Cinema Style Ep. 6

Annnnnd we’re back, with the third instalment of Cinema Style ~Christmas Edition~!

I’m thinking I will actually end this mini-series off here (the best things always come in trilogies, right?) but there will, of course, be other non-festive episodes to come.

What better way to finish off here than with the classic Christmas movie – It’s A Wonderful Life.

Thing is, this is not my favourite movie. It’s not even my favourite Christmas movie, especially since I don’t particularly count it as such. To me, this film is a story about life, about all the human experiences tied into it. It just happens to have an abundance of scenes that take place at Christmastime.

Released in 1946 and directed by Frank Capra, It’s A Wonderful Life stars James Stewart as George Bailey who one day wishes he had never been born. Upon hearing this wish, an angel names Clarence (played by the wonderful Henry Travers) shows George what would happen if he had never been born, and how many lives he has impacted for the better. Ultimately, the film is a celebration of life and being thankful for what we have.

By now, the film has been spoofed so many times that the plot is awful familiar even if you’ve never seen it. (A specific Sabrina The Teenage Witch novel comes to mind.)

Costume design for the film was done by Edward Stevenson, known for his work on a complete different movie about life, Citizen Kane. Stevenson’s eye for well-tailored suits and All-American style is clearly shown in Wonderful Life.

Remember the scene where George shows up to Mary’s house, where the “lasso you the moon scene” occurs? Mary’s white bathrobe and George’s collegiate finery are pretty iconic.

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“You want the moon, Mary?” Image source.

In fact, Mary (played by Donna Reed) is one of the stars of the show with her wardrobe choices. Her outfit at the dance, her Christmas finery and always-impeccable hair leave a lasting on-screen impression.

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The Charleston scene. Bot Mary’s amazing ruffles and white shoe combo. Image Source.

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George and Mary. Now THIS is dressing for dinner. Image Source.

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Check that cap and coat combination! Image Source.

A special shoutout needs to be given to Violet, played by the beautiful Gloria Grahame and who has one of the best outfit moments in the entire film.

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Need I even say more? If I had this ensemble, I would wear it all summer long and strut like there is no tomorrow.

And we shall not forget the hat, either.

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Never forget the hat. Image Source.

Violet is dressed for her role as good-time gal and socialite perfectly. But as with many classic movies, a love of fashion and outlandish outfits is a characteristic of a person who cannot be taken seriously. Obviously, I disagree, but it’s a trope as old as cinema itself.

Other than Violet, and Clarence with his angel-eseque white shift, little of the characters is said through their wardrobe.

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Clarence and George. Image Source.

The clothes are situational, and instead build more towards the dream-like feel of George’s whole trip through his life. It’s less about a specific character expressing themselves as it is about the world built around George, both in his real life and in the what-if alternate reality. The clothes are timely,. Each outfit Mary wears is tied to a moment in her life with George. The robe when he comes to see her. The dress when they dance the Charleston, and so on. The clothes become markers of events in George’s life.

This resonates with me, because when I do look back on certain moments in my life, the memory may be triggered by what I was wearing. I’ll see a photograph of myself in a certain top and recall a day I wore it when I was a teenager, when I went out with friends or had my heart broken for the 100th time.

While clothes aren’t our whole lives, we do live our lives in them and therefore they become inexorably linked to the events that have shaped the people we’ve become. For George Bailey, it’s a wonderful life wearing Edward Stevenson’s suits.

 

Cinema Style Ep. 5

On this episode of Cinema Style, we’re looking at another classic Christmas flick, this time without the Technicolor.

It was one fateful Christmas a few years back when I discovered Christmas in Connecticut with my mom. That began a love affair with the 1945 film that has lasted to this day. It’s a holiday rom-com with great comedic chops and a dashing sailor as the leading man. What’s not to like?

Dennis Morgan plays the sailor, Jefferson Jones. Peter Godfrey directed the picture. Our leading lady is none other than the gorgeous Barbara Stanwyck. Stanwyck plays Elizabeth Lane, a single New Yorker who can’t cook, pretending to be a Connecticut housewife for the sake of her wildly popular column, “Diary of a Housewife.” She gets into trouble when her publisher, who knows none of her deception, plans to have a young war hero stay on Elizabeth’s Connecticut farm for Christmas. And as with any 1940s rom-com, hijinks and misunderstandings ensue.

