Friday, August 28, 2009

it happened one night

Tonight's post was inspired by this blog post by Megan of 13bees about Irene Dunne's insane-yet-chic costumes in The Awful Truth. It got me thinking about some of my favorite films of the 1930s.

I so loved It Happened One Night when I first saw it. It was witty and romantic, with gorgeous atmosphere, and well, Clark Gable! What's usually noted about this 1934 film, fashion-wise, is the scene where Gable removes his shirt--and has no undershirt on underneath. (Urban myth has it that sales of men's undershirts declined sharply after this scene, when men suddenly realized that if Gable didn't need to wear an undershirt, why should they. That myth has been kinda sorta debunked here at

But what stood out to me was Claudette Colbert's wonderful chevron print top. I have been drawn to chevron prints ever since. The only one that I own, however, is a simple 1970s navy and white chevron print skirt.

I did a little more internet research and discovered that another of my favorite movies of this era (of all time, really) featured chevron prints. 1940's His Girl Friday has the amazing Rosalind Russell decked out in a wonderfully wacky chevron-striped suit and hat. This outfit certainly rivals that of Irene Dunne's over the top The Awful Truth costumes.

And there may be a reason for that. The clothing in It Happened One Night, The Awful Truth, and His Girl Friday was all by the same designer--Robert Kalloch. I didn't find a whole lot of information about him, other than that he designed costumes for most of my favorite films of the 1930s and 1940s, but did find this very interesting article from the Clothes on Film blog about Rosalind Russell's stripey outfit in His Girl Friday.

I do not know when the chevron print first came into vogue, but it does seem to have been used a lot in the 1930s. Look at this 1932 photo of a woman in a chevron-striped gown, from
Life magazine.

I did a little scouring of the internets for current-day chevron prints. I think they were hot in collections a few years back, and so I didn't find anything too inspiring, but I do rather like this sweater from Marc Jacobs that is--aside from the ruffle at the waist; not sure how I feel about that--reminiscent of Colbert's top. It can be purchased at

It appears the chevron enjoyed a renaissance in the 1970s. When I searched for chevron in vintage items on Etsy, nearly every one was a 1970s piece.

Here is a fun rainbow chevron-striped mini dress from

I totally love this more sedate green number from
raretreasure with its built-in shrug!

A marvelous 1920s beaded purse from
TheChurchofVintage (is that not a great shop name?).

I absolutely love this zigzag bag from

And on the handmade front, here is a charming handknit sweater from
Good Egg. What a fun play on Charlie Brown's famous zig-zaggy sweater!

And, finally, I can totally see myself cozying up all winter to this wonderful scarf from
fray, which just happens to have one of my favorite color schemes.



  1. Ooo that lightyears dress is amaaaazing!

  2. I never really gave too much thought to this type of stripe, but I'll keep on the lookout for it from now on. that marc by marc sweater is probably an exact copy of something one of their designers thrifted anyway!

  3. Your post reminded me of one of my fave dresses in the movies--Myrna Loy wears it during the cocktail party scene in The Thin Man--it's nicely viewable in motion from 6:55 on in this clip:

    Great dialogue, too.

  4. Would you consider the Missoni pattern as chevron? I never used to be a fan of it myself but I think it's growing on me. Looks nice as a detail rather than an all over pattern.

  5. Rachel, that dress is incredible! (I do love The Thin Man movies.)

    Esz, even though I included a few of them here, I think of the Missoni pattern as zigzag rather than chevron. Well, I guess it's a repeating chevron, right? The Missoni knits are pretty incredible--lots of color! It's not the kind of thing I normally like, but I appreciate them.

  6. That beaded purse is so gorgeous! Great finds!
    - Lindsay


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