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.

A Little Red Lip

While I absolutely condone the use of red lipstick year round, there is no better time to put on a red pout than during the yuletide.

It’s the ultimate go-to party look. It’s the iconic Christmas look. You can’t go wrong with that bold, beautiful, bright lip colour.

Think Marilyn Monroe. Think Nicole Kidman in Moulin Rouge. Think Jessica Rabbit, even. Femme fatales everywhere unite.

And you can definitely go simple on every other aspect of your makeup and focus on the lip. Or you can go with a full dramatic eye as well. Screw the rules. Wear your red lipstick however you want to.

Lately, though, my favourite makeup to do on the daily is a basic face with minimal eyeshadow and then that bright lip. It’s quick and festive, so I can get ready for work in minimal time but I can also show up looking like I put in a ton of effort.

The secret with any bold lipstick, of course, is practice to get those precise edges. But let’s be real, I don’t have the skill even with practice, so I rely heavily on lip liner, makeup remover and concealer. In that order. While I said a red lip is quick for me now, it is always a good idea to leave yourself some extra time if you want to get it perfect. Just like with eyeliner, yanno?

Given that I am rocking a red lip rather frequently as of late, I thought I would compile a short list of my favourites at the moment. These are lipsticks that have great colour payoff, are easy enough for me (a non-expert) to apply and have each lasted a 6-hour shift at work.

stila All Day Liquid Lipstick in “Beso”

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As far as liquid lipsticks go, this is a good one. It has a wand application, which is easy enough to deal with, and the colour is ridiculously rich. Keep in mind, once this liquid lipstick is on, it is on. There is no going back unless you want to redo your whole face of makeup.

NARS Audacious Lipstick in “Olivia”

 

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This is the only NARS lipstick I own and I’m really not sure why. Frankly, it’s fabulous. The  formula is rich and moisturizing, and when I reapply throughout the day, the new layer still goes on smoothly, not like other lipsticks where reapplication becomes really cakey and gross. (“cakey” and “gross” being the technical terms)

Bite Beauty Matte Creme Lip Crayon in “Rose Hip”

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Bite Beauty is my everything lately. A Canadian, female-run, cruelty-free beauty company with good products? Sign me tf up.

This lip crayon is a bright, pink-based red that goes on so smoothly. It’s similar to a lipliner, so it has decent staying power, but it’s also easy to remove, meaning if it gets really messed up halfway through the day, you can wipe it off and start from scratch. This is the red lip I can get nearly perfect in under five minutes.

Bite Beauty Amuse Bouche Lipstick in “Mistletoe”

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Did I say I liked Bite Beauty? Because I really do. This lipstick is a Christmas edition, and as soon as I saw it, I went, “Yep. Need that.”

This lipstick is super moisturizing, but I wouldn’t recommend applying it without a liner first. Since I don’t have one that matches perfectly, I’m currently using an old Sephora brand lip liner in a generic red just to get the shape down, and so the lipstick doesn’t bleed out at all. Once that’s done, though, it’s straight to those mysterious, femme fatale vibes. But also festive, of course.

My Favourite Christmas Movies

I was originally going to call this, “The Best Christmas Movies” or “The Definitive Ranking of Christmas Movies” but then I remembered that taste is subjective, and I think we all forget that sometimes.

ANYWAY.

I’m a big Christmas movie nerd. In my time, I’ve seen my fair share of them, both popular and not-so-popular, and while I’m always looking for new ones to watch (in desperate times I HAVE watched Hallmark movies, but I need to be in the right romantic, weepy mood) I do have those Christmas movies that I return to time and time again.

Remember what I said earlier about tastes being subjective? My tastes are definitely not everyone’s. For example, controversial opinion here, but I don’t really like It’s A Wonderful Life. Like man, that’s hard for me to sit through in its entirety, as much as I like James Stewart.

Also, I like kids’ movies. And animated movies. Christmas is kind of about being a kid again anyway.

Now, without further ado, and in no particular order, here are my favourites:

A Christmas Story

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This movie is a runaway classic, with enough mishap and mayhem to make the family at its centre believable. Amazing cast all around, with the same type of overly-dramatic flair we’ll all recognize from when we were younger.

What’s it about? One boy with a dream: a dream to get a Red Rider BB Gun for Christmas. Never was a dream so unattainable. Chaos ensues, but the type of holiday chaos you can really identify with.

The first time I saw it – I laughed so hard I couldn’t breathe, and I remember thinking: how have I never seen this before? My life was forever changed.

