The 1940s: Timeless Glamour for the Modern Woman Part II

THE CAP-SLEEVE BLOUSE & TROUSER PANT

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Banned Vintage Off White Button Up Cap Sleeve Blouse, $48 and Banned 1940s Navy High Waist Crepe Full Moon Sailor Pants, $58, both available at uniquevintage.com

Hell Bunny 1940s Collar

Hell Bunny 1940s Black & Ivory Collar Button Up Olsen Blouse, $54, available at uniquevintage.com

What do I admire most about femme fatales?  Is it the way these conniving, duplicitous bad girls dupe their lovers?  Or the callous decisiveness with which they take their revenge?  Barbara Stanwyck.  Jane Greer.  For me, what makes these women so remarkable isn’t their alluring brand of treachery (though Stanwyck looks wickedly seductive as she lures men to their doom while indifferently smoking a cigarette); it’s the way they unapologetically defied their gender.

The chicest women know fashion-like composition-is a matter of balance.  This summer channel your inner femme fatale and juxtapose a structured masculine top with a pair of ultra-feminine trousers.  The blouse’s cap sleeves and sharp lines give the ensemble bad girl edge while its classic ivory color renders the look adorably retro.  Flowy high-waisted pants offset the rigidness of the top and gorgeously flatter the feminine form.  Want to transition this sultry silhouette to winter?  Just swap the navy pant for a classic tweed trouser.  Add a pair of white cat eye glasses and you’ll look as darkly disarming as your favorite femme fatale.

THE KEY-HOLE BLOUSE & PLEATED CIRCLE SKIRT

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Banned Retro Off White Sleeveless Basic Instinct Keyhole Top, $50, available at uniquevintage.com

Is there anything more delightfully darling than this keyhole top?  The cream color and demure neckline embody a dainty femininity while the key-hole and asymmetrical detail add a charming vintage pop.  Whether you’re heading to the office or enjoying a midday picnic, this elegant blouse will ensure you look nothing short of extraordinary.  

Want to look superbly girly?  Pair this lovely number with an ultra lady-like 1940s pleated skirt.  Its classic circle shape is iconic-not to mention incredibly flattering when paired with a structured shirt.

THE THREE-QUARTER SLEEVE SWEATER & TWEED PENCIL SKIRT

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Banned Retro Yolk Yellow Three-Quarter Bow Sleeve Knit Modern Love Top, $32, available at uniquevintage.com

Want to look fabulously fetching the next time you strut into work?   If you’re a pin-up girl who wants to look polished, this three-quarter sleeve top is a must.  Its classic boat neck recalls the modesty of an earlier era and keeps the look demure enough for work.  Practically, I love that its thin, stretchy material makes it easy to seamlessly tuck into a skirt.  And who can resist a soft knit in an unexpected color like mustard yellow?  Make the look even more killer by adding a curve-hugging pencil skirt. 

Piece of the Week: The Sheath Dress

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ModCloth Teaching Classy Dress in Flower Silhouettes, $64.99, available at modcloth.com

Dress shabbily and they remember the dress; dress impeccably and they remember the woman”- Coco Chanel

Nothing exudes more self-assurance than a woman in an exquisitely tailored sheath dress.  Sharp, smartly detailed and endlessly versatile, a sheath dress can transform you into a serious scholar one minute and a stunning glamazon the next.  Personally, I adore this darling version by ModCloth.  A charming floral print and side pockets make you a delightful sight, while a demure, pleated neckline and structured fit keep the look adorably professional.  Add a pop of bright pink coral in the form of a cinched belt and you’ll be getting As in style.

Ways to Wear

The Mad Men Maven

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The glamor of 1960s women always dumbfounds me.  How did they possibly find the time to create the perfect smoldering eyes and set their hair every night?  Watching Mad Men, I find myself nostalgic for a simpler time, a period when women-like Betty-wore ladylike ballerina skirts and it wasn’t laughably stiff to wear formal elbow length gloves to dinner.  Such women embodied a dignified poise, a cultivated refinement lacking in our era of sweatpants and tee shirts.  We might not be able to teleport to the age of bouffant big hair but we can resurrect some of Miss Betty’s tasteful femininity with a sheath dress and bright scarf this winter.  Simply find a patterned scarf, tie it around your neck (or channel your inner Jackie O and wrap it elegantly around your head) and viola: you look bewitchingly put together.  If your sheath is a more neutral color, pair with a bag in a bold hue to give the outfit interest and texture.  I especially like the turquoise suitcase (Modcloth It’s Not Pocket Science Bag, $54.99, available on modcloth.com) pictured.

