The smoky, softly sensual beauty of Hollywood’s Golden Age is epitomized by elegant fashion, a sleek silhouette and clean glamor. Project Runway Season 6 contestant Nicolas Putvinski knows this look well, and is a huge fan of actress Marlene Dietrich. Inspired by the beauties of yesteryear, Nicolas shares his retro tips in an exclusive eHow interview.

Things You'll Need

Start out with quality basics, like a well-made suit or a finely crafted dress. The 1930’s were all about clean structure, not ornamentation for the sake of glitz. If there’s not a lot of money available, hit the nearest thrift or consignment shop for luxury finds at rock-bottom prices.

Avoid the Halloween costume look by eschewing cheesy period cliches. Cheap satin and badly-manufactured faux fur look theatrical, not glamorous. “To be honest, 30’s Glam should not be considered a Halloween costume unless it’s done in a cheep white silky nightie with a tacky marabou shawl,” Nicolas states.

To get a better idea of what women actually wore during the period, look at old snapshots of Hollywood film stars during their red carpet and leisure moments; notice that a sweet day dress with some wrist gloves make just as strong of a statement as a satin gown with a cigarette holder.

Try getting some accessories custom-made. Surprisingly, this isn’t as expensive as most think. Nicolas says, “You can get custom gloves made for under what you would pay for designer gloves.”

Popular crafting sites like Etsy are teeming with educated professionals who make lovely period hats, gloves, scarves and other trimmings that can take an outfit far. Plus, they almost always do custom work for the same price or slightly more. Alternately, shop local stores and ask for contact information for designers that make retro items.

Don’t be afraid to rock fur of some variety, especially since it’s doesn’t have to be genuine. Modern faux fur has come a long way and often feels just like the real thing. Popular period fur pieces include hats, muffs and stoles.

Embrace white clothing, especially for evening wear. White may seem risky, but a well-draped white garment is very flattering and eye-catching. For something that accents the curves, try a bias-cut or cowl-necked design. This color is high on Nicolas’ list: “Don’t be afraid of wearing white. If it is styled correctly, you can’t lose.”


  • For style inspiration, Nicolas “truly [loves] the Deco period. Working in the costume industry, many times I had to go back for inspiration – everything from art to architecture. What I love is that form fitting silhouette, the whites and platinum and all the gorgeous furs.”

  • Nicolas also loves the idea of playing with masculine style. “[Marlene Dietrich] was one of the original Riot Girls!” he says. “My favorite is when she would put on a men’s suit and still look like a Siren.”