent for how other women dressed, spoke, and carried themselves. Although pregnant during the voting year, she still made an effort to help him on his trail by answering letters, taping commercials for television, giving interviews, and writing a weekly column entitled, appropriately, “Campaign Wife”. People wanted to not only see him, they wanted to see and know her as well. It could be said that she was the extra push he needed to win him the election. I’d like to think so at least. Her style, posed and lady-like, but never stiff. She was not just likeable, she was loveable. You didn’t want to be her, but you wanted to be just like her. And many women tried their hardest.

With her Chanel suits and her pearls, her style couldn’t be mistaken. Some of her favorite designers included Giorgio Armani, Carolina Herrera, Lacoste, Pucci, Lilly Pulitzer, Valentino, of course, Chanel, and Kennedy family friend, Oleg Cassini,. While she frequented Bergdorf Goodman and Saks Fifth Ave, she also loved The Gap in her later years, and made wearing a T-Shirt and a pair of designer pants cool before anyone else did! (thank you savvy-women-magazine.com for that little tid-bit 😉

And while some think it was Nicole Richie or the Olsen twins who made the oversized sunglasses a fad, just take a look at some old
Jackie pics from the 60’s. Sorry Nic and Ash, you weren’t even born yet! Wearing pearls should’ve been invented by Jackie herself, because she wore them best. Some compare the current first lady’s style to that of Jackie O’s. You know a woman has become a style setter when simply using her name conjures up a specific look.

The list of why I love Jackie could go on forever. For me she not only represented the way a lady should look, but also taught us the way a lady should act. Always carrying herself with style and grace, even through the downfall of Camelot, and becoming a widow twice to two very powerful men. It’s said that after the assassination of her iconic husband John F. Kennedy, she refused to change out of her pink Chanel, blood-stained suit, because she wanted “…the world to see what they’ve done to Jack.” She held her husband’s blood soaked head in her lap as the motorcade sped away, and she stood beside his VP as he was sworn in on Air Force one. She was a woman to be reckoned with. Her courage and strength gives me chills to this day.

A woman of such stature and integrity could’ve done so many things, none of which would be of importance after she was gone. She chose the less traveled path, and devoted her life to charity and humanitarian work. LIFE magazine called the “America’s unofficial roving ambassador” for her many visits to war-torn countries and impoverished countries. But her work was completely devoted to overseas. She worked diligently to preserve history around the US, including Grand Central Terminal, Lafayette Square in D.C., and helped preserve many of the historic homes we still enjoy today in New York City.

Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis died in her sleep on May 19, 1994, just after ten at night. She had been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in January, and lost her battle after the cancer had spread. She is buried in Arlington Cemetery alongside Jack, their son Patrick, and their stillborn daughter Arabella, beside an eternal flame. Her soul, her style, and essence are remembered in every vintage Chanel, every strand of pearls, and every low-heel pump we find today. Jackie O lives on in every woman who savors integrity over notoriety. Thank you for teaching us what it means to live classy.

An amazing recount of her funeral and that unforgettable day can be read in full at:

http://www.nytimes.com/1994/05/24/news/24iht-subjackie.html

Here’s Lookin at You….Ingrid.

31 Jan

Continuing with our theme of fashion icons of the past, we stop and bask in the glow that was Ingrid Bergman. She was a Swedish actress who made black and white look vibrant. Ingrid Bergman gained popularity in Hollywood in the 40’s and 50’s, and is most known for her role of Isla in Casablanca, and for being the mother of actress Isabella Rossellini. Ingrid’s style and mark on the fashion world can be described as Jackie O, before Jackie was Jackie O. In her earlier years, she was revered as a woman of her time, wife, mother, saintly even. Having made a shift in her public persona after her affair with Roberto Rossellini, she took on a much more controversial role as, what one Senator of Colorado called, “a powerful influence of evil”. A bit harsh in my opinion. Glass house people, glass house.

