Mrs. Kitty’s Fabulous Fortieth!

Vintage Gothic Glamor

As I’ve been mentioning lately, September brought the 40th anniversary of my arrival in the world. This may sound crazy, but I’ve been looking forward to this day for a long time. When I turned 30, I was as secure with myself as I am now so I didn’t view it as different from any other birthday… So imagine my shock and horror when those around me started making the “over the hill” jokes. The horror was not because their attitude toward this event caused me to feel old or insecure about my age (it sure didn’t!) but because I felt so sorry for them that THEY felt 30 was old. I decided then to always be proud of my age, and the ever-increasing wisdom, dignity and good taste that come with it. I vowed to take care of myself so I could age in a healthy way, and to live a life I could be proud of without obsessing over a number. I’m pleased to say that 10 years later, I’ve done just that. I always seek to improve myself, but have no complaints about who I am today. My 30s were the happiest decade of my life so far, and I plan to make sure my 40s are even better.

Vintage Gothic Cocktail Dress

To kick this decade off right, I wanted a grand celebration with (more than) a touch of extravagance. Because I’ve worked hard to keep plenty of “mad money” in savings for a special occasion, and because if you are going to grow into an eccentric older woman, you might as well own it! 😉 After much debate and plan-changing, we dialed in on the perfect celebration that would be luxurious but still stress-free to plan: a day of limo-chauffeured wine tasting throughout Temecula with our closest friends. Mr. Kitty and friends did most of the preparation, while I, naturally, focused on the most important question: What to wear!

Vintage Gothic Cocktail Dress

My initial plan was full-on custom-made Gothic Victorian splendor, complete with corset and bustle skirt with train, and loads of lace. Then I thought about sliding in and out of a limo repeatedly on what would likely be a hot, hot day. All while drinking loads of wine, making me even hotter and less coordinated. I decided to go with a more practical, true vintage outfit.

Vintage Gothic Glamor

Hours of scouring the Internet led me to this 70-year old cocktail gown by Dorothy O’Hara. This designer did a lot of wardrobe work for Golden Age of Hollywood movies, as well as designs especially for high-end department stores. She was known for making the most of the female figure. After about a zillion questions back and forth with a very patient Etsy seller, I decided to go for it.

Vintage Gothic Cocktail Dress

Seeking the perfect foundation garment for this beautiful dress, Mr. Kitty and I headed down to Hollywood to shop the What Katie Did boutique. What a fun day that was! I walked out of there feeling like a glamorous siren from times long gone. The clerk kindly allowed me to photograph the shop for this blog, so I’ll be posting more about that next time.

Vintage Gothic Glamor

I already had this vintage hat, so I just needed to determine the perfect accessories. I naturally consulted various 1940s films until I found an idea to rip off inspire me. Hence the wrapped scarf and giant rhinestone brooch (a $12 last-minute score on eBay!). I went for black nails and lips because I wanted to look as much like a black and white movie as possible. 😉

Vintage Dorothy O'Hara Cocktail Dress

Finally the big day arrived, and every detail was perfect. We had a truly joyous day, and brought home ample quantities of wine to help us remember the experience.

Friends, family, beautiful scenery, and wine!!

Friends, family, beautiful scenery, and wine!!

Mr. Kitty and I learning about the upcoming late-harvest Port from a winemaker at one of the wineries we visited.

Mr. Kitty and I learning about the upcoming late-harvest Port from a winemaker at one of the wineries we visited.


For those of you still under 40, how do you plan to celebrate your 40th birthday?  If you’ve been there already, how did you celebrate?


  1. You look fantastic! Happy Birthday and congrats!
    I know what you mean, Birthdays mean that you are still ALIVE-which is always something to celebrate.
    I am turning 40 at the end of January. I am going to Disneyland! I am still a goofy 12 year old kid at heart.

    • That’s an excellent way to look at it. Congrats on your upcoming celebration – what a fun way to spend your special day! Staying young at heart is definitely key to not “feeling” old.

