Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Fall/Winter Fashion Trends--Part 2

(Or a Blast From the Past--Part 2)

So one of my favorite current trends is the rediscovered glamour of fur coats and accessories. Needless to say that in the 1940's fur was an absolute must for the lady who desired to dress with sophisticated glamour--seeing any film or studio publicity shots of celebrated movie stars from that era leaves you with a clear understanding of that matter.  This was also true for the 1930's. In fact, the use of fur was much more common in the 30's than the 50's. While fur wasn't by any means uncommon in 50's films, the use of wraps and stoles was much more popular than the full-length fur coats that had dominated the previous two decades. Let's take a look at some of my favorite fur moments from the 40's and 50's:

Marilyn Monroe - publicity shot
Marilyn Monroe in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, 1953
Lucille Ball
Lucille Ball publicity still, circa 1940
Marilyn Monroe wearing Chinchilla
Lucille Ball in Easy to Wed, 1946

Betty Grable in The Dolly Sisters, 1945

Lucille Ball in Annabel Takes a Tour, 1938
(From the 30's I know, but it's so gorgeous I had to include it.)

Joan Crawford in They All Kissed the Bride, 1942

Joan Crawford in Mildred Pierce, 1945
Also, I should note that it is not by accident that Lucille Ball is several of my chosen examples. While it is true that I am a huge Lucille Ball admirer, and perhaps my opinion may be slightly biased on that account, I think that she wears fur as beautifully as anyone. I think it is also true that several of her films showcase fur as beautifully as any; I particularly recommend Annabel Takes a Tour, Dance, Girl, Dance and Easy to Wed.    If you are interested in looking at the use of furs throughout classic cinema, I suggest you visit furglamor.com, a great website which is devoted entirely to this topic.  

But what about the current fur trend, and what does it look like in comparison to what we just saw? Well, it isn't quite as bold and dramatic, and you will definitely find many good imitation furs as well (and for a fraction of the cost I might add.)  Let's look at some of this fall's furs and faux furs. Here are some current fashions (we'll look at the faux furs first.)

Apt. 9 Solid Faux-Fur Trench Coat (Google Affiliate Ad)
(I really like this one...classy, but flexible.)

LAUREN Faux-Fur-Trim Cardigan (Google Affiliate Ad)
(Looks like it should be worn while reading a book in front of a cozy fire. Love the colors.)

LAUREN WOMAN Faux-Fur-Trim Jean Jacket (Google Affiliate Ad)
(Very practical and romantic.)

Now let's take a look at some of the high-fashion runway fur trends, some of my favorites include pieces by Ralph Lauren  and Michael Kors (my two favorite designers.) A couple of these pictures display furs from last season, but I liked them so much I included them anyway.

Ralph Lauren (Fall/Winter 2012)
(LOVE this!)

Ralph Lauren (Fall/Winter 2012)
(So chic and classy!)
Donna Karan  (Fall/Winter 2011)
(Gorgeous wintery grey!! Puts me in mind of something the Snow Queen might wear. Haha.)
Michael Kors (Fall/Winter 2012)
(Not really a fan of this one but have seen several vests like this that are trending. Puts me in mind of the abominable snow man.)

Michael Kors (Fall/Winter 2011)
(Stunningly luxurious.)

Michael Kors (Fall/Winter 2012)
(Interesting mix of texture and color. Notice the sleeves on the coat on the left.)

I love the way that fur looks and feels. It has such a beautiful, luxurious, timeless quality that adds instant glamour and sophistication. Even if you aren't supportive of actual furs, there are many good imitation furs to be found nowadays  So I'm interested in what you all think: Do you have fur-- if so, what kind? If you don't have a fur, would you like one, and what kind?

I will leave you with a couple of fun pictures of me at Sak's Fifth Avenue Fur Salon last spring. (Where it didn't take me long to realize that I could totally go grocery shopping in one of these babies. Haha!)

Me in the Fur Salon at Saks Fifth Avenue (overlook the bad pic...it's from my cell)
This is a fox trimmed number I fell in love with.

At the Fur Salon in Saks Fifth Avenue wearing a sable.
I almost died when the sales associate asked me to guess how much it cost. (88 Grand)
(Needless to say my husband also just about keeled over when I found out I had even touched the thing!)

