Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Fashion tips from 1940s Hollywood

5900 hits yesterday! I guess you guys like vintage stuff! Well, that's lucky actually, because I may have stumbled across some annuals from the 1940s, which over the last few days I have been trying to glean some info from for you guys. And what I have come up with is this (from Film Parade, circa 1948, edited by Douglas Crane and K.E. Mills, and Hollywood Album, edited by Ivy Crane Wilson, which I can't find a date on but I'd guess it's from about the same time...):

From an article entitled, Let's Talk About Clothes by Hollywood actress Gene Tierney:
"I always plan to buy things that are interchangeable. Two hats are almost a must, one a semi-tailored type, the other can be more feminine.

I always like to buy my gloves a little on the large side - they wear better and the hands don't have that "stuffed" look.

An iron is a girl's best friend - nothing helps more when it comes to looking groomed than well-pressed clothes. 

An important point I have learned in dressing for films is to have clothes I can wear in perfect comfort. No matter what the style is, it should be modified to be practical. Have you ever bought a hat that comes down too far over the eyes? There is a strain to wearing it and you find yourself constantly pushing it back. This does not lend itself to perfect poise on the part of the wearer. A neckband that is too tight is to be avoided, or armholes that bind.

It is always well to consider one's own personality before rushing headlong into the fashions of the moment. I like the extreme femininity but not an overdose of it. I really think the skirts are more comfortable a little longer. Longer skirts are more graceful. I do not mean one should wear skirts of an unbecoming length. I think 13 1/2 - 14 in. for daytime is about right - it is for me; 8 or 10 in. for cocktail or semi-formal; and touching the floor for formal.

My favourite colours are burgundy, fuchsia and deep purple and I always include a white dress in my wardrobe. I try to avoid the bizarre (unlike we Gothy types) and I like to design my own clothes for my private wardrobe; then I am never worrie about arriving anywhere and meeting someone in an identical dress.

The girl who can make her own clothes is most fortunate, especially when she must plan within a limited budget. Quantity in clothes is not what counts - at least not in my opinion - and I try to practise what I preach by never falling into the temptation of buying something that catches the eye at the moment."

Gene Tierney's article. How I want that outfit.
From an article entitled Clothes Set the Mood by Mary Kay Dodson, a famous Paramount designer:
"In summing up materials in relation to setting a mood, I would recommend chiffon for seductive charm, velvet for the dramatic, jersey for sophistication, cotton or coarse wool fabrics for the peasant, satin for sheerest glamour, and the knitted dress to denote stability and outdoor activities. There is something about a knitted dress that appeals to the average man. You can get away with murder in one. It can be dressed up by adding a piece of smart jewellery or a flash of scatter pins, or you can wear it demurely with a simple single strand necklace or clip. Nothing is quite so feminine as a lace-topped gown.

As for colours, blue is just the thing to set a romantic mood. I dressed Lucille Ball in a misty blue evening gown for a nightclub scene in "Sorrowful Jones". I noticed when she walked on the set the men flocked around her with appraising eyes. Perhaps a glamorous girl like Lucille would be attractive to the sterner sex no matter the colour of her gown. Blue has a warmth yet looks clear and cool. It is a colour I often use to denote happiness.

In scenes of riotous gaiety, multi-coloured striped materials, fluttering ribbons, large bows, sequinned fans, nodding ostrich plumes are the clothes that help to set the mood."

From an article entitled, Common Sense In Fashion by Milo Anderson:
"There is no such thing as a hard and fast rule in the designing or wearing of clothes that could be applied to all women of a certain "type". To generalise on styles is dangerous. What applies to one person will not apply to another. No one rule applies, for instance, to all women considered "plump". One might be full-busted with small arms, another have a full bust, big arms and small hips and a style that is flattering to the one is very unbecoming to the other.

In trying to minimise the size of the bust, the important thing is sleeve length - it should be cut at the right length to avoid broadening. Some large women wear lacy jabots often - such a jabot would make one with plump arms three times as large. If the collar or sleeves stop right at the same line with bust, that, too, makes for a larger look. Every one is an individual case - it's all a matter of proportion.

Often the length of the neck decides the kind of shoulders one should wear. A short-necked woman must be careful not to have a collar that gives her a choked look, or shoulders so wide that the shortness of her neck is accentuated. A long-necked woman can wear tight collars and a broad shoulder line is good.

Never be so swayed by fashion that you take on anything that comes along. I was one of the first to fight against the "New Look" with the long, long dress. Graceful legs and ankles are an asset that should not be hidden. I have a theory that a designer does not have to give in to the whims of extravagant and illogical women who want to wear dresses because they are different. (What would this chap make of Goth girls?!)

Women who are in doubt about how to dress can learn as much from interior decoration and architecture as they can by reading fashion magazines. Many rules of architecture can be applied to designing clothes. If you study architecture you will see that the most ornate buildings always have the simplest pedal stones and beautiful statues. I am reminded by this observation that women should avoid extremely fancy shoes. (Again, what would he think of the footwear sported by Goths?)

If all the women in the world could see themselves walking around on the screen, they would realise that simplicity lends elegance. They are too prone to stand before the mirror and look only at the fronts of themselves, their hair-dos, their clothes. The rest of the world sees only the back of them. Kitty Gordon, a beauty of the Edwardian age, never forgot the importance of that back view. She wore the first daring backless gowns and became noted for both her lovely clothes and a back that was rated the most beautiful in the world.

I said I would never generalise, but there is one set rule for all women: avoid the dress that brings forth the wolf whistle!"

From an article entitled Claim Your Freedom From Fashion's Foibles by Edward M. Stevenson, gown designer for R.K.O. Radio Pictures:
"We do not hold entirely to the current vogue. The average woman in the audience should not be governed by a style that does not suit her. So many women have been sold the "new look" with some pretty scary results because the new silhouette is not quite right for them - but could be with adjustment and discrimination.

One of the most important items in a woman's wardrobe is a coat. A good cloth coat can be worn over evening as well as day-time dresses - especially a simple, well-cut black one.

Hats are controversial. In the selection of a hat every woman would do well to follow this principle: always be sure to pick a hat that is at least as wide as the widest part of your face - preferably a bit wider. A short-necked woman should never have a hat that comes down too far in the back. A short woman needs a tall hat.

Skirt lengths make shoes important. The right cut will do a lot to slim down ankles - so will the right heel. I liked the closed heel better than the open - it makes a better line, one that is straight and unbroken.

A full-length mirror is of prime importance to a woman in getting the proper perspective of her entire costume. A good idea is to get the amateur photographer in your family to take a picture of you in your complete costume so that you may "see yourself as others see you" - scrutinizing your attire to see if it balances properly."
Mr. Stevenson's best dressed list
Listening to: Once In A Lifetime - Wolfsheim


Dalestair Ophelia Zodiac said...

Awesome post! :) I love the way the people of times gone were so classy.

I sent you an email btw. :)

Jessie Aaker said...

Thanks for the post! The articles had so many good tips.

Black Rose said...

Love the article. Love it.

InfiltratorN7 said...

It's fascinating reading these old 40s articles. They seem so classy and glamourous the people who wrote these and the types of women they're talking about. It feels like a million miles away from where we are now.

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