Getting specific about period make-up tends to default to whether or not I decide to wear red lipstick, but I admit that I have been curious about the more specific make-up trends from each decade. Glamour Daze has put together four make-up guides – one each for the 1920’s, 1930’s, 1940’s, and 1950’s – compiled from period manuals and magazine articles and made available to you as an ebook. Content covers things like the right colors for your hair/complexion, makeup techniques, skin care, and some decade-specific beauty norms and, perhaps, some not-so-norms by today’s standards. Each ebook is $9.99, or you can get all four for $19.99.
I recently went to see The Great Gatsby (2013) and the thing that bothered me more than the horribly anachronistic female costuming and the inflatable zebras were the men’s pants. They were obviously out of place – poorly tailored stove pipes that wrinkled/puddled around the ankles and calves, much in the way that a pair of skinny jeans would on a hipster. David Lochner tells me they used Brooks Brothers’ Milano Fit Trouser, their “slimmest fitting trouser with a lower rise and a plain front.” Something about this description seems like the antithesis of 1920’s menswear. That the film would sacrifice historical accuracy for a modern marketing opportunity is no surprise, but it got me thinking about high waist pants. Is this really the best they can do? When I search for high waist pants, what are retailers offering these days?
The pre-qual to these questions is how we got out of the fashion of wearing high waisted pants in the first place. Whenever I wear modern pants while I am dancing, they slowly inch their way downward or pull unnecessarily on my legs when I wear a belt. Doesn’t it make sense that our bottom garments would be better served by being secured at the narrowest point on our body? As someone with an extremely short inseam, why would I want to make my legs look shorter?
Quoting Nick Wooster of Bergdorf Goodman, “men have become so comfortable with low rise that it’s like bringing back the pleated pant; it took years to get men out of them and now we are showing men how good they can look in them. He sighed, “Men are creatures of repetition and when they get conditioned to like something it takes a very long time to change that.”
Quoting Robert Bryan, stylist, “Nothing looks worse than a long torso with short legs, a look created by pants that rise only to the hips, or these days, considerably lower,” he demurred. “Furthermore, it seems only natural that trousers should rise at least to the natural waist where they can rest for support on the hips and drape from there,”
In closing, “So, men, it is up to you daredevils that want to look tall, erect and sophisticated to bring back this iconic staple to our wardrobes.”
Support and drape sounds beautiful and practical for dancing…so where do we find these high-waisted pants?
Well, a lower rise appears to have overtaken all modern retailers – I asked two of my favorite male sartorialists, Bobby White and the aforementioned Mr. Lochner, about where they find high-waisted trousers with modern retailers and it is just as I feared: nowhere. Sure, you can find waists that are higher in comparison to low-rise pants, but not pairs, for example, like the ones Marlon Brando is sporting in the photo to the left. Mr. Lochner added, “Even the old men’s section at Macy’s lowered the rise.” Your options are to order something made for you, seek vintage sources, or spend countless hours searching for that one elusive pair in a shop and buy every pair they have in your size.
I found a nice selection of high waisted 1950’s pants at the Rusty Zipper, including some sweet looking Army slacks.
A Google search of “men’s high waisted pants” revealed a few, perhaps, not-quite-so-high-but-higher-than-low-rise options:
Cator Sparks says he picked up a pair of Levi’s 517’s, which he says are the pants the cowboys wear. Aside from describing the seemingly endless zipper, I love that Mr. Sparks talks about how he hasn’t felt this comfortable in a pair of pants since he bought a pair of custom made tuxedo pants.
Emporio Armani has this pair, but they don’t look particularly high-waisted to me, rather somewhere just above a low rise.
Dickies, classic purveyors of work-wear, offers this trouser – added bonus: hidden expandable waist and extra pocket on the leg.
And there you have it – with the passing of generations that wore high-waisted pants and the wearing-down of the waistline, so to speak, to more low-rise trousers being en vogue in subsequent generations, we have run out of a resource. If you have resources for high-waisted pants, please feel free to share them here in the comments section below. I know others will thank you for it!
With the pomp and fanfare given to Baz Luhrmann’s upcoming film rendition of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby,” comes the opportunity for various merchants to cash in *ahem* I mean present collections of Gatsby era inspired clothing, rugs, shoes, flooring, you name it. It’s one of those things that sort of elicits a collective groan and, at the same time, a hope – a groan for the fad, the hyped up eBay prices for 20’s clothing, the assumption that you are part of the fad even though you’ve been an Art Deco lover for years; a hope that some really beautiful items will come of this that may not be plentiful in their vintage form.
I’d love to have a complete list of all the collections for 2013 that have been inspired by the movie – please feel free to submit your own! In the interim, here’s what I’ve been able to dig up:
(I’ll have to make an exception to my maximum price rule with this post, but Gatsby is all about luxury and what we can’t have, no?)
