Friday, August 28, 2009

Fall Lovelies from Talbots - Part I

Fall (less than a month away!) is definitely one of my favorite seasons (coming in a close second to Spring). I love the crisp, cool weather and the full blown beauty of the red, gold and orange that adorns the trees. Fall signifies change, and whispers that winter, and the round of holidays that accompany it, are on the way. Lovely. :)

Fall fashion is equally charming. This is the season when the muted colors, soft fabrics and classic style pieces come out in full force; the season when you can dress to the nines and love to feel like a lady. While exploring the Talbots website, I came upon their Lookbook, which I think perfectly captures the coming trends and loveliness of the fall season. I just had to share some of my favorites (actually, I fell in love for so many that I am dividing this post into two parts)...

Strong shapes and structured fabrics and styles are an important part of your autumn look. Especially when at work or in a business atmosphere, a bold, solid shape exudes confidence and capability. And when you've got a strong piece going (take these lovely jackets, for example), there's no need to go wild with color. Keep the shades deep and muted, like this yummy camel color.

And remember that sunglasses are not only for summer. You need eye protection in fall and winter, too (sometimes even more in the latter season, due to a harsh glare from the snow). A pair of strong sunglasses can add a nice finishing touch, whatever your look.

Feminine, vintage pieces are (thankfully) still "the thing" for fall. I don't know if people find this season depressing, but for the past few years the fashions have reflected a lot of depression era styles. Fine with me! (The 1930s is my favorite fashion era.) Longer skirts come back every fall, like the beautiful "fitted and flared" ones shown here.

Yummy peep-toe shoes and snug little cloche hats add great touches and "skinny belts" continue to bring a vintage flair to an outfit. Also, be sure to remember that your handbag can do a lot to your look. Large, square totes add a bold touch, while smaller, softer bags can make the outfit more down to earth and relaxed.

On the flip side of the whole, strong and structured look, soft and unstructured garments have never been so classy. Unstructured garments can be worn both loose and fitted and bring a beautiful melding of style and comfort.

This draping, simple top is relaxed and flattering; the long silver necklaces adding interest and keeping it from looking too casual. The dress is more fitted and formal, but can be dressed up or down. Here it is made super sophisticated through beautiful jewelry, a hat, high-heels, and a large white trench coat. Oh yes, and has anyone noticed that gloves are still, definitely "in". I love it. :)

You can check out all the outfits in Talbot's Lookbook online. There's lots more pieces to admire - I'll be posting the rest of my favorites as well more fall fashion trends and tips on Tuesday! See you then! :)

Image Credits - all photos from

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Scarlett Style

Since this year is the 70th anniversary of the 1939 classic film Gone With The Wind, I thought it deserved a nod on the blog, due to it's huge fashion influence on the past century. Not only did the film win 8 Academy Awards and became an American classic, but it is probably THE costume film of the era and still continues to inspire fashionistas today. (For proof - they still issue "Barbecue Gown" sewing patterns every Halloween. :) Even if the film itself were not as impeccably crafted as it is (aside from a story line almost devoid of characters with morals or a conscience), the costumes would stand out as some of the most beloved and iconic gowns of the century.

The designer of these magnificent costumes, Walter Plunkett, almost didn't get his job. Although he was hired to costume the film (actors, extras and all), David O. Selznick (one of three directors involved in the film) was not pleased with his designs for Scarlett. They lacked the opulent "over-the-top" factor the producers wanted. Another designer was seriously considered and all seemed lost, but Plunkett surprised everyone by pulling through in the eleventh hour and giving the director what he wanted.

Although the costumes in Gone With The Wind are not entirely historically accurate ("historically inspired" might be the best term) and tend to reflect the shapes and styles popular in the 1930s (as was common in historical films from this era), they fit the production perfectly. Capturing the spirit and storyline is important, and there's a reason why Scarlett O'Hara in her Twelve Oaks barbecue dress has become the stuff of legend, even if her clothing and hair-style are not period appropriate. Each costume; from the ruffled, innocent white dress at the beginning of the film, to the serious, black mourning gown at the end, tells part of the story and follows the main character's journey (albeit usually in an unfortunate direction).

And, of course, the costumes fit the look and personality of the film's leading lady, Vivien Leigh, superbly. Her dark, intense eyes, high cheekbones and pursed mouth are largely accented by what she is wearing in each scene. The gowns give put her into character and provide a canvas on which the life of the stubborn and selfish Scarlett may play out.

I don't know about you, but I think that if there had been an Academy Award for Best Costumes in 1939, Walter Plunkett would have carried it off.

What are your favorite gowns in the film? Any special ideas or fashion-y inspirations?

Image Credits: All photos from

Friday, August 21, 2009

Fall 2009 Shoes - What's In. What's Out. (And what deserves to be wiped off the face of the earth...)