The film itself is delightful. Sydney Greenstreet and S.Z. Sakall are note perfect in their supporting roles, not to mention a cameo from Dick Elliott as the jolliest judge you’ve ever encountered.

But instead of going into plot details, let’s get right to it with the costuming. Or more specifically, Elizabeth Lane’s to-die-for wardrobe.

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Reginald Gardiner as John Sloane and Stanwyck as Elizabeth Lane. Image via Pinterest.

Her “Connecticut farming” attire is honestly me if I had to wear farming attire.

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Stanwyck and Morgan as Elizabeth and Jefferson. Image Source.

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Stanwyck as Elizabeth. Image via Pinterest.

Billowing skirts, fitted jackets that show off an unfairly tiny waist and the infamous mink coat are just a few of the characteristics of Elizabeth’s style. (Of course now you can obtain a faux fur coat that is just as glam.)

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The infamous mink coat. Image Source.

Bear with me here while I give a few pictures of the mink coat scene to note the incredible high-waisted trouser and white blouse combination Elizabeth is sporting, as well as the most beautiful, best-dressed delivery woman ever seen in the history of cinema.

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This look is CRUCIAL and ideal and difficult to get a good image of. Image Source.

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One more for the pants. Image Source.

The costume design for the film came from two talented individuals. Elizabeth’s gowns were created by costume designer Milo Anderson and, once again, EDITH HEAD.

This series of Christmas-inspired blog posts is quickly turning into an ode to Edith, but can I help it if she styled every old Christmas movie I like? Let me sing to you of Edith, folks. If the costuming is worth taking note of, you know she was probably behind it.

Milo Anderson does also deserve to be sung about, for his designs in this film and for his work on other films such as The Adventures of Robin Hood and High Sierra. The gowns he created for Stanwyck in this film are stunning.

Once again, we see a wardrobe that reflects the character’s self. At the beginning of the film, we see Elizabeth as the hotshot New Yorker she is, with her stylish power suits and luxe details.

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Elizabeth and John. Image Source.

 

Throughout the movie, she holds onto her glam persona, clearly ill-suited to the role she is pretending to play. Occasionally a more causal look seeps into the mix, but ultimately that’s what Elizabeth is doing: playing a role.

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Stanwyck as Elizabeth. Note the necessary velvet bow. Image Source.

She is not the amazing mother and chef her column makes her out to be, but she also doesn’t need to be those things in order to be valid or successful, despite what some of the men in the film say. (She does find love at the end of the movie, sure, but who doesn’t like a cute sailor, anyway?) As we get to know Jefferson Jones, we learn that he is a decent cook, the one who’s good with babies, the one more competent in stereotypically “female” roles in the household. What the two characters find together is balance, once they’re able to be honest with each other.

And in my opinion, living as a writer in New York, wearing some great high-waisted pants? That’s the ideal life.

Cinema Style Ep. 4

Hello and welcome to another episode of Cinema Style, but this time, it’s the ~Christmas Edition~.

For the month of December, I’ll be posting a few special festive editions of Cinema Style, exploring all things fur-trimmed and turtlenecked.

I figured we should start with a classic, and what could be more classic than White Christmas? (The film, not the Black Mirror episode.)

Now, the film itself is… questionable at times, from the occasionally stiff performances to the rah-rah-WWII numbers. Like any good Christmas flick, there’s a healthy dose of camp served with a side of cheese. But what really sticks in my mind about White Christmas, and what we’re going to discuss today, is the incredible Christmas costuming.

Released in 1954, White Christmas stars Bing Crosby (the King of Christmas) and Danny Kaye as performing friends who join up with a sister act (Rosemary Clooney and Vera Ellen) to perform at a failing country inn in rural Vermont, which is owned by their former commander in WWII. Hijinks and extravagant musical numbers ensue.

The film received a mixed bag of reviews from critics, but was a hit with audiences. It was, by a wide margin, the top-grossing film of the year. The film was especially notable for being the first filmed in VistaVision, a new technology from Paramount that enabled them to shoot a wider surface area than 35mm. Think of what a big deal it was when we first began releasing features films in 3D.

Now, the costuming in the film was done by the incomparable Edith Head, who I have mentioned in this blog before, specifically in the piece on Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

I’m not going to spend this entire post waxing poetic about Edith Head but just know: she’s a genius, she’s iconic and when I grow up I want to be her.

