Why Do People Buy and Wear Those Things? Understated Elegance…Do You Wear It?

Understated Elegance, Do You Wear It?

Understated Elegance, Do You Wear It?

Understated Elegance. It is an expression of what you are. Who you represent. What you wear. All that you encompass. Some people are born with it and others work all their life to obtain it. All the money in the world cannot attain it. Buying the most expensive clothing in the chicest boutiques or the most exclusive department stores will not grant you admittance to the world of elegance.

Audrey Hepburn had it. So did Katherine Hepburn. Coco Chanel exuded elegance. Barbara Stanwyck graced both the movies and television.  Madeleine Carroll, an early film star, considered a beautiful woman, was known for her extensive career in film, television and radio. Elizabeth Taylor’s violet eyes shone elegance at their viewers. Grace Kelly won the heart of a prince. Lauren Bacall simply had to look you in the eye and you knew she had it. Marlene Dietrich’s voice and sultry gaze did it all. Suzy Parker sold magazines in the 1950’s because women wanted her elegance.

Suzy Parker

Suzy Parker, Super Model of the 1950's.

How can you translate their elegance into today’s vintage styles? How do you become the elegant woman of yesteryear? It’s not as difficult as you might think. It’s a transition of thinking, of feeling and wanting to be special. It is a way of carrying yourself. It is an air of confidence. It’s how you tell you the world “I’m me, it’s great to be me and I feel good today!”

Dorian Leigh, sister of Suzy Parker, super model of 1940s

Dorian Leigh, sister of Suzy Parker, super model of 1940's

Dorian Leigh, older sister of Suzy Parker, signed with the Ford Agency on one condition. That they would take her little sister. Her little sister was Suzy Parker. Dorian also went on to become the “Fire and Ice” spokesperson for Revlon’s makeup line. Fire and Ice is one of their top red lipstick colors and is still available today. Pick it up at where Revlon cosmetics are sold to recreate the elegant siren look of the 1950’s. It’s a complementary color for many skin tones and is why Fire and Ice has been around since 1952. It’s a great vintage color that is just as popular today and gives you a feeling of old-time elegance.

The original ad read…”For you who love to flirt with fire…who dare to skate on thin ice…a lush and passionate scarlet…like flaming diamonds dancing on the moon”. What woman wouldn’t be enticed to wear this lipstick and feel absolutely enticingly elegant with pouting lips? It is a beautiful shade of red with just the right amount of blue in it to mix with some orangey tones. It does have a semi-gloss finish. Below is the original 1952 ad with the quiz that asks women if “they are made for Fire and Ice”? Click on the image and take the quiz to see if you are indeed a Fire and Ice woman of today.

1952 Original Fire and Ice Quiz.

1952 Original Fire and Ice Quiz.

Hedy Lamarr, Jessica Biel, and Dorian Leigh were just a few women in the ads for Revlon. I’m sure many actresses have worn this color. It’s been around for 59 years and that certainly says something for staying power in a  lipstick color.

Revlon Fire and Ice Campaign

Revlon Fire And Ice Campaign.

Fashion repeats itself, always. It goes around in cycles. We all have our favorite decades that we admire. I always admired the women of the 1940’s. In high school, I would mix and match clothing from the 1940’s with store-bought items. I scoured thrift shops and the Salvation Army looking for pieces that had good labels. People still ask me today where I buy some of my pieces. When I tell them how old something actually is, they are astounded.

It’s important to learn how to take care of the older pieces. Back in those decades, clothing was not wash and wear. Most of it was dry cleanable. Some of it is hand-washable now. Some pieces you can put in your dryer with special cleaners that you can buy yourself. The most important part of buying older clothing when you want to look elegant is knowing what looked good back then will look classic now.

Study pictures of the old movie stars. Look at Hollywood icons and how they dressed. Find your style and adapt it to you. You don’t have to copy it exactly. After all, it’s 2011 and what worked yesterday isn’t going to work today. But you can take a jacket from 1945 and wear it with a great pair of skinny jeans or cropped trousers, wedge booties and a pashmina scarf. Add some great rhinestone jewelry or a string of pearls easily found at thrift shops. Throw on a Fascinator hat and the world becomes your audience.

Like hats? The stars wore them all the time. Look at the styles and head to your local department stores to try on what looks best for your face shape. Wear a hat with confidence and chutzpah. There’s no better feeling in the world than a woman with confidence, and you can have that feeling when you know you look good. A head-turning online shop for hats is villagehatshop. I’ve included one of their Fascinator hats in the last collage. They can be located at http://www.villagehatshop.com/womens-hats.html.

The next collage features ten pictures, five from the past, and five from the present. The top row are all present-day runway photos. I’ve compared those designs and put them on top of vintage photos that resemble similar outfits. Fashion designers look to the past for inspiration. Amazing!

Fashion Repeats Itself, The 1940's.

Fashion Repeats Itself, The 1940's.

Designers from the runway above listed from left to right: diesel, unidentified, John Galliano, MiuMiu, and Gucci. What goes around, comes around, as the saying goes. Fashion really does repeat itself. Borrow from the past and make it your own.

Take a look at the next collage I’ve put together. It shows a blazer from the 1940’s. Shop around at vintage stores, thrift shops and you might find one. It takes time but if you’re persistent, you will. I found a pattern online for a top that you can knit. It’s also available online from Barnes and Noble. The crop trousers are new, as are the wedge shoes. The trousers can be located at http://shop.dollhouse.com/.  The hat, so stylish, so impeccably chic, is reminiscent of the 1940’s but new. Persistance pays off in putting together a vintage look that will make people stop and ask you where did you get that outfit?

1940's Outfit You Can Put Together.

Look Likes Vintage & Some Of It Is...

Vintage clothing is without a doubt worth the time, patience and extra care you put into it. It’s individuality. It’s the you that you choose to be. It class and elegance. It’s understated elegance.




3 Responses to “Why Do People Buy and Wear Those Things? Understated Elegance…Do You Wear It?”

  1. Wow great post! I love studying actresses like Hepburn and Stanwyck because they had such distinctive styles that inspire me to find my own. You don’t see a lot of that around nowadays.

    Also, you may be interested in this: http://jwelshnews.wordpress.com/2011/11/11/actors-i-wish-were-immortal/


  2. Yes! Finally something about christmas party.


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