Catchy post title, huh? ;)

I usually don't talk a ton about shoes on this blog, but this doesn't mean that I don't have interest in them. If you know me well (or even not so well), you will have discovered that I could easily turn into a shoe shopping monster. That's part of the reason I've stayed away from shoes on this blog. I didn't want to feed the fire.

Actually, I'm really thankful that shoe styles for the past summer have been pretty ugly. For the first time in ages, I haven't found anything I like. Which is good, seeing that my wallet has been a bit thin since leaving my job at the end of May (anyone want to hire me? ;).

That said, I feel like catching up with a Fall 2009 shoe post. As you will see, there's a large variety of different looks "in" right now, which is a good thing. Unfortunately, a whole bunch of those looks are ugly, which is not so good.

Prada Does It Again!!!

Do you remember those Prada "beauties" I showcased last year? The ones that looked like they'd take off in flight? Well, the same designer has brought out their distant cousins, and it really isn't pretty. I don't know about you, but this is one trend that I find very non-desirable. They remind me of some sort of puffed up and ridiculous bird. Peacocks, anyone?

Fortunately, the basic shoe shapes are pretty and actually very retro/vintage, which I adore. These other Prada designs are downright cute and would suit any of your favorite classic actresses perfectly. I just love the ones on the right - wish I could nab them for my 21st birthday soiree. Here's to dreaming! :)

This brings me to the topic of boots, which are back in abundance for the upcoming season. Just-below-the-knee boots are one of my favorite pieces for fall and winter. They are cute and stylish, and they keep you so warm! Fortunately, there are lots of low-heeled style options available to suit everyone. I tend to stay away from the sky-high heeled boots - they are just too much for me.

While we're speaking of boots, here's a couple more "Prada Uglies" for your amusement. I've actually seen some even worse ones, believe it or not.

Really, who in their right mind would wear those? I prefer to stick with something classic. (These riding boot styles are very popular this season.)

Oh yes, and stay away from ankle boots. They are, IMHO, not so cute. Not to mention that super trendy shoes like those just won't stick around.

Some fun (and pretty) trends for fall continue in the same vein as those we saw this summer. Ruffles, bows, embroidery and other feminine touches continue to adorn everything. This trend can definitely go overboard, but when done in a simple, minimalist way, I think it's very fetching.

Lastly, don't forget that COLOR is still a really bid deal, even though we're moving into the subdued shades and neutrals of fall. Shoes might be the perfect way to add color to your outfit, without looking like "too much" in a bright sweater or bold skirt. You can get away with it when it's on your feet.

Even without the yummy colors, don't you just love these Mary Janes? Cool and classic through and through.

SO, what are YOUR favorite styles, looks and trends for fall footwear? Do you know of any "must haves"? What's on your list for the upcoming season?

Image Credits: Click the images for the source page.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Maid Marian's Wardrobe - A Medieval Fashion Event!!!

Yay! The beautiful and courageous maiden who has been an inspiration to women all over the world for hundreds of years finally gets her own online event! It can't get much better than that! :)

After all the fun we had in June during the AmandaBeth Summer Fashion Week, I was pondering when I should plan my next online event and what I could do to make it fun and different from the first time. Well, Maid Marian has been getting a lot of attention here at the blog over the past year. I have been running a popular series of costume studies called Maid Marian's Wardrobe. These studies have gone through each and every piece worn by Maid Marian (Lucy Griffiths) in the BBC television drama "Robin Hood". And it's been FUN.

Now that the TV series has drawn to an end, I wanted to find some way to continue all the great fashion-y inspirations we enjoyed, while celebrating all things Marian and Robin over the years. Thus the event. :)

Maid Marian's Wardrobe - A Medieval Fashion Event will run as a "long weekend", from Friday October 23 through Monday October 26. Here at AmandaBeth I will be posting a last costume study from the BBC TV show, featuring Maid Marian's beautiful finale ensemble, and will be including a great list of costume resources for the series, so that you can continue to study and enjoy the lovely fashions. I will also publish a feature on the costumes worn by Olivia de Havilland in the 1938 film The Adventures of Robin Hood (a longtime favorite film of mine starring, Errol Flynn - who else? ;) and it promises to be lots of fun!

So, if you are still wondering how you participate in this event, you've got quite a few choices. You are encouraged to prepare however many posts you wish to publish on your blog over the "weekend" of the event. (The idea here is that tons of blogs around the world will be saturated with fashion-y "Maid Marian" posts. That has got to grab people's attention! :) The posts can be on any Maid Marian (or Robin Hood) related topic that you want, whether it's a review of your favorite film adaptation, a post on your favorite movie costume, or anything else you come up with.

