Sunday, June 24, 2012

The American Look

Who invented the casual elegance of leotard dressing and took the ballet slipper into the street?  Not Donna Karan, but Claire McCardell, whose use of simple fabrics and clean lines created what has been called The American Look: a way of dressing characterized by comfort, freedom of movement, and high style.

Using denim, gingham, and new fabrics like wool jersey, McCardell created easy-fitting, bias-cut dresses with an eye for detail: patch pockets, visible hooks, double stitching and deep armholes.

  Designer Claire McCardell

Her popover, a wrap-around denim dress, was designed as something women could wear to do housework and still look smart.  A bargain at the 1940 price of $6.95, 75,000 popovers were turned over in the first year of sales alone.

Popover dress, 1942

Evening gown, 1939

Swimsuits, 1946


On May 2, 1955, McCardell found Time on her side as she was pictured on the cover of the prestigious magazine, which celebrated her as the innovator of casual, American separates.


Sundress, 1956

 McCardell was the first fashion designer to be so honored.  Only two others, Dior and Gernreich, have been pictured since.

Source: Let There Be Clothes by Lynn Schnurnberger

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Fit To Be Tied

In 1854, when Florence Nightengale organized 38 nurses to leave for the Crimeon War front, she insisted that they be provided  with homogenous dress. 

Her demand for grey tweed wrappers, worsted jackets, caps, and brown scarfs with "Scutari Hospital" emblazoned in red was, remarkably, met in only four days.  The result was the first uniforms for women.

The catch was, they didn't fit.  There was simply no time to measure the nurses individually so a variety of sizes were made and randomly handed out to the women.

Source: Let There Be Clothes by LynnSchnurnberger
Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Waiting On Wednesday: Alice in Zombieland

It's WOW time!  Here's my must-read pick for this week:

White Rabbit Chronicles - Book 1
Author: Gena Showalter
Genre: Young Adult
Release Date: September 25, 2012

Had anyone told Alice Bell that her entire life would change course between one heartbeat and the next, she would have laughed.  From blissful to tragic, innocent to ruined?  Please.  But that's all it took.  One heartbeat.  A blink, a breath, a second, and everything she knew and loved was gone.

Her father was right.  The monsters are real.

To avenge her family, Ali must learn to fight the undead.  To survive, she must learn to trust the  baddest of the bad boys, Cole Holland.  But Cole has secrets of his own, and if Ali isn't careful, those secrets might just prove to be more dangers than the zombies.

Book blur courtesy of Gena Showalter's website.

I've never read anything by Gena Showalter, but I cannot wait to read this book! 
Sunday, June 17, 2012

Mask Transit

Afraid of the bad effects polluted air could have on the skin, the 1620's woman donned a black velvet mask for a stroll down the avenue.  Nice touch. 

Of course she was still more likely to croak from her own hand than from allegedly poisonous fumes.  The mask was worn over a face which she had heavily made up with our old favorite, powdered white lead.

Source: Let There Be Clothes by Lynn Schnurnberger
Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Waiting On Wednesday: Temptation in a Kilt


I  ♥ Highlanders.  
So when I heard about the following book, I immediately added it to my must-read list.


Bad Boys of the Highlands, Book 1
Author: Victoria Roberts
Genre: Historical Romance
Expected Release Date: September 2012
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca

It's a sign of Lady Rosalia Armstrong's desperation that she's seeking refuge in a place as rugged and challenging as the Scottish Highlands.  She doesn't care about hardship and discomfort, if only she can become master of her own life.  Laird Ciaran MacGregor, however, is completely beyond her control...

Ciaran MacGregor knows it's perilous to get embroiled with a fiery Lowland lass, especially one as headstrong as Rosalia.  Having made a rash promise to escort her all the way to Glengarry, now he's stuck with her, even though she challenges his legendary prowess at every opportunity.  When temptation reaches its peak, he'll be ready to show her who he really is...on and off the battlefield.

