Saturday, September 16, 2017

The Comeback of Hats

As a fashion accessory, hats have become one of the trickier options, for men as much as for women. It’s widely considered to be a rather eccentric part of the package we call outfit.
Once been a protective coverage, blocking heat and rain, as well as other threads to the sensitive head, the hat rose to become a flattering style element and finally was a hit- fashion item.
So why did hats disappear from our culture; our everyday life? Some people say the roots of this big shift in appearance, lie in the lack of necessity to cover the head. Due to the increased use of owned cars, instead of public transportation, men for example, did not feel the need anymore to constantly leave the house with a topping on their well-groomed hair.
And there is another reason to be found, deep in the fingertips of men and ladies who would rapidly cut back on their millinery-days: Was it common to clean your scalp once a week, washing your hair in increasing intervals, now made the habit of covering the beautiful and well-scented result obsolete.
The demise of formality may be as well a big reason for our almost hat-free society. Who would guess nowadays, that it was once even considered subversive, when a woman decided not to wear a head piece, as the common forms of etiquette required her to carry a hat in grace and acceptance of her place and role in life.
Transforming the imagination of men greeting by quickly lifting their hats, or women waving with theirs in sheer excitement into the here and now, seems almost comic. Then again, I have just recently witnessed a scene like that: A man in his early thirties who wore a laid back outfit, completed with a hat, that he tipped on twice as a gesture of friendliness, as he let a lady get ahead of him in line at the grocery store.
And I wondered: Why did this moment make me feel so warm and fuzzy? The lady smiled in delight, and none of this looked odd, or silly.
Then I realized that it was the way he carried himself, wearing this long gone fashion statement, that let everyone around him know how little important their understanding of proper looks was to him. Nothing in this man said ‘Look at me!’… ‘I am so different, I need to make it official’. All he did was just be. And be with pride and calmness.
That is the key, I thought. People in our time and age have often lost the ability to carry themselves with grace, which makes aspects of you that stand out, exactly what let you look harmonic.
Instead, showing off a hat that is not worn right on the beach or even presented in the city on a warm fall day, would be too ‘intense’ for many of us. As we have silently accepted that the risk to over-accessorize in our society seems worse, than to fade into the grey wall behind us. In fact, compared to past decades, our style has on too many occasions become as exciting as a wallpaper in a broom closet.
Up to the 1980s, ladies would enjoy their hats, often completed by matching handbags, shoes and gloves.
As Joan Collins first appeared in the hit-series Dynasty (1981-1989), she wore a big hat that first covered her immaculately made-up face, before the viewer got the first glimpse of the future bitch-goddess she played so well. Producer Aaron Spelling did get the intensity of that moment immediately, and said: 'Put hats on her, put a lot of hats on her!' And the millinery-marathon began, as thousands of women watching the series, got inspired by Alexis’ style manoeuvres.
Today, the hat has a little comeback that implies that it was never really gone, but still a thing for either super young fashionistas, or eccentric contemporaries. But as fashion trends also change as quickly as the weather in London, a revival of this simple, yet flattering item is in sight. I’m already waving with my hat, to welcome the trend back in our midst.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Vintage Country Style

Growing up in a farm town near the Baltic Sea in Germany, was an experience full of adventures, created by us kids in our own little cosmos. In our eyes, the fields became the wild desert, explored by horse. A small farm became a giant ranch to be taken care of.
Although I personally did not live on one, I spent many of my teen days with my friends on working farms, helping and being with animals, which was the best part of it all.
There was this old farmer, who we made a deal with: If we help cleaning out the stables and gathering in the harvest, we would be allowed to jump from a high point of the timbered framework, into the haystacks. And since money wasn’t half as interesting at this age as that prospect, we agreed.
After a long day of gathering the crops I heard every bone in my body yelling at me. Yet, jumping into the giant haystacks was the highlight of the summer. We screamed and giggled, climbed up to the beam again and dived into the itchy material again, like Scrooge McDuck into his money.
I am not exactly sure if our parents would have approved of these risky adventures, but we kept the focus on our labour and how wonderful the nature was, when talking about our farm days at home.
These beautiful memories come back every time I dress (up) for a weekend or day in the countryside.
Back in the days, I actually wore jeans and t-shirts, sometimes with holes in them, from playing; rider boots and my hair gathered in a messy ponytail.
Nowadays my interpretation of a vintage country style leans a lot more into the 1940s and 50s.
A soft skirt and blouse, button up dresses and cozy pants, provide the perfect country-feeling with little effort.
Today, I don’t explore the world on a horse anymore, nor have I yet found a farmer who would let me jump into his haystacks. (And I assume this would lead to even more risky situations than back then.)
But there are still days that bring back these memories quite vividly, when the sunset dips flora and fauna into a warm, golden blanket of colors. And the apple trees let me harvest their precious fruits while the cows friendly gather in a half-circle. Yes, they do that. Cows are smart and wonderful animals. So are pigs and geese…
I can’t wait for the next time I can dress up for a visit to my childhood, enjoying a few hours of peace, merging with nature. Then my batteries will be recharged for some time at a place that is far from that reality. My desk.

