You don’t need fashion designers when you are young. Have faith in your own bad taste. Buy the cheapest thing in your local thrift shop - the clothes that are freshly out of style with even the hippest people a few years older than you. Get on the fashion nerves of your peers, not your parents - that is the key to fashion leadership. Ill-fitting is always stylish. But be more creative - wear your clothes inside out, backward, upside down. Throw bleach in a load of colored laundry. Follow the exact opposite of the dry cleaning instructions inside the clothes that cost the most in your thrift shop. Don’t wear jewelry - stick Band-Aids on your wrists or make a necklace out of them. Wear Scotch tape on the side of your face like a bad face-lift attempt. Mismatch your shoes. Best yet, do as Mink Stole used to do: go to the thrift store the day after Halloween, when the children’s trick-or-treat costumes are on sale, buy one, and wear it as your uniform of defiance.
Evening Dress Worn by Wallis Simpson in a Cecil Beaton Photograph
Cecil Beaton photographed the Duchess of Windsor wearing this dress for British Vogue in 1939. To highlight and complement the eighteenth-century silhouette of the gown, Beaton photographed the duchess seated in a Louis XV chair against a Piranesi backdrop. During the late 1930s, as a reaction against sociopolitical realities, fashion and the decorative arts were heavily influenced by period revivalism.
Cecil Beaton was the Duchess of Windsor’s official photographer and played an important role in constructing her public image. The pair first met in 1930, when the duchess was married to Ernest Simpson. Beaton’s initial impressions of Wallis Simpson were far from favorable, describing her as “brawny and raw-boned in her sapphire blue velvet.” On his next meeting, however, which took place in 1934, he found her appearance much changed: “I liked her immensely. I found her bright and witty, improved in looks, and chic.”