Her style, on the other hand, won over many women of her time and carries on into the fashion world of today. She was never lude, never too busty, and didn’t show a little too much leg. Her style was demure, classic even, very “Charlotte” if we are comparing to a Sex and the City character. According to Pas Un Autre, “In 1947 Christian Dior introduced the New Look collection – a ‘make do and mend’ approach to fashion that didn’t comprise ideals of beauty, femininity and luxury. Ingrid Bergman was a life long fan of Dior – her fitted suits, pencil skirts, subtle accessories, and a slightly androgynous charm helped define the era”. She was famous for her boxy jackets, A line dresses and their modest tea length, and wide-legged trousers. She pulled off a suit in a way a woman had never pulled off a suit before. Her style was feminine with a masculine touch about her. Maybe it was just her personality as a “tough broad” trying to scream it’s way through. Her medium hair length was also one that was admired. Having hair not too long and not too short gave her a wide range of styles to play with, and still made it easy to maintain. Her vintage finger waves are still one of my favorites. Wavy and yet still so put together. I’ve yet to accomplish this myself, but she did it effortlessly. Need something else to admire?… She never wore a lot of makeup. That’s right. Natural beauty was her gift. Many actresses of her time wore thick stage, or pancake makeup. She refused to wear such makeup and stayed true to herself, literally. She never wore much on her face, and let her natural beauty shine through. Like I’ve said before, everything in moderation ladies.

Perhaps she was a woman the world wasn’t ready for. She sure did shake things up for her time and possibly pave the way for those that came after her. She is definitely a legend that lives on, a style that cannot ever be perfectly duplicated. For now we’ll settle for basking in the glow of the silver screen, multiple oscar winning actress that was, is, and always will be, Miss Ingrid Bergman.

The Week of Marilyn

24 Jan

I feel like we can’t talk vintage without talking about fashion icons. There were so many rare beauties that left their mark on this world. So for the next few weeks I will be walking us through some of the monumental fashion icons from the mid 20th century.

Starting on a high note, one of my personal favorites, and I do have a few, is the fabulous Miss Norma Jean herself, Marilyn Monroe.

I recently saw a great movie with my husband. I would say it was great. He would say, OH MY GOSH, that was painful. Ladies let this be a warning. If your husband owes you one, just know, you will enjoy My Week with Marilyn, your man will most likely not.

I love biographical movies. It’s an addiction I fear. I think what I love most about them is that they give me a little bit more of an idea of what a person was, or how someone else saw them. Marilyn has always been one of those iconic fashion icons. You will always hear a curvy woman relish in the fact that Marilyn was a size 14. In modern terms though, that means she was a 5/6. She was definitely iconic, and definitely one of kind. Many women have come after her, but they have all paled in comparision to the “Some Like it Hot” actress herself.

   So one has to wonder, what was all the hype about? Why was she such an admired                      and revered woman?

A woman who would’ve been 85 years old this year, who’s life was ended at the prime    age of 36, became a sensation, and what was refered to as “machine” in Hollywood.  Everything she touched turned to gold. It didn’t hurt that she was remarkably beautiful. Between her platinum blonde hair, light, child-like eyes, perfect skin, and strategically placed mole, she complimented everyone’s senses. Both men and women fell head over heels in love with her. Her small waist, large breasts, and vivacious curves made women want to be her and men want to be with her. Most vintage styles were modeled after her, during her prime. In season 3 of Mad Men, the men reference Marilyn as being a type for the everyday modern woman. They say “ You are either a Jackie or a Marilyn,” referring of course the beautiful and always stylish Jackie O as well. There was definitive line between the two: the sexy, steamboat, blonde bombshell, or the ever classy, stylish, proper, First Lady. Marilyn embodied a sex symbol in every way, but had the personality of what Colin Clarke referred to as ‘an innocent child in a world of bright lights.’ She was lovable, and she played the part of “Marilyn” so well. In “My Week with Marilyn”, she claims, according to the diaries the movie is based on, that everyone expects her to be Marilyn, and when they find out that she’s not her, they are disappointed, and she doesn’t know who to be for everyone.


I guess the important part is that we knew who she was and is for us.  She represented an independent woman, a female powerhouse in a man’s world. She knew how to use her sex appeal and apply it to her success. She knew how to dress the part, and be the person we wanted to see on screen. An amazing method actress, she became the parts she played, and we love her for it. Her style was sexy, but never over the top. She had curves that make any woman jealous. She was sexy, but never trashy. She was a temptress, but also innocent. She was definitely one of a kind. Many women have tried, but failed, to duplicate her. From Madonna’s 80’s look, to Anna Nicole Smith’s curves, to Christina Aguilera’s red lips, she lives on through the years. Often imitated. Never duplicated. Or at least never to this kind of perfection.