Friday, 22 April 2011

My Style Icons: Myrna Loy

To be specific, the Myrna Loy of the 1930s is one of my style icons. A love of the Thin Man films is partly responsible – was there ever a dame who cracked wise as well as Nora Charles? – but her look is fantastic too. In a decade when garments could be overblown and fussy, with frills and ruffles and fancy sleeves and capelets, all topped off with an elaborate hat, she managed to stay streamlined and elegant without ever losing her femininity.

The key to Myrna’s look is simplicity, especially around the neck and shoulders. In evening dresses this was often a sweetheart bodice with two narrow straps, frequently without jewellery to complicate things. Let there be no ruffles, no frills, just an elegant sweep to the floor. Sometimes there’s one eyecatching element: there’s a famous photo of Myrna in a simple black dress with, at the back, a dramatic rosette of feathers. One of my very favourite dresses she wore was based on a calla lily, with a simple, fluted white underskirt, off-the-shoulder black overdress and one large half-moon brooch at the neckline to focus attention.

By day things can get more complicated, but still not too complicated. As with evening wear, there may be one dramatic touch, but no more: puffed sleeves, but the simplest of collars, or a straightforward blouse with a stiff bow. Sometimes there’s a dramatic trim, such as curlicues in a contrasting colour or a white lace collar on a dark frock, but it’s always simple and graphic rather than fussy.

I've always loved simple clothes (I could have a wardrobe full of black dresses of varying sleeve lengths, necklines and fabrics and would never need another sort of garment) and when I want some 30s inspiration, I think, 'What would Myrna wear?' It's possible to dress like Myrna without fancy dressing as Myrna. Style icon!

The image on this page is from an old fan magazine: Myrna at a Hollywood dinner. Getty Images has some superb photos of Myrna, if you want a closer look at her style.

2 comments :

  1. Myrna Loy was wonderful, just wonderful. She and Ginger Rogers are my faves of the 30s and I love how the clothes, as well as being super elegant, often had a touch of whimsy about them. Good choice!

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  2. I think Myrna was the one who taught me what a peignoir was, she was always flying across the room in one to rescue the ingenue. In one of the Thin Man films, don't they make her hat a sight gag? She mashes it down on some mook's head at a wrestling match after he criticizes it. There are so many great moments (fashion & comedy!) in the series, it's hard to keep track.

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