Monday, January 12, 2015

The Little Red Dress: a 60s Staple

It was New Year's day, or was it New Year's Eve day? Anyway, it was a good day, a rare sunny day in the usually dark and rainy winter. It was a good day to take some photos of my new, 60s style dress, even if the sun was so bright that I struggled to keep my eyes open.

I live fairly far north and, though it's not cold here like in most northern climates, I notice my latitude in the winter, when the sun is never directly over head. Instead, it sends us slanted rays that hit us sideways and create interesting, exotic shadows. 

My new dress is very 60s and early 70s, so I just had to pose (in the weird shadows) with my very 60s, flowered, chrome and vinyl chairs. We're really going for a 50s look in the kitchen but the chairs were just too fun to resist. 

The era was not one shy of very bright and odd colour combinations. I think we're entering another such era and I plan to have fun with it.

Mary Tyler Moore's character in her eponymous 70s television show, has always been a style icon for me and my dress first and foremost reminded me of my beloved MTM.

Here I was, wearing a bright, orangey red, a-line dress just like Mary!

She wore a lot of them.

She wore them with sleeves.
Boots: Ecco; Dress: Mod Cloth; Headband: Stylize; Coat: Reitman's; Cape, earrings, brooches, and belt: vintage 
And, like me, she also wore them ...

... without sleeves ...

... either way, looking sharp.

Of course, we mustn't forget the Peter Pan collars.

Oh the Peter Pan collars!

This too, my dress imitates. I have no doubt that the designer of my dress had this era in mind.

Such collars were ubiquitous for about ten years, perhaps first popularized by the uber hip designer, Mary Quaint.

She also seems to have popularized the tomato red, a-line, short dress.

In keeping with the 60s theme, I chose to wear a matching set of brushed gold-tone and faux pearl earrings and brooch. They're vintage Avon, if you can believe it. I found the earrings for $8 at a thrift store, and then found the matching brooch for about $15 on Etsy. I've found the bracelet too but for too much money -- so far.

All the chicest ladies of the 60s wore brushed gold-tone accessories (the very richest wearing real gold, of course, which I covet).

I try to fancy myself chic too, if for the wrong decade, so I also added a brushed gold, ever so slightly psychedelic, Trifari brooch too. Small nods to the counter-culture, drug craze of the 60s did work their way into the fashion of even the most "square" of "who lunch."

Wide head bands were also all the rage at the time ... 

... so I wore one of those too. They too were often in bold and vaguely psychedelic patterns, as is mine.

This is me buttoning my cardigan incorrectly. It took me hours to notice that I'd done so.

But you can still get the idea of the look I was after with the cardigan. It's a quick way for a curvy woman to emphasize her waist without struggling with her buttons popping open over her ample bust. I got this dress on Mod Cloth in a plus size, and it's a little bit too big, so I wanted to define my waist a bit more; thus both the belt and the sweater.

If I were a true gal of the 60s and early 70s, I would have bought it tighter but, well, with middle age and my disability, I figure a little room for growth is a good thing.

As I said before, bright colours were everywhere in the time my dress is clearly fashioned to emulate. This graduating class of 1970 amply proves this true.

In keeping with the 60s passion for bright colours, I added my "pride scarf" to the mix (pride because it's the colours of the gay pride flag). Beau didn't think it looked good with the outfit but I beg to differ. 

It's actually fun that he now has an interest in style and takes an interest in my outfits (sometimes), but, still, I'm the boss of me, naturally, so the scarf stayed in the outfit.

This way, the bright vibrancy carried through the outfit, even when I had my cape on.

And, when I was just wearing my coat (which was under the cape, it being a very cold day to ride a mobility scooter), the red in the scarf nicely balanced the red peeking out from under the coat.

With the scarf, the gay spirit of the dress ...

... could be seen on the outside too ...

... even from the back.

I really like this photo. Given that it was taken on New Year's, I think it makes me look like I'm contemplating the future in a hopeful way. I have been through tremendous changes this year -- getting engaged to Beaumoving in with him and his two sons, going on disability, growing more and more open about the child abuse that rendered me disabled ... My future is a bit of an unknown, but not, I think, a bleak one.

But back to the 60s, when the bright red dress was the thing, from teenage basement dance parties ...

... to the first lady in the White House.

All the most fashionable ladies wore them, from Marlo Thomas' That Girl ...

... to Twiggy.

Since so many women wanted this dress, there had to be some variation in design, to accommodate both the young girls and their passion for the miniskirt ...

... and the housewife, with her desire for a bit more modesty, covering the upper thighs that virtually every woman over 25 isn't confident enough to expose.

Being a more mature woman, I too opt for the more modest version of this style.

Personally, I think it's classier anyway. (And do note above the little brooch and the leather gloves just like mine.)

Modesty need not be born of conservatism. It may just look good.

I'm certainly not demure but I tend to like the demure look. This is probably a rebellion against the hippies who raised me. They sure as heck weren't wearing dresses like this in the 60s. They were more of the hairy legs and Indian cotton print set. I'm quite sure my father would loathe this outfit.

But I can and do wear the styles that, to my elders, embodied the reviled mainstream. So there!

Plus, I'm starting to embrace old terms for the mature woman, like "matronly" and "stout." I dress for the figure I have -- middle aged, disabled, short -- not the figure I want. It's a good way to learn to love your figure: dress for it, see how good it can look, and maybe the figure you have will also be the figure you want. Stranger things have happened.

But I digress again. Let us get to the boots, the go-go boots. 

They were generally white, as seen here on the incomparable singer, song writer, and Aboriginal educator, Buffy Sainte Marie, who is another of my style icons.

My boots weren't white ...

... but black boots were not verboten. The coolest chicks wore them.

And I'm one of the coolest chicks, right?

So, on New Year's Eve (or was it day?), I was in good company in my youthful ...

... mature dress.

I was a year older and a little pensive ...

... as usual. I was a little bit insecure ...

... and a little bit confident, also as usual.

And I'm looking toward the future, whatever it may bring.

(I'm sharing this with Spy Girl and Not Dead Yet's Visible Mondays.)


  1. You look so tender basking in the northern sun. Lovely dress and fun scarf! Have a wonderful year, Charlotte. May all your dreams, hopes and desires come true. Create, love, write, enjoy your life! Happy 2015! xxx

  2. Love, love, love how you pulled in those other images to tie in with your dress.

    Popped by from 52 pickup.

    1. It's a little trade mark of mine. I try to find images of whatever I was thinking of when I put an outfit together. It can be work to find them but it's fun. It become a bit of fashion history.

  3. Red adds instant glamour and you looked glamorous!

  4. Wonderful photo essay on the power of colors (and nostalgia) in our way of dressing. You look lovely in your Little Red Dress! Thanks for sharing with Visible Monday, xo.

  5. Super cute dress and great boots and gloves!

  6. Hi! Visiting from Visible Monday! Love this dress, it is beautiful! You look wonderful and I love all the vintage photos to demonstrate its authenticity!! Can't believe you are middle-aged! You look very young!!!x

  7. you always put so much effort onto your posts. This was so fascinating. Red is the perfect colour for you and I like how you've styled your dress with the gloves.

    1. I mostly wear the gloves to keep my arms warm when I'm on my mobility scooter, but they look so cool, I decided to leave them on.

  8. Yes, you are definitely a cool chick. I love red, and MTM too. My thing is red coats. I always buy the red one.