Heels Talk

heels-talk

vmmv collageLouis 14th image via / vintage heels ad via /  heels image via / Elle spring heel collection heels via 

To my great relief, ELLE magazine recently boasted that for spring 2013, “gone are the dizzying stiletto heights. Plan on slipping into heels on the south side of three inches.” Thank goodness! If you’ve been keeping track of the Swiss Alps-like heights of recent heel-fads, then you will be as relieved as I. “Kitten” heel heights have a sad tendency to tend a little grandma, but these beauties have nothing geriatric about them and I love, love them.

For such a diminutive item of clothing, heels certainly have spoken their piece since their inception during the 1700’s as (surprise, surprise) a man’s accessory. King Louis the 14th brought them into fashion by often donning the heeled shoe to give his rather smallish frame something of a more kingly stature. Later, women adopted the shoe type in a slimmer heel, but only people of aristocracy were seen with a heeled shoe. In the age of cobblestone streets, women of wealth didn’t have to walk much, or at all in the elements, and thus a heeled foot was something of a declaration that the foot it adorned was something special–able to don a shoe otherwise precarious for the lower classes to risk wandering about in cobbled streets. Since then, feminists have taken up their own battle-cry against the “impractical” shoe that they see not to improve a woman for the woman’s sake, but to be more attractive to men. Goodness! It is just a shoe.

Whatever your idea of the heel, they certainly do speak loudly of how you feel about yourself. In the 1950’s, the mark of a lady was always to have an otherwise unattractive body part (yuck, feet) shaped into a lovely heel. And now, donning a heel has something of a power symbol in it…at least I think it does. Perhaps its the added height, the feeling that you can wear something uniquely feminine, or the little clip-clop of each heeled step gives you a sense of having your own theme music, but whatever it is, when I see a woman in heels, she has a sense of power about her, of someplace she needs to be and the confidence and assurance of going to do it. However the heel speaks to you, I’m quite happy to have my heels speaking at a little less of a “dizzying height” this spring. Welcome back to earth, heel-wearers.

– <3 A.

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Sweater Girls

sweater girls

In the 1940’s and ’50’s, the first conical or “bullet bra” emerged, which was the first bra to boast what we would call an underwire, and what the 1950’s dubbed as a sex symbol. Women and celebrities like Lana Turner and Jane Russell began to sport these bras under tight-fitting sweaters, and thus the term “sweater girl” was born. The term and the look became so popular, there were even “Sweater Queen Contests,” where women lined up in their bullet bras, cardigans, and pencil skirts to be judged much like a modern pageant. Pretty crazy, yes? If you’re curious, take a look at this video: Sweater Queen Contest. I got quite the laugh. There aren’t Sweater Queen Contests anymore, although, I think those might be a bit more interesting than modern pageants, but flash forward to the September 2010 issue of Vogue, and it seems as if love for the Sweater Girl just keeps coming back.

September 2010 Vogue Sweater Girl issue

Bra technology has advanced a bit from the conical days (thank goodness!) but the Sweater Girl look has a casual elegance that is both sexy and timeless in 1950, 2010, and now, 2013. Take a look at my picks for donning some sweaters this season:

vintage sweater girl outfit

LACQUERED Bow Studs | Patent Bow waist Belt |Piece of my Heart Heel | Knit Cardigan | Honeycomb Sweater Skirt | Vintage Clutch | Mister Fox Graphic illustration

sweater dress

Kate Spade Careen Glasses | Skinny Mini Bow Bangle | Iris bow flats | Camel Sweater Dress | Trench COat

sweater suit

Wool Tweed Jackson Pencil Skirt |Femme Vega Short Cardigan | Layered Pearls | tahari Alexa Suede Pump | Vintage French leather handbag |Pair of Vintage Birds

So many ways to look so good by wearing possibly the most comfortable item in your closet. No wonder we’ve loved the Sweater Girl for sixty years and counting: she’s always chic, so adorable, quietly sexy, and the perfect vintage muse to make your modern closet work hard at keeping you looking good–while you don’t have to.

– <3 A. 

sources: Vogue images via| clothing pics via polyvore, forever21, Etsy, Kate Spade, DSW, shopruche | Jane russell, Lana turner images via |VMMV original collages

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Doing Edwardian Style in 2013

marion cotillard via zimbio.com and lilly elsie via lily-elsie.com

Masterpiece Theater’s Downton Abbey begins again on Sunday, and I am beyond excited. Ever since it’s first season and subsequent explosion of popularity, all things Edwardian have become oh-so-popular once again. While googling (is that a word?) who knows what, I stumbled across the lovely Edwardian actress Lily Elsie. She was a popular stage actress of that era, known for her beautiful blue eyes and uncharacteristic shyness for an actress pursuing the public eye. While reading a bit about her, she instantly reminded me of Marion Cotillard. I’ve always thought Cotillard, the Parisian actress who rocketed to American fame for her role in La Vie en Rose, always has such a chic, classic style. She keeps her makeup minimal, her hair often swept up in vintage styles, and she never seems to make a pass for ridiculous celebrity-fame, but instead lets her work speak for itself. While I was interviewing for my recent Vintage Store post, the vintage experts who work the counters of In Your Wildest Dreams, immediately agreed with me that one of the best current celebs who can pull off a vintage style while still looking modern is Cotillard. After I saw Lily Elsie, Cotillard seemed like the perfect modern version of an Edwardian style done right for 2013:

marion and lily

A messy bun, loads of curls, or this slick pouf held in place by some sparkle or even a feather is a modern view on the Edwardian coiffure. Lily Elsie, despite being from an era famous for it’s pompadours and overdone hairstyles, always looked so chic, and Marion does her quite proud I think.