Brooks Brothers – there are several threads on Facebook criticizing the collection for its modern cuts, uniform hat sizing, and other elements that would either not be period appropriate or luxurious enough to warrant the cost. Yet, with a retailer as large and established as Brooks Brothers, one can always hope for knockoffs.
Tiffany & Co. – some simply stunning pieces with, what I would consider, an appropriate mix of modern and Art Deco elements. Anyone with an extra $200,000 in their bank account can purchase one of the gorgeous headpieces… *drool*
Armstrong Hardwood Floors – I’m no wood floor expert, so I’m looking for a tie-in to the Gatsby era…perhaps inspired by hardwood flooring stains of the 1920’s? I do know that Tudor architecture was popular during the 1920’s, so their Oak – Tudor Brown makes sense. The rest, I’m not sure…
Sue Wong – designer Sue Wong debuted her Fall 2013 collection inspired by the Great Gatsby. The collection is not on her website and I’m having a hard time finding photos of the actual collection, rather than the celebrity attendees. From the scant photos, it looks to be a modern interpretation.
Catherine Martin Rugs – this is probably my favorite, these Art Deco rugs are just divine, pieces of art themselves.
We can keep going…I’m happy to add to the list, if you have others!
Because it’s never too early to start shopping for Halloween, New Year’s Eve, or a Gatsby-themed event, this Leluxe Clothing Nouveau Tabard on eBay is just begging to be picked up by some smart flapper – with the bidding only at $75.00, this $329.99 dress (YES you read that right, three hundred twenty-nine dollars and ninety-nine cents) is a crazy steal! Fits a wide range of sizes, those beads just seem to hug in all the right places. Auction ends October 5!
In the next few weeks I’ll be posting about 1920’s fashion in anticipation, preparation, and education for the RDU Rent Party: Gatsby Edition, July 7, in Durham, NC, featuring Glenn Crytzer and his Syncopators. As co-coordinator of this dance, I am truly excited about this event and hope that my excitement will be infectious. However, I can already sense (and have already heard, in some cases) the anxiety and drag about having a 1920’s themed event and dressing up during the summer. I’m here to tell you, Raleigh/Durham, that you can do this (if you really want to) and it won’t break the bank (although if you go all out for this you could possibly break some banks). First things first, let’s get some misconceptions out of the way:
1. Like payment, attendance at Rent Party is on a do-what-you-can basis. If you don’t feel like dressing up, don’t do it.
2. All eras are welcome, not just 1920’s.
3. This is not a formal dance, but if you would like to go all out for this, I would personally love to see everyone looking swell.
4. Most men don’t own proper summer suiting and asking you to wear a three season wool suit would be asking too much in July – wear what you are comfortable wearing.
Jason Sager, my co-coordinator, said it best this morning: “If you’re not normally a dress up type, this is a great event to dip your toes in that water if you feel so inclined; if you’re already a dress up type, it’s a chance to expand your collection, or just show off what you’ve already got.”
Let’s also remember that people were dancing in the south and dressing up for years and years prior to the advent of AC. We will have AC, fans, and chilled beverages, of course.
If you are interested in dressing up in the 1920’s style, you don’t have to go out and purchase something vintage or expensive. You may already have what you need in your closet or a relative’s closet. Some of my best pieces and borrowed items to complete an outfit came from an attic or the back of my mom’s, grandmother’s, and even my grandmother’s friend’s closet.
What pieces do you need? I always look to photographs for inspiration, so let’s break down the outfits of the couple in this photo:
GENTS: You start with a suit and pare it down from there. You could wear any combination of pants and jacket, vest, or suspenders, all of the above, or some of the above, preferably in lightweight summer fabrics (See Lindy Dandy’s post on summer suiting). This guy is wearing a regular tie, but you could also wear a bow tie. He is not wearing a hat, but you could always add a nice straw boater, lightweight newsboy cap, or some other hat of your choice.
LADIES: Look for a drop waist dress or create the illusion of a dropped waist. Here, the woman in the photograph has paired a striped top with a knee length skirt. Off the top of my head I know my mom has both of these pieces in her closet. 😉 Hemlines in the 20’s ranged from knee length at the height of the flapper era, but were more calf length for most of the decade. You could find a skirt to fit the decade’s hemlines and a long-ish top to create an illusion of a dropped waist, and maybe add a straw cloche or long strand of beads, if you so desire.
Shoes are easy – wear your dance shoes!
Some of the best shopping is not about spending money, but about using the resources available to you and rediscovering old favorites or items that have been neglected. If you are missing pieces, a trip to your local thrift store may get you across the goal line. If all else fails – keep reading! I’ll be posting more 1920’s goodies soon.
For more information on the RDU Rent Party dances, visit the Facebook page.