Love Actually

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Right, so the thing about Love Actually is, even if you consciously don’t like it, if it’s on during Christmas, you’ll probably watch it. Overrated? Absolutely not. Overplayed? Probably. Still amazing? Definitely.

Every year I forget how much I love this movie until I see it, and then I’m gushing about Colin Firth all over again. (Honestly, the movie needs to be seen for Bill Nighy’s performance as an aged rocker alone.)

What’s it about? A collection of sometimes related-sometimes not stories about Brits that all play out in the weeks leading up to Christmas. Ridiculously sweet and at times heartbreaking. Also, Liam Neeson, Emma Thompson and Alan Rickman are in it.

The first time I saw it – Probably was waaaaaay to young to be watching it, especially during the body double sequences. (You know what I’m talking about.) The whole movie gave me the warm and fuzzies, even if I couldn’t fully grasp some of the concepts that I am (unfortunately) familiar with now.

The Polar Express

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FOR SOME REASON every time I mention that I like this movie, someone goes, “Ugh.” WHYYYYY. I get it, okay, it’s pretty strange to adapt a children’s book into a feature-length film, but while some of the action sequences run long, I think a decent job was done. I like trains and I like Christmas. Done and done.

What’s it about? A young boy beings to doubt the existence of Santa, so in the middle of the night, a mysterious train comes to take him on a trip that will change his mind. Based on the children’s book by Chris Van Allsburg.

The first time I saw it – In theatres with my mom, which seems like an age and a half ago now. (2004!!!) It was long ago enough that I was amazed by the animation, and to be quite honest I still think it was pretty dang good for the time.

A Christmas Carol

OKAY BUT THERE ARE TWO VERY IMPORTANT ADAPTATIONS OF THIS STORY:

  • The 1951 Version

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Why? Because it is amazing. It’s the best no-frills adaptation ever done. Alistair Sim IS Scrooge. The first time I saw it, I only saw the ending. I walked into the living room during the scene where Scrooge wakes up a changed man after his dream. To this day, I think that entire scene is one of the best I’ve ever seen in a film. It made me so inexplicably happy, and I now watch this version every year.

  • Mickey’s Christmas Carol

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Why? Do I really need to say? This is the version of the Dickens story I grew up with. I loved it, but I was scared of the Ghost of Christmas Future. Though, I think everyone is a little bit. A little creepy, a lot heartwarming.

The Holiday

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I know, I know. Max cheese. But it’s so good. Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz, my people. Also, can we talk about how Jack Black is actually pretty fantastic in this? While it is a bit predictable, The Holiday is also really, really sweet. It has no ulterior motives other than being about people falling in love, with each other and with themselves.

What’s it about? An American and a Brit swap houses for Christmas, and wind up becoming involved in way more than either of them imagined. Jude Law (who is weirdly tan in this by the way) is there too.

The first time I saw it – With my sister, and now it’s a tradition for us to watch it together because we’re both secret soppy messes who love this type of shit.

Christmas in Connecticut

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THIS MOVIE. HAS EVERYTHING YOU NEED. Literally – a zany comedy with Barbara Stanwyck’s amazing wardrobe, Sydney Greenstreet doing his thing, an I-love-to-hate character, a few classic Christmas mixups and the most stupidly handsome, stupidly nice, piano-playing sailor you’ve ever seen.

*pauses for breath*

What’s it about? Elizabeth Lane, a writer working with a pen name and a pretend life, must scramble to convince her boss and a war hero that she is an an amazing cook living with her husband and child in Connecticut when she is, in fact, none of those things.

The first time I saw it – I was with my mom and I was melting into a pile of festive goo every time the sailor, named Jefferson Jones, naturally, did anything on screen.

Home Alone

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A great movie with a great cast and, interestingly enough, a pretty good sequel. I won’t speak for the 3rd, but Home Alone 2 is just as good as the first. Chalk it up to a winning formula of Christmas, physical comedy and Macaulay Culkin when he was still an adorable kid.

What’s it about? Eight-year-old Kevin McCallister is left behind on his family’s Christmas vacation to Paris. At first it’s his dream come true, but trouble arises in the form of the Wet Bandits: two crooks out to rob every empty house in Kevin’s neighbourhood.

The first time I saw it – I think it was at a friend’s house, at a sleepover around Christmas, all of us cracking up at the traps set for the burglars. This was, of course, one of the Christmas movies at the time, and I think can be comfortably moved to the category of contemporary classic.

Arthur Christmas

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According to my sister, I am obsessed with this movie. And yeah, I more or less am.

It’s just so excellent. The animation is great, the jokes all land, the storyline is genuinely sweet and there is no. unnecessary. romantic. subplot.