  2. Wow! That dress is stunning! I love the cut of it and the draped shawl collar that goes down to just above the waist to enhance an hourglass figure. You look fabulous! That brooch is just the perfect detail that adds a little more glam to the whole outfit.
    I wish that I had taken care of my health like you have but with psycical illness comes physical break down.
    My 40’s birthday is in december and Johan is planning a party at home with friends and family, just the closests ones.
    You seemed to have a wonderful day. Congratulations Kitty <3

    • Thank you for your kind words! I was excited about the unique cut of the dress, but part of my dilemma before buying it was that the structure was so different from anything I’m used to wearing. It worked out perfectly,once I replaced the old, lumpy shoulder pads with crisp new ones. 🙂

      Your idea for a party sounds perfect. I love small, intimate groups. I hope you have a wonderful celebration, and have better success with your health in the coming decade! Sometimes it just comes down to luck.

  3. It looks like you truly did have a Fabulous Fortieth! Congratulations!

    The outfit is amazing, by the way. The bag is my favorite part. 😉

  4. You perfectly captured vintage Hollywood movie glamour. Sounds like a wonderful celebration. The brooch does a lovely job of highlighting the beautiful tailoring of the dress. Happy belated birthday!

    I celebrated my 40th birthday this summer. I pouted about turning 40 because I feel so much like a teenager still in a lot of ways. However I also celebrated it because I have so much to be grateful for and am in a great place in my life. Actual celebrations ran over the course of a week and ranged from a nice dinner with family, to shopping with my husband, to a picnic with my best friend, to a day spent wearing pajamas and curling up with a book, and so on.

    • Congratulations on your recent birthday! Celebrating for the whole week is definitely the way to go – nothing less is adequate for such a milestone!

      I think you have a great outlook overall. It’s okay to pout a little. 😉 but be GLAD you still feel so young at heart! I believe that will keep you from growing old.

  5. What a healthy way of thinking, if I ever start to feel old when I’m 30 I will remember this 🙂

    • I think many people “feel old” because they hear so many other people expressing negativity about age. I sure hope to counteract that a bit by spreading some POSITIVE attitudes about age! 🙂

  6. Happy Birthday 🙂
    That’s a great attitude to have about age 🙂

  7. A belated Happy Birthday. My 40th is a distant memory we had a few drinks at work in a Garden centre, regular customers made it a really great day. For my 50th I had a full party, but in lieu of presents I asked for donations to my favourite charity Tia Greyhound Rescue.

    • I love the idea of donations in lieu of gifts. There comes a point when material possessions really become less of an obsession, so why not do some good for the world instead? Animal rescue groups really do need it, too.

  8. What a wonderful celebration and what a wonderful outfit! The brooch is one of the prettiest I’ve ever seen. My favourite brooch is also a silver flower but yours is bigger and in this case I think bigger is better.

    I celebrated my 30th birthday with a week in Rome with my boyfriend. I think I’d probably like doing something similar when I turn 40. Going away somewhere for an adventure.

  9. Many happy returns! You look amazing, as always. Love the photo of you and Mr Kitty.

  10. 40 is a great number, and somehow a much bigger milestone, than 30. These days, you might still be looking for your path and place during your 30s, but you’re likely to have built your life and accomplished enough by your 40th birthday, so there’s something to look back and evaluate and be proud of; your attitude is awesome and you sure are fabulous! I think, the dress really suits the event, it’s very classy and stylish. 🙂

    I have no idea how I’d celebrate my 40th birthday, really…I don’t make a big deal out of my birthdays, but the 40th one should be worthy of a big celebration. There’s so much time and so much could change in time, but I’m sure I’ll be spending it with my beloved ones. Perhaps I should make a habit of celebrating my birthdays in different countries…that sounds like a plan! 😀

    • You make a great point. 30s do seem so young these days. Maybe it’s just because I am looking backward on them… 😉 But most 30-somethings I know are still working their way up the career ladder, still searching for what they want in a relationship, still learning to gie and take, etc. I think the 40s have a much better chance of bringing a peaceful comfort.

