[Here is a part of our new book, From the Corner of Hollywood and diVine: Your Guide to 30 Old Hollywood-Inspired Spots in Southern California, that didn’t make it into the final manuscript. The book guides you through what a day as an Old Hollywood Starlet, Heiress, Hipster, Hot Mama and Working Girl might look like, with six places in SoCal assigned to each iconic personality type. All of the places we recommend are open as of the writing of the book, and many of them have been around since the Art Deco era (1925-1940). We wanted to include a section on how to style yourself to get the look of each gal, but we were ending up with a book that was way too long, so we will be sharing some of the style guide stuff here on the blog. First up: The Starlet!]
“You can have anything you want in life if you dress for it,” said Edith Head, famed costume designer for Paramount Pictures and Universal Pictures. And Edith knew what she was talking about; she won eight Oscars, outfitted actresses like Ginger Rogers and Bette Davis for their films, and also designed many of her clients’ wardrobes for their personal lives. She believed (and showed, through her work) that the right attire could turn the girl-next-door into a ravishing beauty, and vice versa. (The Dress Doctor, Prescriptions for Style, From A To Z, Edith Head, p.7) So how can someone who does not have an army of “fitters, drapers, cutters, figure makers, beaders, dyers, and milliners” in a studio wardrobe department working practically 24/7 to help them look perfect get Starlet style? (Gowns By Adrian, Howard Gutner, p. 26) These three tips will get you off to a great start!
1. When it comes to the fit of your clothing, a dress should be “tight enough to show you’re a woman, and loose enough to prove you’re a lady.” (The Dress Doctor, p. 49 ) The dresses and gowns in the 1930s had moved away from the low waistlines and boxy shapes of the twenties to embrace a woman’s curves, with the waistline hitting in the proper place and fabric skimming over hips and breasts. You want to go for snug, not sleazy, to transform into a Starlet. And when we think bombshell Starlet, a form-fitting, drapey, floor-length gown is usually what comes to mind. And remember, if you find a vintage gown that’s a steal due to a small imperfection, it can sometimes be repaired by a skillful tailor while she’s making sure your dress fits you perfectly and is the proper length for the shoes you will wear with it.
2. Pay attention to your posture. To rule the red carpet (or your company holiday party) and show off your carefully chosen dress, you need your shoulders back, your spine straight, and your hips slightly tucked. You could even visualize a glam Art Deco skyscraper, like the Chrysler Building, standing tall to get yourself into the proper frame of mind. Better yet, check out a Pilates class to strengthen your core and help your posture, or try this exercise at home: Back up to a wall, and now make sure the back of your head, shoulders, small of your back, hips, and heels are all touching the wall. When it feels like your gut is going to explode from sucking it in, you’ve got proper alignment.
3. Be realistic about your resources. Starlets at the top of their game never wear the same thing twice, but they’ve got huge budgets and freebies arriving constantly from designers, so they can go for some big statement pieces because they have bottomless closets. If you’re an up-and-coming or wannabe Starlet, you might be tempted to splurge on something elaborate and feathered or sequined or with 17 colors so you’ll stand out, but before you slap down your credit card take a cue from MGM costume designer Gilbert Adrian (who just went by Adrian and dressed gorgeous gals like Greta Garbo and Joan Crawford) and keep it simple; invest in a black sheath dress and change out your accessories to keep things looking fresh while you wear the dress over and over. (Gowns By Adrian, Howard Gutner, p. 22)
Purchase From the Corner of Hollywood and diVine: Your Guide to 30 Old Hollywood-Inspired Spots in Southern California, by Lara Scott and Cori Linder, at www.IconicReviews.com.