velvet overcoats

Dark, rich fabrics like velvet and furs were very popular in Lily Elsie’s time. In the August 2012 issue of Vogue, Marion graced the cover in this dark blue, velvet coat-dress. Velvet is a pretty archaic fabric to pull off today and not get some eyebrow raises, but done in a beautiful coat-dress like this looks super chic.

vintage sport wear

Sportswear was not really something women wore in Edwardian times, this cardigan and collared bow-top was about as casual as things got for the ladies. If they could only see casual now, I think Lily Elsie would be absolutely and completely horrified. Marion’s unique little twist on casual is pretty adorable though. Bows are a super feminine addition to any outfit, and combining it with a grandpa-style sweater tones things down a bit for day-wear so you don’t look like you’re off to a party when you just want to head to the store. Hopefully this gets you in an Edwardian mood just in time for Downton Abbey, oh, and happy Friday!

– <3 A. 

Sources: Lily Elsie images via and Marion Cotillard images via designyoutrust and vogue. collages designed by vmmv.

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Modern Views

Today is a bit of an unusual day because I wanted to offer a muse that is actually…a man! Nineteenth century women writers often wrote about how the history of women in literature was one skewed so horribly it could not be believed for, no woman had herself written her own story. The stories of women had come from a man’s pen; a male viewpoint that either diminished the female to an object or elevated her to a unattainable goddess-like figure that no woman could, in real life, stand up against.  Women writers wanted a feminine perspective. What were women doing throughout history, or, often, what were women prevented from doing?

Victor Hugo, probably most famous for his novel Les Miserables, is, through no fault of his own, a male writer. However, though he wrote in a time where women did not have many rights, and rarely were able to speak for themselves, he points to an exceptional power women possessed simply by being innately feminine.

In 1862, when Les Miserables was written, women definitely were not allowed to have occupations. They could not vote, were rarely educated unless they were from the aristocracy, and, even then, were trained mainly in the arts. Their place was considered to be in the home as a wife and mother–a place modern society has spent centuries trying to expand. Yet, despite this very small world that women occupied, Victor Hugo has many interesting things to say about their power. He writes that “nobody knows like a woman how to say things that are both sweet and profound. Sweetness and depth, this is all of woman; this is Heaven.” If a woman was capable of all that with no rights, how much more should we be able to do with unlimited ones?

In 2012, mention a woman who desires to be the helpmate and support of one man, to lead a family instead of a corporation, or fill a house with her hours of devotion instead of an office and you will probably meet a frown, a nose-crinkle, or a remark about trying to “do more.” Victor Hugo seemed to believe that was quite alot though. In fact, in Les Miserables, the feminine power to love, to care for, and to be devoted to someone is showcased as one of the only pure things in all of 1862’s mire of political instability, war, poverty, and filth. Hugo writes that this power is “one of the most strangely exquisite forms of happiness. To have continually at your side a woman, a girl, a sister, a charming being, who is there because you need her, and because she cannot do without you, to know you are indispensable to someone necessary to you, to be able at all times to measure her affection by the degree of the presence that she gives you, and to say to yourself: She dedicates all her time to me, because I possess her whole love; to see the thought if not the face; to be sure of the fidelity of one being in a total eclipse of the world…few joys can equal that. The supreme happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved; loved for ourselves–say rather, loved in spite of ourselves; the conviction the blind have. In their calamity, to be served is to be caressed. Are they deprived of anything? No. Light is not lost where love enters. And what a love! A love wholly founded in purity. There is no blindness where there is certainty.”

Too often though, it seems that women believe to have their modern rights they must secede their traditional, innate power. I don’t think Victor Hugo would see it that way. Regardless of how large you have chosen your world to be, the female power “to say things that are both sweet and profound” is just as, if not more, powerful now than in 1862.

Vogue did this beautiful photo-spread of Les Miserables in anticipation of the upcoming film version and I had to share since I was writing about Mr. Hugo. 

Despite my personal dislike of Anne Hathaway, I most likely will be seeing this movie. If only because I was, and always will be, an English major and I have adopted it as my duty to ensure that classic novels are well adapted into film versions.

Hopefully Hugo’s view on feminine power isn’t lost in translation, and hopefully we haven’t forgotten it either.

source: Hugo, Les Miserables, Ballantine Books, 1982

– <3 A.