Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Ancient Egyptian Influence

With the discovery of King Tutankhamun's tomb in 1922 by Howard Carter, styles of ancient Egypt swept over the fashion world. Women not only rimmed their eyes with kohl (eye pencils became available later), but hints of Egypt were suffused in evening and day wear, as well. I looked through some books about 20th century fashion, and found some examples of its influence on fashion for the rest of the decade:

From a book entitled In Vogue, by Georgina Howell, which includes photos from over 60 years of British Vogue. Left to right, top, designs by Jenny, Doucet, Drecoll. Bottom left, Cathleen Nesbitt in an Egyptian brocade gown "with a Nile green georgette underskirt." Bottom right, a blouse with hieroglyphic-inspired patterns.

An advertisement from October 1929, British Vogue.

A scarab brooch; German silver and cloissone.

Egyptian-inspired accessories: combs, compact, cigarette case, pendant.

This flowing, pleated gown seemed Egyptian-inspired to me, but I was wrong. Actually, it's supposed to be Greek-inspired. This is a blue-gray satin gown by Mariano Fortuny. Anyhow, it's ancient-inspired!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Something Shocking

Hosiery of the 1920s

Here is a cute 1925 song about a man who has lost his flapper girlfriend:

"Five Foot Two, Eyes of Blue"

I feel I should make a note before I continue with my '20s posts: Not all women of the 1920s were flappers. The flapper style is what we think of most readily when speaking of women's fashion of the decade, but flapper fashion was a "sub-style," if you will, and not all women chose to wear as short skirts, or as flashy, flamboyant clothing, as the flapper.

As the song by Cole Porter says, "In olden days a glimpse of stocking / Was looked on as something shocking." But with the shorter hemlines of the 1920s, women began to show off their hosiery in ways never before. Different colors became available, some were patterned or embroidered.

Society girl Miss Kitty Lee, of Baltimore, Maryland, with her boyfriend's portrait on her stockings.

An advertisement from the Saturday Evening Post, 1928. The colors include "Tea-time," (gray-beige), "RoseMorn" (deep nude, "for both day and evening"), "Honey Beige" (golden), "Boulevard" (brown with a hint of gray-- "a favorite for wear with winter's furs"), "Spanish Brown" (golden-bronze). There is a glimpse of a few different skirt styles of the period.

A postcard by Donald McGill. The caption read, "That frock's so short you can see your garters!" I love the appalled look of the male, and the amused expression on the woman's face. The object of many flapper women of the era was, of course, to shock! In the mid-twenties, skirts became shorter (they still covered the knee!), so it was a bit difficult to hide stocking tops.


Fashions of a Decade: The 1920s by Jacqueline Herald

Decades of Beauty: The Changing Image of Women 1890s-1990s by Kate Mulvey & Melissa Richards

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

1920s Speakeasy Party

Clara Bow, the 1920s "it" girl

I am pretty certain I am going to have a 1920s Speakeasy party in July. I have this green beaded dress that I have never worn which might be just right for it, though it is a bit scandalous by '20s standards (it's backless). I also dressed as a flapper for Halloween years ago, and I still have my homemade feathered headband to go with that (see my last post on how to make your own). To get me in the mood for the party, and to help out my guests with what to wear (and anyone else out there who may be attending a similar party), my posts throughout the next few weeks will be focused on 1920s fashion.

I thought it would be funny to buy thigh-high black nylons and keep a little flask in the top of the stockings. Ha ha! I'm also considering the addition of some black fringe for the hemline of my dress, and I should look around for a gaudy bracelet or two.

I'm pretty excited. Being speakeasy themed, it will be a cocktail party. A friend had an idea for some people dressed as police to do a "raid" on our speakeasy sometime during the party. Cute! I read about using an old-style bathtub as a punch bowl, that sounded funny, but a little difficult. I hope I'll be able to afford some good "hooch" for this gathering!

Here is a link for a 1920s slang dictionary that I got a good laugh out of.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Make Your Own Flapper Headband!

Want a 1920s look for a flapper costume or theme party? Following are simple instructions on how to create a glistening, stylish headband that will catch everyone's eye.

Items you will need:

-Measuring tape.
-Length of stretch sequin band, of your choice of color and width.
-Large feathers, such as peacock or ostrich. You can aim to match them or contrast them with the sequin band you chose.
-Needle and thread, and pins to hold the sequin band in place while you sew.

(All of the above should be available at your local sewing supply store or arts and crafts shop.)


1. With the measuring tape, measure the circumference of your head, across your forehead and just above the ears.

2. Cut a length of the stretch sequin band to the size of your head.

3. Pin the sequin band, end-to-end; try to hide the ends by folding them in a bit when you pin them.

4. Sew the ends of the sequin band where you pinned them.

5. Remove all pins, and try on the band to make sure it fits your head.

6. Decide where you want to place the feathers on your band; on the side, or the front. Sew them on carefully, taking care not to bend or break them.

7. Enjoy your new creation! You can add glue-on or sew-on jewels, if desired, to accent your new headpiece.

Hope this is comprehensive and helpful! Photos of my own headband to come!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Low Batteries, Low Posting


It has been a while.

There are so many things I want to post about concerning vintage fashion; but I want great pictures to go along with my posts, and the batteries are currently dead in my camera. But I do have some post ideas planned out:

-The return of '40s-style matte lipstick. I know it has been out for a while, but I just tried it!

-Wide-legged slacks; so relaxed, so versatile! That one may have to wait until fall.

-I may do a post on how to make your own flapper headpiece, as I have a '20s-themed party planned soon.

So keep your peepers peeled for some great posts in the future!