Friday, February 24, 2012

Classic threads

My Jackie O. get-up for Halloween, 2011
All the fashion hullabaloo from the past few weeks (fashion week, awards season) and the Oscars coming up this weekend has me thinking of course about beautiful clothing, so I want to share some of my favorite vintage clothing shops from my very favorite handmade and vintage marketplace, Etsy.  The first contributed to my Halloween costume of this past October, which you see above.  I purchased the dress from the shop gogovintage and it is a classic 1960's sheath dress with beautiful sequins and classic lines (including a very cute bow and pleats).  The rest of these gorgeous vintage items all come from some other uh-mazing shops, so viva la moda!

My Jackie O. dress from
A vintage faux fur cape from

A beaded wool sweater from
1960's mod shift dress from
Sequined heels from the 1960's from
A 1950's plaid cotton skirt from
A vintage tooled leather belt from
A vintage crochet trim blouse from

To explore more classic threads, visit

Friday, February 17, 2012

My Look Back: 1950

Photograph by Nina Leen from LIFE Photo Archive, August 1950
I thought it was appropriate for this look back to feature some fashion from 1950 since New York's Fashion Week just wrapped up. Actually one of the hottest trends seen at the various runway shows was fur (according to this Forbes article) as we see on this model from 1950. Others included navy and black, dragon scales, the white suit, and anything Asian, to mention a few.  Here are some things that were hot in 1950 (not necessarily in the fashion world).
  •  Mauna Loa in Hawaii began to erupt.
  • The first modern credit card was introduced in the form of the Diner's Club card, which was first given to 200 people in 1950. The card was accepted at 14 different restaurants in New York.
  • Cinderella was released by Walt Disney. It was the first full blown feature film to be released by Disney since Bambi in 1942.
  • The comic strip Peanuts first came out, appearing in seven different newspapers in October of 1950.
  • The first self service elevator was installed in Dallas, Texas by the company Otis Elevator.
  • Billy Ocean, Natalie Cole, Peter Gabriel, Cybill Shepherd, Karen Carpenter, Jay Leno, Nora Roberts and Huey Lewis were born.
  • The first organ transplant was performed in the form of a kidney transplant at Loyola University.
  • All the King's Men (1949) was awarded the Academy Award for Best Picture.
  • Phonevision, a very early form of Pay Per View was made available by Zenith. In 1951 some Zenith television models had special connectors specifically made for Phonevision.
  • Florence Chadwick swam the English Channel in 13 hours and 20 minutes, which broke the world record that American swimmer Gertrude Ederle had held until then.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Book Review: Strings Attached by Judy Blundell

Dial, 2011; 313 pages; ISBN 0545221269
My Goodreads Rating: 5 stars

Like What I saw and how I lied by Judy Blundell, Strings Attached is another perfect read for someone who not only enjoys 20th century historical fiction, but also the old Hollywood glam days (see my review for What I saw.... here). In my book, it deserves every single star out of the five I gave it.

The main character, Kit (Kathleen) Corrigan, is a triplet, and along with her sister Muddie and her brother Jaime, they have been accustomed to performing and doing small endorsements almost since birth as the Corrigan Three (pushed on by their dad; their mom died giving birth to them). But Kit dreams of acting and dancing on Broadway. Despite her self-proclaimed bad luck, she manages to secure a small-bit part in a "stinkpot" show and pretty soon she is off to NYC to continue pursuing her dreams. Kit is 17, she's dropped out of high school and her boyfriend and brother have both enlisted in the army.

Once in New York she gets a chorus line girl job, but she's far from the Broadway lights still. That's when Nate Benedict comes knocking. He is her boyfriend Billy's father. He is also a lawyer who may or may not have ties to the mob. Nate offers Kit an apartment and a job as a Lido doll, which is a big step up from being a chorus girl. But the deal comes with some strings attached (even though Nate doesn't present it like this). Since Billy will be visiting before he is shipped to Korea, Nate wants to set up Kit so that Billy has something to live for. But Nate doesn't know that Kit and Billy broke up before he left for training. Kit is torn between her intense love for Billy, whether or not she wants to get back together with him, her desire to make it big in New York, and some things from the past that she shares with Mr. Benedict. Actually there is a lot of back story that gets slowly revealed throughout the book. Although the main story is happening in the fall of 1950, some chapters are prefaced with a month and date from the late forties, or even late thirties in some instances. So although the story is about Kit, it's also about her family, the Benedict family, and her neighbors in NYC.

Here's a quote that I thought really captured the mentality of Kit and other Americans during the late 1930's:
"In those hot summers, full of flies and white skies, corn and pigs, I learned what America was - people looking up from their work and trouble and hoping someone would tell them a story, sell them a dream. And I saw what it was like to be looked at, and came to like it."
I thought the story telling was excellent, the writing exceptional, and the historical details both accurate and intriguing. Kit is a flawed character, but that's what makes her more authentic. She has talent and wants to succeed. She is beautiful, but she doesn't realize how beautiful she is. She is naive, but she isn't stupid. I'm a sucker for anything from this era of history, so maybe that affected my interest in the book, but I also think that Blundell did an amazing job with weaving the story and making me care about the characters. I both liked and disliked many of them. I was also surprised by several turn of events, so I was never bored nor did I ever feel like I knew where the story was headed precisely. The author has a very subtle way of weaving these details in. If you enjoyed What I saw and how I lied or Ten Cents a Dance by Christine Fletcher or Bright Young Things by Anna Godbersen, you'll like this one.

Photo: From website

Friday, February 3, 2012

Read a Book, Sip a Cocktail No. 14

Photo from
I must admit that this is the only Jane Austen book that I have actually read from start to finish and I really enjoyed it despite it not being the most readable of texts.  The language is very different from what we read these days, but truly that is part of what makes it so enchanting.  The story of course is the other enchanting part, which is why it is the perfect story to capture on film and I absolutely love all of the cinematic renditions, from the BBC television series starring Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle, to Gurinder Chadha's Bride and Prejudice, to Keira Knightley and Mathew Macfadyen's version of Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy.  Of course, my favorite line is when Darcy says "you have bewitched me, body and soul, and I love, I love, I love you. I never wish to be parted from you from this day on."  Wowza. Bottle that up and give me a life time supply.  Which leads me to my cocktail pairing called "Love and Abandon".  In this case we are embracing our youth with a frothy milk shake and abandoning the straight laced version for an amped up and grown up concoction.  I used a classic combo of strawberries and bananas, but the booze gives it a nice kick. I wouldn't go heavy on the liquor lest you lose the taste of the fresh strawberries and creamy ice cream.  I used vanilla ice cream, but strawberry ice cream would work just as well or maybe even better.  I would hope that Lizzie and Darcy wouldn't be too proud to slurp this baby down.

Love and Abandon
1 oz. Strawberry vodka
1 oz. Banana liqueur
2 Scoops of vanilla ice cream
1/2 cup of Milk
A few fresh strawberries

How to: Add vodka, banana liqueur, ice cream, milk and strawberries to a blender. Blend away and serve in a tall glass of your choice. Garnish with a strawberry and add a straw to top off this adult milk shake nicely.

The vanilla creamy-goodness

Banana liqueur (90 proof!), ice cream and fresh strawberries

The yummy final product and I just had to include the quote from the 2005 film version.