Recommendation Time

Every once in a whiletreat yourself it’s important to treat yourself. Good food, some shoe shopping or listening to records in a local store. It’s recommendation time again on Talking Classics. So let’s see what we have:

1) Do you know Caro Emerald?! She’s a Dutch singer whose second album is about to be released in the US on May 14. Mark your calendars, fellow lovers of new vintage, The Shocking Miss Emerald is a real treat.

2) For Perry Mason fans it’s a joy to hear that season 9.1 will soon be available on DVD – on June 11 to be exact. That leaves us with only one half season to complete our collections. Fingers crossed for the TV movies to follow soon.

3) Scarecrow and Mrs. King’s fourth and final season was recently leased on DVD for anyone who has fond memories of a lovely show that sadly lost its heart when its female protagonist, Kate Jackson, fell severely ill.

4) Book-wise, I finally finished reading Eve Arden’s wonderful autobiography. In Three Phases of Eve, the actress takes us on a journey through her life on stage, in movies and beyond. Filled with funny anecdotes, the book is every bit as witty and charming as the woman herself used to be on radio and screen.

5) And last but not least, a new shopping discovery of mine is Unique Vintage. For all you ladies out there who can’t get enough of classy patterns and styles, this site may be a great addition to your favorite retailers. I know it is to mine. ♥

Friday Treats

Every once in a while, I love to share links to precious finds and sites. Today, I bring you a cheerful little mix of entertainment and gorgeous, vintage fashion.

  1. Bombshells and Babes Vintage is a shop I introduced to you before but can only praise again. If my wallet was well-fed, I’d be the first one to empty those lovely online shelves.
  2. Moxie is another favorite store of mine. The shop is located in DeKalb, Illinois (which tickles me immensely) and is up high on my list of must-go places. You can also find them on Etsy or follow their blog here.
  3. For my fellow music lovers, I have a wonderful country treat most of you may already know, Della Mae. Their music is so beautiful and uplifting, I really hope to get a chance to see/hear the ladies live anytime soon.
  4. And last but definitely not least, I bring you a modern Shirley and Laverne. Created and produced by the two leading ladies (Chloe Taylor and Jennifer Erholm) themselves, The Mop & Lucky Files are taking the internet by storm and get well-deserved laurels and praise for a true web series gem.

On A Personal Note

I’m happy to share a link with you today, a link to a wonderful magazine I’ve mentioned to you before, Queens of Vintage. As their most recent story, they are running an article of mine, “Sharpen Your Pencil, Beautiful: The Style and Fashion of Della Street”.

This publication coincides with the release of the new edition of Vintage Life, issue #22, which includes a review I had such a good time writing for them.

It comes from the heart when I say, August 30 has been a good day. ♥ Thanks a million to both magazines!

Recommendations

On this beautiful Saturday, I bring you a couple of new finds, favorite blogs and shops of mine:

And on a personal note – I recently started my creative writing blog on WordPress, Della’s Notepad. Please feel invited to come on over and enjoy. ♥

Della Street

Everyone who knows me is aware of this: I’m a big fan of Della Street. I have been for many years, ever since I was a kid and watched the Perry Mason TV movies until my grandma introduced me to the original show from the 1950s and 60s. That’s when I liked her even more, for her skills, her style, her elegance. She’s the epitomized girl Friday who was brought to life by Helen Trenholme, Claire Dodd, Genevieve Tobin, June Travis and Ann Dvorak in the 1930s, by Gertrude Warner, Jan Miner and Joan Alexander from the mid 40s to 50s, and ultimately by my favorite, Barbara Hale, in the classic TV show and movies.

Created by Erle Stanley Gardner in 1933, Della Street entered the scene along with her famous boss, attorney-at-law Perry Mason in The Case of the Velvet Claws. Included from the first novel on, Della was a little feistier upon introduction, but every bit as skillful and loyal as in the following eighty-one whodunits. It was made clear from the start that Della had quite an influence on Perry, that their relationship ran a little deeper than that of an employer and his confidential secretary. Always supported by their friend, private eye Paul Drake, their cases took center stage however and the couple never went beyond an ardent kiss. Proposing to her a couple of times, Perry Mason was generally turned down by his irreplaceable office pearl  who understood that he wasn’t the type to settle down, nor was she willing to spend her life without him in a large home as a housewife and mother. So she stuck it out with him through hundreds of cases in the books and movies, on radio and finally on TV.

Always a little altered in the adaptations, Della remained steadfast, pretty and faithful to her boss and got marry to him once in Warner Brother’s very free version of The Case of the Velvet Claws in 1936. In general, Della Street was quite sassy in the Perry Mason films of the 1930s and frequently involved in taking flight from the police on radio a decade later. With television being a more conservative medium in the late 1950s, Barbara Hale did not get to flirt with Raymond Burr’s Perry as much as her predecessors, but thanks to their on screen chemistry and her intuitive acting, the seething romance between Della and Perry continued in the hearts and heads of many Perry Mason fans until a kiss in 1993’s The Case of the Telltale Talk Show Host finally confirmed their relationship.

Never described as anything but beautiful in Gardner’s original books, Della Street donned platinum hair and brunette curls, as well as alluring outfits that were appropriate for the office. As the Della Street who’s left a lasting impression on her audience, Barbara Hale wore outfits that were typical of the time between 1957 and 66: figure-hugging, feminine and always covering her knees. Upon the insistence of executive producer Gail Patrick Jackson, Della did not follow every trend when the 60s introduced new hemlines every year and thus stressed the classy elegance Ms. Hale had established for her TV alias. With her limited collection of clothes, Della often changed her outfits by combining her blouse or sweater with another skirt. Her trademark look can be pinned down to waist shirt dresses (including one with her embroidered initials), pencil skirts, cardigans and blouses that embellished her neck with a bow. In the first season, Della was also constantly running around on mules which she later replaced with a classy pair of heels. As an accessory, Della often wore a pearl necklace or a charm bracelet on her left wrist while her little finger frequently showed the presence of a simple ring, matching her boss’ on his own hand. From time to time, Della was also seen wearing a necklace with a pendant showing her initials, long before Carrie Bradshaw made it fashionable for a whole new generation.

