My Conversations With Edith Head


Girl can pose!

Last night I had the opportunity to see Conversation With Edith Head a one woman show starring Susan Claassen.  This is a wonderful look into the world and mind of  Edith Head.  And, for a 90 minute play with no intermission time really flew.   Continue reading

Advanced Style


Ari Seth Cohen’s Advanced Style

Getting back to writing has been like getting back to working out after a bit of time off. Slowly and with much procrastination.  I’ve really enjoyed my time offline, A LOT.  Got a lot of reading, sewing done and just not being online was refreshing.   One lovely book that got the creative flow going was Ari Seth Cohen’s Advanced Style. (Thanks, Santa)  I’m sure you are all familiar with his style blog Advanced Style, highly rated and well worth a peek if you haven’t visited it.  This blog showcases the women and men of a certain age who really know how to dress with style, fun and joy.  This book would make a great gift for any fashionista young or old, but great for that woman who might be celebrating a certain birthday with a little melancholy.  Sure to give them a lift and a good lift at that.  Below are a few of my favorite ladies and their inspiring quotes on aging, fashion and having fun with it all.   

Here is Alice Carey

Advanced Style

‘You don’t want to look crazy. The object is to look chic.’

Beatrix Ost

Advanced Style

‘In your body is a good place to be’



Linda – from Advanced Style

A great quote from Valerie and Jean sums it all up.  

‘Young woman you’re gonna be an old woman someday.  Don’t worry about it don’t sweat it. Don’t worry about getting older. Every era, it builds character.’ Amen!

For the new year whether we make it ourselves or buy off the hanger may we all do it with style and flair.

What’s your favorite era for inspiration?

Judge Magazine 1926

Judge Magazine 1926

Probably my favorite era for fashion is 1920’s.  Check out this colorized video of 1920’s fashion and the music is really the bee’s knees.  There is an orange coat that is stunning and could quite easily be copied. The coats have amazing linings.  Love the hats, the music the fashion.  How about you?  Do you have a favorite era for inspiration?

Sewing and crafts for the WPA 1930’s

From the Library of Congress

Love these old posters from the WPA.  As with anything the government does the WPA had its share of controversies as well as successes.  I find the idea of training, educating people to learn sewing and handcrafts to be pretty darn cool.  Many participants of the WPA were women.  Women of the time still did a lot of their sewing by hand.   WPA classes taught women how to sew with machines, pattern drafting, knitting and more.  Some women were put to work making bedding, clothing and other items for hospitals.  This sewing skill would come in handy during the war years with women going to work in factories making various fiber items for the war effort.

Knitting and World 2 – American Red Cross

Knit your bit!

The government calls on women and children all across the country to get knitting for the boys and the war effort.  Socks wore out fast and men needed to change them frequently if possible. Cold, wet feet were not only uncomfortable but could cause a host of problems if not addressed quickly.

The Secret Life of Sewing Machines and Happy Thanksgiving!

Here is a little dose of history.  It’s over 9 minutes long but it’s quite interesting.  At around 5:30 watch the human sewing machine!

Continue reading

Born on this day – Edith Head

Edith Head – Costumer Designer Extraordinaire

The blogosphere will be popping with plenty of tributes to the Divine Miss H. She worked on almost 500 films and dressed the biggest stars in Hollywood.  For me it would be impossible to pick a favorite dress or movie.   Here is my small tribute with a few favorite sketches, quotes and a bibliography where you can slowly drink up all the talent, controversy and inspiration that is Edith Head.

Continue reading

How sewing can change your life

With ads like this I’m surprised there wasn’t a mad rush to the local sewing machine shop.    I just read up on the madness/genius of Stan Freberg from the wonderful blog The Automat.    If you are interested in zany advertising campaigns check a few out  here.    Sure to elicit a giggle or two.  The announcer in the Singer ads is Walter O’ Keefe, and his fast talking and irreverent humor  reminded me of Freberg.   Is the 21st century ready for ads like this?  

And here is one more.

Fashion and Sport

Following sport fashion trends is nothing new.  Ladies and Gentlemen of the twenties loved to watch the ladies of the court not just for the athletic prowess but, and sometimes solely for what and who they were wearing.  Long before Serene Williams assaulted our eyeballs with this

Gladiator meets Can Can Dancer

There was Suzanne Lenglen’s  tittilating view of ankles and  thighs.  Lenglen was known for her dominating athletic style and no holds barred athleticism.  Her tennis outfit was designed by Jean Patou who was instrumental in elevating sportswear to new heights in the world of fashion.

Suzanne Lenglen

Suzanne Lenglen

Prior to Patou’s truly revolutionary designs for women athletes women had to lumber around in this

Victorian tennis costume

Now if Serena ever dons on something modest well that might be revolutionary.  We’ve certainly come a long way.  Maybe too far in some cases.

