Designer Inspiration: André Courrèges

I realised it has been a while since I wrote a post about a designer I love, so today I bring you André Courrèges. I thought I’d try a slightly different format, too, and put the whole biography at the beginning (it’s all copied from Wikipedia, the shame!) and then put all the pictures, so you can skip the words if you just want to swoon at some amazing 60s fashion!

André Courrèges was a French fashion designer who only died last year but was one of the main designers of the 60s whose designs were influenced by modernism and futurism. He also “defined the go-go boot and along with Mary Quant, is one of the designers credited with inventing the miniskirt.”1

“At 25, after studying to be a civil engineer, Courrèges went to Paris to work at the fashion house Jeanne Lafaurie. A few months later, he went to work for Cristóbal Balenciaga.

In 1961, Courrèges launched his own fashion house. He became known for extremely simple, geometric, modern designs, including the “little white dress” and pants for women. They were often paired with low-heeled white ankle boots, a style that became known as the Courrèges boot, and evolved into the popular go-go boot.

Courrèges was also known for the miniskirt, which he explicitly claimed to have invented, accusing his London rival to the claim, Mary Quant of merely “commercialising” it. Courrèges presented short skirts (four inches above the knee) in January 1965 for that year’s Spring/Summer collection. He had presented “above-the-knee” skirts in the previous year, with his August 1964 haute couture presentation proclaimed the “best show seen so far” for that season by The New York Times. Valerie Steele has stated that Courrèges was designing short skirts as early as 1961, although she champions Quant’s claim to have created the miniksirt first as being more convincingly supported by evidence. Others, such as Jess Cartner-Morley of The Guardian explicitly credit Courrèges with having invented the miniskirt. Alongside short skirts, Courrèges was renowned for his trouser suits, cut-out backs and midriffs, all designed for a new type of athletic, active young woman. Steele has described Courrèges’s work as a “brilliant couture version of youth fashion.” One of Courrèges’s most distinctive looks, a knit bodystocking with a gabardine miniskirt slung around the hips, was widely copied and plagiarised, much to his chagrin, and it would be 1967 before he again held a press showing for his work.

Courrèges’s favoured materials included plastics such as vinyl and stretch fabrics like Lycra. While he preferred white and silver, he often used flashes of citrus colour, and the predominantly white designs in his August 1964 show were tempered with touches of his signature clear pink, a “bright stinging” green, various shades of brown from dark to pale, and poppy red.

In 1967 Courrèges married Coqueline Barrière, his design assistant. They had met while working together at Balenciaga, and worked together as a husband and wife team for the rest of his life.

In 1968 Courrèges sold a share of his company to L’Oréal in order to finance his expansion, which, by 1972, included 125 boutiques around the world. That year, Courrèges was commissioned to design staff uniforms for the Munich Olympics that year. He began offering menswear in 1973.”2

 

 

I thought I’d start with some of his wackier designs! This is surely not at all actually wearable, but I do still slightly love it. I guess you could wear a polo neck underneath and some thick tights or trousers?

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I really like this one too – I think it’s the funnel neck collars and the swingy shape. Again, this would be wearable with something underneath. Or I’m tempted to try to recreate it but with a contrasting colour instead of the transparent section!

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And now onto the slightly more ‘normal’ looking clothes. He has a good line in jacket/dress combos. I’m not sure these would be flattering on me as I have a long body compared to my legs and I feel these would accentuate that, but I do think the models look really cool. Especially with his trademark ankle boots.

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He definitely likes stripes! I like this double-breasted version of the jacket – and it has a matching striped lining to the skirt! Not sure about the hats though….


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 As well as the short/cropped jacket and dress combos above, Courrèges also has a good line in dresses with matching long coats, like this cream and blue number. I love how the piping on the neckline of the dress lines up with the piping on the collar of the coat.

 

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I’m not really a brown person, but I like the combination of fabrics on this one.
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If you’ve read my blog for a while, you’ll know how much I like blue, and particularly navy blue, and particularly navy blue with white/cream, so this is amazing to me. I can’t really see the dress underneath, but I do kinda want to copy this outfit, even though I would probably never wear it!