In the 1980s, Barbara Hale returned to TV with her longtime screen partner Raymond Burr and continued the tradition of presenting Della as efficient, warmhearted and dressed to the nines. Again, following contemporary but conservative fashion, Della combined over-knee skirts with stylish boots, turtleneck sweaters, blazer jackets and two layers of pearls. Without changing her hair as much as on the original show (while avoiding the beehive), Della Street kept her cropped, practical curls which added credibility to the on-screen depiction of Perry Mason’s tireless associate.

Today, Della’s look can be re-examined on DVD and copied thanks to the many vintage stores and new designs that are inspired by more graceful times. With a circle skirt and scarf, a classy faux vintage suit or classy heels, it’s easy to feel as sophisticated and charming as Della Street. Add a full head of curls, matching intimates and a petticoat to your outfit and you’ll perfect the sentiment. From where I’m standing it is worth the effort, paying tribute to a character many real life secretaries still love to look at for inspiration.

More Dressing in Style

A while ago, I shared my love for vintage fashion on this blog – my favorite designs coming from the 1940s and 50s, with rare exceptions from the 30s, 60s and then the 80s. And since I love to pay tribute to our fashionable (grand)mothers by copying their style, it is time to share my latest findings because no matter how stuffed my closet already is, I still love to shop. Be it circle skirts from the 50s with a matching blouse or sweater and a scarf, collar dresses, cardigans, two-inch heels or fancy flats, pencil skirts, shirt dresses from the 40s or the combination of an over-knee skirt with boots and a turtleneck from the 80s – I’m crazy about them all. And the stores below more than help me fill my hangers and eat away my dough, moolah and smackers.

Etsy is one of those beautiful examples – a portal filled with original pretties from different sellers, including clothing, jewelry and other “usefuls” like aprons, toys or candles. Other stores are PinUp Girl Clothing, Tara Starlet, Queen of Holloway and Lady K Loves. They offer new vintage chic for modern pin-up dames, housewives and working girls. Their designs are mostly inspired by the 1930s through 60s and the patterns and fabrics vary from each shop and collection but always include classics such as polka dots or gingham.

So whatever works for you – if you’re into Rockabilly or just love to look like your favorite golden Hollywood character or star, these stores are a great addition to your shopping list. They offer fashion that goes beyond the renewed Mad Men mania and their hyped 60s nostalgia. They bring the fun back into dressing up, depending on your preference, making you feel classy, feminine or perky. Most stores also offer stockings, intimates, coats and shoes to complete the feeling of traveling back in time a little. With the right purse and luggage, who knows, you may even wish to never return to our day and age again.

Art, Fashion and Pin-Ups

For the past few days, I’ve been all covered in paint and charcoal, I’ll thus make it short and just throw a couple of book recommendations your way. I’m still in the middle of exploring these gems and don’t really know which one to pick first I’m so taken with them. If you’re like me and all giddy about vintage fashion, pin-ups and art, you may find these books just as helpful and amazing. What a lovely way to spend a “moody-weather weekend”, reading and sketching. See for yourselves if you agree:

Dressing in Style

All right, ladies (and interested gents), let’s talk beauty today. The kind that was fashionable some sixty years ago. Robes and girdles, wraps and circular skirts, petticoats, bullet bras, seamed stockings, stoles and shirt dresses…designed to make girls look glamorous, all-woman and elegant.

Are you like me? Do you miss the classiness of those bygone days? Hats, cardigans, playsuits and colorful scarfs embellishing female necks or taming perfectly trimmed curls…

Personally, I miss the 1940s the most, and then the 50s – those are my favorites: hairstyles, make-up, attire. The early 60s were swell, too, more so the 30s. But for me, those decades got nothing on those twenty years in-between with all the grace and stylishness celebrated then.

I love the colors, the patterns, the way a dress complimented a woman’s body, how it hugged female curves before it was in vogue to be all bones and boyishly slim. I love the exuberance of silk, lace and quillings as much as the rather plain, simple and almost linear suits. I like how stiletto heels perfect the femininity of a skirt,  a composition of an entire outfit with blouse, belt and lusciously cropped curls. I adore the room a 50s cocktail dress provides for my female belly, no matter how sporty and toned – I like to eat at a party, and sit for that matter, without that perpetual fear of blowing my favorite garment.

It’s  the great variety of styles from Katherine Hepburn’s sophisticated style to the all-American sweater, scarf, skirt and flats. Dolling up or roughing it, from those two decades I even love the pants.

If you want to learn more about vintage beauty, check out this blog called Glamour Daze.

You can also find new vintage clothes available in the US and in most of Europe at stores like Collectif, WhatKatieDid, Miss Mole or Joanna’s Wardrobe. There are a number of other stores out there, offering both original vintage clothing and new vintage style, including petticoats, hosiery and accessories.

For everybody who is as interested in vintage fashion design as I am and desires to create her own 40s/50s dream, check out the many blogs and websites for instructions and sewing patterns, e.g. WikiHow (here for hairdo’s).

You’ll see there’s a lot of information available for those of us who cannot ask our beloved grandmas about their precious secrets anymore.