What is it about Paris fashion that charms us so? Especially that of old movies and photographs. So iconic. So inspiring.
The photo below shows a model wearing one of Christian Dior’s dresses from 1951. She is the picture of that 1950s Parisian look I have in my mind.
Her look is polished and in many ways simple. She wears a crisp white dress with delicate little dragonflies and bees embroidered on the fabric. Her hat, earrings, and necklace are simple and “quiet.” Even her silk coat is a muted blue in spite of its being a rich fabric. Nothing is overly loud and garish. The boldest part of this outfit is how the waist flares out dramatically at the hips to create the silhouette I equate with this era.
Can we still get that feel of 1950s Paris fashion today?
This subject is one I have been following around like a toddler after puppy for about a year now. I’ve scoured photo upon photo of Paris fashion in the 50s to try to get a grasp on what really creates the style I can’t quite get out of my head. Is it possible to create a modern outfit out of “regular clothes” that exudes the spirit of Christian Dior’s ensemble? When I discovered the dress below (and the silk topper below that), I had to give it a try.
This look is as close as I can come to the Dior outfit above. Granted, the pattern of my dress is a little “louder” than the Dior dress, but the cut is similar in that it flares out from a cinched waist.
Over this last year, I have discovered that fit-and-flare dresses are the best for my particular figure. One key to fit for this style–especially for petites–is tapering at the natural waist. If the top half of the dress is too long, it would ride up on my torso and poof out with too much fabric, creating bulges where they don’t belong. Same is true if the waist was too short on me–it would make my chest look smaller and I don’t need anything to make my chest look smaller.
This particular dress sits right where it should on my waist. It creates definition and curves where I want them. It also flares out over the parts I’m not as fond of, camouflaging them entirely.
The length here is good as well. On a person with longer legs, it might be a much shorter skirt, possibly even mini. Any longer and it would make my legs look stumpy. This one hits right above my knees, which is perfect.
I purchased this dress last year at Nordstrom, so it is no longer available in stores. Click here for a similar style.
I have never been drawn to wear dresses, even though I find them beautiful. But blogging about fashion has taught me how practical and stylish they can be. They truly are easy to work with. This one just zips up the back. All I have to do is add shoes and jewelry and I’m done. (It even has pockets built into the design!!)
Sticking with the idea of simple accessories, I added the pearl necklace I wrote about for my very first Fab Collab with the ladies of JTouchofStyle.com. It was a gift from my great-grandmother to my mother and somewhere down the line I became the lucky recipient.
The shoes couldn’t be simpler–blush pink mary jane heels.
I bought the Calvin Klein heels from Amazon and they’re still available here, if you’re interested.
Mixing modern with vintage to complete the look
Because it’s Spring outside, I do have to add a layer–it’s not quite sleeveless weather here in Seattle. This one is the same one I wrote about last week for the Fab Collab about pastels. It reminds me a lot of the one the woman is wearing in the Dior photo above!
This one-of-a-kind treasure is what sold me completely on buying vintage. Not only is it made of luxurious silk, it was inexpensive. The same coat today would cost WAY more than I paid. (It was less than $50.) In addition, no one else that I know has one like it.
I bought mine at Lula Vintage in Saint Paul, Minnesota.
Here’s one on Etsy that is $38. It’s pink, size small.
To do a general search on Etsy, look for 1950s silk swing coat.
Check out how it skims over the flare of the skirt.
Both the dress and the jacket have so much movement and brightness. Even if it’s dark and gray outside, I feel like the embodiment of Spring!
Pink is for Paris
There are still days here in Seattle when even my silk jacket is too lightweight for the season. If it’s raining outside, a heavier-weight trench comes in handy.
Below is a pink trench coat I’ve had for years. I am currently debating whether it will go up for sale in my Poshmark closet. Want to weigh in on whether I should keep it?
Seeing it in these photos, I realize it has a sort of female James Bond look to it.
Look out villains!
As I continue to learn about my signature style, I have one takeaway from this lesson: Find a dress that fits my particular body well and keep the rest simple.
Wearing this dress makes me feel all kinds of things: pretty, powerful, put-together. (All words that start with P, like Paris!) It makes me wonder why I don’t dress like this more often. And yet, for as simple as it is, it is a stand-out look. Meaning, I feel like I stand out when I wear it. I don’t know about you, but I have to have the energy to back that feeling up. As an introvert who loves bold fashion this is always a challenge.
Maybe some sunglasses would help?
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