With Head on the team, it’s a guarantee we’ll have some incredible costuming moments, especially with the sisters Betty and Judy.

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Vera Ellen as Judy Haynes (left) and Rosemary Clooney as Betty Haynes. Image Source.

Whether it’s their “everyday” clothes or their stage outfits, Betty and Judy deliver look after look throughout the film.

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Betty (L) and Judy performing “Sisters” . Image Source.

Of course, the musical performances allow for all the best high-drama costuming moments. I’m talking specifically about that black dress Rosemary Clooney wears in the “Love, You Didn’t Do Me Right” performance.

The neckline. The fit. The rhinestone-encrusted gloves. The pink curtain. The drama.

Not to mention it’s super effective, when you’re performing a passionate, sorrowful song about a broken heart, to have men dressed in all black dance slowly around you. I’ve yet to try it myself but I’m sure it’s foolproof.

This particular dress also marks a turn for Betty in the film. Prior to this moment, she is the more modestly dressed compared to her outgoing sister, who is always sporting tight-fitting brightly-coloured clothing. However, as Betty emerges as Bob’s love interest and a diva in her own right, her wardrobe begins to reflect that. This can be considered a signature of Head’s skills – the emotional arc of characters being reflected in their wardrobe. (Though, Judy doesn’t really go through the character development Betty does, but she does come into herself.)

Certainly, Judy’s performances give some memorable wardrobe moments, including the Mistral Number scene, where Judy’s dance skills are showcased as much as her ridiculously beautiful legs.

Bob and Phil (Crosby and Kaye, respectively) are onstage in this sequence too, rocking some classic top hats and coattails.

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Phil, Judy and Bob. Image Source.

In the nature of full disclosure, the colouring of this scene actually makes me slightly uncomfortable, but that’s Technicolor for ya.

But of course, the most iconic scene and costumes come from the final musical number, where all four characters don variations of a Santa Claus-esque look.

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Image via Pinterest.

That red satin and white trim makes for a fairly literal interpretation of Christmas, but is also a classic for a reason. This is my ideal Christmas season aesthetic, and obviously is applicable to everyday life. 10/10 would wear this to the mall.

White Christmas is many things: a big-budget musical, a holiday classic, a campy, cheesy romp and a whirlwind of technicolored finery. For me, it’s full of lush, dreamy costumes that provide endless inspiration for this time of year. Also, it’s pretty great to have on in the background when wrapping presents.

Sources

IMDb

Wikipedia

Screen Prism

Back to Basics

In the summer, and for a portion of autumn, I went through a style rut; one of those periods when you suddenly hate everything in your closet and everything looks terrible on you and maybe you should move to a remote patch of forest in Germany and wear the same track pants and t-shirt for the rest of your life because who cares.

Maybe that last part was too specific. But you can catch my drift.

There is no immediate cure to a spot of low self-esteem. I encounter them frequently, and while I do have my go-to quick fixes (listening to 80s music, going for a run, watching a good action movie) there is no true solution for it. It takes a bit of time and a dash of inspiration.

For me, that was found in returning to the simple stuff – going back to basics. And I mean that both in a “go back to what you know” way and a “wearing plain basics is awesome” way.

Once you find that space to return to, the inspiration and creativity comes back bit by bit. I’ve become excited about getting dressed again, about planning outfits the night before and putting together looks from head to toe.

It’s the same with this blog. Since I’m working full-time and writing occasionally for Novella, there is little time to come back to the blog, despite how much I love it. But I wanted to, and to come back for the third or fourth time, I decided to go back to the beginning with a simple outfit post on a simple outfit.

Simple, but effective. (I think, at least.)

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I love creating a look based entirely in neutrals, either warm earthy-tones or stark black and white. I matched the outfit almost entirely except for my blue jeans, which add some colour and depth to the outfit. Not to mention, a turtleneck and pair of mom jeans is a classic fall/winter look. Do I look like a 70s ski mom? Maybe. Am I okay with that? Definitely.

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While I definitely love my more outlandish looks (and of course, “outlandish” is a sliding scale dependent on the person) I also love donning my more subtle creations.

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This is a look I would wear absolutely anywhere: shopping, a coffee date, lunch, dinner, work. You name it, this is the go-to I have for it.

