Did you know I have a card game move named after me (in our family circle that is)? In the card game UNO, when you lay down a card that is the duplicate of the one which is to be matched (the one placed there from the last player to have a turn), we call that “pulling a Kelly”. That is the way I frequently like to play in that game, so whenever someone else does the same, we all have a name for that move. I have more than one way to “pull a Kelly”, though…through clothing! Every so often, I love to dress in imitation of the great fashion icon and actress Grace Kelly, due in no small part to the fact her last name matches my first. This is my other way of “pulling a Kelly! My first full scale handmade attempt at copying Ms. Kelly has been fully documented here in this post. Once again, I will channel Princess Grace of Monaco on my blog, this time recalling her famous outfit from the 1954 Hitchcock movie “Rear Window”.
Admittedly, there is not a whole lot of me-made here (just my skirt), and – for its vintage appearance – the only thing truly from a past decade is my blouse and the underwear that suits it. But this was a recent special outfit for a nicely joyous and dressy occasion, and it’s combined with pieces all of which are so very meaningful to me, so I might wax sentimental (you have been warned). Yet, it deserves a feature. Besides, it is nice to see an outfit which is something other than pink, red, or valentine-themed at this time of the year, isn’t it?! Let’s dive in.
My true vintage, 1950s era, cotton velveteen blouse is the only garment I have from my late Grandmother, on my father’s side. I have mostly jewelry, a few hats, lots of sewing notions and written mementos, but most importantly possess plenty of memories from her so this top is by no means the only thing I hold onto of hers. Yet, it means a lot to have something to wear like this, especially since I am so invested in vintage style. She was a very fashionable young woman in the 1950’s, as young bride and mother during that decade. I have no doubt this was something she wore. She probably saved it for special occasions and probably wore it with pearls – just like I did – if I know her. She always remembered the story around each item she had…too bad I never got to ask about this fancy blouse while there was still time.
There is a label to the inside which marks it as “A Linda Original”, for which I unfortunately cannot find any information. It is made very well, with rayon seam binding hand-stitched inside, a metal zipper in the side, and impeccable tailoring. There is a decorative asymmetric tab which comes out from the center front, tacked down with a velvet covered button. The wide, shoulder-skimming neckline (which is the same in the back as it is in the front) is so classic 1950s and strongly reminded me of the photoshoot session Grace Kelly had in her Edith Head dress from the movie “Rear Window”.
I am an hourglass figure with strong shoulders so this was perfect for me. Luckily, too, the top just fits. Even still, I needed a little help. After all, my Grandma had bragged to me many times that when she was married she was a 19” waist! To match the tiny hourglass figure the blouse was made for and let my shoulders be clear of any lingerie straps I chose a late 1940s true vintage, strapless, boned, corset-style bra to wear underneath.
My pearled necklace with the little diamond pendant at the center is yet another special piece to my outfit. It actually was one of several pearls necklaces I received as a gift from my youngest Aunt (on my mother’s side) as a teenager. Then, once the first Lord of the Rings movie came out, I always saw this necklace as a form of Arwen’s “Evenstar” (silly, me!). It is from the well-esteemed Monet line of high-end costume jewelry, in business since the early 1920s and known for its quality. Now that look at my jewelry drawer, almost all of the jewelry I received as gifts a teen was from the established, vintage-inspired brands such as the 1928 jewelry brand company. My family had good taste in gifts! This was one of my early pieces that made me look into and appreciate old-time styles. Brands such as these made quality, vintage styles of accessories as easy to find as your local department store, and I guess my taste in dressing of today was being formed back then without even realizing it.
The skirt I am wearing to complete my outfit is yet another one of my old favorite makes – a basic four-panel, elastic waist, done-in-two-hours cotton skirt which I made 20 years ago. Yes, you read correctly, it is really from two decades back! All the skirts (and there were many) I made around the turn of the last century using McCall’s #8796 (from 1997) are special to me because I am still wearing and enjoying them, still finding new ways to incorporate them into outfits not tried before. This was the first time I paired this particular skirt with something so dressy – I am ecstatic. Being a basic printed cotton, it never struck me before that I could fancy it up the way it did here.
It is really a very tiny scale floral which blends into one muted tone that works well for many basic tees, sweaters, blouses, and – now – a fancy vintage top! Go check out the last post about my very first two-hour skirt, made from a flowing rayon challis, and you will be surprised to see how the choice of material makes all the difference. Compared to the other body sweeping rayon version, this one has a straighter, ballroom-style appearance although being fully lined in cling-free poly. Even with a full, tiered, poufy slip, it has room in its hem to spare. I do enjoy the elegance of an ankle length skirt every so often.
The occasion itself for such an outfit was to celebrate 50 years of our local Symphonic Orchestra having a special Youth branch. It was wonderful to see the lasting memories and bonds of friendship formed through such an outreach program, and even better to celebrate it with dessert, champagne, and a fabulous performance by the members of the Youth Orchestra from all of the years of its history. It’s always great to find an occasion to dress up and enjoy oneself, but better yet when our presence can be combined with the first reasons to show support for something good happening in the community. I’m hoping to have more very delightful reasons to wear many of my favorite pieces – both new and old – yet to come! Also, let me know if you play the game UNO and have yourself “pulled a Kelly” kind of move!