Until next time!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Fall/Winter Fashion Trends

(Or A Blast From the Past)

While browsing through the September issue of Vogue a few weeks ago, one thing became clear to me: 40's and 50's fashion is making a comeback. While some things, such as the proverbial "little black dress," never go out of style, it is always a thrill to find that certain fashions from the past are actually the "new" thing.

A few of the current nostalgic trends include:

1. Bold Prints
2. Fur (coats and accessories)
3. Hats for Women
4. Peplums
5. Glamorous, "Starlet" Makeup

While I will look at each of these trends in much more detail over the next few days, we will focus on prints in this post. Prints are everywhere--and while you will find many over-the-top, the-crazier-the-better patterns popping up now and then (especially in the junior's department) one thing is certain: tartan and plaid are very popular with many of this year's runway designers and are making bold statements in both men and women's fashions this fall.

First let's consider how prints (particularly tartan and plaid) were used 40's and 50's fashion. While you would be much more likely to find plaid as a pattern used in fabric for children, it was commonly used in jackets, for both men and women. Here are a few examples:

Ginger Rogers on cover of Photoplay, November 1942

Betty Grable on the cover of Photoplay, November 1946
I LOVE this jacket and shirt! Such a clean, preppy look that is very sharp. (I could do without the wheat pin, however!)
Marilyn Monroe in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, 1953
While more of a top than a jacket, I love this look because it  is sophisticated  yet shapely. Who said plaid has to be old and boring?

Jane Russell in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, 1953
A very large, bold pattern, particularly accentuated with the bright yellow lining.
Today's Plaid:

This stylish coat by Apt. 9 is demonstrative of both the plaid and fur trend--I LOVE this coat because it is so sophisticated and classy. (I also think it's a great length!)

This plaid puffer jacket is perfect for a sporty look, or for everyday casual wear. (Notice the fur-trimmed hood.)

This Tommy Hilfiger navy plaid trench coat is very contemporary and is also a nice length. This could also be easily dressed up or down.

 Suit from the Ralph Lauren New York Fashion Week Fall/Winter 2012-2013 Runway Show
(Image borrowed from ellecanada.com. Click here to view their gallery.)

So I would love to hear from you--will you be wearing plaid this season, and if so, how??

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Amazon Associates Widget (or Lack Thereof)

Hello, all! I hope you have had a wonderful Christmas and a great New Year so far. I hope this is your best year yet--I know that I am determined to make it mine! One of my goals for this year is to get back into my blogging more regularly, as you may know I have expressed some disappointment with my lack of posting and blogging...simply because something occurs to me and I think, "Oh, I should blog about this!" Then, I don't find the time to do it. *Sigh* So...here we go on January 3, 2012. We'll see how it goes!

While I was reformatting my recipe blog earlier, I noticed that my Amazon Widget for Associates no longer exists. I'm soooo disappointed about this!! I loved having the widget right there at my fingertips because it made sharing relevant material so easy with you all! If I wanted to show you a movie, or a book, etc. all I had to do was click, click, done! I read something about there being a tax issue between Google and Amazon in California, and since I'm not like a hard-core blogger have no idea what that was about. However, I did read enough on Blogger's help forum to realize that this wonderful piece of technology may never come back... It's my understanding that I can still create links directly to Amazon, but seeing as I am a self-proclaimed technological illiterate, I do not yet know how that's gonna work out...

You know the saying "a picture's worth a thousand words"? Well, if I could give you a picture of my life right now, this is what it would look like:

Well, so my kitchen doesn't look that bad, but practically the rest of my house does! The project here for the last two weeks has been to tear out the stairway leading upstairs (and the closet under it) and replace it with a stairwell that still leads upstairs, and uses the same opening, but goes in the opposite direction. As I mentioned sometime back, my husband and I are "do it yourself-ers" and so, when we take on a task like this, it tends to last a while since we don't just hire it done. Since my dad was on Christmas vacation from his job these last two weeks (he is a school teacher), and could help with this project, we took advantage of the opportunity for his help, even though that meant having a mess everywhere during Christmas and New Year's. I am not a fan of the mess, but I do think it will help the overall house, both downstairs and upstairs.  Now if we can just get it finished...