The Pin – a short history

Photo by Mary Harding

  As seamstresses, quilters, crafters we use pins without any thought.  Always at the ready, sitting in our little magnetic dishes. Only cursing them when we find a point stuck into a calloused toe like a small cocktail sword.   They are used everyday we sew and are vital to making great garments, crafts and quilts.  Here are a few things about the pin that you may not know. Continue reading

Make Do and Mend campaign of World War 2

Here is a clip from  World War 2 showing English women how to refashion clothing and in turn support the war the effort.    In England this campaign was called Make Do and Mend.  In this clip the audience is treated to a fashion show of refashioned clothing.   This Make Do and Mend idea is popular once again as consumers want to save money, reduce their footprint and/or want to release creative energy by way of up-cycling and refashioning.  So, what do you Make Do and Mend?  

Knitting and World War 2

Knitting and World War 2

Poster from the WPA during the WW 2 years. The original is in the Library of Congress. Many women knit the boys on the front socks and other items.

Fashion trends that should end – Baggy Pants

I see London.  I see France!

Behold the baggy pants

For the video pick let’s take a look at the popularity and in my not so humble opinion the utter ridiculousness of the saggy, baggy pants worn usually by men.  Guys who wear this look like they have a load in their drawers.  Their gait is severely compromised and running is all but rendered impossible.  Why this trend has continued for this long boggles my mind.   Let’s all say it:  “Brother pull up your pants!”

Not your grandma’s sewing machine

Sewing machine of the future?

  This sewing machine is created by Sarah Dickins who won the James  Dyson Award for her design.   She finds her generation frequently tosses clothing in the trash rather than mending it.  Most sewing machines have a steep learning curve and can be complicated machinery.  Often times one needs a set of classes just to learn how to operate it.  

Dickins set out to design a machine that was user friendly and could do general mending and could be used straight away.  I have not tested the machine but would love to. It has a beautiful design and shape to it and I certainly would not want to hide this machine in some dark corner.    You can read more here on her award and design process.

Would a machine like this keep you sewing?

Everything old is new again

Louis Vuitton Fall 2012

Love this ad campaign for Louis Vuitton.  It’s a little bit 60’s, with some 50’s and 20’s too.  All with a 21st century update.  Check the originals below.  The hats throw me  a bit.  The look like giant cloche’s but the over-sized nature trend toward the Victorian.  Maybe a blend of both.  What do you think?  And, the women’s dresses and coats!  Fashions coming  straight out of good old Sears catalog.

Pink and green handbag from 1950’s

Victorian hat

Black sunglasses 1960’s

Suits and everyday wear 1920

Dress for Success – Old School

Timeless tips for dressing for success.  I thought this was quite cute and actually has tips that are relevant today.  I have an interview Monday, maybe I should nix the big veil bow I was going to wear. 

A bit of dance and romance to forget all our troubles

Oh my.  I have been using my time wisely.  I have this new blog that I follow Beguiling Hollywood and it  has revived my  love of old movies.  Way back in the old days our local channel 2 would show old movies on Sundays and in the wee hours of the night.   I watched countless old movies from Charlie Chaplin to grand musicals, old fashioned love stories, war movies and everything in between.  My first choices to revisit were classic Fred and Ginger.  Swing Time and Top Hat.  I would go back over and over to view the dance numbers and find myself being completely transported to this dreamy, happy place of beautiful people in glorious dresses dancing cheek to cheek.   From Swing Time Fred is doing the  Bojangles of Harlem number and it is stunning in its modernity with the three shadows dancing behind him.  Come to find that idea of the shadows was from Hermes Pan choreographer and long time close friend to Astaire.

Of course my favorite from Top Hat is the feathers dance or Cheek to Cheek number.  That dance and the dress too has a rightful place in dance and movie history.   The feathers dress was blue and must have been beautiful to see in person.  It is now housed in the Smithsonian.  Google it, You-tube it, Wiki it whatever, it’s awesome.  For both movies the costume designer was Bernard Newman.  Beautiful designs and a master at dressing Miss Rogers.  But, credit also goes to Rogers who  from being a dancer and someone who loved fashion knew the value of having the right costume and  didn’t let the clothes wear her.  When you watch her dance notice what she does with a dress, how she swings it, holds it and so forth.  Even in scenes where she is not dancing you will see her do these tiny gestures with her costume. I believe these were her own costume notes to herself.  Like early on in Top Hat notice what she does with the silky robe. Cool.

I was reading about Ginger Rogers and her dancing technique and how that particular swing of skirts harkens back to a form of dance called Skirt Dancing.  This form of dance has a unique and beautiful history that is well worth reading.  There is folkloric skirt dancing as well as a more modern version that became popular at Folies Bergere.   Two of the most popular Skirt Dancers were Cyrene from Spain and Loie Fuller, French.  Here is a look at Loie Fuller (or it may be a student, some say it’s not her).  It’s beautiful, sensual and hypnotic.  These skirts used upwards of 100 yards of fabric.  She created the lightning techniques as well.

When you see Ginger dance you see a bit of the Skirt Dancer too.  And, one final note an early student of Loie Fuller was none other than Isadora Duncan.  Loie Fuller was an amazing woman and really worth checking out if you are interested at all in the history of dance.   Now, there are far better writers on the subject of dance, Hollywood, movies and so forth, my little post is just a taste, but I hope you go out and investigate these treasures further.   For me I’m going to steal away and watch the documentary Ballet Russes.