Monday, June 27, 2011

A Retro-Inspired Summer Style

Sun Spot Orange Echo DressNot everyone will remember the nod to the 1953 romantic comedy starting Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn. But a few people will.

Roman Holiday is the story of a princess who escapes the embassy to experience Rome on her own. She wants to have fun. An American newsman helps her find some away from the routine.

It's also the part of the retro-inspired summer style from Cath Kidston. The tangerine orange summer dress with crisp white sun spots that are easily mistaken for polka dots from afar is immediately recognizable as a 1950s summer throwback.

It's a style that reimagines what Hepburn wanted to do. Sometimes girls just want to have fun.

Sun Spot Orange Echo Dress By Cath Kidston.

In the movie, Hepburn mostly wore a solid two-piece ensemble. But with the Kidston design, the colorless neckline and sleeveless shoulders give it a modern flair, saving it from looking too plain or prep. And in a city like Los Angeles, it was easily a weekend standout. It was ordered from Britain, she beamed.

Sun Spot Sun DressSurprisingly as crisp to the touch as it is crisp to look at, this amazingly simple but striking summer dress is adorned with detail. Even the white buttons bring in some orange to reinforce the sun spot style.

The dress itself isn't the only place the fabric becomes interesting. The pattern, this time added to a polyester-spandex blend instead of cotton, was also used to create a vintage-inspired swimsuit with halter neck and smocking across the front. The smocking is a nice touch.

Originally invented in the 1600s, smocking was popularized in part by Singer sewing machines in the 1950s. They released several patterns that were meant to create a richer and smarter look, regardless of the material. But it's not the smocking alone that creates a vintage look.

The cut and pattens picked up by Kidston work well enough on other suits too. One chic one-piece has a halter neck tie and high cut legs that pop just as well with bright tropical flowers. And if you would rather wear a bikini, Kidston has a wild folk ditsy design with tiny flowers sprawling across a low rise bikini matched with the fashionable halter neck tie top.

A Dainty Bit About Cath Kidston.

Kidston originally opened a tiny shop in London’s Holland Park to sell a few vintage fabrics, wallpapers and brightly-painted junk furniture. Most of it was her desire to bring back the styles and prints she fondly remembered from her childhood in the early 1960s (with an emphasis on 1950s patterns and lines).

Amazingly, Kidston gained the courage to open her first store after surviving breast cancer at 37. In less than 20 years, she has opened more than 30 shops and concessions worldwide. Some people, including Kidston, say people either love it or hate it.

"People either love it and want a little bit of it very much, or want to stab us," she once said during an interview on the BBC.

Personally, I'm usually more taken by women who wear something with more attitude. But if they can wear the occasional 1950s cool too, then I'll side with those who love it every time.

Retro-Inspired Summer Styles By Cath Kidston Shine With 8.6 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale.

When everything begins to look the same, it's the styles that no one else is daring to wear that catch more attention. I think that's what made Kidston such a success from the beginning. She's right. Owning a little bit of retro Brit can strike the right notes during the right occasions. It's feels good and looks fun; worn by someone you want to spend the afternoon with.

Of the eight dresses highlighted by Kidston this summer, the Sun Spot Orange Echo Dress hits everything retro right (about $80). The pattern is striking enough to work equally well as the Sun Spot Orange Amie Swimsuit (about $75). For more variety with retro swimwear, consider the Tropical Flowers Hope Swimsuit or Folk Ditsy Kirsty Halterneck Bikini.
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