Friday, March 9, 2012

Classic Style and Beauty for Spring

Classic fashion has been showcased in the media lately, beginning with the 1920s and spanning over many decades. It can be overwhelming sorting through constantly revolving trends, especially for us women of a certain age who have long since left our teens and twenties behind. We want to look youthful and beautiful, but we also need practical styles that work for everyday life. We don't want to appear to be trying too hard to hold on to our younger days; we want to look great for our age. The plus side is that we can wear chic, sophisticated fashions that would look silly on a girlish model. But where to start? I'm going to focus on clothes for day that would be appropriate for both stay-at-home mothers or working women who can get away with casual office attire.

Woody Allen's latest feature film, Midnight in Paris, showcases both the 1920s and modern style. French actress Marion Cotillard is lovely in dropped waist dresses, low heels, and a wavy bob hairstyle. A shorter dress like this without too much fringe or beading allows for free movement and a feminine shape that will work for most figures. Vintage dresses from this period are usually in fragile condition and very expensive, but luckily the style Marion is wearing is current for spring! Just check your local department store or boutique.

Marion Cotillard in Midnight in Paris

Rachel McAdams is the other leading lady in Midnight in Paris, and her character favors 1980s inspired skinny jeans and tunic tops, with a belt slung on the hips. This is another easy, casual look, and leggings can be worn in lieu of jeans. Cropped, structured jackets and blazers are also in vogue. Rachel's hair is softly layered, wavy, and shoulder length.

 Rachel McAdams in Midnight in Paris

The 1940s also supplies inspiration for casual looks that work for today. Knee length dresses are flattering on everyone and also allow for free movement that is feminine and pretty. Wedge shoes with open or peek-a-boo toes or shoes with low, chunky heels work well with this classic style. Here is a typical 40s day dress:

Keira Knightley and Sienna Miller in The Edge of Love, set in the 1940s, provide gorgeous inspiration, in boots fit for rainy days or the beach:

And here is the quintessential 40s screen siren Rita Hayworth, with the most gorgeous hair:

Make-up:  Red lips like Rita's are classic, but be careful of makeup that is too matte, which can look dated and is not the most kind to fine lines. Choose neutral shades for the eyelids, and line only on top, staying as close to the eyelashes as possible. Rosy cheeks, especially in a cream blush, keep one looking fresh and glowing. Lip liner tends to be aging, so apply lipstick first with your finger tip, and apply a little liner only if needed, making sure you cannot discern the line. A soft shimmer on the eyes and creamy or slightly glossy lips are flattering. If red lipstick is too much for day, try a juicy pink, peach, or berry for a shot of color. The idea is a polished but natural look, and don't forget the mascara! 

The television show, "Mad Men" has brought back the 1950s. While these dresses are not as wearable on a daily basis, they are the epitomy of ladylike style and would be perfect for a dinner date, fancy picnic, garden party, night out at the theater, wedding, cocktail party, or "art hop" in the city.

Marilyn Monroe is, of course, the paragon of 50s glamour. Liquid black eyeliner was worn on the upper lid only, winged beyond the corner of the eye:

Michelle Williams recently played the mysterious beauty on the big screen, and here she is in a classic trench coat and scarf, a must for spring:

Hollywood lost its last great legend last year, the incomparable Elizabeth Taylor. Her bra top is right in style!

Hair: Notice that all of these beauties are wearing soft, touchable, wavy hairstyles. This can be achieved by drying naturally wavy or curly hair with a diffuser, but without scrunching; instead gently rake fingers through hair to loosen curls. Hot rollers will do the trick for straight hair, or strategic use of a curling iron. To reduce heat damage, blow dry hair until just damp, then roll with velcro rollers and air dry for 15 minutes while applying make-up. Hair can be pinned into a half-updo like Elizabeth's, or held back on the sides with combs or barettes. A deep side part with hair worn down or pinned up on one side only is classic.

But on the practical side, early spring can be very windy and rainy, especially where I live, in a tornado prone area. So you must have examples of the "undone" updo handy. The overly coiffed 1960s look is too matronly and helmet like. Here is how it's best done today:

Keira Knightley

Rachel McAdams

No study of classic style and beauty would be complete without Audrey Hepburn. Think capris pants, fitted blouses and cardigan sweaters, full skirts, and ballet flats or kitten heels. And it almost goes without saying, the little black dress...

Accessories: Don't forget to protect your eyes with 100% UVA/UVB sunglasses. Cat's eye style or oversized like Jacki O are perfect complements to the classic wardrobe. Vintage jewelry is fun to hunt for, or you can contact your Premier Jewelry lady for designer, vintage like styles at affordable prices. Happy spring, all you lovely doves out there!! Time to come out in the sunshine, pretty as rose...

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