  11. You look fantastic, Ms. Kitty! That was a gamble on the dress – you just never know how those vintage things are going to fit – but it’s perfection! The white scarf and gloves – I love it all. :o)

    Like Alastair, 40 is a distant memory. 50 never bothered me either. However, with 60 swiftly approaching, I wish I’d been a little more diligent about the healthy eating and fitness. Maybe it’s not too late to change? LOL

    • The Etsy seller agreed to give me 24 hours to try the dress, despite her “no returns” policy, since it was a hefty price tag. Otherwise, I’m not sure I would have risked it. Now I just want MORE Dorothy O’Hara dresses, so maybe it wasn’t such a prudent decision, after all… 😉

      It’s never too late! It’s always hard to get motivated, though. We are great at eating healthy, but we both pretty much hate exercise, and it SO HARD to make the time. If we didn’t keep each other accountable, it’s unlikely either of us would be so dedicated!

  12. Very glamorous! I love the brooch.

    For my 30th birthday, I went to the 30th largest city in the US, which at the time was Las Vegas. The 40th largest city is Atlanta; maybe that’s a sign that I should finally return to my Georgia hometown for a visit on my 40th. Or maybe the city ranking will change by the time I hit 40, and I’ll be spared. 😉

  13. wow what a fabulous outfit! happy birthday!

  14. Happy Birthday, gorgeous! You look so stunning, and way better than most 20 year olds I know, ha! What a fabulous way to celebrate a birthday!
    I also felt confident when I turned 30 and have felt the last 8 years have been far better than when I was in my 20’s.
    I only have two years left till 40 and I too, plan to look fit and fabulous. I’d love to celebrate it with a big fancy dress cocktail party at home around my pool, maybe with a live band!
    That dress is amazing, but I’m even more gaga over that brooch! Is it vintage as well? It really suits the dress so well.
    So happy for you! You’ve shown the blogosphere that older gothic bloggers still have it, and more! That gives me confidence–sometimes I think I’m too old to be doing outfit posts, but obviously that’s silly–it’s best to just shine and be proud of our years! Thank-you!

    • I say as long as you have something unique and wonderful to offer the world, you’re never too old for outfit posts! It just helps break down those age stereotypes that are SO toxic. I wish I could liberate every woman from those feelings that are forced upon them by society as they age. But I’ll settle for whoever stumbles upon this blog.

      The brooches definitely not vintage… Actually it was Made in China. 😉 I thought the measurements in the description on the eBay ad must have been wrong, but was delighted to find the thing actually was as big as the seller stated. And it arrived JUST in time after my last-minute panic over what to wear WITH the dress.

  15. You look spectacular! That brooch is gorgeous.

  16. (A slightly late) Happy Birthday to you =)

  17. You look amazing as always! Good to hear that you had a good birthday.

    If I haven’t gone before then, I would want to spend my 40th at Disneyworld. Heh. 🙂

  18. You look truly utterly amazing in that outfit and I think black lips is a kick-ass combination with the clothing. 🙂 What you said about aging with confidence is very true; it’s such a shame that people spend so much time worrying about getting older that they actually forget about what’s really important in life!
    I have my 30th birthday coming up in just a few years and to be honest I haven’t even thought about how to celebrate. But I definitely will start planning now! 😀

    • I agree – birthdays are a time to feel special, not depressed. And life should be celebrated every day! I can understand if there are medical issues and such, but age in and of itself is not worth being upset about.

      Hopefully you’ll still be blogging n your 30th birthday – id love to see how you decide to celebrate (and what makeup you choose to wear for the big day!!).

  19. Happy Birthday, beautiful. Welcome to the 40th club. Here’s to an awesome decade. And what a fabulous vintage find.

  20. Happy birthday! 🙂 You look so beautiful, I can’t even deal with it. ^__^’ That outfit is stunning! And can we talk about the brooch?!

