Style Inspirations – Fred Astaire

If you’ve ever heard of film star Fred Astaire then you must certainly have heard the famous assessment given on his first screen test report:  “Can’t sing. Can’t act. Balding. Can dance a little.” A slight understatement of Astaire’s talent and considerable charm perhaps? Astaire was one of the greatest dancers of his time (here’s just one very famous example) but he also became known for his sartorial elegance which has ensured his status as an enduring style icon.

Astaire preferred British tailoring to American and often got his suits made on Saville Row. He was elegant when casual, wearing beautifully tailored sports coats and trousers in muted hues with his socks providing a punch of colour. And when wearing a top hat and tails he looked as if it was the most comfortable form of clothing in the world.

Astaire gave a comprehensive interview about his style to GQ magazine which is well worth a read. In it he discusses his aversion to “conspicuous” dressing, his love for double-breasted suits, and his preferred way to knot a tie. It is obvious that Astaire is extremely knowledgeable in sartorial matters and the fact that he returned to tailors with the same garment several times to get just the right fit is evident in every photograph.

Pic from Vanity Fair
Pic from
Pic from
Pic by Everett
Pic from The Luxe Obsessions

I couldn’t end this post without including the following video which sees Astaire paired with my favourite movie star of this era, Gene Kelly. Kelly and Astaire were considered to be two of the best dancers of their time but they were very different in style. It is perhaps best summed up by Cyd Charisse who partnered with both of them: “As one of the handful of girls who worked with both of those dance geniuses, I think I can give an honest comparison. In my opinion, Kelly is the more inventive choreographer of the two. I think, however, that Astaire’s coordination is better than Kelly’s. Kelly, on the other hand, is the stronger of the two. To sum it up, I’d say they were the two greatest dancing personalities who were ever on screen. But it’s like comparing apples and oranges. They’re both delicious.”

Astaire and Kelly admired each other professionally and  Kelly was also a fan of Astaire’s sartortial style, once saying, “I used to envy his cool aristocratic style, so intimate and contained. Fred wears top hat and tails to the manner born — I put them on and look like a truck driver.”

Amazing John Frieda Competition!

John Frieda Ireland is offering women the chance to commemorate a transformation in their life with a Hair Transformation courtesy of the John Frieda salon. Finalists will travel to Dublin on 8th November to enjoy the John Frieda Transformation Day. From the 15 finalists, there will be one overall winner who will travel to the John Frieda Salon in London for the ultimate hair transformation. Sweet! So what do you have to do to win the awesome prize? Easy peasy.

All you have to do is write about a transformation that has happened in your life recently. Stories must be based on one of the following three categories: Business/Work Transformation, Health Transformation or Life Transformations. The closing date for emailing entries to is Wednesday October 26th 2011. Think positive ladies and make sure your story is an uplifting one, one that you yourself would like to read.

Transformation stories should be no longer than 300 words, and should include a recent portrait (head and shoulders only) emailable picture in jpeg format. Entrants must be available to attend the John Frieda Transformation Day on Tuesday 8th November 2011 in Dublin.

I have been racking my brains to think of a transformation in my life but unfortunately I don’t have one! It’s dreadful as I would truly love to get something done with my fried blonde locks. I envy whoever wins this prize as your crowing glory will be in top condition for the Christmas season. Best of luck!

John Frieda, Sarah Jessica Parker and Serge Normant (stylist at John Frieda NYC)

Stylish Writers

As a writer who happens to be somewhat fashion obsessed, I was obviously interested to read Flavorwire’s list of Literature’s 10 Best-Dressed Authors. Dapper Tom Wolfe was included as was dandy Oscar Wilde. I was glad to see iconoclasts Anais Nin and Donna Tartt included in the list too.  I would probably have included Sebastian Horsley in the list (I hated his book but love his style), as well as Djuna Barnes.

Style Inspirations – Chloë Sevigny

Some fashion icons are blogged about incessantly: Erin Wasson, Olivia Palermo, The Olsens, Kate Moss, Sienna Miller. I suppose Chloë Sevigny is one of the aforementioned regulars but she stands out for me above all others.

