Janet's Vintage Finds

My Fashion Muses from the 1960s and 1970s

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I’ve recently ventured into vintage fashion in my Etsy shop, which now includes a small but growing selection of vintage hats and purses in addition to vintage housewares. As a result, I find myself revising the styles of decades past. I have to admit it seems strange to see the styles of the 1960s and 1970s making a comeback. Truth be told, I have often thought we were well rid of some of the looks we sported when I was a kid! However, it’s worth looking back on some of our fashion influences.

Denim was big and we all wanted to look casual and cool — your clothes were supposed to look like you’d lived in them for a while. Nothing new and shiny. Pure white sneakers were an embarrassment as were stiff, unfaded jeans and overly coiffed hair. Stars of TV sitcoms tended to be highly influential to tweens and teens. Remember, this was back before cable, videos, or DVR, so we watched a lot of  TV shows and when the regular broadcasting season ended, we watched them again in reruns (no summer programming).

Here are a few of the trends I remember.

  • The 1960s Denim Craze.

Personally, I’m old enough to remember when denim cutoffs were just that: our old jeans that we actually cut up with scissors and wore as shorts in the summer. Back then, no one was selling new jeans made to look old and beat up, so we designed them ourselves. We waited and waited for our new jeans to turn old and faded so we’d look cool. Then when they got threadbare they got a second life as shorts. We used the discarded scraps for patches.

Check out these teens from the 1960s. (photo from Vintage Everyday).

 

1960s denim styles

What was cool: Long flowing hair, frayed bell bottoms, jean jackets, wide buckled belts.

  • 1960s Capri pants.

Mary Tyler Moore rocked these on the Dick Van Dyke Show, and it turns out she had to do some lobbying to wear them on screen. The producers thought housewives should be seen mostly in dresses but Mary argued that no one she knew wore dresses around the house (yeah, Mary!) and proceeded to wear them on the show. According to IMBd, it was because of Mary that capri pants went on to become a huge fashion craze in the early part of the decade.

 

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‘Who can turn the world on with a smile’? Love Mary as Laura in Dick Van Dyke. (Image from Violet Gray)

  • The mystery of 1970s fashion.

I was a kid in the 1970s and remember some very odd fashion choices, many of which can be seen in the photo below of the Brady Bunch (which ran in perpetual reruns). Wild colors, wide lapels, bell bottoms with patch pockets. And everyone’s dad had a “leisure suit” with matching turtle neck.

Brady Bunch 1970s fashion
The Brady Bunch looking very 1970s (Image from Mental_Floss).
  • The feathered hair, unzipped look. 

The Partridge Family was another one of our favorites in the 1970s. We loved sexy Keith with his long feathered mane and sensible Laurie with her long, straight (unfeathered) locks. (It often seemed like Keith took more trouble with his hair than Laurie). They played in the family’s rock band but acted as if they had normal teenage problems, too. The biggest fashion faux-pas here, by today’s standards, has to be Keith’s ribbed sweater with long, open zipper. At least to me it looks pretty lame, but maybe that look is coming back too.

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Keith and Laurie from the Partridge Family: who has the better hairstyle? (photo from Everything Susan Dey.)

 

Audrey Hepburn: Painful Childhood Influenced Her Work on Screen and Off

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Audrey Hepburn
Audrey Hepburn: “Princess of all our fairy tales,” says People Magazine (Winter 1993)

I came across a 1993 issue of People magazine recently. A Special Collector’s Issue devoted to the life of Audrey Hepburn that came out just after Audrey’s death at age 63, from colon cancer.   I remember saving it and pouring over the pictures. She’s always been my favorite Hollywood star (see my previous post on the style of Audrey and Grace Kelly).

I started reading the articles and was reminded of the difficulties she overcame before rising to stardom. We came to think of her as living among the beautiful and privileged but she first endured a harsh childhood spent partly in Nazi-occupied Holland. Born Edda Hepburn-Ruston on May 4, 1929, in Brussels, Audrey’s first great sorrow was the divorce of her parents when she was just 6. She adored her father and lived with him for a while in London but he mostly ignored her. She later returned to live with her mother–who was of part-Jewish ancestry–in Holland, just before it was invaded by Germany. Over the next few years, her uncle and a cousin were executed by the Nazis.

Audrey Hepburn childhood
Audrey was shy and awkward as a child

Audrey’s mother survived by posing as a pro-German aristocrat but still had her home, property and bank accounts confiscated by the Germans. Audrey’s half-brother was sent to a labor camp after he refused to join a Nazi youth group. The Germans forced the family to evacuate in 1944 and Audrey found herself living in a crowded house in a neighboring village. One day, she was snatched off the streets by German soldiers to work in their military kitchens but escaped to a deserted cellar. There, she nearly died from malnutrition before being rescued by Allied troops in 1945,

The images of war always haunted her and I think this is part of her power on the screen. There are many beautiful movie actresses but, to me, Audrey rose above the pack. She had such a kind face and eyes that could simultaneously express joy and sadness. Think of the scene in Breakfast at Tiffany’s when she’s sitting on the fire escape outside her apartment singing “Moon River.”

