Great Gatsby on a Budget

Another Halloween has come and gone for another year. Did you dress up?

I didn’t dress up this year, but it used to be something I did every year.

Costumes for murder mystery parties.

Homemade DIY Beaker Muppet Costume
I made this costume several years ago out of foam, felt, and an orange boa. Sadly, it terrified my young nephew and the neighbor kids. Don’t they know how harmless Beaker is??? 🙂

These days, I put that energy into creating modern styles using elements from past decades of fashion. My goal is to create real style, something I would feel comfortable wearing any day of the week. Because I’m working with iconic trends, those elements are often associated with very specific looks or images. As a result, it can be a challenge to create an outfit that doesn’t look like a costume.

This week, though, in honor of Halloween, I gave myself a little leeway. This week, I created an outfit I might wear out somewhere, but it definitely bumps up against being costume-y.

My inspiration?

Daisy Buchanan from The Great Gatsby.

If you’ve read the book, you may have in mind your own image of what Daisy looked like. Below are two Hollywood versions — one played by Mia Farrow in the 1970s and the other more recently played by Carey Mulligan.

Collage of Daisy Buchanan as played in movies by Mia Farrow and Carey Mulligan.

My version is Daisy on a budget.

Almost everything in this outfit is thrifted, a gift, inexpensive to start with, or something I’ve had forever.

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The fur, for example, is so soft and stunning, but it’s completely fake. It was a birthday gift from my sister.

It’s originally from Banana Republic, but they don’t carry this anymore. I found similar versions at Nordstrom, Etsy, and on eBay.

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iconThe dress is also Banana Republic from a year or two ago. I thrifted it from eBay and noticed there are a bunch available in different sizes out there. I created a search link for you, if you’re interested in purchasing one as well.

As you can see, this dress is truly inspired by the unstructured flapper outfits of Daisy Buchanan’s era. The material is silk and it’s fully lined. It is extremely comfortable, even to the point of feeling luxurious. Oh! And it also has pockets!

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My one complaint about it is that it has a tendency to billow out in an unflattering way at the hips, making me appear wider than I am. The extra fabric from the pockets contributes to this.

I’ve found if I wear something over it, the dress doesn’t billow out so much.

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The necklace is costume jewelry I inherited from my grandmother. Strands of fake pearls can be found almost anywhere these days. Nordstrom has several options, many of which are on sale now. Click here to see all long-strand, faux pearl necklaces at Nordstrom.

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My other jewels, although bright and shiny, are rhinestone bracelets from Dainty Wrist Jewelry. As I wrote about before, their jewelry doesn’t cost an arm and a leg, but it sure can spruce up an outfit!

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The hat and shoes were bought new a million years ago. I got the hat at Goorin Bros. in San Francisco. They have stores throughout the US and an online presence. If you’re looking for a similar style, this link takes you directly to their selection of cloche hats. I also did a search on eBay for this style. Click here to follow that search. Finally, this link will take you to a search on Etsy.

Flapper doing the Charleston.
In case you can’t tell, I’m trying to do the Charleston here. Partying it up like it’s 1919.

The shoes are Stuart Weitzman from about 10 years ago. Out of all the elements in this outfit, these were the toughest to track down in searches on eBay, so I did a search on Nordstrom for newer but similar styles and here’s what I found:

Isolá 'Tara' Kiltie Pump - $99
Isolá ‘Tara’ Kiltie Pump – $99
SARTO by Franco Sarto 'Ainsley' Loafer Pump - $118.95
SARTO by Franco Sarto ‘Ainsley’ Loafer Pump – $118.95
Nine West 'Fadilla' Mary Jane Pump - On Sale at $78.90
Nine West ‘Fadilla’ Mary Jane Pump – On Sale at $78.90

But wait, there’s more

This dress surprised me in how versatile it is. It got me on a roll. I wondered if I could change things up a little to take the look from 1920s costume-y to more casual streetwear. So I added booties, a denim jacket, and a head scarf.

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Is the headscarf too much? I’m not sure. I kind of like the look.

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I kept the same dress and jewelry, but I paired them with some very modern pieces, like a denim jacket and suede booties.

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The headscarf was inspired by Carey Mulligan’s portrayal of Daisy Buchanan.

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It’s just a long scarf I draped over my head and tied in the back. I’d have to figure out how to tie it better, and probably add some bobby pins to secure it, if I wore this out.

Generally, I wear the scarf around my neck. It’s a lightweight, thin wool with a sort of roughly sketched plaid pattern. I picked it up about five years ago at a Cole Haan shop in Las Vegas.

Nordstrom has a similar one from Echo for about sixty bucks, but you can find all kinds of fun scarves on Etsy. Just be sure to look for lighter weight material. The thicker wool scarves meant to keep your neck warm won’t work.

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One more….

Finally, how about bringing back the fake fur and adding knee-high boots?

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The boots are a couple of years old from the Cole Haan Factory Outlet store. Here’s a link to a similar style by Ugg.

I also got rid of the hat and switched to a different necklace and nude hose. Talbot’s has some similar style necklaces available. Here’s a link to one under $50.

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When I started experimenting with this dress, I had Daisy Buchanan from The Great Gatsby in mind. But the comfort of it and the style kept me playing. (Plus, it has pockets and we can never underestimate the value of that–even if they do create a little billowing around the hips.)

Other pieces from my closet called out to be paired up with the dress and real, wearable outfits started to come to light. In fact, I wore this exact outfit (below) last week to dinner.

