Mae West (1893-1980) was ahead of her time. Way ahead of her time. She’s probably remembered primarily as a zaftig sex symbol, but she was so much more than that. She was a playwright, screenwriter, actress, and producer who consistently broke boundaries in her frank treatment of sexual and social themes. Far from being an ingenue playing a role scripted for her by Hollywood, Mae West was a self-created artist and businesswoman who controlled her own persona. In the 1920s she was a sensation on Broadway, starring in her own self-written plays (which once landed her in jail for “public obscenity”). Then she moved to Hollywood, where she created star vehicles featuring her own screenplays (again running afoul of the censors). Off-screen, too, she was an independent woman who refused to be tied down into domesticity—or to apologize in any way for her liberated lifestyle.

Mae’s look was distinctive: blonde hair, hourglass dress, feathers, cocked picture hat. The pieces we suggest, from left to right:

1. Black Sequin Starlet Gown or Evanese Black Evening Gown. The Starlet gown is available up to size 14-16; the Evanese gown runs from 1X to 4X. Either would work well for Mae West. The Starlet gown comes with the gloves; if you want to wear gloves with the Evanese gown, try these elbow-length black evening gloves.
2. Wide-brim black straw hat. They call this the “Southern Belle” hat, and it’s 22 inches wide. Wrap a feather boa around the crown for instant decoration.
3. Red feather boa. Decorate your hat with it or wrap it around your shoulders—or get two and do both.
4. Long blonde ringlets wig. This is the kind of hair you need to pull off the Mae West look. Blonde, crimped, and long.
5. Red rhinestone necklace and earring set. Rubies and diamonds!
6. Nine row rhinestone bracelet. This would look especially good over black gloves.

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