Posing with the vintage cars at the Gatsby Summer Afternoon. All photos by me, Melissa Davies.

Posing with the vintage cars at the Gatsby Summer Afternoon. All photos by me, Melissa Davies.

In which the attendees of the 2015 Gatsby Summer Afternoon make the case for dress codes to be a necessary element for any party invitation.

Even though I am skipping this year's picnic at the historic Dunsmuir Hellman (or is it Hellman Dunsmuir?) estate, I'm grateful that I get to relive last year's through all the photos that I took. Having been about seven months pregnant at the time, it was one of my last "public" appearances.

I remember that I was so overwhelmed by the thought of bringing a tiny dependent into the world that I went into avoidance mode. Instead I spent the weeks before the party trying to insert my very round and steadily inflating shape into an Art Deco Society of California approved look. And all without spending more than about $30. 

It was a tall order and I acquitted myself tolerably well, even though on the day of, at my toilette, I was pouty and resentful about all the silly prep that went into this dumb party. Clearly I was under some crazy pregnancy hormone related delusions!

Because look how fabulously diverse yet thematically appropriate these day dresses are. Not to mention how beautiful and happy everyone is.

I've complained about the rules before, but all the pre-picnic stress is worth it. The best/worst bit of crankiness in the "How to Gatsby" section regards the popular notion of a Roaring Twenties™ party. A Halloween-tinged mix of copious black fringe, knee-length fake pearl necklaces, and a couple of stretchy sequined garters worn on the thigh and, inexplicably, the forehead.

In case you haven't gotten the picture from my previous posts about the Gatsby here and here, that impersonation of Hollywood's pre-Code interpretation of a gangster's moll is strictly forbidden. Even the much-lauded Little Black Dress is not allowed.

And that's fantastic! To my mind, Coco Chanel, the french couturiere and popularizer of the LBD has a lot to answer for. Not all of us look good in black! 

But what to wear instead? Feast your eyes on the charming day dresses I saw at last year's Gatsby Summer Afternoon. From soft pastels to bold prints, there's enough inspiration here so that you don't have to find yourself ever going back to black*.

 Even though her long, flowing, white dress (and long, flowing hair) are not strictly period (neither are the open-toed shoes on her friend), this pair does make a for a lovely photo!

Even though her long, flowing, white dress (and long, flowing hair) are not strictly period (neither are the open-toed shoes on her friend), this pair does make a for a lovely photo!

 [Insert quip regarding hashtag squadgoals]  Now that's out of the way, this photo make the case for a scooped-neck, dropped-waist, handkerchief-hem dress just like the two on the right are wearing. So wearably pretty!

[Insert quip regarding hashtag squadgoals]

Now that's out of the way, this photo make the case for a scooped-neck, dropped-waist, handkerchief-hem dress just like the two on the right are wearing. So wearably pretty!

 Melinda's outfit demonstrates the transition of the dropped-waist of the twenties into the more natural waistline of the thirties. Also, those shoes are fantastic.

Melinda's outfit demonstrates the transition of the dropped-waist of the twenties into the more natural waistline of the thirties. Also, those shoes are fantastic.

 Such a beauty, inside and out! Melinda is organizing the  San Francisco Tweed Ride this year . Click the link for more info.

Such a beauty, inside and out! Melinda is organizing the San Francisco Tweed Ride this year. Click the link for more info.

 Pretty white-on-white stripes in a 1920s style frock.

Pretty white-on-white stripes in a 1920s style frock.

 This dress is very similar to the one above, but you can see the influence of the 1930s look in the frilly cap sleeves and the slender ribbon at her natural waist.

This dress is very similar to the one above, but you can see the influence of the 1930s look in the frilly cap sleeves and the slender ribbon at her natural waist.

 This woman is so elegant her portrait is used as the "Do" example in   The Rules  .

This woman is so elegant her portrait is used as the "Do" example in The Rules.

 Another beautiful lady in yellow. Definitely stealing the idea of using a gin bottle as a clutch.

Another beautiful lady in yellow. Definitely stealing the idea of using a gin bottle as a clutch.

 I adore how everyone in this little scene is dressed, but the print on the left merits a closer look.

I adore how everyone in this little scene is dressed, but the print on the left merits a closer look.

 This. This is why  beach pajamas  are the greatest. Just look at that art deco print and the rich colors of the scarf-weight silk twill. Even the little striped edging at the hem. Simply stunning.

This. This is why beach pajamas are the greatest. Just look at that art deco print and the rich colors of the scarf-weight silk twill. Even the little striped edging at the hem. Simply stunning.

 Hats make all outfits look better. That's not my opinion, it's SCIENCE. For more hat inspiration,   click here.

Hats make all outfits look better. That's not my opinion, it's SCIENCE. For more hat inspiration, click here.

 Bold blue gloves to match her pretty printed 1930s dress.

Bold blue gloves to match her pretty printed 1930s dress.

 Another beauty making the case for beach pajamas. To my eye, this outfit looks like a more modern interpretation but it still worked well within the scene at the Gatsby.

Another beauty making the case for beach pajamas. To my eye, this outfit looks like a more modern interpretation but it still worked well within the scene at the Gatsby.

 A rainbow of loveliness.

A rainbow of loveliness.

 Their expressions say it all.

Their expressions say it all.

 So delightfully anachronistic.

So delightfully anachronistic.

 Turns out that pastel hair is  not  an anachronism! Click this link to learn more:   Pastel hair seems so new, but is so vintage...   In any case, both of these ladies look incredibly gorgeous. (We see you too, dapper seersucker dude!)

Turns out that pastel hair is not an anachronism! Click this link to learn more: Pastel hair seems so new, but is so vintage... In any case, both of these ladies look incredibly gorgeous. (We see you too, dapper seersucker dude!)

 I'm not sure if this dress is strictly period either, but it incorporates so many beautiful vintage dressmaker details that it works. Also, note her beige-toned character shoes. These Mary Janes style dancing shoes are a wardrobe must-have as they are a practical and versatile choice.

I'm not sure if this dress is strictly period either, but it incorporates so many beautiful vintage dressmaker details that it works. Also, note her beige-toned character shoes. These Mary Janes style dancing shoes are a wardrobe must-have as they are a practical and versatile choice.

 A charming last look.

A charming last look.

If you are as inspired as I am after all these beautiful dresses and are wondering how to incorporate vintage inspiration into your next bike ride, check out Kelly's tips here:

Anjou Chic: Style Tips For Your Next Vintage Ride

*We miss you, Amy!

Leave a comment