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But actually this is definitely my absolute favourite of the long coats I found searching for images of Courrèges’ clothes. I wouldn’t make it in red, but I really might add this to my list of makes, once I vaguely learn how to draft things for myself – and learn how to draft something as complicated as a coat! Maybe I could pattern hack something, so I at least have a starting point. Maybe the Closet Case Patterns Clare coat (though it has raglan sleeves)? If you have any other ideas of a pattern I could hack to make this, please let me know! I have plans for another coat this year, but I could make this one early next year and still get some wear out of it!


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The other main category of garments I found when researching Courrèges was, of course, shift dresses. He definitely seems to use really interesting seam lines and shapes to make his stand out from what was probably a very saturated market!

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I do really quite like the scallops on this one. And I like the orange, though it wouldn’t be a colour I would usually wear!

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Fabric choice is definitely key for this cream dress, though, again, there are interesting seam lines and details. He seems to emphasise the seam lines with a sort of piping, as below. Does anyone know how it would be done?

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I put this one in to show how a dress with a massive hole in can become wearable with a polo neck underneath!

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Yellow is really moving up the list of my favourite colours to wear, after blue, of course. I really like the lines on this dress and the modest – for Courrèges anyway – cut out at the neckline. I like the faux wrap style of the bodice too, I think it’s really cute.

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And here is Diana Ross in an amazing yellow dress and coat – I particularly like the coat – and a slightly blue wig!

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Whenever I do one of these posts, I really want to make a copy of pretty much every outfit I find! Which would be the one (or the first one) you would want to make/wear?

 

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Book: Decades of Beauty

A couple of weeks ago, The Boyfriend earned some real Brownie points by buying me this book from our local Oxfam. I saw it in the window on my way home on the Friday when they were already closed. He then went out on the Saturday morning to get bread and milk and came back with the book, before I had a chance to buy it myself! Aw!

I love this picture of the woman (in I think the 20s) running on the beach! Also fair warning, there are a lot of photos in this post!

The book takes you through each decade of the hundred years from 1890-1990, looking at fashion, beauty and hair trends as well as a brief outline of the historical happenings and social norms for each period.

Each decade gives you 3 style icons that typified the fashion of that era, or were perhaps a bit groundbreaking for their time. I love that Calamity Jane and Princess Alexandra are both there for the 1890s!

You also get hair and beauty trends for each decade – shame I’ve got such short hair, some of these look like fun! Especially the giant ‘do on the far left hand side!

Any clothing that requires first of all help to get into and second of all someone else’s foot in your back cannot be comfortable!

At least they weren’t likely to get sunburnt! I’m tempted to recreate one of these beach outfits…

I love this photo of women at work – in the US in 1908 – it looks like it’s some kind of textile work, though I can’t tell what they’re doing exactly – any ideas? The caption just says ‘women at work’. Helpful.

Here are the icons of the 1900s. The only one I’d heard of, shamefully, was Lillie Langtry – and that’s mostly because there’s a pub named after her in Norwich, where I went to university! Also one of my friends lived near Newmarket for a while and Lillie Langtry’s house was on the corner of the track leading to her house.

The below product looks like it will help you look healthy without needing make-up, presumably. But it contains arsenic, so I don’t think the ‘healthy’ glow would make you that healthy in the long run!

I refer to my above comment about corsets – no matter how much they might hope it, I’m sure it was no ‘a dream of comfort’! She’s so comfortable she’s taking a nap, after all!

And we think unrealistic body image is a new phemonenon……No-one could possibly have had a waist that thin and been still able to breathe, let alone admire oneself in the mirror.

Of course the 1910s was the era of the Suffragette and it’s good that this book covers the social context of each decade as well as the fashion and beauty trends.

This is the first decade where I recognise all 3 of the icons!

I love that in the earlier decades in the book there are fashion illustrations instead of photographs (obvs!). These ones are particularly great. There are also some designers who were particularly influential in each decade mentioned – I didn’t realise Lanvin was so early!

Also Elizabeth Arden started in the 1910s! No idea she – and the brand – were that old.

Oddly after I took all these photos of the book, I discovered a new podcast called You Must Remember This, all about the unknown and hidden stories from classic Hollywood. The first few episodes are random, but then she goes into themes – like dead blondes, blacklisted, stars at war – and one of the episodes is about this woman, Theda Bara. I haven’t had a chance to listen to it yet, but it was great timing because I thought she would be an interesting woman to know more about!

Black Ascot sounds super creepy, but I thought I would post this photo of the text that explains it – and how it influenced My Fair Lady!