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And with the cold weather coming, we have to keep coats in mind. This long coat from Monki goes with everything in my wardrobe and is perfect to chuck on before speeding out the door. I do always love a good outerwear moment, and am impatiently awaiting opportunities to bust out some other coats in my collection.

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Sure, this look isn’t going to go on a Top 10 list. It’s something I feel good in: comfortable and confident, something that puts me in the mindset to create other, more exciting outfits. It’s something that, frankly, works, when nothing else does.

OUTFIT DETAILS

Coat – Monki via ASOS (Similar)

Turtleneck – Anthropologie (Similar)

Jeans – American Apparel (Similar)

Belt – Free People

Boots – Urban Outiftters

Bag – Urban Outfitters

 

(End Of) Summer Favourites

We make another glorious return to the pages of this blog to celebrate the things I’ve been enjoying over the summer!

As we come into the beginning of autumn (despite the insane heat happening in Ontario right now) I always like to change up my daily routines, whether it be skincare, cleaning, morning or nighttime. Because of that, I thought it best to give a shout out to everything I loved and frequently returned to during the summer months.

Fashion

(I only have two fashion shout outs bc let’s be real, I always just cycle through the same three outfits when it’s hot out.)

Kimono

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I swear I was so not a Kimono gal before working in fashion retail. Now, I work at a store that always has gorgeous layers available and its made me rethink my stance on the matter. When it’s too warm for a sweater but cool enough for a little something-something, a kimono is the perfect median. Also, this one from Anthropologie gives me awesome Stevie Knicks vibes, which I’m always trying to emulate.

Red Sunnies

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Going on my 1970s, Stevie train, I wanted to find a sweet pair of coloured sunnies that actually look good on my extremely round face. I found these guys at a vintage shop here in Toronto called Mama Loves You, and immediately knew I had to get them. Since then, I’ve been wearing them outside, inside, during the day and during the evening because honestly, I feel pretty dang cool when I have them on.

Beauty

MILK MAKEUP Sunshine Skin Tint

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I straight up don’t want to wear foundation in the summer. Ya girl sweats and her pores get clogged and it’s a damn mess. I like to go for BB creams or titled moisturizers in the summer, and I’ve jumped between a few brands in the past before I found the Sunshine Skin Tint from MILK. This is a skin tint like most other skin tints, meaning it has very light coverage and can be applied just with your fingertips. What I loved about this one is the scent, the smooth formula and the addition of nourishing oils within the product. While I would hesitate to recommend this skin tint to those with oily skin, I would say to give it a go if you’ve been looking for something to wear on those no-makeup-but-still-a-little-makeup days.

BH Cosmetics Solar Flare Palette

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Who doesn’t love some sparkle and outrageously bold warm tones during the summer months? I came across a Facebook ad (of all things, I know) for BH Cosmetics’ newest baked eyeshadow palettes. The palettes are spaced themed, so obviously I knew I needed to get them. I had never purchased anything from BH before. I was pretty intrigued by the low price point (one full palette was about $25 Canadian) but was wary about the price versus quality conundrum. I ordered the makeup anyway and was pretty chuffed to find out the quality was fantastic upon arrival. The colour payoff is just ridiculous and they shadows blend well. The first few days I had makeup looks from the palette, everyone asked me if I had the Heat palette from Urban Decay, so consider this palette a good dupe.

Smashbox 24 Hour Eye Primer

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Due to unforseen circumstances, I had been in need of a new eye primer back in June right before I left on two-week road trip to the States. The only place I had time to go was Shoppers Drug Mart, where only a few brands have eye primers available. I picked up this Smashbox one on a recommendation, and discovered my new favourite. This stuff is the shit. It’s so good. I gotta say, maybe even better than the Urban Decay primer. (This post is so not meant to be anti-Urban Decay it’s just kinda coming out that way BUT I LOVE YOU UD.) I’ve had this one underneath my makeup in 30 degree heat, during a 20-hour day and during a flash thunderstorm, and in all those moments, my eye makeup held up surprisingly well. If my eyeshadow can stay glittery in the Montana climate, I’m probably good for anything else that comes at me.

Miscellaneous

Cracked Movie Club Podcast

I love movies – both watching them and learning everything I can about their behind-the-scenes action. This podcast, a relatively new kid on the block, is hosted by two guys, Abe and Tom, who focus on a particular director every month and examine their hit movies in fascinating detail. Some of the things I’ve learned on this podcast have both ruined certain movies for me and made them better.

