Monday, June 11, 2007

The Shirtdress, Part I

Saturday, when I went to answer the door wearing my usual Saturday house cleaning decrepit shorts and T-shirt, I had a kind of epiphany. To save myself from further embarrassment, and to spare my local tradesmen further aesthetic distress, I should adopt the household costume of the 1950's housewife, the print shirtwaist dress. My reasoning was that those dresses should be at least as comfortable as shorts, possibly cooler because they're loose, and, while concealing, should carry a certain ironic post-modern cachet.

So, delivery accepted, I logged onto ebay to see if I could find a few vintage shirtwaist dresses at bargain prices; however, for my search I typed in "shirtdress" instead of "shirtwaist dress". The results yielded vintage dresses from the 60s and 70s, and I was immediately distracted.

Check out this black and white beauty, for sale at Lux Eternal. Except for the sleeve style (i.e., it HAS sleeves) it doesn't look vintage at all, and the print simply fab. And I simply loved the cream lace dress below, but that's already been nabbed on a buy-it-now. Some lucky person really scored for $19.00.

Of course, even if they fit, I wouldn't consider doing housework in either of these dresses, and I'm willing to bet that the close-fitting cream dress isn't that comfortable to wear. But sometimes, it really IS better to look good than to feel good.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Clothes on Film – Tough Girl Chic

What did it say about me that my fashion idol in the 70’s was a neurotic hooker character in a movie about sex crimes? What does it say about me now that when I go to grab pictures of my fashion ideals off the web I often wind up on fetish sites?

Pictures of Jane Fonda, dressed in thigh-high boots for the role of call-girl Bree Daniels in “Klute” are posted all over boot fetish sites. Thirty-something years ago, when "Klute" was released and I was a mere pup, I loooooved those boots too, even though, blessed with speed-skater legs as I am, I had no hope of finding a pair that fit, even assuming I’d expose enough muscle-bound thigh to show them off.

I loved the rest of Bree’s (and for about five minutes, before she got on the plane to Hanoi, Jane Fonda’s) look, too. It’s just so “I’m tough, I’m kewl, I’m high-fashion, don’t f*ck with me without a contract and if we close the deal be prepared to be f*cked into the middle of next week, muthaf*cka, even though deep inside I’ve retained my child-like innocence” look. I tried to copy it where I could; I got a shag haircut, which was actually flattering on me, I bought suede lace-front boots, and over the years I’ve owned a series of button-front mid-calf skirts like the one Bree is wearing in the second photo. In fact, the last in the series was donated to charity only a few months ago, although at the time I bought it I’m sure I had forgotten my original inspiration.

I regret to say that even dressed like Bree the Irresistible I was totally ignored by the opposite sex. (Lesbians have always hit on me – it must be the muscles. Or the glasses. Or the damn shag. NTTAWWT, except that I’m straight and hate softball so such efforts came to naught.) No one ever thought I was tough, because indeed I am not, and I rarely had the energy to even think of f*cking someone into the middle of next week. One might conclude that this cinematic fashion icon was ill-chosen.

Yikes, that’s too much about me; this isn’t a confessional blog. About the movie: it’s real good -- moody, suspenseful, sexy, very well-acted. "Klute" was made before Jane came turned political, so her performance is free from that earnest save-the-world vibe much of her later work has. In fact, "Klute" and an earlier bit of fluff called "Cat Ballou" are the only two Jane Fonda films I enjoyed without reservation. The very ending of the movie is a bit of a disappointment, what with Bree leaving "the life" in New York for domestic bliss in some suburb, but the girl still left looking good!

Thanks to the magic of YouTube, you can watch a bit of Jane’s Oscar-winning performance here, in the somewhat strange form of a video of the movie playing on TV.

When I was surfing the web for more Bree Daniels photos I found that the Catwalk Queen chose Jane Fonda in "Klute" and "Barbarella" as a style icon too. That's reassuring.