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VFG Fashion Parade

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Style Icon: Phyllis Diller



OK, not your typical style icon, but if style means being true to yourself and unforgettable, Phyllis Diller is most certainly an icon.

Phyllis Diller, who passed away in 2012, made her costuming, hair and makeup an integral part of her self-invented comedic persona. Diller’s 2005 autobiography is titled Like a Lampshade in a Whorehouse. That is so her.

So what if her wig was unkempt, her colors loud and her makeup gaudy—She was all there, a complete package day in and day out, long before Lady Gaga.

Killer Diller style: “My photographs don’t do me justice - they just look like me.”
I feel a great affinity for this woman’s unconventional and wacky style. I’d rather be fun than elegant, at least some of the time. Most of all, I want to be myself. Phyllis Diller once said “I wanted to become me, totally me. The more me, the better. I instinctively knew this and I was right.” Apparently her famous window-rattling laugh did not need invention.

She was a beautiful woman. It took courage, talent and self-assurance to pull off an act in which being unattractive was part of the gag.



The mid to late 1960s were good years to have an over-the-top style. I love the way her style just goes one (or maybe two or three) steps too far, but always with fashion in sight.

House of Patou, 1968
Phyllis Diller in her cotton ball dress 
Schiaparelli, ca. 1930
A caged bird
A 1978 photo of Phyllis Diller in her closet (Los Angeles Times) “Honey, I adore clothes. Always have, even as a baby. I follow fashion like a scientist follows rats. If I like something, I buy it in all colors.”

This week at the Vintage Fashion Guild, the Parade is dedicated to the style of Phyllis Diller. Go funny and fearless...go maximalist! 

You think I'm overdressed? This is just my slip!”—Phyllis Diller
These items and more are found in the VFG Parade forum

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Dream Girls: Girl Groups of the Sixties

Every week, the Vintage Fashion Guild has a fashion parade, where trade members show off their finds suited to the week's theme. I'm part of the committee that comes up with these themes, and last week's was one of my favorites. This is what I wrote for the VFG parade, Dream Girls.
Starting with Please Mr. Postman the big 1961 Motown crossover hit by The Marvelettes, girl groups ruled in the 1960s.

The Ronettes, Martha and The Vandellas, The Shirelles, The Cookies, The Velvelettes, The Shangri-Las, and of course The Supremes, brought coordinated images and harmonies to pop music.

Speaking of the The Supremes, veteran music critic Susan Whitall said of seeing the group on the Ed Sullivan Show, “they were just such beautiful girls in these beautiful gowns, singing the music that I was listening to all week on the radio.” They were among the first black musicians to appear on that influential show.

Ranging in style from elaborate evening gowns to tight leather pants, each 60s girl group had an image to uphold, always coordinating...and usually with big hair and thick eyeliner.

Martha and the Vandellas

The Ronettes

The Marvelettes

The Shangri-las

The Supremes

Some of my fellow VFGers’ choices for getting the girl group look...see all the choices in the VFG forums.

60s beaded gold lamé dress from Poppy's Vintage Clothing, 60s rhinestone and bead dangling earrings from The Spectrum, 60s checkerboard beaded & sequined top from Mags Rags, 60s gold lamé cape and pants set from Viva Vintage Clothing, 60s black chiffon and sequined party dress from Poppy's Vintage Clothing, 60s ice blue sheath with dangling beads from Mags Rags.

And the best inspiration, the groups themselves













Read more about the real dream girls at Smithosonianmag.com

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Get the Look: The Thin Man, 1934

Nora, Asta and Nick

This week, the Vintage Fashion Guild featured members showing off their best Thin Man looks. As I wrote for this "Get the Look" feature,
Suave, witty, stylish and charming…if you haven’t yet met Nick and Nora Charles (inimitably created by William Powell and Myrna Loy) you must see The Thin Man movies. This week we pull from our 1930-40s collections to bring you our very best Nick and Nora looks.
Night and day, The Charles' looks were unmistakably elegant and fashionable.

If you really haven't met Nick and Nora Charles, and their wonder dog Asta, allow me to introduce you.