 

I think 1920s fashion illustrations are definitely my favourites!

I love pretty much everything about this photo of Clara Bow – I especially want her shoes. And he hair actually – I’m thinking of growing mine out and this slightly frizzy ball might be achievable for me!

I absolutely love this! And it shows there must have been a bit of variety in the clothes people wore – there wasn’t just one shape or style that everyone wore, though there are, of course, similar elements.

Having said I loved the other photo of Clara Bow, I think that might have been in part because I can’t see her eyebrows. Check these out for a brow style! I’m not totally sold on them to be honest…

Another huge, famous make-up name which has been around much longer than I thought! Max Factor started in the 20s, who knew?

Having watched all of Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries about 3 times, I knew from watching a clip talking with the costume designer that she was desperate to do a tennis episode because tennis – and the associated clothes – was hugely popular in the 20s, it was pleasing to see this photo in this book.

There’s not really much to say about these icons! Except I fancy wearing a tux one day. Maybe when I’ve sewn everything else I can think of, I’ll make myself a tux?!

I read a whole book about Jean Harlow a few years ago – she had a very short life and a fairly tragic end, but she did pack in quite a lot! She was the first platinum blonde bombshell.

I couldn’t not include a photo of my namesake! Shamefully I don’t know much about her except that she disappeared. Though recently it was in the news that they thought there was a photo of her and her navigator on an island in the Pacific. Curiouser and curiouser.

Of course in the 40s women went to war.

It’s funny to reconcile the above photo and the 3 women below – the reality of life for a lot of people during World War 2 and the continuing glamour of Hollywood.

I pretty much only know Veronica Lake from her hair, so it’s funny to see this photo in the book – maybe that really was what she was most famous for?

The advent of the bra much had been a huge relief for all concerned – though I’m sure I read somewhere that the bra Howard Hughes made for Jane Russell was incredibly uncomfortable, so maybe sticking to corsets wouldn’t have been so bad, at least temporarily!

I didn’t seem to take so many photos of the 40s. Weird. Well, onto the 50s…. I like the contrast in the 2 photos below – black and white vs colour, austerity vs plenty.

And we get 3 of the most iconic actresses of all time in one decade! I definitely have a soft spot for Marilyn Monroe – Some Like It Hot is one of my favourite films. It was also the biggest decade for the Hollywood musical, but that doesn’t really get a mention here.

Ah, Givenchy and Balenciaga. I’m going to see the Balenciaga exhibition at the V & A in September and I am really excited!

And onto my favourite decade 😀

I love how different some of the 60s icons are – Jackie Kennedy vs Twiggy vs The Supremes. All great, in their own different ways.

Edith Head is definitely someone I want to read more about – I read recently about the brown evening gown Bette Davis wears in All About Eve and how there was a mistake in the measurements so it ended up being off the shoulder when it wasn’t supposed to be. I bet there are loads of make it work moments like this throughout her career.

I think I might add all of these designers to my list of ones to cover in future posts.

I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before, but this has to be the most iconic haircut of the 60s. I might grow my hair into this finally, and take the plunge!

I kind of love/hate the 70s. Some of the style is great but some of it less so!

Possibly my favourite thing about this whole book is that Miss Piggy is one of the style icons of the 70s!

I might also cover all of these designers in future posts too.

It seems that the 70s was when jeans really took off, so I guess we do have one thing to be grateful to the decade for.

The photos for the later decades definitely got fewer….

Dynasty has to be the most quintessentially 80s programme.

The gown on the left, from the 80s I think must be Valentino because it looks quite like the gown Julia Roberts wore when she won her Oscar, which was a vintage 80s Valentino dress. Apparently this kick-started the trend to wear vintage dresses on the red carpet.

I feel like the 90s was kind of the start of fashion being comprised of multiple trends.

I think it’s fitting that the last photo I’m posting is of the Spice Girls, the most 90s of groups! Apparently Geri’s union jack dress was made by her sister out of a tea towel – if that’s true, it’s awesome that something made at the last minute became so iconic!

Do you have a favourite fashion history book?

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Style Crush: Alison Brie

I’ve loved Alison Brie since binge-watching Community a couple of years ago when it was on Netflix – for some reason it has now disappeared, which is a shame because it’s brilliant! Also, of course, I then enjoyed her role as Trudy in Mad Men.

