Edith Head ( 1897 – 1981 ) dressed stars from Grace Kelly and Elizabeth Taylor to Sophia Loren and Audrey Hepburn. Undoubtelly Hollywood's most famous and influential costume designer, Head designed clothes for over a thousand movies.
Joe Hyams ( 1923 – 2003 ) was an internationally renowned writer and journalist. 'How to Dress for Success' was the second of 27 bestselling books, including biographies of Humprey Bogart and James Dean.
What I wouldn't give to have met these two. Imagine the stories they could tell!
"One day when I was involved in a fitting for Bette Davis, she suddenly leaped across the room, threw herself across a divan, then rolled off limp onto the floor. For a moment I thought I had stabbed her in a vital spot with a pin. She picked herself up laughing, and said, 'Don't worry, I'm not losing my mind. That's part of the action in the scene I'm playing in this dress. I wanted to make sure I could work in it without feeling inhibited.'
In one scene in Torn Curtain, Julie Andrews had to jump on and off a bike, so we had a bike right in the fitting room so she could practice, to make sure her clothes 'worked'."
Fortunatelly, many of their memories are laid down on paper and gifted to us in books like this one.
'How To Dress For Success' was first published in 1967. A very important aspect to be taken into consideration before even reading the 'Contents' page. Otherwise, one might be surprise or appalled by, for example, an entire chapter dedicated to 'How To Dress to Get a Man...and Keep Him'.
And the book overall, for that matter.
Even the chapter about colors is divided into 'The Excitement Colors', 'The Young Colors', 'The Man-Pleasing Colors'...yes, you read that right. Different times, let's just leave it at that! :)
Vintage ring, available at House Of NITA SAO.
Read in comparison with today's ways, the book is a mix of good laughs, nostalgia over the things that should have been kept alive and gratitude for all the things that were left behind, where they belonged.
No surprise that my favourite chapter was the one about accessories, or as she calls them: 'Successories'.
Here are a couple excerpts, which I sinked in with completely, as if they were my very own words:
"Accessories, these small wonders that make such a big difference [...]. In a room of women in 'little black dresses', for instance, there is frequently a woman who stands out because of what she added to that dress [...]. It might be a simply wonderful, flattering hat that makes her look prettier than all the others."
"Hats are flatterers. Hatlesness is all right in certain places, but there is no flatterer more certain to make a woman look younger and prettier than a becoming hat.
We all know one woman, very successful in the fashion world, who relies almost entirely on hats for her reputation as a fashion plate. Her claim is that if her hat is dramatic enough no one notices the rest of her costume, so she keeps her wardrobe of dresses and suits to a minimum – varying the look of each with a collection of wonderful hats.
Hats, in addition, do wonders in covering up hair that needs 'doing'. They perform miracles making an older woman look younger, a heavy woman seem slimmer or a plain woman more exciting.
[...] Wear them as you wear cosmetics, not as something to cover your head but something that makes you look prettier, younger and more distinctive."
NITA SAO hatinator, available at House Of NITA SAO and on www.nitasao.com.
"If you have after-hours activities on that day, select something right for the office that can be dressed-up for your date. [...] Carry with you dressier gloves and a glamorous cocktail hat, and you have it made. The extras will fit neatly into your hat box or tote bag, so you can switch on the glamour after five."
I've personally said these exact same things so many times, half a century later, that I myself doubted for a couple moments if I read this book before or not :)
The last chapter was a very pleasant surprise, in which the authors underline the importance of not having a 'naked mind'.
"As you dress your body for success, your mind must also be properly arrayed for it. [...] Just as I properly advised you to get your wardrobe in order, I insist you organize your mind. [...] Whether you're husband-hunting, status-hunting, fortune-hunting or job-hunting – stop witch-hunting! Make up your mind! Then set yourself to the job at hand singlemindedly with a will to win!
If you'd like to be a success in business – start working!
If you'd like to be a success as a housewife – start cooking!
If you'd like to be a social success – start smiling!
If you'd like to get a married – start looking! "
On that note, I'll see you here next Friday, with a review on: 'How to Set Up and Run a Fashion Label' !