The Lady of Shalott

Recently I’ve been studying poetry with my seniors, and we studied Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s The Lady of Shalott, a poem about the Arthurian lady who was cursed to sit outside of life, never participating in it, only weaving the scenes she can see from a mirror. When she dared to look out upon the world, specifically upon the perfect Sir Lancelot, she was punished with death. A dramatic death, at least, where she floated down river in a boat, singing as she died. Kind of thorny, from a feminist perspective, but I have always loved the romanticism of the poem. Complimenting this romanticism, John William Waterhouse, the Pre-Raphaelite painter, painted the seminal work on this poem, portraying a pale redhead in a flowing gown wrapped in a tapestry she wove.

I decided to do a take on that painting for a romantic summer outfit. If you went out in a medieval dress, you’d get some stares, so instead we change it to a white maxi dress with orange flowers that pick up on the tones in the tapestry. The Lady of Shalott is holding chains in her hand, so that detail is being picked up in the shoes. She’s wearing a triple strand of chunky amber beads (very stylish!); the budget version is beautiful chunky orange stones with a crystal bead.

Inspired by The Lady of Shalott

Pre-Raphaelite romanticism, all ready for a summer day! Grab a fringed shawl for a chilly night, and you’re perfectly dressed.


Inspired by Downton Abbey

Is anyone else obsessed with Downton Abbey? I haven’t watched PBS so avidly since Saturday night had all the British comedies. I’m a total Anglophile, and Downton is a dreamy show. Set in the early 1900’s, the divide between the upper class and the lower class is portrayed in one busy household. Currently we are on season two, and in the midst of World War I. Big drama!

Obviously, the tastemakers are the three Grantham sisters. They have caused some of my friends to beg for an updated Downton Abbey style post.

Disclaimer: these are not, nor are they intended to be, authentic period clothes. There are very few places you can go dressed as one of the Downton ladies. They merely have some features of the period dress.

Dresses inspired by Downton Abbey

Dorothy Perkins gray dress, $27
Quiksilver empire line dress, $49
ASOS ruched dress, $39
Shiny dress, $43
Old Navy ruffle dress, $23
Dorothy Perkins evening dresses gown, $17

For day dresses, a combination of long and flowy and short with delicate details.

Downton Abbey Jackets and Shrugs

Bellatrix chiffon shirt, $40
Floral shirt, $50
REGENCY black jacket, £57
Victorian coat, $110
Bolero jacket, $28
Free people, $20
Black/White Short Fitted Striped Blazer, $30
Burgundy Red Velvet Gothic Victorian Fitted Corset Jacket from The

Cover up your day or evening wear with a chiffon or lace bed jacket or a cutaway coat.

Downton Abbey Hats

Halogen brim straw hat, $28
Bow hat, $35
Made of Me bow hat, $18
Black hat, $12
Goorin striped hat, £6
American Apparel brim hat, $44
Forever 21 floppy brim hat, $15
Brim straw hat, £10
Tarnish bow hat, $28

Even an updated Downton look wouldn’t be a complete without a hat!

Downton After Dark

ASOS sequin cocktail dress, $45
Vintage lace dress, $100
Lauren Conrad floral maxi dress, $43
TopShop maxi dress, £30
Ryu lace dress, $65
Oasis long sleeve maxi dress, $17
Lace cocktail dress, $50

These dresses won’t require a maid to get you into them–but maybe that’s part of the beauty of dressing for dinner in 2012?

If you’re looking for a GENUINE Downton look, try Nataya. Original designs are based on period pieces; this line has been around for a while–since the movie Titanic, I believe. The dresses are gorgeous, and just updated enough for a formal occasion.

Saturday Night Cinema

There’s something about Saturday night and awesome old movies. When I was a teenager, going around to a friend’s house (or the rec room of the dorm) and watching a video on the VCR was a popular pastime. Still today, I love to see a 90’s romantic comedy on the television–I almost always get sucked in to watching it. Last Saturday night was such a night, as I discovered Only You playing on television. Starring Marisa Tomei and Robert Downey Jr., it’s about a women who was told that she’d marry a man named “Damon Bradley”, and her desperate chase of a man of that name just as she gets engaged to someone else. She goes to Italy to find Damon Bradley. She thinks she’s met him, when it turns out she’s fallen for Peter Wright instead. (Mr. Wright–get it?) It’s a charming comedy, and pretty much Italian vacation p0rn.

One of the things I always loved about the film was Marisa Tomei’s costumes. Simple, flowing, long dresses were her main choices as she floated through Italy. As I watched the movie on Saturday, I was updating her outfits for 2012 to present to you.

Waiting...Inspired by Only You

GAP long sleeve top, $45
American Eagle Outfitters long top, $20
ASOS reversible pants, $25
Nine West wedge heel shoes, $50
GG Collection Small Wall Fountain, $425

Waiting for Mr. Wright
An updated version of her palazzo pant outfit with espadrilles. This movie was costumed almost solely in black, white, and red. I decided to update it with a coral color, but keep a matching pant and tank, with a contrasting ivory ballet wrap cardigan.

Searching...Inspired by Only You

American Apparel knit dress, $75
Strappy heels, $44

Searching Through Rome
Faith (the main character) is running after Damon Bradley through Rome, and loses a shoe. Peter Wright finds that shoe, and then claims to be Damon Bradley. Love the color of this dress, a deep red, but save us from the carwash hem! Updated, a super-sexy body-conscious dress in a similar red with a shorter hem–but not too short. For a bit of texture, add a shoe that she couldn’t lose with a suede gladiator. But I guess that wouldn’t be optimum, after all.