"...Don't sit under the apple tree, with anyone else but me..."

Vintage dress with rose print & sandals

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

The lost habit of wearing dressing gowns

Every morning, when I prepare the breakfast, cuddle the cat, check my emails, I do all this in a very old fashioned manner: I’m wearing a dressing gown. And only when it’s time to get dressed and leave the house, I feel the need to take it off. Wearing it for simply being quickly covered, to avoid getting cold, or because it’s faster than picking the clothes for the day, is not the only reason I enjoy robes so much. It’s a lost habit. Gone with the newly discovered way of putting on an oversized T-shirt or- and that’s my worst case scenario- jeans, right after getting up.
A robe hugs you. It is the comfort blanket that gives you a feeling of being up, but not yet in the cold harsh reality of the day. It is the consoling fabric that relaxes you on a rainy afternoon; or an entire Sunday, that you’ve decided to be a lazy break from engaging with the world.
But how we view this piece of clothing has changed over the decades. In Alfred Hitchcock’s movie “Marnie” (1964),  Tippi Hedren floated around in a cream colored robe de chambre that could nowadays easily be mistaken as a formal gown, worn to the opera. If people would dress formal for the opera today, which they usually don’t do either.
Back in earlier decades, like the 1940s and the thirties, ladies presented themselves on the big screen as if just jumped out of a musical, rather than out of bed. The hair in perfect waves and with flawless makeup, waving the busy husband goodbye at the door, while he jumps into his car, armed with a suitcase, a hat and the morning paper.  
Although I cannot say that I have in any way the need to wear that kind of makeup in the morning- let alone already when waking up, nor my hair in flawless layers- I do miss the normality of being a little more ’lady’ in one’s one home. It seems utterly uncommon to shop for pretty bathrobes, or getting exited when size and length are just right.

Other things excite us now. A pretty cell phone case… a chic new flat screen that to me looks exactly    as dull and cold as any other black surface. Or the occasional high heels that look cool on a shelf with umpteen other high heels, that one isn’t capable of wearing for more than three hours.
Nifty things to excite ourselves while just “being”, seem to be obsolete. A thing of the past, when women and men all over the world enjoyed their morning coffee in appropriate attire. In case the milk man rang at the door, or you quickly had to chat with the nosy neighbour while picking up the morning paper. 
A man in a robe is these days, is rare as a horse in ballerina shoes, since we believe it’s a thing of certain magazine editors, surrounded by busty blondes. And although picturing that must be at least a little motivation for some man, to try the whole-robe thing, it seems rather odd and fallen out of time.
And as a man usually decides to wear anything else but a robe, it would be nice to bring back the old habit of a lady wearing not the exact same thing as her lover. It can be cute to run around in your partner’s button up shirt, or a t-shirt in the size of a tent. But then again, a little dressing up that only takes two seconds and instantly makes you look neat and put together, could make you feel twice as good!
Shopping for dressing gowns on the other hand, can be a rather tricky undertaking. Not only do I find myself often in a too short version of something that seems oddly asymmetric. I also look like a beefed up version of a polar bear, in a terrycloth bathrobe. So if there will ever be another trend or movement towards the lost habit of wearing beautiful robes at home, I will smile in my dressing gown in which I write this piece, in this very moment. Thinking: These are the hours at home that comfort me most. The time of celebrating my sanctuary and the freedom this clothing gives me, before facing a world full of jeans and t-shirts.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Asian inspired retro style

