Style File: Elvis Presley

Menswear & Elvis | Hannah & Husband

It all started rather innocently with a discussion on the merits of a casual shawl collar. But quickly, I found myself down a rabbit hole filled the bold style choices of Skinny Elvis. I mentioned this in a recent post so if you’ve been waiting to talk Elvis Presley’s style and menswear, today is your lucky day!

When Husband and I first met, we bonded over our shared love of music that wasn’t popular among most high schoolers. But, as time went on we discovered that we both had a childhood love for Elvis. It’s possible you knew this if you follow James on twitter…

Follow @jamesaslaughter | Hannah & Husband

A few years ago, as a joke at Christmas, James’ dad brought over a life-size cutout of the king that now resides on our sun porch. I made Dexter pose with him just for this picture. (Reason #118 that a dog is superior to a toddler at this stage in my life.)

Dexter & Elvis | Hannah & Husband

So today, we’re going to talk about some of the king’s best style choices—the ones before the rhinestones and gold glasses.

First things first, if you learn nothing else from this post learn this: Stand up proudly behind your woman in a perfectly tailored jacket and know you’re killing it. Confidence is everything.

Menswear & Elvis | Hannah & Husband

Southern boys (and stylish gentlemen) monogram, monogram, monogram.

Menswear & Elvis | Hannah & Husband

If you’re going to play a miniature instrument of any kind, it is helpful to be wearing skin-tight short shorts at the time. (I’ve been trying to talk James into a pair of these ever since I saw this picture of 007 reading on a boat last week. Beach trip!)

Menswear & Elvis | Hannah & Husband

When you’re not on a beach serenading your lady in short shorts, look snuggly. It is sweater weather: the perfect excuse to get your cuddle on.

Menswear & Elvis | Hannah & Husband

If you don’t already have a lady, but you’re looking to pick one up: Pose with puppies. Also, can we talk about those shoes?

Menswear & Elvis | Hannah & Husband

I am a fan, though I could do without the socks. I have this theory that Elvis was a shoe guy. Check out the booties in the picture below.

Also, should we even talk about the coordinating outfits? If they hook up at the end of the movie, does the hollywood ending consist of closets full of coordinating outfits?

Menswear & Elvis | Hannah & Husband

I really can’t think about this too much right now. Maybe we should just take a look at the jacket that spurred the whole conversation…

What are your thoughts on the casual shawl collar? Do or Don’t?

Katharine Hepburn at 30

On the occasion of my thirtieth, I found myself going down one of the many rabbit holes of the interwebs. I began googling all my favorite stars to see what they were up to at 30. Katharine Hepburn at 30, Myrna Loy at 30, Oprah Winfrey at 30, etc.

If you choose to do this yourself, it would be my suggestion that you just go ahead and skip Beyonce and Grace Kelly. Trust me. You say you’ll do it anyway? Fine: Bey (2011) was the highest-paid performer per minute in the world her 30th year. Grace Kelly (1959) had already completed her acting career and moved on to the title of princess. It’s alright, they’re not the star of this post anyway. Let’s move on.

When Myrna Loy turned 30 (1935), she’d just started playing Nora Charles–the seemingly definitive role of her career. (Click here for the Thin Man cocktail guide.)

Mary Richards was moving into her Minneapolis apartment. (Click her for the style file.)

Oprah (*/cue angels singing/*) relocated to Chicago to host a half-hour morning talk show. The first episode aired 27 days before her 30th birthday (1984). (Click here to read my open letter to Oprah’s hair.) 

And Martha Stewart? (All hail Martha. Martha!) In 1971, homegirl hadn’t even started her catering company yet.

Katherine Hepburn at 30 | Hannah & Husband

So why is this post titled “Katharine Hepburn at 30”? Well, Hepburn had just starred in two of my favorite films of all time–Bringing Up Baby and Holiday–both with Cary Grant, both playing strong female leads. In fact, Bringing Up Baby is now considered a definitive movie of the “screwball comedy” genre. But it was after these two movies and around her 30th, that Ms. Hepburn was labeled “box office poison” in Hollywood.

Box Office Poison?!?

A little harsh, don’t you think? Haters gonna hate.

