this side of paradise.

I’m attending a 1920s-themed New Year’s Eve party this year.  As always, my problem is not that I can’t find inspiration, but that I’ve found TOO MUCH inspiration.  This is always happening to me.  I think it’s a good problem to have.

Probably my third most favorite thing about the 1920s is that it was a period of transition.  The main image that people have in their heads of the 1920s is that of the flapper, and that certainly existed and had a huge impact, but in reality there were tons of different styles being worn by many different people.  It’s not a flat decade of sameness, but a free, unpredictable decade of diverse looks.

My first and second most favorite things about the 1920s are, of course, F. Scott Fitzgerald and T. S. Eliot.

Below, some images I’ve been pondering.


in a sea of grays and blues.

Just had a conversation with my friend Mara this weekend about how I only do cool colors, and that’s particularly apparent in this collection of images I’ve been saving.

by Marchorowitz, via Frecklewonder.


from Brocade Design.


from Papercut Mag via Modish.


by Johnny Miller via Seesaw.


Dita Von Teese in the most stunning dress.


from Oh Joy!

by Chloe Crespi, via Haute Macabre.


just drape it.

I’ve been really into the drape-y thing for ages.  It’s flattering on just about everyone, it’s historically rooted, and it just flows.  I think that if a woman found herself tasked with inventing clothing for the first time, with nothing to guide her but plain fabric and intuition, it makes sense that the Grecian style of dress would evolve naturally.

It’s been hard to find clothes like this at mainstream stores until their recent jump in popularity, but a long dress and some safety pins work just as well.  As you see below, the Grecian look has reappeared so many times in the history of fashion that I consider it the absolute classic.  Which is part of why it makes sense to me that all things Greco-Roman are dubbed “Classical.”

From OakNYC, via Tres Chic Now.

Doric Order Dress from Modcloth.

Mrs. Richard Bennett Lloyd by Sir Joshua Reynolds, via Two Nerdy History Girls.

By Alexandra McQueen, via Celebrity Everything.

The Denishawn dance group, via Liebemarlene Vintage.

Street fashion in Paris.

And the dress that spawned this whole thought progression:

The Gregory Dress from Allsaints Spitalfields.

from light to dark.

People who know me at all know that while I traditionally like to wear dark colors, I love light ones as well.  A white dress worn with black hair and black tights is almost just as good as a black dress.  But for some reason, a small percentage of the people I come into contact with (read: old people, co-workers) have decided that Tess never wears anything but black.  It’s hilarious, because if you charted out what I wear in a typical span of days, it would go something like:

black – blue – black – gray – black – green – gray – gray – black – red – black – black – purple

And so on, and so forth.  This has been the case for several years.  But often at work, someone will go “Whoaaaaaa, you’re wearing blue!  What a great dress!  You look great in color, you know!  Much better than that ol’ black stuff.  Wow, I can’t believe you’re wearing blue.”  And instead of saying “You mean the same dress I wore twice last week, and once the week before that?” I have to smile, and just say “thank you,” and ignore the fact that their relieved-sounding, fake compliment has just implied that I’m either an idiot who hasn’t discovered colors yet or that I’ve officially turned in my goth card in an attempt to join the “normie” race.  False!  In fact, this whole lightly-masked-personal-criticism-in-the-workplace thing that has NOTHING to do with work-related matters is a good topic for an etiquette column.  But I’ll deal with that later.

Anyway, here’s a little tribute to looking sharp whether you’re in light colors, dark colors, or a little of both.

By Lionel Guyou, via Oh Joy!

From the film Sunnyside, via Liebemarlene Vintage.

By Tim Walker for Vogue UK, via Haute Macabre.

By Joanna Van Mulder, via Design Is Mine.

By Tim Walker for Vogue Italia, via Haute Macabre.

By Edwin Tse, via Design Is Mine.

By Jan Verbug, via Haute Macabre.

Givenchy Resort 2011 collection, via Haute Macabre.

From Vogue Germany, via Haute Macabre.

By Craig McDean for Vogue Italia, via Haute Macabre.

Verlaine Autunm/Winter 2010, via Haute Macabre.