A new addition to my video series about world makeup and style, inspired my different cultures, is the Asian inspired retro style. As the biggest continent, Asia would be impossible to reflect in a single look. So I was focusing on typical style components of- for example- China, Japan, Thailand or Indonesia to inspire me here. Also, I combined style elements of the 1930s up to the 1950s for this retro-mix. Asia is so large, that it takes up a third of the entire world’s land area.
Some countries are geographically in Asia, but belong to very different cultures and therefore other traditional roots of style. Yet we usually think of particularly Chinese or Japanese basics when an Asian style is aspired.
I too have chosen a traditional Chinese silk blouse, to go with a 1940s style skirt and 50‘s shoes in a plum shade. To complete the retro-look, I‘ve decided to wear my hair in a 1930s faux short bob, that I simply achieved with the help of pin curls.
The makeup was often sophisticated and rarely overdone. The Asian ladies of the past- as many of the present- loved their sheer skin to be treated well, for an excellent even complexion and often went completely makeup-free.
I leaned into that idea and chose a truly simple makeup look with a 50s eyeliner, 1930s thinned eyebrows, fresh cheeks and a soft shade of lipstick.
The colors of traditional Asian clothing were often not only pretty, but often were specifically associated with various dynasties. The Chinese Shang dynasty was clearly connected with white, while black was the dominant shade in the Xia dynasty.
Aside from the- until this day- often seen immaculate makeup of the Asian lady, there are still people who imagine a geisha makeup when referring to traditional looks of Japan for example. In reality, the geisha style was and still means an impressive effort for the skilled woman entertainer. Who is known for her talents and grace in various fields, like music, calligraphy, literature and other cultural and intellectual aspects.
The daily style routine of many women in Asian countries though, would be a very clean, mellow one. The desired complexion changed here and there. So was a pale skin the ideal in one decade, in another a tan was seen as a positive statement of being proud of the hard work done by people on farms and in the fields. A similar shift to many other countries in the world.
To this day, traditional clothing and a particular approach to style and beauty, is what often defines a culture and enchants another. It does not only teach us the new, but inspires us with old ways of creating and maintaining a beauty that is more than skin deep. I was especially exited to try a few things myself and create my own little version of an Asian-inspired retro style, that makes me feel transnationally connected to this beautiful, impressive continent.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Happy Color Grey

It didn’t require a movie, to let me know there are more that a few shades of grey to find pleasure in. Even more, the fashion point of view gets me far more exited here. As a vintage style enthusiast, grey is part of the retro-colors that catches my interest, every time I want to create a silhouette à la Hitchcock heroines. A grey costume or other combination might not immediately be associated with a fresh, modern note. But fortunately, the cut and fabric can make the difference. So you might not feel glamorous in a 1990s- style mousy office suit, but feel like a movie star in a pencil skirt and matching top. Grey adds the ideal color here: It is sophisticated and low-key, which adds the perfect contrast to the details of the ensemble.
Little do people often think of the diversity that come with the color grey. It’s the stepchild of colors that always tries to get attention by fitting in and being neat, but no one seems to appreciate it.
Its broad-raging undertones though, are a variety of shades that express everything but dullness.
If you are a cooler skin type, you will likely find happiness in a stone cold, bluish grey, or even anthracite combination. While a warm type will come to life in a beigy, or sandy variables.

Another interesting fact is, that we nowadays rarely to never combine grey outfits with brown accessories. And yet, this makes the entire creation even more exiting due to a fusion of air and earth, going hand in hand as an ultra elegant pair.
Jewelry adds a further drop of chic on top. Try even a warm gold piece of junk with an icy fifties costume, and you get a million dollar look.
For the makeup, any grey ensemble provides the basis as a canvas for the painter. At any age, dipping into a few soft tones to add some freshness, or choosing a frisky red for the lips, can be the perfect finish for your grey fashion statement.
Happy grey days to you!

Friday, July 21, 2017

Unconventionally retro

… movie-inspired style


“Have no fear, Miss Meadows is here!” A line of a rather unconventional black indie comedy, I’ve absorbed as edgy, fine-tuned and a little uncomfortable, but fun to watch. Katie Holmes plays an elementary school teacher with an old-fashioned, unpredictable, yet kind attitude. Which obviously annoys the adult world around her, but soothes the spirits of her first-graders with love, devotion and understanding. Aside from displaying an odd mix of style patterns, including tap shoes with a girly, retro(ish) touch, she insists on minding good manners in every situation. She even holds on to her social graces, while pulling out a gun of her cute little purse, to shoot the characters who threaten either herself, or the “good people” around her. Freezing cold. Determined to create a safer and more beautiful environment, by whacking the villains out of the way. She falls in love with the sheriff, of all people (James Badge Dale), who sees the fragile beauty in her, in spite of becoming more and more suspicious.
Considering the complexity of the main character, Miss Meadows could have been even more thrilling, if brought to further heights. The plots’ potential was, in my opinion, not fully realized, but watching it was certainly no waste of time. Holmes did a fabulous job, mirroring the layers of the protagonists' nature. Even more the scenery and costumes of this movie, made me want to try a vintage version of a homicidal Mary Poppins- look myself.

