Ralph Lauren: Channeling Great Gatsby for Spring 2012

by Sammy in 12 Comments — Updated November 16, 2023

great gatsby clothes 1920s

One of my favorite books in high school was The Great Gatsby — a classic example of great American literature by F. Scott Fitzgerald. If you were a teenager in HS during the ’90s or ’00s, you most likely read this book and were force fed questions about symbolism and the status of American life during the roaring and pre-Depression era ’20s.

I honestly haven’t read The Great Gatsby — nor seen the movie — since 2001. I know … I’m almost ashamed to admit it! However it was thanks to the gorgeous spring 2012 collection by Ralph Lauren that I was inspired to look deeper than the representation of “the green light” in The Great Gatsby and into its 1920s fashion.

The runways for spring 2012 saw an array of colors, prints, materials, textures and styles. Some were wild, others were whimsical and a few were wonderful representations of what vintage fashion means for the modern girl today.

Ralph Lauren’s spring collection hits just that ’20s style mark: It’s a blend of Daisy meets Daring; ’20s meets 2000s; covered-up meets cool-girl-chic.

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<< Shop 1920s vintage clothingRalph Lauren: Channeling Great Gatsby for Spring 2012 3 on eBay now! 

Keep reading after the jump to learn more about the fashions of The Great Gatsby and how to channel some Daisy into your do-it-yourself vintage girl meets modern marvel style, and for where to buy vintage pieces as inspired by Ralph’s collection from the runway!

For my vintage lover family based in or near NYC, a great ’20s/’30s inspired event that happens twice-a-summer is the Annual Jazz Festival on Governor’s Island.

I’m sad to say I can only speak of the experience through word of mouth and of course … the fashion displayed in the pictures.

For those of us who don’t have a themed event to attend in Great Gatsby garb, then I definitely want you to keep reading this post because these are not ideas to dress like a ’20s socialite to your next costume party.

When I speak of mixing vintage with modern I speak of wearing the pieces that not only speak to your personal style but also to the feelings and spirit of today’s fashion culture. I love that Ralph has taken a few key points of vintage eras, drawn inspiration from them and then re-imagined that inspiration in a way that meets today’s style needs.

Have beautiful days everyone!

xx, SD



mia farrow the great gatsby 1974 movie

THE MOVIE: The Great Gatsby (1974), as adapted from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel published 1925. Other film versions include the 1926, 1949 and a made-for-TV-version for 2000.

THE STARS: Mia Farrow (Daisy), Robert Redford (Jay Gatsby), Sam Waterson (Nick Carraway)

THE COSTUME DESIGNER: Theoni Aldredge, who won an Academy Award winner for her work on the film in 1978.

The iconic movie’s looks sparked a mini Jazz Age trend during the mid ’70s amidst the average female’s tendency to wear polyester pantsuits to work and draped patterned maxi dresses with strappy wooden platforms by day.

It was a time when the ever-turning-casual American felt inspired to refer back to the grace of a golden era for refined style and tastes in their daily wardrobe choices.

the great gatsby movie 1974

mia farrow the great gatsby 1974 movie


ralph lauren the great gatsby

GREAT GATSBY 2012: Filming already began for the latest version’s 2012 release, as directed by Baz Luhrman and staring Carey Mulligan as Daisy, Leonardo Dicaprio as Jay Gatsby and Joel Edgerton as Tom Buchanan.

Whether Ralph Lauren was simply feeling nostalgic the film or economically inspired to honor the re-release of it come next summer, he certainly played appropriately to the timing of this forthcoming installment in the canon of both lit-to-flick literature and its modern day translation of how fashion was and should be portrayed today.


great gatsby clothes 1920s

THE TREND: Georgette style dresses which graze the body and sweep slightly out at a midi-length (halfway up the calf). Georgette dresses aren’t called as such for the design but for the material — Georgette actually refers to “Georgette crepe” which is a sheer, lightweight crepe fabric originally made from silk and rayon blends. Today, most Georgette dresses are produced from synthetic materials to “feel” the same as silk.

This is why purchasing a Georgette style dress vintage is always in your best interest. Instead of getting “synthetic” silk, you are more likely to get the real deal!

Designs are a light floral, almost like a watercolor design on a bright base and designed with pretty pastels.

GET IT VINTAGE: Vintage floral maxi halter dress, $60 from Flashbax on Etsy


great gatsby clothes 1920s

THE TREND: Bias cut gowns in champagne rose colors. The “aw” factor doesn’t come from intricate design, saucy sequins or even interesting colors & patterns, but rather, the feminine flattering simplicity of body grazing silks and the underrated (at least for modern times) “bias cut.”

When a garment is “cut on a bias,” it means that the threads which connect the fabric together are woven on a perpendicular angle instead of parallel one. Because of this perpendicular 45 degree angle between threads, the fabric will cling to the body as opposed to hanging straight and not “grazing” the body.

Bias cut pieces were most popular in the ’20s and ’30s thanks to French fashion designer Madeline Vionettt. Ever since she introduced them to the world of fashion, the bias cut dress has been revived periodically but hasn’t ever had quite the same “shining moment” as they did then, which is why you can find them plentiful during those eras.

GET IT VINTAGE: ’20s-’30s bias cut dress, $140 by the Kaliman on Etsy

ralph lauren vintage dress 20s

ABOVE: I’m wearing my personal bias cut dress, purchased at Guvnor’s Thrift in Brooklyn this past summer. I’ve only worn it once — but plan on accessorizing it appropriately for future events this fall!


great gatsby clothes 1920s

THE TREND: Out with the cotton, in with the silk! Ralph Lauren eschewed his usual material swatch of leathers, cottons and denims (essentially cotton) for silk, silk and … more silk!