I also want to encourage you to do a few posts of your OWN Maid Marian-inspired fashion. Whether you dress up in your best medieval garb and do a photo shoot or showcase those favorite modern pieces that you like to pull together for a contemporary "Marian" look, be sure to post your pictures!

There will also be at least one giveaway over the weekend and who knows what else we will cook up! Please use the comments section to post your ideas or suggestions - I will definitely consider them!

Similar to the structure of Summer Fashion Week, I will have a box where you can post all of your blog links and also a Flickr album available to upload your photos. As far as choosing a "best of" the weekend, I will have a few different categories you can enter (these could change if I get more ideas).

Maid Marian or Robin Hood Related Blog Post - Pick your topic and run with it! You can get creative and write on whatever subject you choose, just keep it clean and interesting! ;)

Medieval Maid Marian - Dress up in your favorite medieval dress, pretend to be Maid Marian for the day and do a photo shoot. I am a huge fan of historical inspired photo shoots and I'd love to see some "magazine spread" quality pics. Go all out! :)

Modern Marian Fashion - One of the coolest things about the costumes in the BBC Robin Hood show were the modern fashion pieces. Here's where you pull pieces from your OWN wardrobe to create a totally contemporary Marian-inspired outfit (or two! or three! :). It's amazing what you can come up with!

"Crafty" Maid Marian - Marian-inspired homemade craft/sewing items. This includes costumes, jewelry, or accessories. They must have been made with either "Maid Marian" directly in mind, or created recently in anticipation of this event. So, a medieval dress you made for the opening of The Lord of the Rings does not count - although you are welcome to wear it in your photographs for the Medieval Maid Marian category.

I (and a small panel of "judges") will be selecting the best posts and photos in each category and those will go up for voting at the conclusion of the event (similar to what we did during Fashion Week). I am looking forward to seeing what you come up with (and I've got a few ideas of my own! :).

I think I've covered most of the important points of this event, so I'll leave you all with a bunch more banners (boy did I get carried away - hope you find one you like! ;) that you can grab for your blogs or web sites. Click on the picture to see the full size image (they open quite large). Then right click the image and save it to your computer and upload it to your site. All blogs/sites that are participating will either need to have a banner somewhere on their front page, or one included in their "Marian" posts. Make sure all banners and images link back to this post at -

I also created a few banners with Olivia de Havilland as Marian, if those suit your classic movie actress fancy. :)

So... what do you think and what are your ideas? I'm looking forward to them. :)

Friday, August 14, 2009

Paris mon amour

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I'm off for Paris.
So excited.

A Fantastic Hairpiece is just the Icing on the Cake...

I think that a lovely hairpiece - whether it's a simple ribbon, flower, scarf... OR an elaborate headband, hat or tiara - adds a lovely finishing touch to an outfit. Subtle or eye catching, a piece that blends well with your ensemble brings a level of class and elegance to your dress. Nine times out of ten, it's a winner. Wouldn't you agree? :)

Let me introduce you to New York Nat, created by a talented young woman who produces some of the prettiest "hair jewels" that I have ever seen. I absolutely love the beautiful, vintage designs - truly the ultimate in feminine, romantic and glamorous hair accents!

I was lucky enough to be able to interview the designer, Natalie Ann Griffith, and she shared some great thoughts as well as the inspirations behind her line. I found it quite fascinating - read on to get the whole scoop...

AmandaBeth - Can you share a little bit about yourself and your business with us?
Natalie - I graduated from the University of Michigan in 2007 with a major in Dance. I have always been interested in fashion and designed costumes in college. After a couple years living in New York City, I decided to pursue my design dreams and created the New York Nat hair accessory collection. New York Nat is a whimsical line inspired by vintage Hollywood glamour featuring headbands, barrettes and hair combs. I have also recently expanded my line to include Bridal pieces. My hair accessories are sold on my site, at Henri Bendel, and coming soon to Plaza Too

AB - How did you first become involved in fashion and style?
Natalie - I've been involved in fashion since I was a little girl. I was a competitive figure skater and would sit and watch my mom sew and bead my intricate costumes. I loved playing dress-up and some things haven't changed!

AB - What were some of your early fashion influences? What inspires you now?
Natalie - As and girl growing up in the 90's I was in love with the Jem and the Holograms cartoon. Jem was a rock-star and fashionista who wore fabulous neons. I wore a lot of hot pink back then! Now I am inspired by classic beauty, ballet, Edgar Degas paintings, and I love anything Chanel.

AB - When did you decided to create a line of "Hair Jewels"? How did it all come about?
Natalie - I started making hair jewels this past winter after being inspired from a day of holiday shopping. I created my collection and showed my pieces at Henri Bendel's "Open See" at the end of March. The buyer loved my designs and offered me a trunk show at the store and placed an order right away. It was a whirlwind experience.