The War On Drugs – A Deeper Understanding

This album doesn’t necessarily count as a summer favourite as it’s a new release, but I have been listening to it obsessively over the last two weeks, so I’m putting it in because this is my blog and I do what I want. I’ve been a War on Drugs fan for years and my anticipation for this latest release was not for nothing. A Deeper Understanding is a gorgeously crafted album. Every song feels like a story and every note is near-perfect. Honestly, I haven’t really been listening to anything else lately.

Top tracks: Thinking of a Place, Strangest Thing, Pain

The Keepers

This Netflix documentary series was one folks around me had been telling me to watch for a while, but it wasn’t until August that I finally delved into the story about the murder of Sister Catherine Cesnik. Stories of sexual assault and violence against women such as this one anger me to no end, but it’s also important for these stories to be told, and their morals discussed. It’s a fantastically gripping series, with every revelation coming at you like a cannonball. However, I would advise against binging – for me, this one was best taken in episodic doses, to absorb every detail and part of the story.

 

The Witches of New York

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I’ve made a pact with myself to read more books this fall, and to start myself off towards the end of the summer, I picked up Ami McKay’s The Witches of New York, a novel about three women in New York in the late 19th century. I won’t say too much about the plot, other than the book combines some of my favourite things: feminism, witchcraft and a championing female friendships above romantic relationships. 10/10 would recommend to anyone shopping for a new read.`

The Last Days of Summer

[Hello everyone, I’m back! Did you miss me? I wound up going on an unplanned hiatus but have now returned with a new look on the blog and new content! I’ve yet to determine if I will be posting weekly again, but my goal is to produce more high-quality content if I take more time in between posts. Stay tuned to this channel.]

When you’re a kid, the last days of summer are the worst. All you do is attempt to squeeze as much adventure and fun out of waning time while avoiding an onslaught of back-to-school advertisements that seem to keep coming earlier every year. You stay out later, see your friends more or laze around the house more. You relax with desperation. You are utterly inconsolable when your parents take you to Staples for new pencils.

As an adult, my calendar has changed from the September-June focus I’ve known for the majority of my life. It’s still hard to get used to. Every September I feel like I need to be doing something, that something’s missing. That feeling has manifested in hair or wardrobe changes, but it still doesn’t sit right.

What I’ve been trying to do this year is experience the last days of summer the way they’re meant to be experienced: languidly and luxuriously. As someone who generally loathes certain qualities of summer (heat, bugs, everyone wanting to go the beach) and relishes the transition to fall (it’s the best season don’t @ me) I’ve been genuinely enjoying this tail end of summertime. And for me, this enjoyment resulted in a wave of inspiration. One of the reasons I had taken such a long break from the blog was a complete lack of post ideas and loss of confidence in my style. I wasn’t sure how or when to continue. Maybe it’s the amount of folk music I’ve been listening to, or the amount of gin and tonics I’ve been drinking, but August somehow sparked my creativity again, into making a lookbook.

I wanted to create outfits that represented this time of year. To me, the haze of August heat and the buzz of cicadas create a fever dream in shades of gold and burt orange, and I wanted my colour palette to reflect that. It’s still intensely hot and humid here in Ontario, but fall is coming, and for me that combination results in an odd feeling of utter laziness with expectation. The silhouettes range from wide and billowing to short and structured, all worn while squinting into the burning sun.

And that’s all of the inspiration that came into this end of summer lookbook. Enjoy.

LOOK 1

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Jumpsuit — Oak + Fort

Bralette — Victoria’s Secret (Similar)

Sandals —  Heel Boy (Similar)

Short Necklace — Anthropologie

Long Necklace — Etsy

Bracelet — Oak + Fort

Watch — Vintage

LOOK 2

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Dress — Kiss the Sky (via Asos)

Sneaks — Converse

Choker — Urban Outfitters (Similar)

Sunnies — Anthropologie

All rings from Victoire and Urban Outfitters

LOOK 3

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Tee — Free People

Skirt — Vince Camuto (Similar)

Hat — Rag & Bone

Sandals — Heel Boy (Similar)

Necklace — Etsy

All rings from Victoire and Urban Outfitters

Cinema Style Ep. 3

And now for something completely different!