I love that Ralph declared silk for spring because as mentioned above, when cut on a bias to graze the body or cut to complement your curves in a flowey, very body-flattering fashion silk can be a girls’ best friend to feeling sexy, sensual and full of self-confidence.

While silk needs a good dry cleaning every now and again, it’s a much smarter investment than that cotton shirt you’ll wash a few times and inevitably cause pills and fading.

Case in point: When it comes to cleaning out my closet, I never donate my silks because they stay in much safer condition.

GET IT VINTAGE: ’80s silk green cropped blouse & silk yellow palazzo style pants, $18 by pistolpoppy on Etsy // $21 by desertantiquary on Etsy


great gatsby clothes 1920s

THE TREND: When getting dressed for your next formal occasion this spring/summer, forego the black and look to the softer side of evening wear with an all white floor-sweeping Grecian gown with pleats and an empire waist tassel tie.

I gasped out loud at this particular piece because like the bias cut rose dress farther above, there is nothing TOO distinct about this piece other than its cut of simple, stylish perfection. What I love most about it is that while covering up the entire body, it creates the most feminine silhouette thanks to the empire waist, A-line maxi flare, high neckline but POP of a sexy shoulder.

While wearing white will always be a no-go at weddings, wearing white can be just the style differentiator of chic class which sets apart from everyone else wearing just another cocktail dress.

I’m sure many of you have heard this statement before, but for sake of its value I’ll repeat it again: It’s always better to be over dressed than under dressed at an event, and Ralph Lauren certainly gives us inspiration to “over” dress everyday with such beautiful dresses as this!

GET IT VINTAGE: White empire waist dress, $45 by BeckyDrolen on Etsy


great gatsby clothes 1920s

THE TREND: What I noticed about all of Ralph Lauren’s color choices were that they were a lighter hue of whatever color they were based upon. Pale yellow, rose pink, celery green and also … steel blue!

Here’s the thing about the color steel blue: I think that because it has such a gray base to it, that it really is most flattering as a full piece. I can’t imagine that a steel blue separate can really speak to the color’s uniqueness. It would just look “gray” to wear a steel blue top.

But as a full on dress? That’s steel blue smokin’!

GET IT VINTAGE: Mary McFadden [vintage designer] steel blue pleated dress, $600 by RachelBollmanDesign on Etsy


great gatsby clothes 1920s

THE TREND: While wearing a ’20s turban headscarf feels oh-so-last-summer, wearing an ACTUAL turban representative of its era’s glitz & glamor is very much on the spring/summer 2012 timeline of NOW.

I’m a sucker for head wraps and really, just wearing whatever I can on my head. I feel that there’s a lot of emphasis today on hair STYLES and not HEAD styles. Hopefully, my influence will help us to forget about styling our hair and instead, using great head accessories for classic, well-styled charm.

Ralph introduced the jeweled head turban on the runways, pairing them with glamorous gowns and matching crystal chandelier earrings. I recommend taking cues from the runway and when not attending your version of a red carpet event, wearing a stylish PLEATED head turban for an everyday look.

A pleated turban is structured differently than just a head wrap. Because of the pleats, the turban sits better on your head and leaves some space above your forehead for hair to pop through. The inherent problem with turbans is that if they cover too much of your head, you can be left looking a bit like a cancer patient. I know — very un-PC of me to say, however if you have shorter hair like me this is can be very much the frequently occurring problem!

GET IT VINTAGE: ’20s wedding turban & ’60s midnight blue turban // $38 by Dingaling on EtsySOLD by midnightflight on Etsy [sorry — it sold overnight while researching for this post!]




FASHION: Ten 1920s Fashion Styles that defined the era.
Ways to Wear a Vintage ’20s Turban for Modern 2012 Style
INFLUENCE: How to Wear ’20s Fashion Like The Artist, Boardwalk Empire & The Great Gatsby
TREND: The ’20s Drop Waist is In for Spring 2012
STYLE: How to Wear a Drop Waist Dress 3 Ways

**What was your favorite trend from today’s post? Let me know in the comments below!!!**

Editor’s Note: This article was edited for a factual error on March 26th, 2012. The article incorrectly stated that Ralph Lauren was the costume designer for the 1974 Great Gatsby film. The film’s costume designer was Theoni Aldredge, who won an Academy Award winner for her work. 

12 thoughts on “Ralph Lauren: Channeling Great Gatsby for Spring 2012”

  1. firstly, awesome book and i love anyhing with robert redford and/or mia farrow. *swoon*. i had no idea ralph lauren designed for annie hall, makes so much sense and makes me appreciate the movie and the man so much more. and jazz fest is a must for next year please, ive been dying to go!

  2. Actually, Ralph Lauren was not the costume designer for either the Great Gatsby or Annie Hall. While he contributed some costumes for both, the films were designed by Theoni Aldredge and Ruth Morley, respectively. Aldredge actually sued Lauren for claiming he designed the costumes. She took home the Oscar in 1978 for Best Costume Design for the film. Morley’s daughters, to this day, correct any and all misappropriations of Annie Hall’s design credits to Lauren.

    • Cassidy, it’s never too late to fix your mistakes. Thank you so much again for bringing this to my attention. I’m so grateful, because I noticed that many reputable websites have made the same mistake. I’m so happy to have made the changes you pointed out so that Theoni Aldredge is honored as she deserves! thank you!

  3. Cassidy is right. Ralph Lauren only assisted as a tailor’s assistant.

    • Ah! I really need to correct this article. Thank you so much for commenting to remind me. Cassidy, thank you for bringing this factual error to my attention!

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