So what was a girl to do? Well, Katharine Hepburn bought out her contract with RKO. She turned to the stage to play Ms. Tracy Lord in “The Philadelphia Story”–a role written specifically for her by Philip Barry. The role was so perfect for her that before the play hit the stage, she acquired the rights to the film. (Her friend Howard Hughes is said to have bought them for her as a gift.) Then, she sold them to MGM on the condition that she would star. Which she did alongside who else? Cary Grant, of course! It got her praise, accolades, another Oscar nomination, and Spencer Tracy–well lots of movies with Spencer Tracy and then, eventually, Spencer Tracy.

Katherine Hepburn at 30 | Hannah & Husband

“It’s life isn’t it? You plow ahead and make a hit. And you plow on and someone passes you. Then someone passes them. Time levels.”

-Katharine Hepburn

And, just because I think it’s a cool, Grace Kelly played Tracy Lord sixteen years later in the musical version, High Society. It was her last film role. (Click here for the style file.) 

Style File: Hello, Dolly!

I’ve had Hello, Dolly! on the brain ever since Barbra’s birthday a couple of weeks ago. The thing is, once Barbra gets stuck in my head, she is going to live there for quite sometime. For those that know me, it will come as no surprise that Dolly Levi is a personal hero of mine. And, to be honest, I think there are quite a few lessons about being a strong, independent belle that the matchmaker from New York can teach us. So here goes…



Know what you’re good at, and work with it.

Dolly Levi: Arranger of furniture & daffodils.

Dolly Levi: Social introductions arranged in an atmosphere of elegance & refinement.

Dolly Levi: Twenty-eight and three-quarter year old store clerks taught to dance.

Dolly Levi: Expert mandolin instructions arranged. 


Style File: Hello, Dolly! 1969


When in doubt, put on your Sunday clothes.


Style File: Hello, Dolly! 1969


Always make an entrance.


Style File: Hello, Dolly! 1969


Know how to find your light.


Style File: Hello, Dolly! 1969


Don’t be afraid to get what you want.

Forget reading “Lean In,” Dolly Levi can teach you everything you need to know. Expect only the best–in food, in dress, & in men.


Style File: Hello, Dolly! 1969


Alone Time is OK

If your man decides he wants to go out & play with his friends, choose to find it adorable…


Style File: Hello, Dolly! 1969


And if, while he’s gone, you see a parade…

Then, jump right in the middle. (Dolly did it long before Ferris Bueller.) Remember, when one makes a habit of walking down crowded streets, one is never without a back-up ensemble.

Style File: Hello, Dolly! 1969


Finally, exercise your flair for the dramatic.

Sometimes it’s good to remind your man what he’d be missing if you weren’t by his side singing Barbra ballads every night.


Style File: Easter Parade

Easter Parade 1948

You know that feeling. There are so many men surrounding you. However will you choose? Grace Kelly dealt with it in High Society. Julia Roberts had her pick in Runaway Bride. Cameron Diaz experienced it in every single movie she’s ever been in. But poor Judy. I will never understand who says, “Let’s just be friends” to Peter Lawford. No excuses Judy. Nonetheless, this being Easter week, I thought Easter Parade would make for a much better Style File than the Prince of Egypt. So here goes, a few lessons to be learned this Easter week from the classic.

1.) First a little mood music. (Fun Fact: Husband endures me singing this song each time our toes touch 5th Avenue in New York… or any other monosyllable avenue for that matter.)


2.) Learn how to confuse children. I have a feeling this skill will come in very handy should Husband and I decide to reproduce.


3.) Know how to draw an audience. If you can’t do it on your own, you have two choices:


One: Wear something outlandish and find very large accessories.


Two: Make ridiculous faces.

4.) Humility is handsome. “I’m just a fella… a fella with an umbrella… a fella with an umbrella that also happens to be a Kennedy in-law with a killer accent from across the pond who hangs out with the rat pack on the weekends and is known for my devastatingly handsome good looks. You know, just a fella.”


5.) Have key pieces in your wardrobe that are ridiculously over the top. Might I also suggest practicing your “What? This old thing?!”


6.) Wear hats–hats & furs. I’m sure you know this, but some things bear repeating.


7.) When dealing with men, you might as well just take charge. Grab the man you really want, dress him up, and take him out. If, in the end, he offers you diamonds, you’ll know you’ve done something right!


Style File: To Catch a Thief

Style File: To Catch a Thief  |  Secrets of a Belle

Feeling like a little escape? I don’t know about you, but I’m thinking we may need a jaunt to French Riviera. So I thought what better Style File for a dreary February day than To Catch a Thief? This was my first Hitchcock movie. (Although I was absolutely in *love* with his pen-drawn silhouette when I was little!) The cinematography was absolutely incredible, and I always swoon over Cary Grant. But, I’ll just say it, Grace Kelly was kind of hit or miss in this one.