Dinner...Inspired by Only You

Deena & Ozzy ivory heels, $50

Dinner in Positano
One of the most incredible dresses Faith wears is to have dinner with a man she thinks is Damon Bradley in the picturesque town of Positano. Simple though it is, this dress had drama, with an open back and a flowing drape. A Rachel Palley jersey dress has the right amount of drama in a slightly updated silhouette. A dramatic tone-on-tone wedge is appropriate for strolling cobblestone streets.

If you haven’t seen Only You, SEE IT. Need more encouragement, besides the great outfits?


Must Watch, Must Dress: White Christmas

Classic movies are a major part of the holiday season for me. It is not truly Christmas until I have watched the movie White Christmas. I love the songs, the humor, the romance, and the holiday spirit. But, being me, I love the clothes! Realistically, the clothing cannot be worn today. It’s all wide circle skirts and totally coordinated outfits. You would have to be fully immersed in a retro look to pull it off. But I figured I could take some of the costuming ideas from the movie, and see if I could capture some of the spirit of Edith Head’s originals. (Love me some Edith Head!)

So, without further ado: five looks inspired by White Christmas!

The Scene: Judy dances to Abraham

White Christmas Inspiration 2

Bow dress, $45
Poetic Licence lace up boots, $89
Poetic Licence lace up boots, $89

Vera Ellen, who played Judy, was a major powerhouse of a dancer but not much of a singer. Her dancing talents were spotlighted, as were her dancer legs. This short little turtleneck dress is the jumping-off point for this dress. A yellow swing day dress is paired with yellow shoes with a hint of houndstooth. The black from the dress is added in with the black and white houndstooth bracelet. I like that Vera Ellen wears yellow a couple of times; it’s not just a summer color, but also good for winter.

The Scene: Betty and Judy join Bob and Phil to perform Gee, I Wish I Was Back in the Army.

White Christmas Inspiration 5

Dorothy Perkins sheer top, $37
Dorothy Perkins navy blue pants, $17
TopShop military fashion, £35
ALDO high heels, $40
Armani Exchange chain necklace, $28
Falling Whistles Color Brushed Silver Whistle Necklace, $44

Military blues and greys dominate in this outfit. The girls don’t really wear pants in this movie, but the modern woman wears pants all the time. So to translate this look from uniform to everyday wear, I’m just taking hints of uniform, like a cropped military-style jacket and buttoned boots. To feminize the look, a sheer top is put under the jacket (wear a cami under it, please!) with a high neck that can flow out, untucked, below the jacket. Layer dog tag style necklaces and a very special necklace from Falling Whistles so you can look like you’re ready for war while you advocate for peace.

The Scene: Judy convinces Phil to get engaged.

White Christmas Inspiration 4

Form fitting dress, $48
Sheer top, £4.99
Dirty Laundry synthetic leather shoes, $40
Franco sarto shoes, $45
Dorothy Perkins facets jewelry, $15

Houndstooth shows up again! Before, I chose it because of the shoes that matched the dress. This time, it comes into full view with Judy’s swing skirt. Instead of the skirt/turtleneck/cardigan combination (I feel geriatric just typing that!), I chose a sassy houndstooth dress with a great cowl neck detail. A cropped cardigan with a low v-neck can be worn without obscuring the detail of the dress’s neck. Instead of a red belt, we update with a pair of red shoes. I couldn’t choose between a red flat and a red pump, so I included both! A chunky statement ring in black finishes the look.

The Scene: Betty sings Love You Didn’t Do Right By Me at the Carousel Club.

White Christmas Inspiration 3

Mango square neckline dress, £70
Embellished shoes, $100
Stretch jewelry, $34
1928 vintage style jewelry, $45
Hobbs satin glove, £22

This is my favorite look of the whole movie. For a simple black dress, it is a show stopper, accenting Rosemary Clooney’s amazing hourglass curves. The scalloped detail on the straps and the back are unparalleled, and the addition of a gigantic rhinestone embellishment make the back of this mermaid dress even more interesting than the (flawless) front. Honestly, it’s hard to find something this amazing on a budget. A similar style is available in this satin mermaid dress. Instead of the detailed strap, there is a shoulder bow. You could put a rhinestone brooch (in a snowflake design, but of course) on the bow or on the back. To make this dress major, I’ve added a pair of opera gloves in black (instead of the sequined version Rosemary Clooney wore) with a rhinestone cuff over top. And the shoe must be glitzy, so each time the skirt kicks up, the shine can be seen.

The Scene: Judy dances to Choreography

White Christmas Inspiration 1

Dorothy Perkins pink dress, $29
Aryn K jacket, $50
Anne Michelle platform shoes, $38
Shoes, $48
Cuteberry rhinestone jewelry, $38
Echo glove, $24

From the tip of her feathered hat to the toes of her d’Orsay shoes, Vera Ellen is a symphony in hot pink. It’s not very modern to match every detail of your outfit like this, but I decided to do a very matchy-matchy look. This is an outdoor look, with a ruffled wool jacket over a matching skater dress with matching smartphone compatible gloves. Instead of diamond earrings and bracelets, the look is brought more down-to-earth with a rhinestone pendant. The shoes are thoroughly modern; I’ve included a blue and pink color block shoe or (my favorite) a newsprint pump, so things don’t match exactly.

If you haven’t this holiday season, grab a copy of White Christmas to revel in the gloriousness of all the clothing with me.