AB - Can you share a little bit about your process of generating ideas and bringing your designs to life?
Natalie - My ideas are drawn from all aspects of my life. I am inspired by interesting materials and fabrics and the pieces start to come together with some imagination. When I sit down to make a new design, I play around with ideas and let my mood lead the way.

AB - As a designer, what do you consider some of your biggest accomplishments or proudest moments?
Natalie - My proudest moment was leaving the "Open See" at Henri Bendel knowing I had created a successful collection. There were approximately 500 hopefuls wrapped around the Fifth Avenue store and I was honored to be chosen.

AB - What are you ultimate fashion ambitions? Do you have any big future plans for New York Nat?
Natalie - Ultimately, I would love to have a complete line of accessories including handbags, shoes, belts, and jewelry. In the near future I am starting to work on a few belts that I am very excited about!

AB - What advice do you have for young women who are interested in becoming designers?
Natalie - Don't give up and always stay true to your vision and inspirations. Letting your personality shine through your work is very important.

AB - What are the most important lessons you have learned while being involved in fashion and design?
Natalie - I've learned not to be timid and to trust my instincts.

Yum... aren't they just lovely? I, for one, am inspired. :)

Natalie's designs are available at Henri Bendel (on 712 Fifth Avenue in New York City) and online at New York Nat.

Images Credits: All photos from

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Ann Taylor Fall Preview

Well, it's that time of year isn't it? It seems like we hardly got into summer (this past week or so have been the only "summer weather" thus far for us in MA) and already we've got to be looking ahead to a new season. This is especially true for those who are in school. Not only do they have to look forward to a seasonal mood change, but they must prepare for new classes and schedules. Regardless of what the fall looks like for you, I think it's important to face it prepared, both in mind and wardrobe. (But remember; this doesn't mean you have to go and buy loads of new stuff - see my last post!)

I have always loved the designs put out each year by Ann Taylor, especially their fall collections. They manage to capture the traits I love in women - confidence, femininity, strength and beauty - and echo them in their clothing. I believe that each and every woman is lovely in her own way and Ann Taylor offers clothing that reflects that simple loveliness.

Here's some shots from their "Fall Sneak Peek" (click to see the whole preview), which I think are very classy. Their introduction reflects this...

"Past Is Present. For our new Fall collection, we took a bit of inspiration from our iconic heritage - because good ideas never go out of style."

How true! There is never any need to be a slave to fashion, or stuck on the latest trends. True classic pieces know no time or place - they are suitable for all occasions and always keep the wearer looking effortless and never overdone.

As far as what's "in" for this fall (other than super-classy designs), trends continue to be similar to what we saw this summer, just in more subdued colors, heavier structured fabrics, and more "covered" styles. Here's some more New Arrivals that I thought were worth sharing.

Balloon Sleeve Coat
- Well, it looks like grey will continue to be "the new brown" this fall, which is not so good for us "brownies", but great for those of you who have a cool skin tone. I love the lines of this jacket; the A-line shape is similar to the "trapeze" styles that were popular in the 1960s. Total classic right there.

Top with Charmeuse Neckline - Deep, rich hues are the perfect colors for the fall season, especially subdued jewel tones like this one. Soft, drape-y fabrics are ultra feminine, and ruffles, bows and other details continue their reign. I find it especially nice when there are pretty touches near the face, as seen in this mock turtleneck look.

Tulip Sleeve Dress - I have always loved the slim, neat and polished dresses in this style. I think they are the epitome of class and just scream "Grace Kelly!" Unfortunately, I have yet to find one that fits me right (and I would like it a tad longer) - this will have to go on my "sewing wish list". ;)

Perfect Ponte Pencil Skirt
- This is another piece that has endured for decades. I think the high-waisted cut is especially vintage and lovely, encouraging some beautiful waist definition and providing endless belt options.

Modern Wool/Cotton Perfect Trousers - A good pair of pants are hard to come by. When you find them, hold 'em tight and don't let go! I find a nice straight-leg cut and an extra wide waistband especially flattering. (Oh, and can I just say that the stack of cubic zirconia bracelets is SO CHIC! :)

Perfect Leather Pump - This is the shoe of the past century (well, of any century, really!). No matter what era of fashion you peruse, you can find the Pump in some shape or form. It's timeless.

Now, isn't classic fall fashion something to get truly excited about? :) If you've been doing your homework, you should already have a good store of classic pieces to mix and match with any new items you pick up this fall. Oh yes, and I know that Ann Taylor is pretty expensive. A great alternative is Ann Taylor LOFT, where stuff is definitely more reasonable - and don't forget those SALE racks! :)

Image Credits: All Photos -