    I’m 21 at the moment, and whilst that’s painfully young to most, I have friends who freak out about being adults, and getting older, even though they’re barely out of high school! I have always thought of age as a badge of honour and achievement, and you are such an inspiration to me as a truly classy and elegant lady. 🙂 I hope to be even half as cool as you when I’m 40!

    I hope you had an amazing time, and again I’m so happy to see you blogging again. 🙂

    • You are so sweet! Thank you for your nice words.

      I know exactly what you are talking about. I had some friends who said they felt that 25 was the end of their youth. I hope by now they have grown to appreciate themselves more, and to have respect for age. I think that young, there’s still much hope that people will mature and develop a healthier outlook.

  21. You are looking fabulous as usual! I will be approaching my 30th birthday in a couple of years. I really like your attitude towards aging. I was feeling kind of “old” thinking about turning 30, but I think that is mostly because society gives bad messages about valuing women for their youth. When I think back, my 20’s have been full of bad decisions, life-changing decisions, and lots of life lessons…it’s actually been rather chaotic. I think I will look forward to my 30’s as I am becoming more confident in myself and now kind of feel like I am wiser and have my sh*t together! Thank you for your excellent perspective.

    • Society definitely has a lot to do with it. I think many people feel that way just because they HEAR it so often. Even as a joke, it puts people in a very negative mindset. You really have to sit down and ask yourself, is this actually TRUE? Most people don’t have enough sense of self-reflection to do that. If my blog can encourage a few people to think differently about age stereotypes, I’ll feel very gratified!! 🙂

  22. I’m not even 20 yet, but your outlook on age is inspiring and would definitely love to have your confidence and wisdom in the future! Congrats 🙂

    • Thank you! It’s definitely good to have a healthy perspective about age even while you are still young. I was raised in a “young at heart” family and I think that has a lot to do with my outlook on the subject.

  23. You look amazing! That outfit is just so classy 🙂

    I’m closer to my 30th birthday than my 40th and that’s a decade and a bit of not falling off any mountains, not drowning in any lochs, and not turning into an icicle to get through, so I’ll think about that closer to the time. As for my 30th, I’d love to spend the closest weekend in a castle (and many of them here are now hotels, so that is possible), so I can feel like an evil vampire quee -erm, princess for a weekend!

  24. Happy birthday! You look very elegant.
    I will be turning 40 myself next year and am looking forward to it too. I am hoping to maybe take a holiday somewhere for it.

  25. You look truly amazing, such a beautiful outfit. Sadly I can’t get away with black lipstick, but you make it look stunning. Your blog is also stunning, some brilliant outfits.

    I turned 40 on All Fools Day last year. On the actual day I had champagne with my husband, Mum & Dad at our ramshackle cabin in an ancient greenwood (wearing very glamourous fleece jackets!). It was lovely. I had a proper tea party for close friends and family at a lovely boutique hotel (gin & tonic in vintage tea pots!), followed by a retro rock / goth club night!

    Turning 40 has been great. I have a wonderful and fulfilling job, a lovely family, and this year had my first formally published short story with a second in the wings. Age has made me a much better writer. It’s also made me appreciate what I have.

    Oh, and I finally have the wardrobe I dreamt of as a teenager! There are some advantages to having a job and some security!

    • Wow – you sound like you really know how to celebrate! I love it – all of the bases covered. 😉 can’t wait to check out your blog later on.

      Amen to all of your excellent points about the plus side of growing older. ESPECIALLY the wardrobe! 😉 I always say I wish Grown-Up Me could go back and show Teenage Me what the future held. Teenage Me would’ve been much less angstful! 😉

  26. You looked *stunning*, just like a super classy lady from the beginning of the last century. The choice of the accessories was perfect, especially the hat and the brooch.
    Aside from the outfit, I really like your attitude towards aging. In a world where growing older seems to be the worst thing that can happen to a woman, it’s amazing to see a woman like you being proud of her age and taking the best out of it, embracing the idea of becoming one day an “eccentric old lady”. I love eccentric old ladies, and I love this post :). Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us!

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