The first two films I discussed on here are very near and dear to my heart. But as much as I love them, the costuming is also pretty tame. It’s my intention to look at all sorts of movie costuming, not just the beautiful dresses (but I do love the beautiful dresses.)

So let’s talk about science fiction. I am, at some point, going to have to make an entire post listing iconic looks from 70s and 80s sci-fi flicks, but that time is not this time.

Science fiction has the ability to go there, whether it be socially like Star Trek, technologically like Metropolis or fashionably like The Fifth Element.

If you are a sci-fi fan, a film student or another movie costuming geek, you’ll likely have seen and/or heard about The Fifth Element before. Directed by Luc Besson, the film was released in 1997 to mixed reviews but gained a big fanbase. The film stars Bruce Willis as   cab driver Korben Dallas and Milla Jovovich as Leeloo, an embodiment of the fifth element. Leeloo has the task of combining with the other four elements to prevent the Great Evil from destroying the world, etc. At one point they get on a giant intergalactic cruise. It’s a whole thing.

In terms of plot, you get a lot of standard big-budget sci-fi stuff. There’s a gruff male lead shrouded in mystery, a beautiful and strange lady who kicks butt, a scary villain and the world in jeopardy. Something that did catch my attention the first I watched this movie was the costuming in it.

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Gary Oldman as Zorg in The Fifth Element. Via Tumblr.

It’s pretty spectacular. The costume design for the movie was done by none other than French designer Jean-Paul Gaultier, known for his own haute couture and prêt-à-porter fashions as well as his stint as the creative director of Hermès from 2003-2010. Gaultier also designed Madonna’s stage costumes for her 2006 Confessions tour and the infamous cone bra worn on her Blonde Ambition tour in 1990. Other clients include Mairlyn Manson.

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Jean Paul Gaultier & Madonna. 90s. Via Pinterest.

Gaultier’s knack for the unexpected and attention-grabbing lends itself perfectly to The Fifth Element, as movie that is, by all accounts, a bit over the top. Gaultier created more than 1000 costumes for the film, from the main characters to extras in crowd shots.

Let me point you to some specific visuals.

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Milla Jovovich and Bruce Willis in The Fifth Element. Source.

Leeloo’s bandage outfit is a pretty good place to start. It’s a step up from her being completely naked, strategically covered up as at the beginning of the movie, she’s naked in the tank she escapes from. Think of it as Gaultier’s “underwear as outerwear” collection on an acid trip. Obviously, literally no one except Milla Jovovich could dream of pulling this off.

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Leeloo. Source.

From the strategic bands to Leeloo’s orange suspenders. The ones that perfectly match her hair. With that white crop top and gold pants, that’s honestly a look that has potential for translation today. A little 90s, a little weird.

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Chris Tucker as Ruby Rhod. Source.

Now, we have to talk about Chris Tucker’s truly iconic turn as radio host Ruby Rhod. His performance was amazing and his costumes were ridiculously extravagant and suited the character perfectly. Highlights include his introduction look of all-leopard and the black satin and roses number seen in the singing performance sequences.

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Ruby Rhod. Source.

And we need to talk about the extras. Gaultier’s obsessive attention to detail is to thank for every supporting cast member looking fire at all times.

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The infamous see-through green skirt. Via Tumblr.

Not to mention what Gaultier did with uniforms. We have the cruise attendants in their blue bustiers and matching hats.

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The flight attendants. Via Pinterest.

We can touch on the uncomfortable notion of service industry uniforms getting increasingly sexy and revealing in the future – seen initially with the gorgeous model-like McDonald’s employees who make a brief cameo in the movie’s beginning. I will say, the golden arches headpiece and red wig is a pretty great touch. Extreme branding meets extreme accessorizing.

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23rd century McDonald’s. Via Tumblr.

From start to finish, The Fifth Element is a fun ride, and the costumes make that experience all the better. while the film itself had a huge budget and Dan Weil on production design, the costumes Gaultier created make the movie so much more memorable and have set the overall look for the 23rd century.

SOURCES

IMDb

Elle (Gaultier Retrospective)

Dazed Digital (Gaultier and The Fifth Element)

AUTHOR’S NOTE: To anyone who may follow this blog regularly, I’m going to be away the next few weeks on a road trip so there will not be any new posts! After I return we’ll be back to regular programming!