Book blurb courtesy of Victoria Robert's website.
Sunday, June 10, 2012

Nothing Up My Sleeve

Yes, they could afford sleeves.  Nevertheless, around 1520, the sleeveless, fur-trimmed gown of sable, ermine, or miniver, worn with a gold chain, was de rigueur.

Why? Because during the Renaissance, sleeves themselves became an important fashion focus, too glamorous to be kept under wraps.  Men and women both wore gowns with plain sleeves that they covered with detachable, elaborate dress sleeves - pleated, sewn like wings to shoulders, adorned with slashes and/or studded with jewels.

 Portrait of a young girl, 1540's - Venice, Italy

 Mary Tudor and Charles Brandon

Favorite styles were the finistrella, two or three panels attached at intervals, to let puffs of the underchemise show through. 

The wicked virago, a full, bloused sleeve reined in at various points with bands. 

Or the lavish puff of every conceivable size and design. 

Eleonora Gonzaga, 1538

One dress and a dozen sleeves could make any number of different outfits.

Source: Let There Be Clothes by Lynn Schnurnberger
Friday, June 8, 2012

First Line Friday: Within the Flames

It's been waaaay too long since I did a First Line Friday post!  Sorry, but it's been some time since I've read a first line that really moved me.  I recently cracked open Within the Flames, the eleventh novel in the Dirk & Steele series, written by Marjorie M. Liu.   If you're looking to read an engaging paranormal romantic thriller, then I urge you to pick up Tiger Eye, Dirk & Steele book one.  I've read and enjoyed all of the books in the series.  Marjorie M. Liu writes great first lines.

Take a look at the first line of Within the Flames:

 "It began as a game."

Even though it's unclear from the first line what type of book this is, I think it's a terrific opener because it immediately catches my attention.  This short sentence makes me want to keep reading to uncover the Five W's: Who is the story about?  What began as a game?  When is it happening? Where is the game taking place?  Why did it begin as a game? 

So what do you think? Do you like this first line?  Does it make you want to read on?
Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Workshop Wednesday: Scottish Gaelic

This month my Celtic sisters at Celtic Hearts Romance Writers are hosting a mini workshop on Scottish Gaelic that will provide writers with some idea of the structure of the Gaelic language and a few phrases, ready-made for insertion into novels.

June 25 - July 20th, 2012
Instructor: Sharron Gunn w/a Sheila Currie
Fee: Workshops are open to anyone.  Cost is $15 for CHRW members; $20 for non-members.

Click here to read full course description, instructor bio, and to register.

~ Course info courtesy of Celtic Hearts Romance Writers.
Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Teaser Tuesday: Across the Universe

It's Teaser Tuesday time!
Hosted by Should Be Reading

  Here's how to play:

1) Grab your current read.
2) Open to a random page.
3) Share two (2) "teaser" sentences (or more, if you like) from somewhere on that page.
4) BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS!  (Make sure that what you share doesn't give too much away!  You don't want to ruin the book for others!)
5) Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR lists if they like your teaser.


"This girl's hair is more brilliant than the rays of the sun on Sol-Earth captured by an artist Harley said was the most genius man ever to live.  I reach out to touch the glass that traps her inside, and only then do I realize how cold it is.  My breath is rising in little clouds of white.  My fingertips stick to the glass.  

I stare down at her.  She is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen, but also the strangest."

~ page 57 of Across the Universe
by YA author, Beth Revis

Sunday, June 3, 2012

In My Mailbox (29)

Happy Sunday!

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren, and is a way to show the books you won, borrowed or bought during the week.  Here are the e-reads I received today:


99 cents @ Amazon

A scandalous edition to the Christie series.


Courtesy of Mia Marlow

I ♥ pirates!
Friday, June 1, 2012

June Releases

These hot releases are sure to put the sizzle in my summer:

What's on your must-read list this month?