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What do you think? Would you wear any of these looks outside of a costume party? If so, which one?


Local Fashion News

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On November 19th, I’ll be attending Fashion District NW’s Fall Fashion Show in Bellevue. Fall Collections for Kahini Fashion and Simply Chic will be showcased and Cornerstone Studio will be there to preview their upcoming Nutcracker performance. Registered attendees will also have access to some great discounts from sponsors of the show.

Tickets for second and third row seating start at $6. VIP front row tickets are $14. Standing room only is free.

For more information, or to purchase tickets, visit the show’s page on Eventbrite by clicking here.

I hope to see you there!


Affiliate link disclaimer: Please note, some of the items linked may be affiliated with companies I am associated with, like eBay, Talbots, and Nordstrom. By clicking the affiliated links and purchasing from those stores, I might receive a small commission. By purchasing from these stores, you support the work I do here and I greatly appreciate your support! 

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  • Sherry!!
    First I have to say how marvelous that white fur wrap is!! It’s just so elegant and beautiful. You could probably wear it over a sack of potatoes and look heavenly!!
    Second, I really can’t see how the dress billows—either you are hiding it well, or you didn’t include those photos? But that could be easily fixable if you’re willing to part with the pockets, you know? I know many women always say they love pockets, but I don’t have the same attraction to them. Maybe because my hands are always eating and drinking? Ha ha!!
    I think you did a fabulous job showing 3 variations for this dress in particular. Maybe the head scarf is not something you see everyday, but it really looks nice on you. I’ve attempted it a couple times to hide my crazy curls, but I always feel so out of place.
    And tell me about Beaker? Is it from a comic strip or cartoon? You did a great job on that costume, but I guess I can see why it’d be a little scary to the little ones (but isn’t that what Halloween is all about?)
    jodie
    http://www.jtouchofstyle.com

    • Thank you for all you kind comments, Jodie! That wrap is just something, isn’t it? My sister knocked it out of the park with that one!

      As for the dress, the photos that really shows how it billows didn’t make it to the blog because they were my “test” shots–trying to set up the shot before I had the whole outfit together. Those are the shots where I didn’t have the camera set up well–half of me is visible and the other half is off camera, but you can still see my tummy billowing out like I’m pregnant. Ha ha! Once I put the wrap over it, it didn’t poof out as much. If you look right around the belly in some of the photos I did use, you can kind of see what I mean.

      I bet a headscarf looks great on you with your cute curls! I know it’s hard to remember this, but try to see your hair through my eyes — the eyes of someone whose hair is flatter than a pancake unless she painstakingly curls it and, even then, those curls fall out if you breathe on it funny. Style that hair like you love it because there are some of us who would love to have fun with curly hair!

      Beaker is a Muppet from The Muppet Show. He’s *very* benign, always the victim of a science experiment gone wrong. I’ll send you a link via email to a video of Beaker.

      Hugs,
      Sherry

  • Sherry, you have transformed yourself into so many different styles of beauty over the years, but your inside beauty is what makes it all work. One of your outfits screamed “Greta Garbo” I don’t think many people could assume all of these fashion identities. Your poise as a person comfortable in your own skin is what makes it all work.

  • That s a beautiful fur! So chique. It s a pitty that you dont dress up for Halloween anymore! It looks like such fun! I had to laugh out loud when I saw the picture of Beamer on Facebook! Hilarious!

    • Thanks, Nancy! It was definitely fun to dress up in the past. I think I need to surround myself with more people like you to get me back in the spirit of doing things like that! 😀 The Beaker costume was a definite favorite! I just wish I hadn’t terrified my nephew with it! Ha ha!

      Thank you for stopping by and saying hello! I’ll pop over to your blog and say hello back! 🙂

      – Sherry

  • This was a fun ride.

    I love all your past Halloween outfits.

    I’m on the lookout for a cloche hat as well. They are so sassy.

    I love the combo with the boots and the fake fur.

    You did a great job showing how you can switch out a few pieces to totally change the look. The dress looks great on you.

    bisous
    Suzanne

    • Thank you, Suzanne! I knew you’d appreciate those costume photos since you’re known for your costume flair as well!

      Cloche hats are so Miss Fisher, right? (You got me started watching that show!) Now if I only had the rest of her wardrobe!

      – Sherry

  • Sherry, first let me say your Halloween costumes were divine! I can’t believe people don’t know who Beaker is and were actually afraid of him! Ha, ha. I love the Muppets! Secondly, you did such a great job copying the look of Daisy – in either version. The faux fur is perfect! The dress is very cute and I like that you showed some other ways of styling it, because it is a fashionable piece meant for wearing. I love it paired with the boots and jean jacket…that would be right up my alley. And I agree with Jodie, the dress doesn’t appear poofy at all, so I don’t think the pockets are really a problem. Thanks for the fun post! – Amy
    http://stylingrannymama.com/

    • Thank you, Amy! The Muppets were hilarious, weren’t they? My nephew, his little buddies, and many of the neighbor kids were too young to know who Beaker was. They would not come near me. Parents, on the other hand, remembered him and loved the costume!

      The look you liked best of this dress–with the denim and boots–is the one I wear the most. It is comfortable and more up my alley as well. And thank you for saying what you did about the pockets and the poofiness. There were a couple of photos I didn’t share where I looked pregnant! Still, the dress is really comfortable and is easy to change up with different accessories, so it’s hard for me to get too upset by a little poofiness here and there. Your and Jodie’s comments help put my mind at ease.

      – Sherry