The offbeat retro style was a first for me to try, and I must admit that I enjoyed every minute of it.
Combining a skirt, blouse and a little less matching cardigan with gloves and white socks, made me feel surprisingly comfortable. Instead of tap shoes, I wore regular black ones, which fortunately held me back from even trying a tap dance under the eyes of strangers in the street.
Was I embarrassed, walking through a small town with my hands covered with gloves, holding a book and my head up high? Hell no!
I expected my little style experiment to be so out of line, that I’d wish a crack would emerge in the pavement in which I could disappear. But the fact that some people looked at me either astonished or with the uttermost disapproval, didn’t bother me as much as I thought it would.

And I wondered: When has it become so common to accept the norm without questioning, even when it too often means bad taste, sometimes appalling uniformity, and instinctively degrading the different to an oddball? What the heck does NORMAL even mean?
For some people, it means a totally different way of life than for others. “Normal is an illusion. What’s normal for the spider, is chaos for the fly”. Another movie line- of The Adams Family- that crossed my mind while walking around in my comfy outfit. I wouldn't have thought that socks in shoes, worn like this, could be so very snugly!

When I felt that my smile froze here and there, being confronted with too much staring, I used to yell at the person in my mind: “YES, I am different! YES, I like it!… YES, my purse is gun-free” and
“I wouldn’t stare at you for wearing an ensemble that seems hideous in my eyes!”
And I truly wouldn’t! Because I accept that we are all different in some way and need to express ourselves exactly the way we please. Even though some people apparently work for a secret style police, that sends its troops out to invade our personal space with looks and stares. But these folks don’t aim at certain celebrities that walk around as if they dressed themselves without any light in the room- or not at all.
No, the style police is looking for you and me! Concealing their own insecurities by pointing their fingers at the one person around, that had the nerve to cross the line of a societies’ self-imposed dress code, that oozes the charm of a grey wallpaper. And although I’m going back to my usual, more adult style, I will keep this experiment in the back of my mind. As an inspirational twist I may want go give a future outfit now and then.

What's Miss Meadows hiding in her purse?

Very little to almost no makeup, but bold lashes and a slightly messy but neat hairstyle, complete the appearance.

One mustn’t do much to attract the looks with a style experiment. Just the details are often enough to make others brood about it.
Perhaps, that is already the first step to make people think of how freeing it could be, to stop excluding the odd, the free spirits, or simply the Misses and Mister Meadows-types, that sure won’t do no harm to anyone in real life, but want to live in peace and diverse harmony. With a trippy smile.

Monday, July 17, 2017

African inspired retro style

Long before humans were rushing into coffee shops while fumbling with their phones, a giant continent named Pangaea existed, that was the first to be reconstructed by geologists. Pangaea came to an end as a super continent, when it broke up and its parts began to form- over millions of years- the look of our global map as we know it today. Africa is now the second largest continent. Over 1.500 languages are spoken in Africa. And the world’s largest desert, the Sahara, is almost as big as the United States of America!
It doesn’t take much to feel inspired by the cultural diversity and breathtaking landscapes, to create one’s very own style. Although it is of course impossible, to include all aspects of the many cultures and traditional looks of Africa, one can still dream of the continent while embracing a look and feel, that reminds us just a little, of an and warm region, giant animals and the sunset over red soils.
as part of my Youtube video-series "World makeup & style", this was the fifth episode of an ongoing journey through the cultures and signature basics of clothes and colors of the world. 
I’ve chosen a vintage dress with sleeves of a light cotton, with lovely details that resembles a 1950s cut. This combines my African topic with the classic retro style I love to create.
A head scarf, bold jewellery and flat animal print sandals, complete the look.
The makeup is entirely based on warm and more warm color palettes. The eye shadows sparkle in red, brown and gold. A soft bronzer contours the face without any further thick layered products. And a bold strawberry colored lipstick is combined with a nougat tone as a lipliner.
It’s different that the usual safari looks many people think of when it comes to this kind of style. But to me, this is the perfect symbiosis of traditional aspects, retro chic and fun with mixing vintage style directions.