Monday, March 19, 2012

Dress of the Day (March 19, 2012)

So much for my resolution to blog more frequently. I have been very busy, but I have also been absorbed with the transition to spring. Unseasonably warm weather plunged us suddenly into thoughts of vernal and estival style. Coupled with the plethora of articles on the wardbrobes, makeup palettes, and coifs that will define our approaches to the season, I admit to feeling nonplussed. Prints are everywhere, from Herrera to H&M, Prada to Penney's. But are they for me? Will I try the trendy bright lip? How can I reconcile that with my recent forays into the dramatically charcoal-lined eye?

Complete looks sometimes come to me with instantanteous clarity, but other times I need to let various threads percolate before I am ready to choose my next path in fashion. Lately I've been experiencing the latter situation and there's no use in pushing myself until I am certain. Instead I turn to my favorites,  what I call "comfort fashion", analogous to "comfort food" - the looks, styles, and designers that feel most familiar and always right to me. The 1940s are where I go for comfort fashion. Raised on the films of this period, I was deeply attracted to the clothing at a young age, and the glamour of old Hollywood drew me into fashion history. Here is a gorgeous gown on Bette Davis, one of my favorite actresses, in "Now Voyager" (1942), one of my favorite films. Here, Charlotte Vale aka Camille descends the grand staircase in her Boston home in an Orry-Kelly evening dress. This designer dressed Bette Davis throughout her career at Warner Brothers, including for some of her most celebrated roles in Jezebel, Dark Victory, The Letter, and Mr. Skeffington. His impressive credits also include gowns for Casablanca and The Maltese Falcon.

This ivory evening gown is a perfect example of 1940s style because of its harmonious blending of elegance with ease. Matching clutch and open-toed shoes are characteristic accessories which complete the look. Sparkling and floor length, it retains the padded shoulders and tailored shape of a suit. Very little skin is revealed due to the discreet neckline and long sleeves, yet the look is extremely alluring.

In this scene, Charlotte meets her suitor Elliot Livinston for an evening out. At a pre-concert dinner, she runs into her true love Jerry. I won't give it away in case you haven't seen the movie.