Mid-Century Mania – Part 1

Saturday afternoon I was thumbing through the July Vogue, and came across this fashion editorial featuring Ewan McGregor and Natalia Vodianova.  It’s truly one of the more stunning and visually engaging shoots I’ve seen from Vogue in quite a while.
My first thought was, “Belle de Ville is going to ADORE this!”  only to discover that she was already on it.
My second thought was “YESSSS, kitten heels!”  (It appears the rumors of their resurrection have not been exaggerated.)
My third thought was to remember how while watching the first season of Mad Men I’d predicted to le monsieur that the next major fashion shift would be a return to 50’s-to-early-60’s silhouettes .  While it looks as though I may have been right, this likely was one of my stopped clock moments based on the cyclical nature of fashion rather than any kind true insight.
So before I let another opportunity for prognostication pass untapped, here’s what the tea leaves are telling me regarding the return of elements of 50’s-60’s style, aside from kitten heels, smaller structured bags, and longer, fuller skirts:
1.  Bouffant hairstyles. More demure than the Full Amy Winehouse, but complete with backcombing and spray.  Or else the voluminous tousled Brigitte Bardot sex-kitten look.  We’ve already seen a bit of this on the runways and red carpets but I’m guessing it will take hold on a wider basis, and not just for evening.  Bouffant hair styles might not be as stiff and helmetlike as in the past, but like clothing, will be more structured. 
2.  Simple pearl jewelry, including single strands, pearls stud earrings, and especially brooches, will see a resurgence.
3.  Twinsets will suddenly have caché.
4.  Stores featuring “Danish Modern” furniture will spring up like mushrooms in every strip mall with a vacancy.  IKEA will be hip again.
5.  Cars with tail fins will reappear on the scene and be ultimately wildly popular. They won’t be the behemoths of yesteryear, but I’m envisioning a hybrid or even an electric convertible with fins and a continental kit. (Please, please, please M/Mme Auto Designer!!!)
6.  This one I’m absolutely certain of: coffee drinkers will rediscover The Percolator.  I mean, look at the lines on this baby!  Hipsters everywhere will laud the “dusky” (read: slightly burnt) taste of the resultant brew.
Later this week, how une femme might interpret and incorporate mid-century style.
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  1. Oh I haven’t seen this yet, I am crazy about this look, I would love to work out an everyday version of this kind of style. Really looking forward to your post about it.

  2. So with you on the big hair. And I’ve started to see it on the streets in San Francisco. Sort of a Bardot feeling. What about the return of a waistline higher than one’s hip? Do you think we’ll get that out of this resurrection too?

  3. Mother and I sat behind a bouffant do at the local Theare Guild production Saturday and we found our views were somewhat hampered…they advise us to turn off cellphones, unwrap crinkly candies etc all before the play commences…but there’s nothing to do about the beehive is there?

  4. coffee tastes best when coming from a percolator and I finally picked up mine at a local resale shop for $6. Although, I’ve seen some really nice kitsch on ebay for under $20!

  5. Oh, noooo – not the hair, not the hair! On the other hand, I do hope for waistlines above the hips. Love the kitten heels and structured bags, too. (BTW, did you notice how the children in that Vogue spread disappeared when they got to be too inconvenient. I know it’s just a fashion spread, but it’s so typical of Vogue.)

  6. I saw this on the Tom and Lorenzo blog, and loved it. If I can ever get my figure back (sigh) these are the clothes that I want to wear.

  7. Miss J is already a big fan of some of these looks, especially brooches. She will definitely forgo the bouffant.

    Miss J loves the remark by Sewing Librarian about the kids… the same thing happens on Mad Men. Those kids are sent to their rooms more than than anyone Miss J has ever seen.

  8. I can’t wait for your interpretation.

    I owe you a picture for the scarf challenge. Now I am going to slide down to see how the garden grows.


  9. I already have the pearls, kitten heels, twinset and the percolator. Now where is my teasing comb?

  10. what woman in her right mind would leave Ewan McGregor, anyway?!!

    I adore the New Look silhouette and am thrilled it’s set to come back. They (you know, the nebulous *they*) can keep the bouffant, though.

  11. I feel that I´m not liking what´s coming. The length in dresses and skirts is ok, but the rest, a no,no.

  12. Say it ain’t so!! Kitten heels maybe but the rest would not work on me. As for the higher waists – wonderful when I was in my 20s but unfortunately for me after giving birth my waist became a bit thicker and my hips stayed the same. After 4 children there is no way I can fit into one of those dresses without going up about 3 sizes..

  13. T&C Mom – I was born in 1957, so these were the looks my mother and her friends wore. I always associated them with elegance and someday being a “grown up lady.” Who says there are no second chances??