I have a long standing love for Chloë, as she was my very first style inspiration. I saw Kids in New York when it was first released in 1995. My Dad’s friend took us to a screening of it, telling us that this film was considered very controversial for its frank depiction of teenage life in New York. I remember being hypnotised by Chloë; she was such a good actress, so natural on screen. Ever since watching her debut in New York on that muggy summer night, I have been a Chloë devotee.

Since she first drew media attention, via Jay McInerney’s defining article in the 1994 issue of the New Yorker. Chloë has earned praise for her unique interpretation of fashion and for her quirky style. She is the champion of new designers, the self-styled ingenious left-field star on the red carpet. I love that she wears her hair naturally and seems devoid of make-up, only wearing her trademark red lipstick at most.

I have seen many of her movies and particularly enjoyed Trees Lounge, Palmetto, Boys Don’t Cry (for which she earned an Academy Award nomination in 1999 for Best Supporting Actress), Party Monster and Shattered Glass. I love that she takes chances which cause huge controversy (see: The Brown Bunny) and she can still go on to win a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress 2010 (see: Big Love).

Although this is an image heavy post, it’s only 1/10 of the images of her that I love. Chloë is one of the perennial style inspirations in my book.

Chloe around the time of Kids – Interview, 1995
72nd Academy Awards 2000
Gangs of New York Premiere
Premiere Magazine 2004
British Vogue 2004 styled by Bay Garnett
Brown Bunny Premiere
Blackberry Party 2007
Showing off her amazing legs in Numero Tokyo 2007
Prada America’s Cup Dinner 2007
MAC Viva Glam Launch 2009
Met Costume Institute Gala 2010 in Proenza Schouler

My favourite style bloggers

I’m addicted to style blogs.  Every morning, when I should be doing actual work, I attach my IV of coffee and catch up with my favourites.  For the uninitiated, style blogs usually fall into two distinct categories; street style, where the author is a photographer and documents interesting people on the street, and personal style, where the author is usually a fashion obsessive who documents their love for fashion and their own outfits.   

Given the huge success of certain style blogs, the blogosphere is riddled with wannabe fashionistas whose outfits make one wonder about the availibility of lightbulbs and prescription spectacles in their nighbourhood.   However, there are some truly inspirational blogs out there and these are some of my favourites (in no particular order).

1.  Kingdom of Style – KOS is presided over by two Glaswegian girls.  Queen Michelle is a music obsessed graphic designer with a penchant for latex, layers and bustles!  Queen Marie is a redhead and a creative director whose love of sequins knows no bounds and who gives tea parties I want to attend.  This blog is updated daily and I cannot count the number of times I have got lost in the archives!

2.  Sea of Shoes – Jane Aldridge is a very lucky girl!  The 17 year old Texan has a shoe collection most women would give their right arm for.   Jane has a large enough budget to indulge her love of Ann Demeulemeester, Dries Van Noten, Prada and Margiela, but as we all know, money does not neccessarily equal style!  However in Jane’s case her style shows through in every single post and every outfit. 

3.  Style Rookie – Teeny little Tavi has had her fashion dreams come true!  As a result of her incredibly popular blog she has been invited to New York Fashion Week and has been profiled in überhip magazine Pop.  It’s hard to believe she’s only thirteen years old, especially when reading her erudite and often hilarious posts.

4.  Fashion Toast – Rumi Neely is the California girl behind Fashion Toast.  Showcasing a flair for easy dressing with an edgy twist, Rumi can most often be found in mini skirts, fierce boots and amazing jewellery.  She has just starred in an editorial campaign for  RVCA in the US and has other modelling/styling work in the pipeline.

5.  The Sartorialist – The Grandaddy of street style blogs, Scott Schumann has been photographing stylish people the world over for four years.  He has just released his first book and was recently in Dublin for a signing.  Am still so upset that I missed him.