The Great Gatsby and American fashion of the 20s

Having watched The Great Gatbsy directed by Baz Luhrmann, I enjoyed the film adaptation of the original book from 1925 by F. Scott Fitzgerald, but what most caught my eye was the costume design for the film itself. Set in the ‘Roaring 20s’, women are dressed in fringed dresses and showed off glamour and the boyish figure that was considered beautiful at the time, dripping with diamonds (all real, by the way, supplied by Tiffany & Co) and jewels while the men look polished in their fine Brookes Brothers tuxes.

Two things that most caught my attention was the dress Carey Mulligan wore for the introductory scene of her character, Daisy Buchanan.

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Source: Clothes on Film

The nude coloured netting used for the sleeveless top part of the bodice makes it appear as if she’s wearing a strapless dress with a flared skirt and sewn petals which gives the dress itself some volume. The petals added to the bodice and skirt also gives it a haute couture feel. If you were to make a similar dress of your own, you would just need to find a similar style dress pattern, like New Look #6723, and alter it (using tracing paper or baking paper) so that the top part of the bodice is made from voile or netting while keeping the bust part in a solid colour. Speaking of which, that would make a great dressmaking project one day, where I have intentions to make a bustier underdress with a lace overlay, but first I need to find suitable lace.

What caught my attention the most were the shoes most of the cast wore, but because Carey’s character featured on screen for longer, it was easier to see from photos of her character what I mean.

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Promotion photo. Source: The Great Gatbsy official film site

The Great Gatbsy Carey Mulligan as Daisy Buchanan on set. Source: Grazia Daily

I don’t know what it is, but done right, the T-strap shoes that can often be seen on women who dance the tango, and the classic mary jane school girls used to wear can also be so elegant. I’ve had an obsession with these two styles of shoes for years. I can still remember the first time I became obsessed with the mary jane and the T-strap were in 2004 from John Galliano’s runway shoe for the D’Trick collection and the first time I laid eyes on a pair of champagne gold peep toe T-strap heels I found on Ebay in 2005 respectively.

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Black and white 3 strap mary janes, Dior’s D’Trick runway collection of 2004. Source: This Next

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Blue jean and white 3 strap mary janes, Dior’s D’Trick runway collection of 2004. Source: AcHiKz HoUz blog

The creative genius of John Galliano combined the old fashioned British elegance of the bi-colour combination and cut out of the brogues with the feminine appeal of high heels. I’m still not a big fan of the traditional flat brogues that women find appealing, maybe it’s the fact that they give off a masculine boyish look to the female wearer that makes a point of women’s rights and the idea that women wearing masculine clothes can look appealing, but while you can put a casual suit jacket over jeans and a tank top for a dressed up casual look, the flat brogues doesn’t work for me. Some things, like flat brogues, personally, should stay how it was originally meant to be worn – on men’s feet with a suit to give them some old fashioned appeal.

For a pair similar to Dior’s but for a more budget-conscious version, I was able to snag a pair from Atmosphere from Ebay UK or £5. You may be able to find one crop from time to time, I even saw a pair being sold at a local charity shop, but I imagine it was sold a while ago and can be quite hard to find.

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metallic navy Marc by Marc Jacobs peep toe T-strap heels. Source: Coyoteb10 on Ebay

Anyone who knows me can tell you that I’m very picky about a lot of things, but most definitely with what I buy. I was always one to buy items that I felt comfortable wearing, that would suit my sense of style and that would be unique to me (ie, the possibility of me walking down the street and bumping into one, two or 5 other women wearing the same thing, should be reduced to practically nil). Most definitely when it comes to shoes, I look for comfort and the design of the shoe. The Marc by Marc Jacobs heels above are the navy blue version of the champagne gold ones I bought impulsively so many years ago, but sadly had to sell on really quickly because they were a size too big for me. When it comes to T-straps, a lot of times you find yourself looking at the shoe and the design of it just doesn’t work. When inspecting the design of some, you can imagine the designer for that label decided to convert an almond toe pump into a T-strap simply by attaching an ankle strap to a strap and connecting this to the vamp (where the ends of your toes meet the shoe for some ‘toe cleavage’). Or some think to make this slightly less awkward, they’ll join the T-strap to the vamp in one continuous cut to make it appear intention, that it was meant to have been a T-strap shoe to begin with.

Personally, I prefer something a bit more…unique. The different cut out parts of the toe in the Marc by Marc Jacobs peep toes show some thought had gone into the design to make it a bit more interesting. Sadly, I was never able to find another champagne gold pair to call my own, but was lucky enough to find a BCBGirls pair that I really loved and still do.

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Couldn’t find a photo of the BCBGirls one I still own, but this will give you some idea of how it looks. Source: Overstock

To be able to dress up a simple sun dress during the day or to glam up a simple dress for the evening, either go bare for the summer or for a bit of modesty, you can wear opaque black tights underneath. Here are some other selections of T-strap and mary jane shoes that I also quite like:

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Two tone Marc by Marc Jacobs T-strap heels. Source: 45oy blog

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BCBG Max Azria black and red poulain and leather T-strap heels, £118.76 from 5th Village

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Christian Louboutin Wallis mary jane pumps. Source: Kaboodle. I got a similar pair with a lower heel and peep toe from BCBG for a decent price some years ago, I think it was approx. US$100 (about £80).

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BCBGirls Mori two tone brogue peep toe heels. Source: ShoeWawa

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Christian Louboutin patent leather peep toe mary jane (left) and the alternative version of the Brytini peep toe mary jane by Steve Madden. Source: The Style & Beauty Doctor

If you can’t find your perfect pair, why not create your own custom made pair at Shoes of Prey?

What were your thoughts of The Great Gatsby film and the fashion used in the film? Got any favourite T-strap or mary janes you prefer? What are your classic shoe styles?

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