Maybe I’m a cynic or maybe it’s that we are having such odd, dreary weather patterns lately, but I do feel better knowing that sometimes Grace Kelly wore a weird outfit or had a bad hair day. (#blessherheart) Here are a few examples.

Style File: To Catch a Thief  |  Secrets of a Belle Style File: To Catch a Thief  |  Secrets of a Belle

Things we can learn:

1.) When your man looks like Cary Grant, don’t wear mauve.

On second thought, just don’t wear mauve. Period.

2.) Blonde, slicked back hair, solid yellow, and pointy glasses may be a bit off-putting to your beach companions.

3.) Be aware of how your hair frames your face. There’s something about the sides of her ‘dos in this movie that make me think “Little House on the Prairie.” Is that just me?

4.) There’s no need to dress so much like your mother. Ever. Remember, just because you have an inheritance and still live with Mummy does not negate the fact that you are a grown-up.

Whew! Thanks for letting me get that out. Ok, let’s talk about

the fabulous…

Maybe I'm a cynic or maybe it's that we are having such odd, dreary weather patterns lately, but I do feel better knowing that sometimes Grace Kelly had a miss. Here are a few examples. Maybe I'm a cynic or maybe it's that we are having such odd, dreary weather patterns lately, but I do feel better knowing that sometimes Grace Kelly had a miss. Here are a few examples.

I’m pretty sure this particular outfit may have changed my life forever. In one simple outfit, Edith Head, the film’s costume designer, proves that fashion never takes a break. Personally, I too have a fondness for espadrilles (or even dock shoes) in contrast to $2 flip-flops, but what really sends this outfit over the top are the layers. A beach cover-up is what separates the full-time fashionistas from the slouchy beach bums.

Style File: To Catch a Thief  |  Secrets of a Belle

As a general rule, I don’t recommend a neckerchief to any man. Ever. However on Cary Grant, it is perfection! In fact, anything on Cary Grant is perfection. I give you Exhibit A…

Style File: To Catch a Thief  |  Secrets of a Belle

Style File: To Catch a Thief  |  Secrets of a Belle

Finally, a girl should always know how to work it in some costume jewelry. Sparkly baubles can dress up your outfits every day, but finding a few statement necklaces like this one can take even a little black dress from plain to stunning!

So what should my next Hitchcock film be? Do you have a favorite?



Style File: Holiday Inn

Holiday Inn, 1942  |  Secrets of a Belle

In honor of Presidents’ Day, I just couldn’t resist sharing a little Style File from a favorite of ours: 1942’s Holiday Inn. It’s the classic story of boy meets girl set to the tunes of Irving Berlin.

Boy falls in love with girl. Boy’s friend steals girl. Boy moves to farm and finds new girl. Rinse and repeat.

Some would call it a Christmas movie, but I think it’s best enjoyed during the month of February: such a short month yet so many holidays! Regardless of when, here are a few things to be taken…

Holiday Inn, 1942 | Secrets of a Belle

Old movie sets remind us that cliché can sometimes be fantastic.

The house used in Holiday Inn was the *perfect* New England home. So perfect, in fact, that it was later reused in 1954’s White Christmas. (Personally, my dream house will have those big windows!) However, a few nuances I’d really like to point out are the contrasts between the “girl’s room” and the “boy’s room.” Please note: the lace curtains, hand-painted glass lamps, and chaise lounge, versus the printed drapes and model ship. I’m not gonna lie, I have to go with the gender stereotypes on this one; I’d love to put on my make-up in front of that vanity. (My regular, non-controversial makeup that brings me closer to looking like Joan Rivers than Jennifer Hudson, but keep reading.)

Holiday Inn, 1942 | Secrets of a Belle

Find a room that has it all.

Working in the industry that I do, I often hear people go on and on about open-concept floor plans. Personally, I’ll just take this one living room if you don’t mind.

Holiday Inn, 1942 | Secrets of a Belle

Holiday Inn, 1942 | Secrets of a Belle

When it comes to holidays, overdo it!