Then last month Netflix released GLOW – Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling. We watched it all in 2 days and could easily have watched it all in one go. I highly recommend it if you’re looking for a funny, smart show about women. The central friendship between Alison Brie’s and Betty Gilpin’s characters is a refreshingly 3 dimensional look at female friendship. And there are lots of good female characters as all the wrestlers have personalities and get time being more of a central character. And they don’t just talk about men all the time, so this definitely passes the Bechdel Test!

I also slightly love all the terrible 80s fashion, hair and make-up! Can someone please invite me to an 80s party so I have an excuse to make an 80s outfit?

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I saw an interview with Alison Brie where she said she got a perm for the role! Now that’s dedication to your craft.

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Since I now have a total girl crush on her, I thought I’d do a post about her style, which I really like. I also totally want to be as fit as she is in GLOW. I have (again) started jogging, so maybe one day!

I’m not sure I could pull off leather trousers tbh (I’m not Theresa May after all!), but I do like this look. I like the top and the lipstick too. If only I ever wore lipstick…..

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I really like the details on this dress – the black side panels and the unlined part of the skirt at the bottom. I really want to know what kind of fabric this is! On the skirt it looks almost like chain, but that would weigh a tonne, so I’m sure it’s not! Answers on a postcard please if you know.

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I really, really like this sweatshirt. I reckon it would be fairly easy to knock off, with the Grainline Linden pattern, but the tricky thing would be finding the right fabric. I like it with the shirt underneath, too.

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Ah, my love of collars is definitely coming back! Not totally sure about the cuffs, but I love her hair and make-up here.

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I’m not normally a huge fan of strapless dresses, but for some reason I really like this one. Look at the embroidery! I assume it’s embroidery, but it could be on the actual fabric and they’ve done some really clever pattern placement?

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I like the fake cut out type panels on this dress. The (I assume) lace inserts look really cool.

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I really love this dress which she wore to the People’s Choice Awards in 2016. After some googling I have discovered it was designed by Cushnie Et Ochs. I love the minty colour and she shape of the front panel, and the cut outs look great. A contender for my dress for next year’s Dressmaker’s Ball perhaps?

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I really like the simplicity of this dress. I think it works so well because it fits her perfectly. It looks like the edges might be leather/faux leather, which adds a bit of an edge to what might have been a slightly twee dress.

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I love this jumpsuit! I’ve had a couple of jumpsuits patterns in my stash for ages and I’ve still not made one. I’m not generally a fan of wrap fronts (as I don’t have the chest to fill them) but I really like this. Probably mostly in love with it for the colour! And it has pockets!

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I really like this coat and scarf combo. I always feel like I don’t look that stylish when I wear scarves, but I’m not sure how to tie/wrap them to look cool. I might copy this coat at some point in the future……when I apparently have unlimited sewing time and money!

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To be honest, I’m not entirely sure why I like this Bella Freud dress so much, but I do really like it. I love the colour, even if it’s one I wouldn’t wear, and I like the seam details across the upper chest and the sleeves. It’s quite 70s I think.

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Have you watched GLOW yet? If so, did you love it? I’m almost certainly going to watch it again next week when I have a sewcation from work 😀

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Inside My Vintage Sewing Box

When The Boyfriend and I moved into our flat back in August, we had to buy furniture as we had previously lived in furnished flats. We bought a load of flat pack stuff from Argos and Ikea (bed, sofa, bookcases) partly because we needed things quickly and partly because they’re relatively cheap. But apart from these basics, we wanted to try to get nice things from our local anqtiques centre and we did find a nice coffee table, a table for our phone and this lovely sewing box (which we keep our tv on):

It first caught my eye because I love the mid-century vibes, then when I realised it was a sewing box, I had to have it! And it came with lots of sewing goodies inside!

There’s a crochet hook and thimble in the lid, and I love the unashamed shade of pink of the fabric lining!

There are quite a few poppers and hooks and eyes.

There’s what I assume is a home-made needle case, complete with needles – and several other packets of needles. (How many times can I say needles!?)

I particularly love this little paper packet of needles – it looks like it should have matches in or something!

Possibly my absolute favourite item is this slightly crazy pin cushion with sumo wrestlers (?) around the edge.

I like this retro box of pins too!

You never have too many thimbles or tape measures 🙂

The only sad things about this little haul is that these are the only buttons. They’re nice, but it would have been great to have some really cool old buttons!

