Pleats and Fleets

May 16, 2012 — 22 Comments

Last week, I took a break from treasure-hunting at thrift stores, and allowed myself to splurge at the incredible White Elephant vintage dress sale. It was a beautiful collection of dresses from four different vintage boutiques. Racks were packed with tafetta, sparkles, and all the trimmings of old-school evening wear. Since I won’t be getting remarried or going to a ball any time soon, I opted for something simpler, but every bit as fun. I bought this uh-mazing 1960’s a-line shift. It’s so pink! And so mod! I want to wear it EVERY SINGLE DAY.

A good vintage dress almost begs for some kind of Mad Men tribute, but I’ve sort of done that already. While I love Joan, this isn’t her style, and I don’t have the, erm, assets to pay tribute to her (hint: assets = tatas). This dress doesn’t call out any of the fictional Mad Women, but rather one real-life Mad Woman by the name of Mary Wells Laurence. Who is Mary Wells? A badass, that’s who. Basically, she’s the real-life Peggy Olson and Donald Draper, without all the bitterness and infidelity.

I thought of Mary while watching one of my favourite flicks, Art & Copy, last week. Art & Copy is a fantastic documentary that examines advertising’s creative revolution in the 1960s, and goes on to explore some of the more memorable American ad campaigns of the last five decades. It’s fascinating stuff. It features Mary briefly, and honours the work she created in 60s and 70s. She dominated the male-driven ad industry as female copywriter, dreaming up some of the most iconic ad campaigns of our time (like “I Love New York”). She eventually founded her own successful agency. This dress is a tribute to Mary, and specifically is the work she did for Braniff Airlines in the 60s.

Mary came up with the “The End of the Plain Plane” campaign for Braniff. Elements of the campaign included painting all Baniff’s airplanes pink, orange, yellow, blue, and every other colour under the sun. Stewardesses were outfitted brightly-hued Emilio Pucci uniforms, Alexander Girard designed furniture and textiles for every plane, modern art adorned all the walls. Mary brought fun back to flying. These days, we get all excited about brightly-coloured iPhone cases, but this chick got them the paint a whole fleet of planes rainbow colours. Like I said: badass.

When I wear this dress, I feel like I’m embodying some of the fun and whimsy of Mary’s vision. Heck, I even feel a bit like a Braniff stewardess myself. While being a stewardess in the 60s was likely a life of harassment and objectification, they sure had the aesthetics done right. I’m grateful for trailblazers like Mary who recognize the power of adding some colour and sass once and a while. She brought it to a fleet of planes, I’m bringing it to my pleats of pink. Cheers to you, Mad Mary, and the end of the plain pleats!

22 responses to Pleats and Fleets

  1. 

    That dress is adorable! I had no idea about that campaign, so I’m glad you brought it up. Badass indeed. I SO want to see a multi-colored plane!

    http://www.tallblondeartist.com

  2. 

    This is so adorable, I love it! It looks so cute and fun to wear. I wish the multicolored planes had taken off–ahem–so to speak! That would have been so much better than the ho-hum white and grey planes we have today.

    I dyed my hair pink last week (http://www.pseudooctopus.com/2012/05/pink-hair.html if you want to see pictures!) and ever since I have been having some serious pink (and light blue) clothes cravings.

  3. 

    You look so cute & feminine!!! Love it! Great styling of the dress with the shoes and the nails! Lovely post! XOXO

  4. 

    That dress is tops, and the doc looks fascinating! Thanks for the tip!

  5. 

    This dress is so pretty! I am head over heels in love with it.

  6. 

    awesome post – love the bright dress – it looks great on you – love the info too!

  7. 

    I’m really loving that dress!
    As you said, fun and fresh. :)
    It seems all things hot pink are catching my eye lately.
    so much so that I am starting to wonder what girlie monster from another planet has taken over my fashion soul?!
    I’d love that dress in winter too with tights and a cardigan.
    Lucky girl! Great find!
    Cheers,
    Laura

  8. 

    Love this dress; it looks amazing on you! What a great find! :)

  9. 

    Not only is this dress awesome, but this post made my morning. As a private pilot and graphic design student this encompasses three of my obsessions- airplanes, design, and vintage. I’ve had Art & Copy on my list of to-sees for awhile but this gave me the push I need to watch it now! I’ve always been fascinated by flying in the 60’s, although I probably wouldn’t have been able to afford it back then :) People definitely appreciated it more and it had a classiness that no longer exists!

    You look amazing!

    • 

      You’re so right. Flying nowadays is this mechanical, stressful activity of getting from point A to B, while creepily trying to see what life is like behind the first-class curtain. It ain’t like it used to be!

  10. 

    Wow, that dress is pretty amazing. You look just like the girls in the 60’s ads. Very cool!

  11. 
    C Marica (Sequins) June 6, 2012 at 11:15 am

    That dress is pretty spectacular. I love how vibrant that pink is! Also, great story to go with it–I definitely want to check out that documentary now.

  12. 

    Such a beautiful vintage dress. I love this!

Trackbacks and Pingbacks:

  1. My piece of the pie « We So Thrifty - May 26, 2012

    [...] but I have tried to hover close to it. This month, though, I blew it away in one foul swoop with a vintage dress purchase. Since then, when I drive by my favourite thrift shops, I close my eyes, plug my ears, and shout [...]

  2. The Bright Side « We So Thrifty - March 25, 2013

    [...] get an idea of what these jackets usually retail for). This jacket has allowed me to break out my favourite pink shift from the White Elephant vintage dress sale last spring. If winter is a Dementor, then this outfit [...]

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