Holiday Inn is just that: an inn that is open *just* for holidays. And each holiday comes with some seriously fantastic decor. Take a look…

Holiday Inn, 1942 | Secrets of a Belle Holiday Inn, 1942 | Secrets of a Belle

Holiday Inn, 1942 | Secrets of a Belle

Maybe I Should Clarify…

Overdo it… tastefully. Which brings us to the first February holiday: February 12th, Abraham Lincoln’s birthday. The performance of “Abraham” (obviously not Irving Berlin’s best work) has become so controversial that most channels airing the movie cut it entirely.

Black Face controversy from Holiday Inn, 1942 | Secrets of a Belle

While the black face makes my stomach ache, it’s interesting to think of it in the context of when this movie was made: 1942. That’s nearly 80 years after the Civil War’s conclusion but just a decade before the Civil Rights Movement really got ramped up.

Also worth noting in this song (and throughout the film) is the fabulous Louise Beavers. You may recognize her because around this time she was in everything! (For instance, she absolutely stole the show in this movie with Cary Grant.)

Louise Beavers in Holiday Inn, 1942 | Secrets of a Belle

Anyway, after Lincoln’s birthday is Valentine’s Day which, of course, is best celebrated surrounded by an overabundance of hearts, lace, crepe paper, and plenty of creepy cupids! As a side note, how glorious is that dress?

We really should work together to bring back “Black Tie.”

Holiday Inn, 1942 | Secrets of a Belle Holiday Inn, 1942 | Secrets of a Belle

Finally, in the words of Paula Deen,

“The closer to Jesus, the better we like it!”

Maybe it’s the Southern Belle in me, but don’t you just *adore* the hair and dress for George Washington’s birthday? It’s as if Linda Mason could be Scarlett O’Hara’s 18th century cousin with that hoop skirt & big hair!

Holiday Inn, 1942 | Secrets of a Belle

So Happy Presidents’ Day! Will you be watching Holiday Inn? If so, please remember to celebrate in style!

Style File: Myrna Loy

Style File: Myrna Loy | #SecretsofaBelle

I’ve heard there are two sides to every woman, and Myrna Loy is the perfect example of that fact. Before she was dubbed ‘the perfect wife’ in the 1930s, Ms. Loy was often cast as ‘the exotic.’ And who are we kidding? Don’t we know that the best wives always have an exotic side? So today, let’s take a few cues from Myrna, shall we?

Lessons to be Learned from ‘the Exotic’ Myrna Loy…

Style File: Myrna Loy | #SecretsofaBelle

Lesson #1: If you have a back worth showing off, show it!

Style File: Myrna Loy | #SecretsofaBelle

Lesson #2: It pays to be a bit eccentric, in dress & in action. In short, don’t be afraid to wear crazy-cool outfits and play with tinsel-wearing reindeer… does that sound like the *perfect* day, or what?

Also worth noting: The *gorgeous, funky* head wear in this picture! Don’t you just *adore* it?!

Style File: Myrna Loy | #SecretsofaBelle

Lesson #3: That whole ballerina-chic fad can be really fantabulous if you play your cards right.

Style File: Myrna Loy | #SecretsofaBelle

Lesson #4: Every woman should own a white coat… It can (and will) instantly transform you into a classic beauty that looks uber regal.

Style File: Myrna Loy | #SecretsofaBelle

Lesson #5: Always remember: there are 2 sides to every story… 

Lessons to be Learned from ‘the Perfect Wife’ Myrna Loy…

Style File: Myrna Loy | #SecretsofaBelle

Lesson #6: Take your adorable puppy with you. No, I am not endorsing a doggy purse for your trips to the grocery store. I would say that a pet worth showing off is a well-trained, well-bred sort of dog like Asta… take him on trips, take him on walks, just don’t take him to dinner with you.

Style File: Myrna Loy | #SecretsofaBelle

Lesson #7: When traveling, carry cute luggage. That hat box has some serious style.

Also worth noting: Every woman should have a silk robe. A stylish belle should have 2 or 3.

Style File: Myrna Loy | #SecretsofaBelle

Lesson #8: If you are going to curl up with a book while on vacation, look good doing it. No sweats & Snuggies please; stick to a well-planned outfit and drape with a beautiful throw like this Tartan. 

P.S. I’m pretty sure that leather bound isn’t 50 Shades of Grey. Pick your reading material carefully.

Style File: Myrna Loy | #SecretsofaBelle

Lesson #9: Surround yourself with dashing companions.

Need a little more inspiration? Perhaps a martini or 3? Check out this post.