The main bulk of what was in the box was threads and ribbons and a bit of elastic.

       I feel a little weird about using the stuff that came in this box, and I’m not sure why. I’m sure the previous owner of the box used all of the things she kept in there, so I don’t think it was a life’s collection or anything. I just feel like I should keep the contents intact for some reason.

Have you every found a secret haul of sewing goodies?

Style Crush: Emma Stone

la-la-landAt the weekend I went to see La La Land, as I’m sure did a lot of people! The screen I was in was pretty full and it’s been out a couple of weeks. I did like it but for some reason I left feeling a little underwhelmed – maybe it’s because of the hype? Also I love musicals and, although I liked the nods to the classic musicals, like Singin’ In The Rain and An American In Paris, the songs seemed a little weak. I do now want some 2-tone brogues now though! And Emma Stone wore some nice dresses, especially the yellow one above. I’m sure I read somewhere (though now I can’t remember where!) that the dress was a sample they made to screen test but then they ended up using that one in the film!

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But enough about La La Land and onto my style crush for today: Emma Stone. I’ve liked her for quite a while and I think she’s always really likeable and watchable on screen. And I love her style! She looks particularly good in bright colours, like pink. I love the dramatic bow on the gown above, and the 2 different shades of pink below look really cool. I also like the separate top and skirt, it’s a bit more different on the red carpet than a dress.

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This pink dress, with a white collar and cuffs, might be one of my favourites of all the dresses I’ve seen her wear. I love the sheer sleeves, the bright shade of pink, the monochrome houndstooth shoes, everything! This could be my inspiration for my Billie bodice from Boundless Style……

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She looks pretty great in white and red, as well as pink! I like the embroidery/ appliqued fabric here. And the exaggerated hip shape. I’m guessing it’s Vivienne Westwood?

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I like this simple shift dress, too, and the more coral-y shade of pink.

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Although I don’t think I’d wear this outfit, I do really like it! I like the ruffled skirt, the casual t-shirt, the turquoise necklace and the red shoes! I really don’t think I’d combine these colours, but they really work!

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You can’t beat spots and stripes!

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Now I’ve got a few of my favourite gowns Emma Stone has worn. I like how simple this dress is, with the perfect nude shade. But it’s still interesting, with the sparkly trim and the cut out sides,

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This is another of my favourites of her dresses. I love, love, love the fabric. And there’s something really lovely about the proportions and fit of this dress. I can’t really explain why I like it so much, but I do!

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I love the beading on this gown she wore to the Oscars. I can’t begin to imagine how many hours went into it! Not totally in love with the colour of this one, though.

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She even looks great in black – which not everyone does. I like the Grecian style of this gown and the fact that it’s made of floaty fabric. I bet it was lovely to walk in!

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I read somewhere that this gown was the inspiration for the yellow dress in La La Land. She really does look great in yellow. And I like how it seems to have shoulder pads, or something. And it looks like the fabric on the skirt has a sort of vertical rib. You don’t often see interestingly textured fabric on red carpet gowns – possibly just because it doesn’t come out in photos!

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Of course you can always spot lace. I like this dress, and how they’ve used a nude colour underneath the black lace. If they had used black underneath, the pattern of the lace would have been lost. I like the ribbon around her waist, too.

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I’ve posted this photo mostly because the dress has wings! I love the black collar and the embroidery, too!

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I like how she wears trousers on the red carpet as well as dresses and skirts. I love this one! You can’t beat black sparkles!

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I like this more casual look, too. I think I may need some trousers made of patterned fabric in my life. I always err on the side of caution with trousers and mostly just wear black or navy or jeans.

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This is an amazing look at the Golden Globes. This is up there with the red dress thing with black trousers that Emma Watson wore to the Globes one year. I kind of want to copy this one day, though I’d probably never wear it!

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She even looks cool in a suit! I’m not totally in love with these trousers, but I love the shoes, it makes the outfit more interesting.

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When I do these posts I always try not to use obviously paparazzi photos because I feel actresses are entitled to some privacy – when they’re on the red carpet, they’re ‘at work’ so it feels a bit different. Having said that, however, I’m sharing this one street photo of Emma Stone because I love it! I basically want to rip off this whole outfit. The Morgan Jeans are one of my #2017MakeNine so I’ll at least have the jeans at some point this year! And I want her shoes soooo badly!

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Have you seen La La Land? Did you love it?

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