What’s it about? The current Santa Claus, in a long line of Claus’, is on the brink of retirement. His older son Steve, a corporate militaristic type is set to succeed him, while the younger Arthur seems set to spend the rest of his days in the letters department. OR SO WE THINK.

The first time I saw it – About three years ago, putting off studying for exams by wrapping presents and watching a movie. In that moment, sitting on the floor of my room with tape all over my hands and this movie on, I felt so ridiculously Christmas-y. I still love to put this movie on in the background when I’m doing any kind of Christmas-realted activity.

Holiday Lookbook 2016

When one thinks of “holiday attire” there are a few things that immediately come to mind:

  1. Velvet
  2. Sparkle
  3. Jewel tones
  4. Silver and gold
  5. GLAM

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I’m down with all of these concepts. So down, in fact, that when  I considered making a Christmastime lookbook, I actually had to narrow down my outfits to only four, to both keep this post from being way too long and to prevent myself from showing up to the shooting location with four bags of clothes in tow.

And for this post, please welcome a guests photographer: my friend Emily MacDonald!! She is an amazingly talented photographer and all-around badass lady. She took all of these pictures on my iPhone and they are all better than the ones I take with a semi-professional camera. Go figure.

If you want to see more of her pics, check out Emily’s Instagram!

Without further ado, onto the lookbook! Get yourself some tea, put on the Boney M Christmas album and enjoy these pictures of me wearing clothing.

LOOK 1

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Sweater: Anthropologie

Shorts: Zara

Tights: American Apparel

Boots: Topshop

Watch:  Daniel Wellington

All rings from Free People and Urban Outfitters

LOOK 2

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Dress: Urban Outfitters

Shoes: Zara

Watch: Daniel Wellington

Moon ring: Bloody Mary Metal

All other rings from Urban Outfitters

LOOK 3

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Jumpsuit: Anthropologie

Shoes: Michael Kors

Watch: Daniel Wellington

All rings from Urban Outfitters

LOOK 4

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Top: Aritzia

Trousers: Zara

Shoes: Zara

Watch: Daniel Wellington

All rings from Urban Outfitters

 

A Touch of Velvet

Listen to me.

You can’t do the holidays without velvet, in my opinion.

As surely as the sun sets earlier in the winter, so too will the crushed velvet rise.

When I was a kid, it was all about the velvet dresses from Sears for Christmas mass. And I always looked fierce in those. Imagine my surprise, when as an adult, I see jewel-toned velvet dresses for sale at Christmastime in American Apparel. Just like the ones I used to wear, except, you know, with 100% more boob.

I am still all about that velvet dress. Hell, at Free People the other day I saw a velvet jumpsuit and got freakin’ ZAZZED.

That being said, in my day-to-day holiday dressing, I like to incorporate velvet a bit more subtly. (Not that I want my velvet to be subtle? Let’s be real it’s definitely good for some high-drama, regency-esque shit. I just mean, not having a full-body velvet moment? You know what I mean.)

I’ve found a couple of velvet pieces that can be toned up or down based on what you pair them with. What is guaranteed, is that holiday velour-feeling goodness.

T-shirt

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When I saw this little velvet t-shirt from Zara, I knew I had to have it. How perfect. I could wear with jeans, trousers, or a skirt. The clean cut and simple design of it makes it super versatile and the perfect piece to take from the AM to the PM.

Available Here (in other colours)

Skirt

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A velvet mini-skirt is a classic. Well, classic to the 90s anyway. This one from Urban Outfitters is a rich burgundy, and has the classic skater shape, which I find looks banging on almost everyone. Pair it with a t-shirt, a blouse or, my personal fave, a turtleneck.

Available Here

Choker

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If you’re really not keen on the velvet, and want to go a very subtle route, there exists for you velvet accessories. I’ve had this velvet choker from Brandy Melville for a while now, and it has featured it in some of my other posts. Now it’s back as a relevant example of a small touch of velvet. With that deep colour and thickness? It’s a statement piece for sure. Just picture me wearing that choker and a full, floor-length dress doing the Kate Bush moves from the “Wuthering Heights” music video.

Available Here

Shoes

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Again, if less velvet is more your thing, another perfect accessory is a shoe. I’ve seen a ton of beautiful velvet ankle boots making the rounds, but these pointed low-heel shoes from Zara are the perfect party shoe for me. Once more with the jewel tones, my friends. Since these shoes are a deep navy, they go with just about everything. I also wore these shoes to work, running up and down stairs for a few hours and they didn’t kill me. So, that’s a bonus.

Available Here