Lessons on Being a Socialite courtesy of 1936

I am a huge fan of William Powell so the other night when I realized that My Man Godfrey was available on Instant Netflix, I just couldn’t resist. Powell costars opposite his ex, Carole Lombard, whom he actually recommended for the part of eccentric socialite Irene Bullock. However, as with many Hollywood films around this time, the costumes nearly steal the show…

1. There is a uniform for people of a certain class. Whether it is a night on the town or a party with 300 of your closest friends, a lady of status is expected to wear shine, silk, and fur. This same rule applies when she is going to a city dump to look for a ‘forgotten man’ (or for that matter a goat).

Lessons on being a socialite courtesy of 1936. | Secrets of a Belle

2. While we’re on the subject, one’s silk pajamas should also be chic and versatile… lest one is forced to get up in the middle of the night and meet the queen or go to a 2a.m. cocktail party.

Lessons on being a socialite courtesy of 1936. | Secrets of a Belle

3. Speaking of cocktails, if your new butler knows how to make a good martini, he really needn’t know anything else.

Lessons on being a socialite courtesy of 1936. | Secrets of a Belle

4. After all, it’s a joy to help with the dishes for a socialite. One really should try something new every day.

Lessons on being a socialite courtesy of 1936. | Secrets of a Belle

5. A pouty face is always in the lady’s back pocket. Just in case something terrible happens– or she finds herself in need of attention.

Lessons on being a socialite courtesy of 1936. | Secrets of a Belle

6. Finally, at the end of the day, the lady knows how to get what she wants. She can talk sense into her man simply by properly executing ‘the look.’

 Lessons on being a socialite courtesy of 1936. | Secrets of a Belle

Hello, Gorgeous!

hello-gorgeous-RED-secretsofabelleToday’s random links are chosen in honor of one of the festive colors of the holiday season. Despite the fact that I may have said in a recent video, “Red is your grandmother’s color,” I really do love wearing red year round. However, it always feels most appropriate during Christmas, don’t you think? So today, I thought we would take a cue from ol’ Gwynnie, dab on a little red lipstick, and heat things up a bit…


White Christmas, of course! There are 2 particularly fabulous red outfits in this movie. The first being the red gloves worn by the sisters during the minstrel number & “Mandy,” and the second being the red & white Claus-esque garb the cast wears for the finale. Which is your favorite?


Diana Vreeland is known as the queen mother of the color Red. She surrounded herself by it and wore it  religiously. Thus, it is only appropriate that a retrospective of her work would have a deep red cover. I found this book years ago in an antique store and have regretted not buying it ever since. One of my favorite Vreeland quotes:

 “Red is the great clarifier – bright, cleansing, revealing.
It makes all colors beautiful.
I can’t imagine being bored with it – it would be like becoming tired
of the person you love.”


My first pick would be this red sequin body suit that I am coveting from Patricia Field. However, if that is a bit risqué for your taste, might I suggest a trusty tube of the perfect shade of red? MAC has numerous shades and all of the MAC ladies are trained to help you find the perfect shade. I’m a ‘Russian Red.’



Life Lessons from George Bailey

When I was growing up, my family’s tradition was to decorate the Christmas tree while watching It’s a Wonderful Life. I like to think that the movies one watches during the holidays say a lot about him or her and his or her family. For instance, the first year I celebrated Christmas with my in-laws they watched Gran Torino after opening presents. (For the record, after being scarred for life, I now pick the post-present movie.) So I thought that as this holiday season really begins to get ramped up, it’s only appropriate that I share a few of the life lessons that I took in after countless viewings of The Life & Times of George Bailey…

wish It's a Wonderful Life

It’s always important to make wishes.

dance It's a Wonderful Life

Ruffles, a cute hairstyle, & a great corsage are great, but a girl who knows how to get a guy dancing can make him do anything she wants.

bathrobe It's a Wonderful Life

You can feel like royalty wearing just about anything. It’s all in how you wear it.

old house it's a wonderful life

Dream big and always look for the potential when others can’t see it!

Mother-in-Law It's a Wonderful Life

Always keep an eye on your mother-in-law, especially if she tends to run around in pin curls and a bath robe.

bar It's a Wonderful Life

Live your life right so that you know if you hadn’t been born all your friends would be floozies with a penchant for alcohol…

Or worse, they’d mix plaid with stripes and polka dots!

It's a Wonderful Life

So what about you? What does your family watch while decorating the Christmas tree?