Longing to incorporate chic vintage styles into your wardrobe, but not sure how? Who better to divulge the secrets than Carol Ramsey, costume designer for the newest drama on Starz – Magic City – set in Miami in 1959!
In a nutshell, what characterizes the "look" of the late 50's and early 60’s?
Clothing: Some of the hallmark looks for women include slim, straight skirts, sheath cocktail dresses, and full-skirted, structured bodice dresses for both daytime and nighttime.
Instead of rounded bras, the women of the day wore bullet bras, or bras with a horizontal seam across the center of the breast to give their silhouette an angled look. Girdles, garter belts, and nylon stockings were also warn to shape and structure the body. “All-in-ones," or full body foundations of bra and girdle (think Spanx!) were essential for silhouette, posture, and the "wiggle" for the women.
Accessories: Basic pumps with shorter stiletto heels matched the women of 1959’s hats, purses, gloves, belts, and even jewelry. Mixing of prints and colors was a “don’t” – so no color blocking for these vintage vixens!
Cole Haan Air Juliana Pump, $148
When it was time to relax, casual wear included lots of matching shorts, skirts, and blouses. Swimwear was mostly one-pieces featuring built in girdles and front panels (jealous, anyone?). These bathing suits usually had matching cover-ups because it was a no-no to leave the beach or pool in just your suit! For the daring damsels that wore two-pieces, deemed “American Bikinis,” their belly buttons were always covered. A “European” bikini that didn’t rise higher than the midriff was considered promiscuous!
What styles were specific to Miami Beach in 1959? In Miami, women were known for wearing swimwear with matching cover-ups and sandals. They flaunted exotic handbags and themed purses, often made of straw, and sometimes featuring beach scenes embedded in plastic. Many families wore matching swimwear outfits for both the adults and children – talk about coordination!
How can modern women achieve the 1959 "silhouette"? If you want to incorporate some va-va-voom into your look, go for basic, narrow-cut, and structured garments that let your curves speak for themselves. Make sure to wear a bra and girdle for shape – or even an all-in-one piece!
Which vintage motifs can be found in modern clothing? Most sheath dresses in today’s market echo 50’s motifs. You can also pair a wide statement belt with a pencil skirt and cardigan or blouse. These items are easily found in today’s market, and can help you channel a solid vintage look. 50’s inspired underwear is also available in stores, so keep your eye out for a cute buy!
Ann Taylor Back Zip Polished Cotton Pencil Skirt, $78
Mary Green Nouveau Retro Stretch Silk Satin Full Brief, $35.25
While we’re at it, are there any great vintage accessories to look for? To add some 50’s glam to your wardrobe, think big, chunky necklaces and bracelets, including plastic and wood bangles. These items were popular in the late 50's, and are featured in many stores now. Basic pumps with stiletto heels are versatile and classic, too! Look for delicate lines instead of heavy, chunky heels. In the purse category, a simple clutch and matching belt will do the trick!
Amrita Singh Tozi Bangle, $20
Aldo Pobre Clutch , $40
How can we really work the Magic City vintage look in our everyday outfits? Make sure to keep everything simple and coordinated (accessories, jewelry, shoes matching) but also experiment with clothes that are body hugging and sexy! The 50’s look is covered up and coy, experimental and put-together. Think curvy and controlled, and use pieces that accentuate your assets. It’s easy to educate yourself on vintage styles by logging on to LIFE Magazine online, Vogue Magazine, Esquire Magazine, etc. If you truly understand 50’s glam, you’ll have no problem knocking the look out of the park!
And, since it’s summertime, are there any vintage bathing suits we should try? Don't be afraid of one-piece bathing suits! Plunging backs and strappy details will get everyone’s attention. If you want to bear more skin, high-waisted bikinis are super sexy – vamp it up in leopard print or all black! On the sweeter side? Then rock a polka dotted or striped two-piece and get ready for some fun in the sun!
UO Mix & Match Bikini, Top: $42, Bottom: $37