I’ve long admired the look of the 50s college student, since watching Sylvia (documenting the life of Sylvia Plath) and 84 Charing Cross Road over and over again, and in more recent years, Mona Lisa Smile. Although it seems to be a fairly divisive film as far as cinematic quality goes, I personally love it, and it has some of the best college styles of the 50s I’ve seen. After watching the film for the umpteenth time recently I decided it would make a rather perfect style piece.
I have spent a long while trying to source these authentic, original vintage pieces via my favourite vintage sellers, but my friend Alex has encouraged me to increase the vintage reproduction section of my wardrobe. It has certainly been much easier to dress for work, and definitely easier on the dry cleaning bills! Although I have a splendid collection of dresses, and a number of separates, vintage reproduction wear has been extremely valuable when it comes to pencil skirts and sweaters in original shapes, without the destroyed armpits!
Maggie Gyllenhaal’s character, Giselle is the least stereotypical style wise of the cast. She is very liberal and often dresses differently to the other characters. Channel her style with a checked shirt from Freddies of Pinewood and some capris from 20th Century Foxy.
Kirsten dunst’s character, Betty can also be seen wearing cigarette trousers (far right of the picture). Get your own from Collectif, with their blackwatch cigarette trousers. They have a good amount of stretch so are extremely comfortable.
Julia Roberts’s character, Katherine Watson, reassuringly, and perhaps realistically, doesn’t have perfectly coiffed and set hair at all times, and usually adopts a much more bohemian style. I think we’ll have to wait until the repro companies Autumn collections are out for any signs of a plaid car coat or Pendleton style jacket! For now, try Etsy for lots of true vintage coat options, and also perhaps a peasant blouse.
The above scene towards the end of the movie offers some of the most gorgeous spring looks. I’ve found a selection of separates from favourite repro companies, but also good old M&S and my favourite, the Edinburgh Woollen Mill!
Collectif has the ‘Freddie knitted top’ available in a variety of colours. They often have this reduced by 50% so keep an eye out for sales. I also adore the tie neck jumper from Edinburgh Woollen Mill and wear it all the time with my favourite pencil skirts.
Nearly all the repro companies have a selection of blouses available; here are just a few of them.
It was almost impossible to whittle down a selection of skirts. As I’m sure you’ll all know, Vivien of Holloway do a fine selection of pencil skirts, both lined and unlined. They are incredibly comfortable and available in every type of check you can imagine.
If you want to emulate Giselle’s (Maggie Gyllenhaal) diversion from her usual beatnik style, and don a floral skirt, you can’t go wrong with the Floral Midi skirt from Tara Starlet. 20th Century Foxy, Tara Starlet, and of course Vivien of Holloway, all have a fine selection of skirts for you to choose from.
Lastly, we can’t forget the humble twinset, and if you can’t find an original, you really can’t beat good old fashioned M&S’s Classic range for a wide variety of colours that changes every season, at a very affordable price. I have tons of them in every colour!
I hope I’ve convinced you to either watch the film, consider the repro options or both! What are your favourite films for their period fashion? I’d love to hear your recommendations. Tweet me @bookishbecca