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Audrey and Gregory Peck in “Roman Holiday”

Audrey started off in show business in Holland but her first Hollywood hit was “Roman Holiday,” in 1953, for which she won an Oscar. Soon after came Holly Golightly in “Breakfast,” the part she became most famous for. Here’s how People describes that role’s impact on style and attitudes at the time:

“Holly was the wanton gadfly of the Kennedy generation, with “Moon River” its love song. Young men fell hopelessly in love with Hepburn when she and George Peppard dropped their cat and dog masks and kissed in front of their elevator; young women descended on American’s major cities wearing beehive hairdos and extravagant dark glasses. Daring to be different, defying the world with her wistful exuberance, Holly in 1961 was the pre-dawning of the Age of Aquarius.”

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In Breakfast at Tiffany’s
Breakfast at Tiffanys
With “Breakfast” co-star George Peppard

Her beauty was a mixture of girl-next-door and royal princess. Here’s how the New York Times described her in its obituary:

“Descriptions of her beauty and appeal inevitably included the word “gamine.” She was boyishly slender, with an aristocratic bearing, the trace of a European accent and a hint of mischief. ‘A Wild-Eyed Doe’.”

By the time I came to know Audrey’s work, she was already in her 50s, and I admired her even more as she aged. Her second “career” was working as a roving special ambassador for UNICEF, driven by her own experiences with living in a time of wartime suffering. I remember seeing her on TV visiting children in Ethiopia and other countries. Her celebrity status helped bring needed resources to people suffering during civil wars and famines. She was in Somalia in 1992, just a year before her death.

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Audrey’s second career: ambassador for UNICEF

 

The publisher’s letter notes that People magazine had never before devoted an entire issue to a single movie star. When Audrey died, the staff started sifting through all the information and pictures and finally decided that a mere article could not do justice to Hepburn’s extraordinary life. I completely agree. I hope you enjoy seeing some of the pictures from that issue — I don’t think she ever took a bad photo.

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“Gigi” was her first big role in Broadway
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Audrey’s style had a big influence on fashion trends

 

 

Audrey hepburn on bike
Audrey was always stylish, never pretentious

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Source: Content based on articles in the Winter, 1993 Special Issue of People magazine. Photos taken from the same issue.

5 Secrets to Audrey Hepburn’s and Grace Kelly’s Vintage Style

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Few of us can be as stylish as 1950s celebrities Grace Kelly and Audrey Hepburn but we can all add some vintage style to our look. Here are 5 tips to creating your own vintage style.

“Vintage” is sometimes equated with “old” but what it really conveys is lasting quality–that’s what I think of when I see Audrey Hepburn or Grace Kelly in old movies. Like fine wines, they seemed to acquire more style and grace with age.

Miriam Webster notes “vintage” can be used to describe “something that is not new but that is valued because of its good condition, attractive design, etc.”

They could have placed Hepburn and Kelly’s pictures beside that definition as examples of vintage in human form. These two actresses defined chic sophistication throughout their lives.

How can we mere mortals borrow some of that style? Here are my thoughts:

  1. Embrace shorter hairstyles. Grace Kelly’s swept, back hairstyles appear so soft and natural. While you may not be able to achieve this exact style, there are a few basic takeaways: shoulder length, no bangs, highlights, waves. Audrey’s perfect facial structure allowed her to rock a pixie cut. While you may not want to go that short, you also don’t need to hide behind your hair.
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    Grace Kelly’s swept back style.

     

Audrey Hepburn for Givenchy
Audrey’s pixie cut. Photo by Carrie Spritzer via Creative Commons.

2. Don’t over-accessorize. Who doesn’t want to look like Audrey Hepburn in the wee hours of the morning gazing through Tiffany’s display window? Besides the perfect black dress, what’s most memorable are her signature hat and sunglasses. She had a masterful way with accessories. Lesson for us: you don’t need a lot of makeup or flashy jewelry to look elegant. Find a couple of stand-out accessories to define your look.

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Audrey Hepburn’s classic black hat and sunglasses.

3. Forego the knife. Audrey and Grace didn’t have access to a lot of the cosmetic procedures used by stars today but they were still elegant and attractive as they aged (sadly, Grace only made it into her 50s).

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A still beautiful older Audrey Hepburn. /photo by JC Pons via Creative Commons

4. Invest in quality.  Grace and Audrey were stylish but never trendy. A few quality, signature pieces defined their look. Think Grace’s Hermes bags or Audrey’s orange, double-breasted coat worn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Lesson: Build your wardrobe around a few quality pieces instead of buying a lot of cheaper items based on passing trends.

Grace Kelly with iconic Hermes bag. (From Marie Claire)
Grace Kelly with iconic Hermes Bag (photo from Marie Claire).

Audrey Hepburn's Orange Coat
Audrey Hepburn’s Orange Coat by Givenchy. Photo by Landahlauts via Creative Commons

 

5. Wear Flats. Although 1950s and early 1960s fashion often conjures up images of form-fitting, cinched waist dresses and sleek stilettos, you can achieve a vintage style in flats, too. Personally, I have never gotten used to walking in high heels so even though I realize they look attractive, I think of stilettos as pure torture. Audrey and Grace often wore flats or 1 or 2-inch heels with both dresses and casual outfits.

Audrey wears low heels with her elegant black dress.
Audrey wears low heels with her elegant black dress.
Grace Kelly
Grace Kelly looking casual. Photo by II Giss/ Creative Commons.

 

 

 

Do you like vintage style? How do you achieve it in your everyday or special occasion wardrobe? I’d love to get your input.

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