 

 

Two Fave Spring Trends

I always gravitate towards stripes in the spring and summer. It’s partially due to the amount of stripe-y stuff the stores get in, partially because the warmer weather always has me thinking wistfully of that alternate universe where I’m from southern France in the 1960s. It’s not a big deal.

Stripes is a spring trend that’s pretty much guaranteed to come around, right up there with whites, florals and silks.

A trend I did see come up this year that is not as common was bight, bold red. It was all over the runway and naturally trickled down to the high-street stores. I couldn’t go into any Urban Outfitters, Topshop or Aritzia without seeing pops of red sprinkled into the denim and neutrals like freckles.

I love this trend. Red is such an eye-catching colour that looks fantastic on everyone. It’s classic, it’s modern, it’s timeless. Aside from black, it’s the colour of femme fatales around the world.

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I’ve been looking for ways to work both of these trends into my wardrobe this season. Stripes was easy because of full pieces like a striped shirtdress or a pinstripe jacket. These pants I found at Topshop are another perfect way to style stripes, and are a great summer pant to wear when wool trousers are just too constricting and heavy to survive in.

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I actually found the red bag before the top. It was a lucky find at Forever 21, something I thought would be perfect as a pop of colour on monochrome outfits. Imagine that bad boy accessorizing all white? Killer.

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On another fateful day I saw this red linen top at Oak + Fort and then rest is history. A flattering neckline and the best colour for the season.

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Pairing these two together was a no-brainer. Since the pants have a stripe, I’ve been wearing them with solid colours, but wearing them with straight black or white doesn’t quite cut it. Likewise with the top, tucking it into a little skirt or trouser is the perfect way to wear it. Throw in a pair of converse and the aforementioned little red bag and I’ve got a good out-on-the-town weekender vibe.

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Sure, I’ve yet to time travel to 1960s and magically be born as a sophisticated French lady, but this outfit has me fully in my summertime mindset, you know the mindset where you magically forget all of your deadline and responsibilities and play “Island in the Sun” on repeat.

[And yes, I did dye my hair blonde!! We’re back to the light side.]

OUTFIT DETAILS

Top – Oak + Fort (Not available, but pictured here with co-ordinating pant.)

Trousers – Topshop

Shoes – Converse

Bag – Forever 21

Watch – Vintage

Sunnies – Aldo (Similar)

What the Heck is Occasionwear Anyway?

The budding trees and blooming flowers of spring coincide with another annual event that marks the foray into the warmer months. It’s not a natural phenomenon so much as it is a social one. It’s wedding season.

Working in retail, I get so many women who come in looking for something to wear to a wedding. For some, it’s a fruitless search, trying on dress after dress only to leave empty-handed and frazzled. For others, it’s a hunt and conquer operation. They find one item, try it in two sizes and leave with the correct one. Often, these customers remind of Say Yes to the Dress, except it’s guest edition. (Actually, writing that is making me think of the spinoff Say Yes to the Dress: Bridesmaids. I don’t even know if they air it anymore but if you can find an episode, watch it for the drama alone.)

No matter if you’re a world-weary wedding veteran or a nervous newbie, the task of picking something to wear to the big day can be daunting, judged usually by your relationship to the couple. Distant cousins’ wedding? Dressing appropriate only to avoid family gossip. Best friends’ wedding? The pressure is on.

Aside from weddings, spring and summer are the seasons of events. I’m not saying things just stop happening the rest of the year, but somehow there seem to be more graduations, birthdays, farewells and general gatherings of merriment than during the winter months. And most want to take advantage of the agreeable weather to look fly AF.

When choosing an outfit for these events, I’ve had my fair share of panic attacks. Like, what does business casual actually mean? How formal do I need to go here? How informal is this supposed to be? OH GOD THE PARTY IS OUTSIDE AND IT’S 35 DEGREES WHAT DO I DO.

I’m no wedding or big event veteran. I don’t have all the answers, but I do have some go-to outfits and tips for when you’re stuck on finding the right balance in occasionwear.

The Dress

Let’s start with a dress, because a lot of us start there. You want to find the right length, depending on where you’ll be. You won’t want to wear white if it’s a wedding (unless it’s specifically in the dress code.) You want something you can sit and move in. Something that won’t drive you nuts after an hour.