When things around here are "finished" (if such a state of being even exists) I will post pics, but I wouldn't hold your breath. Haha!

I hope you have a very prosperous new year filled with lots of love and laughter! 

Monday, December 12, 2011

Christmas Time's A-Coming!

If you are like me, then you are shocked every time you look at the date on the bottom of your screen. I just can't believe that it's already December 12th! Where does the time go?!? I have been wrapping some presents these last couple of evenings and have been thinking about my Christmas baking list. Usually, I already have a plan for everything that I'm going to make, when I'm going to make it, and have usually already mentally assigned recipients for all my Christmas goodie. However, this year, I'm still just trying to accept the fact that Thanksgiving has come and gone and Christmas is just around the corner.

I love Christmas, and since I obviously love vintage things, I am constantly looking for ways to combine the two. This usually results in me thumbing through many of my vintage cookbooks for holiday recipes which I have not yet tried.  For the past several years, it seems that my baked goods repitoire has consisted of the same--albeit delicious--recipes.  And I have been in search for some time now for undiscovered "new" classics.

I recently decided to consult the internet for inspiration, and came across this cake recipe (pictured above) which was published in a women's magazine from 1952.  I haven't been much of one to include candy in a cake (or in this case, the frosting) but I have to admit that it does look rather festive.

Then, there are petite fours, which I have always wanted to make, but never quite seemed to muster up enough courage to tackle such a deceptively simple task. They are so delicate, dainty, and just a perfect presentation for any special occasion, I would love to try them. After all, hardly anything says "1950s" like tiny little cakes on a saucer accompanied by a steaming, hot cup of demitasse. I found these, which I think are not only festive but also quite 1950s in appearance.

Then there are some vintage recipes which should probably be kept in the past, such as this Fruit Cake which uses Campbell's Tomato Soup as a main ingredient. Now maybe I'm jumping the gun by just assuming that this wouldn't be very good; after all, the cake's title is prefaced by "Another wonderful Tomato Soup Cake" which implies that this is only one of many delicious tomato soup-based cakes. I do admit that the cake does look good! If ever I decide that I want to chance wasting some flour, confectioner's sugar and a perfectly good can of tomato soup, I'll try it out and make sure to report my findings.

Since cookies are a staple of Christmas baking, I have been on the look-out for new (old) cookie recipes. I usually make some form of sugar or gingerbread cookie, white chocolate rice crispie cookies, butterfingers (Mexican wedding cookies), among some other occasionally called-upon treats. While reaserching "1950s Christmas cookies" I came upon this lovely gingerbread house.

I have often thought about making a gingerbread house, but once again, this is an increadibly daunting task. Maybe I will first purchase the gingerbread house kits found in the store and eventually graduate to my own, homemade, 1950s version.  On a side note, I like how the caption at the bottom of the advertisement says "this year bake your gifts!" I don't know if baking your Christmas gifts was an as-unpopular decision as it would be today, but wouldn't it be nice if people would be perfectly content if all you gave them for Christmas was some homemade goodies, all wrapped in a bow?

Then, just when I thought the gingerbread house would be the mother of all Christmas baking tasks, I found this: a Christmas cookie tree! Who ever knew such a thing existed!?

I have to admit that it is a rather novel idea and it's cute in its own sort of kitschy way.  It just seems like an awful lot of effort to use as a centerpiece!

I will leave you with some inspiration for the traditional Christmas butter cookie, from a magazine published in 1957. After all, butter cookies are both vintage and timeless, and they offer endless possibilities in terms of flavorings, frostings, shapes and decorations.

Happy Christmas baking!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Feminism and Anti-Feminism

This might seem a little "off the wall," but I saw a random Facebook post the other day about feminand how the only thing holding feminist progress back were those females who allow themselves to be "subservient." Normally, I keep most of my important opinions to myself (you know--those regarding politics, religion, the after-life and literary theory), but this has just been eating at me because it's something I feel close to.

What I mean by this is that I suppose I have always considered myselft to be a "feminist;" in other words, I feel like I can do anything anyone else can do, regardless of sex. It seems, however, that feminist thought is concerned with comparing the famle to the male, so perhaps I should rephrase this to "I feel like I can do anything that any man can do."  I have to say, while I am all for equal rights, equal pay, and equal respect, I find it ironic that many so-called feminists don't want women to be feminine. In other words, there those females who actually scorn those of us who like to wear makeup, high heels and strive to "look pretty." 

