D is for D’Orsay

Fashion Shoes D'Orsay

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Pumps, peep-toes, platforms, slingbacks, stilettos…with so many shoes to choose from, it’s no wonder I’m still missing a d’Orsay in my life.

A traditional d’Orsay shoe is a pump with a closed toe and covered heel. But here’s the kicker in these classy kicks: the sides of the vamp are cut out to expose the arch of the foot. These days, the d’Orsay style comes in a variety of heel heights and types such as flats, kitten heels, wedges, and peep toes to boot.

Shoes 19th century d'orsay

Edwardian silk d’Orsay slippers, 19th century

There’s something je ne sais quoi about a d’Orsay pump that makes it so chic, perhaps because of its French origins. It is thought that the shoe is named after Count Alfred d’Orsay, a 19th century French artist with an impeccable style. Once upon a time, men wore pumps, and a common problem they encountered was gaping on the sides due to wide feet and ill fitting shoes. D’Orsay came up with the genius idea of cutting out the sides for a better fit, giving birth to the dandy d’Orsay pump we know today.

D’Orsay pumps are considered to be a sexy shoe, but wearer beware, it comes with a price. To prevent the foot from slipping out, the shoes are sometimes designed a little tighter than usual. Combine this with the pointy toe, and your feet will be cursing merde in the name of fashion.

C is for Cloche

I wear more than one hat, two to be exact.

hat_accessory_cloche hat

Contrary to what many people believe, the cloche hat was actually invented in 1908, almost two decades before the flapper era of the 1920s. Leave it to the Parisians to create something so chic and timeless, the word cloche means “bell” in French. Years later, as the Roaring Twenties kicked in full steam, it became the iconic hat of the Jazz Age.

How to spot a cloche hat? It’s all in the bell shape. Cloche hats are traditionally made from felt, though ones made from straw or cloth were not uncommon. Decorations were minimal in order to maintain the slim and trim profile of the hat.

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Cloche Hats

The fitted silhouette makes it hard to see because it covers the eyes, and for this reason it even altered the way women carried themselves. They literally had to tilt their chins up in order to see. The snug shape also playfully accented the short hairstyles that were so in vogue at the time, and was the ideal way to wear such a trendy accessory.

It’s been years since I sported a bob, but I might just chop off my long locks and embrace my inner flapper at the drop of a cloche hat.

hat_accessory_cloche hat

B is for Brooch

Buttons, zippers, buckles, hook & eye, and velcro. Before the advent of these modern fasteners, there was the brooch.

brooch fashion jewelry

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Although brooches are merely just decorative jewelry pieces nowadays, they once had a utilitarian purpose. The earliest form was called a fibula brooch. Resembling a safety pin, it was used to hold garments together on the body. From the draped peplos tunics of Roman yore to the heavy cloaks in early medieval dress, brooches were used throughout history and in many cultures. Sometimes, even the design of the brooch served to reveal something about the wearer, like their rank or affiliation in society.

fibula / peplos / cloak

Eventually as innovation ensued, the functional necessity of the brooch was no longer needed. Yet the brooch still remains one of my favorite go to accessories to adorn the shoulder of my cardigan or the lapel of my coat. Vintage brooches can be found at thrift shops, but even department stores like Macy’s have great options for inexpensive costume jewelry.

With buttons fastening the front of my blouse, I can focus taking my brooching to a whole new decorative level.

1. All tied up: A feminine take on a masculine necktie, excessive accessorizing is key.
fashion jewelry brooch

2. Belt it out: A fabric belt or a wide ribbon tied around the waist will also do. The result is a burnished belt worthy of the wrestling ring.

fashion jewelry brooch

3. Beret, oh hey: A classic Chic Vic move, even the rookiest of broochers can pull this off.

fashion jewelry brooch

4. Off the chain: All you need is a chain with links large enough for the pin of the brooch to needle through. Voilà, that brooch has become a pendant necklace.

fashion jewelry brooch

And there you have it, the fascinating history of fasteners! How do you like to wear your brooch?

A is for Ascot

What do silk scarves and horses have in common? Today’s accessory inspiration is borrowed from the boys, as we travel to their neck of the woods to a royal Europe from centuries past.
Before the ascot tie was called the ascot, it had its origins in the 1800s, where it was donned by royalty and upper class on the daily, and for formal occasions of the middle class in Europe. In this fancy setting, the tie was often made of a heavy linen material, and worn over the collar and pinned.
Sargent John Singer 1880
But fashion is never static, and the ascot became susceptible to change. Adapting to the needs of the growing middle class, I’m sure all it took was one fine gentleman who began to incorporate the ascot into everyday casual wear. Worn tucked inside of an open collar instead of over it, he made it look so cool that other men followed suit.

It was popularly worn at the horse races at the Ascot Racecourse in England – just imagine spectators and steeds alike, wearing matching silk ascots! Okay, I’ll stop horsing around; this is how the ascot tie came to be called the ascot.

Generally ascot ties look like the bow tie’s much bigger cousin, with a narrow neckband and wide ends. If you’ve ever wanted to experiment with an ascot tie, head to your local thrift shop. While you may not be able to find an actual ascot tie, silk and synthetic scarves are bountiful at Goodwill for as little as a dollar a piece. I prefer the versatility of a long rectangular scarf for a turban or bow atop my head, but now it’s time to borrow from the boys an ascot tie.

Here’s how you can achieve the ascot look in a few easy steps:

  1. Drape scarf around your neck, with 1/3 of the scarf on your left (short side SS), and the other 2/3 on your right (long side LS)
  2. Take the LS and cross it over the SS
  3. Bring the LS under the SS, returning it to the right side.
  4. Now bring the LS over the SS, so it is on the left side again.
  5. Bring LS towards your neck, and up under the loop you made.
  6. Adjust by holding onto the SS and sliding the “knot” of the ascot.
  7. Stuff it into your shirt.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to the races to take a gamble on a stallion.