Without a doubt, the finest of the 6-part Thin Man series of movies is the original, dating from 1934. Based on the detective novel by Dashiell Hammett, the movie is a mystery and a comedy in equal parts...fueled by copious alcohol and wit. This video shows a few of the quintessential Nick and Nora scenes from the first two movies in the series.



It isn't easy finding 1930s clothing and accessories now, but leave it to VFG members (and their deep inventories) to provide examples:

Bernard Weatherill Formal Tailcoat Suit from Glad Rags & Curios, 30s Nouveau Print Wide Silk Tie from The Spectrum, detail from 30s Black Velvet Bias Cut Formal Dress Gown from Mags Rags, 1930s Black Sheer Silk Chiffon Butterfly Nightgown from Daisy Fairbanks, Early Eisenberg Dress Clip-Unsigned from Linn's Collection, 1930s Peep Toe Strap Shoes Black Leather Cut Outs from Bettes Bargains, Felt Flowers Tilt Hat by New York Creations from Rue de la Paix, 1930s Art Deco Men's Smoking Lounging Robe Dressing Gown from Poppy's Vintage Clothing, Late 1930s Dressing Gown or Hostess Dress from Bonnie & Clyde's Treasure Trove Vintage

I've got a few 30s items available this week, including a lace evening dress and jacket, a day dress and a hostess gown.

Among my eBay offerings this week

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Billie Holiday, style icon

Style icon? Wait, what about music icon?

Obviously Lady Day is an immortal musician, one of the most distinctive artistic voices of the 20th century. But this week I have turned to her for the inspiration she gives me with her style.

This week, the Vintage Fashion Guild featured members showing off their best clothing and accessories worthy of Billie Holiday. As I wrote for this "Get the Look" feature,

The most enduring image of Billie Holiday dates from around 1940: At the microphone, in a beautiful gown, gardenias in her hair, head thrown back. Explore her style with 40s rayon prints, dramatic, stage-worthy evening clothing, striking and exotic jewelry...and of course, flowers.

Here are some of the gorgeous items the VFG members show:


I am trying to channel a more casual Billie with some 50s sundresses...and I couldn't resist trying out flowers in my hair.

All among my eBay offerings this week





If you want to try your hand at emulating the makeup of the 1940s Billie, I recommend the wonderful Face Forward by Kevyn Aucoin, who was a genius at translating the looks of iconic beauties for modern day women.

Victoire Charles, makeup by Kevyn Aucoin

I can't leave the subject of Billie Holiday without presenting one of my favorite of her performances available online, with an incredible line up of some of the greatest jazz musicians of all time (Fine and Mellow, 1957). She was obviously a beautiful person both inside and out, with a musical presence that transcends time, and style to match.

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Vintage for Mrs. Obama

Since I first saw Michelle Obama, she and her style have given me her own brand of hope. Here is an extremely intelligent, capable, articulate and interesting woman in her 40s, and she has undeniable style too!

In my mind, I always dress people in vintage clothing, and the more I like the person's style, the more I play this game.

Well my game is being taken up by members of the Vintage Fashion Guild this week, where we are featuring Dress the First Lady on our Fashion Parade, with items from our currently available vintage inventories.

Here are some things I chose for Michelle from my racks. Her inimitable style can carry so many looks and colors, and I know she looks stunning in blues and purples. One of my dresses for her is 1950s vintage by R & K, with a little bow tie at the neck and a flaring skirt.

I know she knows how to wear a full-skirt dress, so I found a cool 50s dress I think would look very sophisticated on Mrs. Obama.


I don't think anyone handles shades of yellow better than Michelle, and I have a 50s dress and coat set that would definitely light up a room, along with a silk blouse by Bernhard Altmann:


I love, and am inspired by Michelle's accessories, from a big patent handbag to a (gasp!) vintage brooch she wore for the inauguration.

I have a scarf for Mrs. Obama, in a veritable U.N. of colors in silk:

Finally, I know she loves cardigans and I have a 50s beaded beauty in pink, along with one that would be so right for Michelle!

All these items are in my eBay store, except the yellow blouse and silk scarf, which are in my Etsy store.

I follow Mrs. Obama's style on Mrs. O* and you might like to too!

*All the photos of Michelle are from the Mrs. O blog.

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