Story and photos by Emily Smith
Growing up as a child of the 1980s, I was partial to neon brights and any tacky ensemble that Madonna threw together, especially if it included some variation of fishnets, black lace and armpit hair. I even vaguely remember begging my mother to let me shave the sides of my head into a grid-like pattern, much like the 1985 Cyndi Lauper “hair-don’t” that she sported in her “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” video. Thank goodness for unanswered prayers, as my mom decided it not in a 9-year-old’s best interest to shave off her blond locks prior to third-grade picture day. Ahhh, the memories.
Honestly, when you spend the majority of your childhood idolizing and emulating fashion daredevils like Madonna and Cyndi like I did, it is pretty tough to identify with the more ladylike style icons of generations past. And, although my poor mother tried her darndest (to no avail, I might add) to introduce me to Hitchcock and his long list of demure leading ladies on the silver screen, it took me almost another 20 years to truly appreciate the air of simplicity, class and understated grandeur that so fully encompassed the fashion footprint of the early 1960s.
Nowadays, seldom do we see women donning hats and gloves with every dress they step into, or men dressed in their Sunday best on any given Tuesday afternoon. Sad to say, people just don’t put the same effort and thoughtful zest into getting dressed anymore. And, not until the monstrous success of TV’s “Mad Men” has such a surge of overt femininity and masculine elegance once again become so prevalent.
I find it extremely refreshing to see ladies properly dressed to suit their hourglass figures, in waist-cinching frocks, complete with matching hats and gloves. And while the 1980s version of Madonna dwelling deep inside me stills rears her ugly head from time to time, I am equally compelled to draw out my inner Grace Kelly or Marilyn Monroe when I’m feeling particularly ladylike.
This month, I used a vintage floral palette to beckon the early 1960s the best way I know how. So, put on your finest fedora, gentlemen, and, ladies, be not afraid to bust out the white gloves in the dead heat of the summer sun. A little Audrey Hepburn, a dash of Sandra Dee — and throw in a nice, dry martini while you’re at it — and you have the makings for a very posh and debonair “Mad Men”-inspired summer!