Lately I've been in battle with myself regarding next steps to go with Ready Ruthie. In case it isn't painfully obvious, I'm very much influenced by early-mid 20th century fashion, particularly 30's-50's and sometimes a lil 60's/70's.
I like drawing attention to the natural waist. I like accentuated, tailored busts, I like knee length skirts. I also can't deny that I LOVE bold colors, primary colors even, and bold prints. I also love contrast accents like buttons, piping and bias. I wear my fair share of jersey fabric, as most of us do, but I prefer to sew with woven fabrics and I enjoy what woven fabrics demand in terms of pattern structure. And of course, I love wearing heels which always look great with these types of designs. All of these elements also happen to work well for my body type, but, I believe, are often flattering for many other body types.I'm challenging myself to make sure I don't get stuck in a decade or fail to keep it contemporary. This means that design and fabric choices must be driven by what I genuinely am attracted to, and not because I automatically associate something as "vintage-inspired, therefore good."
 
I am also trying to avoid the bastard child of this fashion era that I think has soured my and probably others' views of 50's styles: the rockabilly greaser manifestation. This characterized by overreliance on polka dots, gingham and pin-up style silhouettes and a black/white/red color palette (I know, I know--guilty as charged). It is at times unfortunately paired with Chuck Taylor or even stripper shoes. I consider this a bastardization because it has exploited some of the nice subleties of this fashion era and made them stale and predictable.  I could get into the bastardization of country western fashion too, but that's for another time.  Anyway, I love me some b+w polka dots, but I need to get more creative.  
 
Mad Men has also helped vintage silhouettes regain popularity in recent years, but I get the sense that people are more content to watch this on TV than to integrate it into their own wardrobes. It certainly seems to have been lost on younger audiences who continue with their unfortunate obsession with neon, sperry docksiders and burn out tanks. It's my personal belief that a return to a crisper, tailored look that, let's face it, is decidedly feminine, may conflict with an often androgynous and jersey-clad fashion trend that we've been living in for several decades now.
 
I need my clothes to work in a modern context while also heralding all that I love about days gone by. It's not my goal to look like I popped out of a 1954 Sears Roebuck catalog, and I don't expect that of my customers either.
 
Just last night my man and I finally watched the Muppets which features Amy Adams wearing a really lovely set of outfits that could easily have been extracted from earlier times, yet which would work fine today as well. The silhouettes and design details were very much borrowed from the 40s-50s, but the fabric choices and color combinations were fresh and interesting and the prints looked contemporary. I especially love her blouses, many of which have cap and mock sleeves and artful drapes from the front shoulder. What I love about these designs is that they are youthful and femine, yet somehow powerful.
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It seemed serendipitous that her lovely wardrobe should show up on my screen just hours after I was contemplating these questions. What's more, she's wearing the same shoes I am!!! I think this is a sign not to abandon my love of vintage fashion, but take a hint from the costume designers of the Muppets and get innovative with fabric.

 


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