I don't believe that it is a woman's role to be a kitchen slave, or to have to "take it" from any man--including her husband--but, I don't think it's right for "feminists" to cast their judgmental glances down upon those of us women who choose to take more traditional female roles in everyday life than some of our contemporaries.  In other words, I enjoy being a housewife; I do NOT feel that this is demeaning, belittling or subsurviant in any way to the role my husband plays in our household. My role is equally valuable--just different. I am perfectly capable of getting another job. In fact, I have a Master's degree in Teaching World Languages, and actually worked as a high school Spanish teacher for 3 years before I decided that such a career was not for me. I choose to be a housewife because it's what I want to be. I feel that many of our current "feminists" find this choice of career demeaning and hostile to their cause. After all, it appears that current feminist doctrine requires practice of that which is not feminine, or rather, that which is male. It seems that many of our feminists have focused so much on their male counterparts, and becoming like them, that they have lost sight of that which is feminine and thus, the original purpose of their fight--having the right to choose. 

In other words, I am feminist because I feel that I should have every right and freedom and advantage of life that any man has, but...I have to ask my "co-feminists" to acknowledge that this requires even their acceptance of my choice to be "traditionally" feminine.  If I want to be June Cleaver, I should have the right to be, and have it un-judgedly.  After all, if even the "feminists" try to dictate the actions and beliefs of us females, how are they any better than what they themselves are trying to conquer?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Wow! It has been foreverrr!

Beautiful vintage summer portrait
I knew it had been a long time since I had posted, but I can't believe it has been that long! I guess this is just more proof of the old adage that time flies when you're having fun, because summer is definitely my fun-loving time of year. Someone asked me a few weeks ago about my other blog, http://lianasbestrecipes.blogspot.com/ and how it was going. I told him that I had entirely neglected my blogging for what has amounted to be the entire summer season. I expect to get back on top of that one soon also, as the only real benefit I see of colder weather is a stronger desire to crank up my oven.
I have been rather busy this summer, enjoying the weather, enjoying the outdoors, working very enthusiastically on my new business as a Mary Kay Independent Beauty Consultant, and trying to figure out exactly what I'm going to do with myself until Summer comes around again. Sitting indoors and blogging just isn't really my idea of making the most of good weather. However, as fall is now flaunting her coat of many colors and winter is frostily creeping closer, I suspect that my desire to blog will greatly increase right alongside my increasing disgust for the impending cold and gloomy weather.

I was so preoccupied with my non-blogging related activities, I never even finished my post about Lucille Ball's 100th birthday which was August 6th of this year. This was a serious disappointment for me personally, because I am a die-hard Lucy-fan, and not blogging about the single greatest comedienne ever, (not to mention one of my favorite people ever) on such a significant day as her would-have-been 100th birthday is...well, practically sacrilegious. 

Also, I began my new "career" as a Mary Kay Independent Beauty Consultant this past May and have been spending much of my what would have previously been blogging time towards reading and researching for my business. Mary Kay is my new passion, and I have so much enthusiasm for what I do, I can hardly contain myself most of the time. I'm pretty sure that most of my good friends and family now suffer from pink nightmares due to my constant talking of all things Mary Kay.  I will however, try to abstain from subjecting my readers from such unsolicited torture. But...feel free to check out my personal website at www.marykay.com/lianaharris for a virtual makeover, our interactive catalog, and to enjoy free shipping! 

Friday, July 15, 2011

The Seven Year Itch

The Seven Year ItchWell, here it is the middle of summer and I have some weird sinus thing going on that is practically preventing me from sleeping, breathing or tasting successfully. Hopefully, I will be feeling better soon as Sunday is mine and my husband's 7th wedding anniversary.  (Yikes!! I can't believe it's been that long...!) And no, although I am a fan of the The Seven Year Itch, I am not suffering from it.

Of course, since I've not been feeling the best these past couple of days, I have been turning to Netflix and hot tea for comfort. However, I am having trouble finding new (old) movies that are worth watching and that I haven't seen yet. Since many of my followers are also into "old" stuff, I thought it might be nice to share some of our favorite titles in case some of us have been overlooking some wonderful, unbeknownst treasure all this time.