    Tabitha – I think the trick, especially for those of us of a certain age is don’t wear the look literally. We risk looking as if we were caught in a time warp!

    LPC – I probably won’t be doing the big hair myself (though never say never) but I have been leaning toward a more structured hair style. I think the super low-waisted pants will fade into the background, and I think we’ll see more cinched waists. Mixed blessings here.

    Hostess – that would be funny if it hadn’t impeded your enjoyment of the play. Yes, an interesting conundrum. Hats can be removed; big hair cannot.

  14. OgodOgod, please no bouffant hairdos! All that backcombing/spraying is so bad for one’s hair. Besides, I have “anti-bouffant” hair (ie, curly). I never, ever want to feel like I have “bad” hair again. The late ’60s (middle parts, stick straight) were bad enough.

    And I’m sticking with my stovetop Moka pot…

  15. LaShaune – my stepmother actually bought a small percolator recently. She figured it was only her in the house now, why make big pots of coffee? The percolated coffee was better than I’d remembered from the 70’s (before everyone switched to Mr. Coffee).

    Tish – hope it won’t disappoint, but my interpretation won’t be literal. Do send me the scarf pic and I’ll do my best to duplicate and post a tutorial.

    LBR – I can so see you with a little bit of “height.” Your innate style really lends itself to these kinds of looks.

    SewingLibrarian – I can’t see myself backcombing either. And I’d also noticed that about the kids. For this storyline they’re interesting props, but probably get handed off to the nanny or grandma so that Mom can date! Growing up during this era, children were definitely expected to be invisible when grownups wanted to spend time together, whether for cocktail parties or bridge games. We were expected to entertain ourselves, and didn’t expect to go to “grownup” functions. I’m not saying this was better or worse, just that the expectations were different.

  16. metscan – there are some aspects to this style that I really welcome. But I can’t see myself with that hair. 😉

    Maravonda – the clothes of this era were more demanding, but they also wore support garments that helped nip in those waists and smooth those hips. I don’t think we want to go back to that, so it will be interesting to see how women achieve these silhouettes without the armor-like girdles.

    Veuve – trust me, these aren’t recommendations, just predictions. I won’t be “ratting” my fine hair either!

    Miss Janey – oh yes to the brooches. And regarding the kids, I think to some degree there was more of an expectation back then for them to be less visible (at least in my family).

    Toby Wollin – exactly. And we were expected to eat what was served, too! ;-p

  17. enc – I thought it was one of the best things Vogue has done in ages. Percolators make coffee that’s slightly stronger, more acidic and bitter than drip coffeemakers. But as I mentioned above, I had some percolated coffee a couple of weeks ago, and it wasn’t as bad as I’d remembered. For most coffee snobs, a percolator is the devil’s own appliance.

    Miss Cavendish – now there’s an interesting thought! I like your happy ending.

    Marieanne – as a longtime fan of the New Look, I’m loving these silhouettes (even if I can no longer wear them). I can’t envision myself in a bouffant either.

    Patty – I can’t imagine squeezing myself into those wasp-waists either at this point, but some of the elements are do-able.

    Sharon – thanks! I’m glad you were inspired.

  18. My stovetop espresso pot (mocha) was born in that era too, so no percolator, thank you very much.

    You can still find nice brooches at church and charity sales…

    Although those clothes, that hair do have a wonderful postwar-modern glam, they still require painful undergarments, hair manipulation etc that I don’t think most women will tolerate on a daily basis nowadays.

  19. Am curious how this will play out in general and for your in particular!

    I get big hair when external or internal temps are hot, so the hair part would be easy for me.

    The rest, not so much.

    How about a return to high-quality clothes for mainstream prices, though? I could get behind that!

  20. << I was born in 1957, so these were the looks my mother and her friends wore. I always associated them with elegance and someday being a "grown up lady." >> Me too (give or take a couple of months).

    Have just redecorated sitting room with 1960’s chrome & leather sofa, so I could pose on it with my kitten heels. But NOT the beehive. Reflected in the “vintage” furniture shop that I was revisiting the sitting rooms of my richer and more stylish schoolfriends’ parents. Realised sadly that this is because they are now dying.

  21. I had to giggle when it came to the percolator. Whenever we are home that is how our coffee is fixed! It was my grandmother’s (who was a 1940’s-1960’s housewife), and it’s actually not bad when done correctly. But then again we only make coffee 3 ways in our house: stove top percolator, french press, and stove top espresso pot.

  22. I’m all for the pearls and brooches; the bouff will never sit on my head again b/c to get it, I slept on orange-juice can rollers.

    I love that Bardot look on young women, and fins and percolators can be enjoyed by all.