These requirements aren’t actually too tall an order. Most summer dresses are comfortable when the sizing is correct and there are so many gorgeous minis or maxis for whatever hemline you need.

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With this dress, I liked how it was a mini-maxi. The long outer layer is contrasted by a short slip, with eyefuls of leg balanced by cutouts in the dress.

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I found the minty green colour perfect for spring and summer events. It’s a popular shade at the moment and looks good on every skin tone.

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I paired this dress with some neutral heeled mules and simple gold jewellery. Since the dress itself is such a statement piece, I wouldn’t want to overload it with accessories. The mules are a perfect summer party shoe. It’s a heel, but it’s comfortable enough to wear all night.

Outfit Details

Dress – Anthropologie

Shoes – H&M (Similar)

The Jumpsuit

If you don’t want to mess around with colour, if neutrals are really more your style, then basic black is your friend. It’s a classic for a reason, even in the summertime.

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Instead of a black dress, though, I picked a jumpsuit. I’m a real jumpsuit gal. I love wearing wide-leg trousers this time of year and I think a jumpsuit is a really fun alternative to a dress. You’ll be comfortable, you won’t have to worry about sudden gusts of wind and you’ll definitely stand out.

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This jumpsuit is a classic colour and shape, but the back cutouts give it a little something extra and make it more event-worthy and memorable.

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I paired this piece with a simple white shoe and silver jewellery. Again, it’s a low block heel because that’s just my style and I want to be able to walk home after dancing.

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Even if you don’t go with the black, I’d recommend trying out a jumpsuit if you never have before. It’s the perfect gateway to that “effortless chic” gal you’ve always wanted to be.

Outfit Details

Jumpsuit – Topshop (Similar)

Shoes – Zara

Watch – Daniel Wellington

The Other Dress

So, we have our long formal dress, a good choice for a wedding maybe. But what about a garden party? What about a more laid-back outdoor event where the sun is hot and the drinks are free-flowing?

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I love this short linen-blend dress for moments like that. The neutral colour is perfect for summer and so easy to style. Some would argue this isn’t the most flattering silhouette. Maybe, but I’m also set if there’s a buffet.

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To style this dress, I went with some very low, casual mules and more gold jewellery. However I do think this is one where you could wear a pair of colourful earrings or a statement bracelet to dress it up a bit more.

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I tend to prefer a looser silhouette in dresses, but I also believe in the summer months it’s more comfortable to have something that doesn’t cling too much to the body. And having a cute, short flow dress in your wardrobe will be a godsend when you need something last minute for a family barbecue or a day out at the park with friends.

Outfit Details

Dress – Aritzia (Not quite similar, but other suggestions here and here.)

Shoes – H&M

Gold Bracelet – Oak + Fort

Another Brunch Date

I’ve said it before, ya girl loves a good brunch.

What I love even more is when that brunch coincides with Mother’s Day, and I’m able to spend the day gallivanting around town with my older sister and mom in tow.

Last weekend was a whirlwind of food, art and wine. Just the right side of luxurious. Aside from all of that, I love my mom dearly and my family is very close. Spending the weekend together was the best part.

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My mom, my sister and myself.

And, yes, our extravagant girls’ weekend did include a Mother’s Day buffet brunch at Epic in Toronto, and let me tell you I am still thinking about their Belgian waffles.

While deciding on an outfit for this occasion, I had two things in mind. Firstly, I wanted to look nice for my mom. Secondly, I wanted to be comfortable, as we had plans to traipse around the city that day.

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The median found with this look is decent, especially with the added bonus that these trousers have an elastic waist, so I was good to go to town on the buffet.

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It was a gorgeously sunny day on Sunday and to honour that I really wanted to stick with a light colour palette. As much as I love wearing black, there are some days that call for pastels and creams.

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I felt terribly spring-like and entirely prepared for mom day activities, which included walking to the AGO and making us stop so my sister could take these pictures of me.

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But, really, my true outfit validation came, naturally, from my mom, when she saw me and said,”You look so nice.” That was good enough for me.

OUTFIT DETAILS

Blouse – Aritzia

Trousers – Oak + Fort (Similar)

Shoes – Urban Outfitters (very, very old, definitely not available anymore)

Sunnies – Black Market Vintage

Denim Jacket – Topshop

Bag – Urban Outfitters (Similar)