So, I would LOVE any suggestions of old films (and when I say old, I'm talking 30's-60's--not 1985). To start things off, maybe I should give you an idea of what I like to watch. While these are some of my favorites, it would be impossible for me to rank my top 5 favorites in order, as I love them all so much for different reasons and feel as though it would be completely horrible of me to pick one over another, kind of like it would be terrible for a parent to have a "favorite" child...if you get my point.

So, in no particular order, my favorite films are...

Mildred Pierce (Keepcase)
  Mildred Pierce is a great noir classic starring Joan Crawford, Zachary Scott, Ann Blythe and Jack Carson. Mildred Pierce is the story of a recently-divorced, hard-working, self-made business woman who unknowingly gets in the middle of a twisted love triangle, and who will do anything for her ungrateful, spoiled-brat of a daughter...even take a murder wrap. Joan Crawford touchingly plays the memorable title character in this film (her very best performance ever, in my opinion) and won an Oscar for her superb portrayal of this role. (And can I just add that shoulder pads and fur never looked so good! Wow!)

Ann Blythe and Joan Crawford in
Mildred Pierce (1945)

The Postman Always Rings TwiceAnother favorite film is The Postman Always Rings Twice, starring Lana Turner and John Garfield. This is also a noir classic and is a story which epitomizes the femme fatale; in this case, a woman who plots to kill her much older, boring husband in order to be with a newer, younger lover in order to be with him and keep the business which she has been working so hard to build.  After being almost found-out, their plot is successful, and then something dreadfully unexpected happens... Lana Turner never looked better than she did as sexy, scheming, femme fatale Cora in this film.

John Garfield and Lana Turner in
The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946)

Now, Voyager (Keepcase)Then there is one of the great film classics, Now Voyager, starring Bette Davis and Paul Henreid.  Now Voyager follows the transformation of a lonely spinster into a beautiful socialite, and her finding and falling in true love.  This film calls to question what it means to really love someone...and how one should act if not being with that person is the only way to truly love them.  This film showcases Bette Davis' increadible talent, and contains one of the most memorable lines in film history, which is spoken by Bette's character, Charlotte: "Oh, Jerry. Don't let's ask for the moon. We have the stars."


Two of the most famous smoking scenes in the history of film. Who knew so much could be said by the lighting of a cigarette?
Paul Henreid and Bette Davis in Now Voyager (1942).

Suddenly, Last Summer  Suddenly Last Summer is a great film (which I think is very under-appreciated) and is based on a Tennessee Williams play.  The film, which is actually much more elaborate than the original one-act play, has a phenomenal cast including Montgomery Clift, Katherine Hepburn and Elizabeth Taylor. The story is about Catherine, who witnessed--but cannot recall--her cousin Sebastian's gruesome murder while on vacation in Europe. To cover up the shocking cause and questionable circumstances surrounding Sebastian's death and to prevent Catherine from regaining her blocked memory, his domineering mother has Catherine committed to a sanitorium where she is to be labotomized, and thus forever quieted.  It is only after undergoing therapy with a psychiatrist and using a truth serum that Catherine can completely recollect the twisted cause and disturbing nature of Sebastian's death. 

Elizabeth Taylor in the iconic white bathing suit.
Suddenly Last Summer (1959)

Imitation of Life (1959) Imitation of Life is also a must-see movie which stars Lana Turner, John Gavin and Sandra Dee. It is about a young, single, white actress with a young daughter who lives with a black maid and her very light-skinned daughter who tries to pass as white. This movie is about a lot of things, but namely racism, social class, self-identity and love. This film is actually a remake of an earlier version starring Claudette Colbert, and has recieved mixed reviews. You just have to watch it and judge for yourself. This is a very heavy film that is packed with plenty of emotional punch and hits you right where it hurts. Make sure that when you do watch it you have some tissues handy--trust me, you'll need them!

Juanita Moore, Susan Kohner, Lana Turner and Sandra Dee in
Imitation of Life (1959)

As I said, these are only a few of my favorite films. I could also include A Streetcar Named Desire, Double Indemnity, Gone With the Wind, Yours, Mine & Ours, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner...and on and on.

Anyone have a favorite, must-see old movie they could recommend?


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