As the summer months approach, my body can’t help but feel the pull toward vibrant patterned fabrics, loose dresses, earthy embroidery and cold jewelry against hot skin.
This week, inspired by the art of Frida Kahlo as well as by the artist herself, I visited two Carroll Gardens vintage boutiques in search of “Frida.” Though she was a woman whose life was marked greatly by suffering, her now iconic style and fashion nonetheless exhibits great sensuality, passion, extravagance and creativity.
With the stunning and fine vintage clothing and accessories at and , I tried to capture the heated spirit of Mexico and the unmistakable femininity of Frida Kahlo.
Olive’s Very Vintage
At Olive’s Very Vintage on Court Street, I was inspired by the painting “The Two Fridas” (1939), in which Kahlo illustrates her confliction between her Mexican and German heritage through the fashions of each culture. Selecting clothing and accessories from the shop’s impressive stock of beautifully conditioned vintage attire, I styled both Mexican and European looks.
Mexican Frida features a brightly patterned 1940s circle skirt paired with a white leather bustier (from the 1980s…twist!), black lace–up espadrilles, angular coral necklaces, a multi-stranded blue beaded necklace and a hand-tooled leather bucket handbag.
I am in love with the espadrilles, which highlight the arch of the foot and are, because of the woven wedge heel, very comfortable to walk in. The pairing of the patterned 1940s skirt with the more edgy leather bustier helps translate this outfit to the street, while still lending a high-fashion boldness and creativity.
Representing Kahlo’s German roots, I chose a breathtaking Edwardian lawn dress, accessorized with bone and mother-of-pearl necklaces, an ebony cross and masculine wing-tip shoes. To completely embody the spirit of the painting, I included a blood-red beaded clutch and a pair of beautiful painted scissors circa 1930s or 1940s.
This lawn dress is breathtaking, and would make an unforgettable wedding dress, as it is so rich in craftsmanship and detail of delicate layers and lace panels. It truly transports you to the romance of another era.
In addition to vintage dresses and jewelry, Store 518 on Court Street serves as a pseudo general store for the stylish set, displaying antique toys and hardware and old-fashioned candies in glassed cubbies and wooden drawers. The shop also carries owner Nadia Tarr’s new collection of drapy dresses called Butter by Nadia.
I created a more casual vision of Frida at Store 518. The first look was a simple red Mexican frock with bright embroidery along the hem and sleeves, which I belted with a brass and plastic linked belt. I wore these wild blue plastic earrings that reminded me of the peacocks that would frolic in the courtyards of Kahlo’s home in Coyoacan, Mexico.
The second look was a little sexier – a brown sundress with lace and an optional off-the-shoulder neckline. Accessorized with a sultry brass coined necklace, hammered brass earrings and a large balled brass cuff, this outfit has you ready for a night in the city.
And last, I channeled a more conservative side of Kahlo, one that evokes an aura of Latin American Catholicism, with dark silhouettes and clean lines. I wore a long weighty black dress from the Butter by Nadia collection (the store is currently having a sample sale with huge savings), accessorized with carved bone jewelry, a white plastic floral pin and filigree gold and silver bracelets.
This dress is stunning, and surprisingly sexy, with its open back and clinging fabric. These delicate bracelets are gorgeous, even the clasps are works of art.
Both Olives Very Vintage and Store 518 are incredible resources for one-of-a-kind pieces that will inspire and transport you. Incorporating even one piece from any of these looks into your wardrobe will bring with it the heated, sensual, fiercely strong yet feminine spirit of Frida Kahlo.
Olive’s Very Vintage, 434 Court Street
1940s colorful circle skirt, $148
White cotton slip with eyelet lace, $45
White leather bustier, $65
Black espadrille sandals (approx. size 7.5), $35
Coral necklaces, $135, $72, $65
Blue beaded necklace, $135
Wood and lacquer bracelets, $6 each
Hand-tooled leather handbag, $135
Edwardian lawn dress, $1,125
Wing-tip shoes (size 9), $265
Victorian cross necklace, $192
Bone necklace, $84
Mother of pearl necklace with cameo pin/clasp, $54
Silver Mexican charm bracelet, $215
Red beaded clutch, $135
Painted scissors, $18
Store 518, 518 Court Street
Red dress with embroidery, $100
Brass and plastic link belt, $85
Blue plastic clip-on earrings, $45
Silver filigree ring, $150
Brown dress with lace trim, $100
Hammered brass dangle earrings, $125
Brass coin necklace, $85
Big ball brass cuff, $145
Butter by Nadia black dress, $125 on sample sale (ordinarily $350)
Ivory rose necklace, $275
Ivory beaded necklace, $125
Filigree plastic pin, $110
Silver filigree bracelet, $200
Gold filigree bracelet, $200