For a long time I have been interested in fashion from past eras, whether it is seeking out authentic vintage clothing, or buying new clothes with vintage-inspired details. But even faux-vintage, like everything else, is subject to trends.
Especially online, a lot of the reproduction-vintage shops go for a 1950s rockabilly-pinup-bombshell vibe, with sweet crinoline skirts or sexy wiggle dresses. It is also fairly easy to find 1960s shifts and baby-doll dresses. But what if you're a '30s and '40s kind of gal? And I don't mean slinky satin '30s-style evening dresses (there are always plenty of those around, and too few occasions to wear them!), but day dresses and separates. For those of us who would rather be Ginger Rogers singing "Pick Yourself Up" than Marilyn Monroe singing "Havin' A Heat Wave," it's not always easy.
This fall, however, I have been surprised to see a few dresses in mainstream stores that wouldn't have been out of place in the 1930s. I wish these had been around six months ago when I was trying to costume my play that took place in 1934!
This is the "Silk Ruffle Dress" from Banana Republic. One of my favorite things about 1930s fashion is that silk crepe wasn't just a fabric for evening gowns; day dresses were often made of silk as well. This revives the idea of a silk dress that you can wear to the office.
This is the "Quotidian Dress," on sale at Anthropologie. It is also made of silk crepe. The fabric-covered buttons and narrow belt are, for me, what make this just so 1930s. Can't you picture it on the sweet and innocent heroine of a movie from that time, perhaps Joan Fontaine in Rebecca?
(addendum 9/17/08: here's a randomly found photo of Broadway actress Ashley Brown wearing this dress.)
I also like the color choices for these two dresses. Again, because of the rockabilly-pinup thing, a lot of vintage-inspired clothing is in vivid shades like black, cherry red, and hot pink. But these soft grays and blues feel much more authentically '30s-'40s to me.
I've tried on both these dresses, but haven't bought either of them (though if I had unlimited money I certainly would). Instead, the dress I most recently purchased is inspired by the '60s, not the '30s. I can't seem to find a picture anywhere online, but it's a Banana Republic black sheath sweaterdress with 3/4 sleeves and princess seams. I'm calling it my "Joan from Mad Men goes to a funeral" dress. All right, maybe it is fun to pretend you're a bombshell sometimes...