One of the challenges of putting Cathy in vintage outfits from different eras is accessorizing them correctly and giving her the right period look.
I try not to get too hung up on perfect accuracy (impossible on a tight budget) but rather merely to suggest an era. This goes beyond the actual garments and extends even into things like posture -- women held themselves very differently in the Thirties than they did in the Seventies, for example. When given a choice, Cathy sits.
Parenthetically, readers, you'd be shocked to see what my cousin looks like without makeup -- no eyebrows whatsoever.
Perhaps you too would like to cultivate a vintage look, maybe even inspired by Cathy Lane herself. How do you know what goes with what? Were they still wearing tilt hats in the Fifties, or white lipstick in the Seventies, and exactly how long were skirt lengths during WWII?
Obviously we can only do the best we can and may need to compromise. Cathy insists on modern pantyhose, for example, refusing to have a seam line drawn down the back of her legs with a Sharpie. And bullet bras? Fuggitaboutit.
Much like Claudette Colbert, Cathy prefers to maintain her trademark hairstyle from shoot to shoot; just the occasional trim and weekly Lustre-Creme shampoo is all that's needed. If you have good vintage hairstyle resources, let us know!
I've compiled a short list of where I find my inspiration, and I hope you'll add some of your own resources too.
Some books in my collection (or which I’ve borrowed from the libary and loved) are “The Way We Wore” by Marsha Hunt, “Unseen Vogue” and “Forties Fashion: From Siren Suits to the New Look.” But there are dozens, if not hundreds, of beautifully illustrated books documenting fashions of the past, and many of these can be picked up inexpensively on Amazon (especially in paperback editions) or found at the library.
The list of movies that inspire me is practically endless, but a few favorites that come to mind are “The Awful Truth,” "Stage Door," and “The Women” for the 1930’s, “Leave Her to Heaven” and “Cover Girl” for the 1940’s (I love the big title number, embedded below), and “Funny Face” and "Pillow Talk" for the 1950s. But almost any old movie that has a contemporary story (as opposed to say, “The Adventures of Robin Hood” or “The Ten Commandments”) will yield a treasure trove of vintage fashion inspiration.
|The Postman Always Rings Twice|
|Leave Her To Heaven|
Of course, once we're in the Fifties, there was TV. Who hasn't been inspired by Lucy? (But don't forget Loretta Young!)
Pinterest is an excellent resource for vintage style aficionados. Search under any star of yesteryear or famous designer and you’ll be overwhelmed by how many fantastic images people have posted. Sometimes I’ll start a Pinterest board specifically for a project I’m planning and fill it with images that inspire me. It might start with a pattern, then expand to hats, shoes, furs, the whole nine yards.
A few recent boards I've created are Fabric of the 1940's and Fashion 1939. I can lose myself very easily on that site!
Vintage magazines, catalogs
These needn’t be expensive, highly collectible issues of Vogue or Harper’s Bazaar. You can find a lot inspiration in many of the less coveted magazines of the era like Life, Good Housekeeping, and Women's Home Companion, that often show up often at flea markets and antique stores for a few bucks apiece. Pay attention not just to fashion spreads but also to vintage ads. Old Sears and Montgomery Ward catalogs show exactly how many people dressed way back when. Many bloggers generously scan these and post them on their blogs or directly onto Pinterest, so we all get to enjoy them.
I always seek direction from my pattern envelope; it's usually what inspired the project in the first place. There are often accessories included in the envelope art, and I especially pay attention to the fabric design choice: I figure if the pattern is shown in stripes, stripes would work well, and if it's shown solid, there's a reason. Of course, all this is not written in stone, but it's a good jumping off place.
Readers, I think that's about it for my sources of vintage style inspiration.
How about yours? When you're trying to put together a vintage outfit (or even style a photo shoot), where do you go for direction? Favorite books, movies, magazines, blogs -- all of the above?
Are there particular movies or movie stars whose style has inspired your own?