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The Scholarly Over-Achiever 

You’re a 3rd year college student diligently studying for finals.  The library smells like mahogany, old books and espresso.  As you hopelessly search for a seat in the crowded main stacks, the marble floors clink beneath your feet.  Overhead, the ivory white ceiling curves to form a half dome.  A bookish intellectual in Oxfords and horn-rimmed glasses leaves just as you pass his table, so you quickly steal his seat.  You unload your composition notebook, your tattered copy of Paradise Lost and some pencils.  Studious and ambitious, you’re ready to (once again) earn all As on your exams.

Even if you didn’t graduate at the top of your class, you can still take inspiration from Ivy League academics.  Couple your polished sheath dress with a cozy cardigan in rich beige and you’ll be sure to ace even your toughest finals.

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Piece of the Week: The White Tee

 

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Uniqlo Supima Cotton Tee

Just as learning the alphabet is fundamental to the mastery of a language, so is a closet of basics crucial to a stylish wardrobe.  Essentials like the white tee form the basis of your closet, so invest in high quality material.  This fall, I recommend you luxuriate your senses in this classic white tee by Uniqlo.  Made of the world’s finest cotton, this iconic piece is so superbly soft you’ll want to wear it everyday.  These divinely comfortable tees come in several colors and cuts, so be sure to stock up! 

Ways to Wear:

The Tough Girl Fashionista 

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Who said basics had to be boring?  Edge up your crisp white tee with a gritty, over-sized denim jacket.  Distressed denim provides a hip counterweight to the neatness of the white tee while skinny black jeans, big sunglasses and coral-colored nails nicely complement the rebelliousness of the jacket.

If you’re in the market for some tough girl denim, look no further than the iconic Levi Strauss & Co.’s boyfriend trucker jacket in sunshine indigo.  Made of the highest quality stretch mid-weight denim, the boyfriend jacket is a modern update on a classic piece. Relaxed but never sloppy, the Levi’s trucker jacket takes a cue from the punk rock vibe of your boyfriend’s denim.  Absolutely adore the color (not to mention the name…who wouldn’t delight in a color called “sunshine indigo”?)  Light and slightly bleached, its unconventional shade makes the jacket effortlessly cool while the distressing details give it a one-of-a-kind feel.  Personally, I prefer lighter shades for denim jackets: a crisp dark wash (though sophisticated for a pant) seems too uptight for this greaser staple.  If you want a less expected alternative to the traditional blue, opt for one in black or charcoal.

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The City Strolling Hipster 

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Whether you’re grabbing a cappuccino in Greenwich village or thrifting on SF’s Haight street, pair a simple white tee with rock n’ roll cut offs and a leather jacket for a look that’s charmingly defiant, maybe even a little too cool.  Add a cozy burgundy scarf and darling polka dot tights and you’ll be ready to navigate the urban jungle.

The Chic European Debutante 

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Imagine: you’re leisurely pedaling through the idyllic cobblestone streets of Copenhagen.  The reassuring smell of pastries wafts through the autumn air.  As the splendor of the midday sun streams across the brightly-colored buildings, you can hear the hushed murmurs of friends chatting beneath pin-striped umbrellas on a cafe plaza.  Like Audrey Hepburn, you are a European debutante: the embodiment of elegance and grace.  Though there’s nothing particularly dazzling about either her 3/4 sleeve tee or her trousers, the refinement of Miss Hepburn’s ensemble derives from this very simplicity.  Polished and minimalistic, a black tee looks stunning with an impeccably neat (and, may I add, perfectly tailored) pant.  Tie your curly hair into a messy chignon and slip on some adorable ballet flats this fall and you’ll look similarly chic.