Some of the joys of writing a blog – I get to choose my own projects, think through things that matter to me, and discuss topics I thoroughly enjoy discussing. This week was especially fun, because it combined so many things I love: movies, costume design, a styling challenge, and rediscovering clothing in my closet that I don’t usually wear!
This list is highly subjective, because it is about clothes I want to wear, not a list of the movies with the best costume design. The movie The Fall (2006) has some of the best costumes I’ve ever seen, but I don’t want to take those costumes home with me. I love Barbra Streisand’s gold beaded gown in Hello, Dolly! and Audrey Hepburn’s black-and-white ballgown in Sabrina, but I don’t want to wear those gowns. Another caveat: besides my outfit photos, I don’t own any of the following photos. I claim the “scholarly use” part of copyright law on this one. Now that the caveats are out of the way, let’s go!
The Parent Trap (both versions)
I love the clothes in both versions of Disney’s The Parent Trap. The original 1961 movie and the 1998 remake both have great costume design. In the original, my favorite costumes all belong to the mom, played by the beautiful Maureen O’Hara. Check out these looks!
The 1998 version actually references 1960s style quite a bit – matching twin-sets, simple lines, pastel shades, and a youthful ease. Again, I would wear anything from their mom’s closet (the mom is played by the ever charming Natasha Richardson). Her closet seems to be entirely neutral colors, but the most gorgeous cream and tan and navy neutrals. She looks the way I want all fashion designers to look – effortlessly put together and chic.
The Moon-Spinners (1964)
This is an obscure Disney film starring a teenage Hayley Mills. I have a soft spot for Hayley, because growing up, there was an extensive 1960s Disney movie collection at our local library and I grew up watching all of them. The plot set up is that Haley Mills’s character and her aunt vacation in Greece and get thrown into the middle of a dangerous adventure involving a jewel robbery and mistaken identity. There are jewel thieves and boat chases and traditional Greek dances and daring windmill escapes and LOTS OF GREAT CLOTHES.
Like this bright green dress with a bright white collar and belt:
Or this white dress with gray stripes and a sailor collar (not forgetting the peachy head scarf, which is just delightful):
Views of Greek harbors are greatly enhanced by a great sundress. Here is photographic proof:
And last, but not least, this pink fit-and-flare party dress with the little bows on the straps:
(While compiling this list, it has become very obvious that I have a thing for 1960s style. The next movie is no exception.)
The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (2015)
All the visuals in The Man From U.N.C.L.E. delight my eyes. Beautiful spies in beautiful clothes in Rome in the 1960s? Sounds great! And it is.
I used to watch reruns of the original 1960s TV show, so when I saw that they were making a movie, I tried to keep my expectations low. It exceeded my expectations – it was funny, quick, and visually stunning. Alicia Vikander plays Gaby, a mechanic from East Germany whose connections and expertise lead her into a world of spies and intrigue. During course of the movie, she gets a mod makeover and some of the best sunglasses I’ve ever seen.
This outfit turned out to be one of my favorites! This dress intimidates me, because it is white and I am a clutzy person, but it is a beautiful dress and I need to wear it more!
Also, I had a headscarf breakthrough on this day. Maybe I’m the only person who this happens to, but my hair is slippery and my head is apparently the wrong shape for headscarves, because scarves just slip right off my head. But I love this stripey silk scarf (a $4 antique store purchase) and knotted the center of the scarf to a thin plastic headband. It was secure all day and it added some great color and punch to this outfit!
Daddy Long Legs (1955)
This movie’s plot isn’t much to write home about, but when the Fred Astaire and Leslie Caron dance, the world brightens up. She wears the twirliest skirts and they are floaty and gravity-defying. As far as I’m concerned, this white dress is my ideal wedding dress style:
The Three Caballeros (1944)
If you know me, you probably know how much I love The Three Caballeros. Another relatively obscure/strange Disney movie – part travelogue, part hallucination, part musical, all visually amazing. In the 1940s, the Disney animation traveled down to South America on a goodwill tour. After they got back, they put together two movies inspired by the countries they visited. The first part was Saludos Amigos, which started in Peru and ended in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The Three Caballeros starts back up in Bahia, Brazil and ends in Mexico. Check out these concept sketches from Disney artist Mary Blair:
Aren’t they beautiful? It was the first time I saw traditional folklorico costumes and they made a huge impression on me. The colors, embroidery, textures, and shapes of Mexican folk costumes still strike a chord deep in my soul and I think Mary Blair and her appreciation for beauty has a lot to do with that.
That Thing You Do! (1996)
If you like Tom Hanks, you will like That Thing You Do! And who doesn’t like Tom Hanks? He’s a national treasure. This movie is a gem. It also makes me really want a maroon suit.
The Philadelphia Story (1940)
When all my siblings are together, we can quote whole scenes from this movie. Cary Grant, Jimmy Stewart, and Katharine Hepburn at their very best. Witty, sharp, and stylish. Right at the transition into the 1940s, it combines the glamour of the 1930s with the bold simplicity of the 1940s.
The actress in this next photo is Ruth Hussey and everybody should know about her, because she was the best. She held her own against three of Hollywood’s biggest stars in this movie and her character, Liz, is my favorite. Smart, practical, honest, and downright funny. Her clothes reflect her character – simple, sharp, and interesting.
But when it comes to iconic clothes, Katharine Hepburn’s evening gown steals the show. Compared to the over-the-top evening gowns of 1930s Hollywood, this white dress with linear beading is relatively simple, but it makes an impact. Memorable, wearable, and beautiful.
The Brothers Bloom (2008)
This carefully crafted movie is about two brothers trying to carry out the perfect con, which (according to the older brother) is a con where everybody gets exactly what they wanted. But what the younger brother wants is an unwritten life, so that gets complicated.
The whole movie is a story about telling stories and figuring out what’s real and what’s not. The costumes have a timeless fairy tale quality to them, without being fantasy costumes.
This outfit pushed me out of my comfort zone, but simplifying the color scheme helps keep a bold outfit grounded. It made me realize that I don’t wear hats very often, despite the fact that I like hats very much. (Making a mental note to wear my hats more often.) Even though the base of this outfit is very simple – black trousers and a stripey tee – the hat and scarf took it straight to drama.
Agent Carter (2015-2016)
A couple of tv shows found their way onto the list. Since Peggy Carter spent most of the first Captain America movie in a uniform, it was great to see more costume variety in her own show, Agent Carter. From the list so far, it’s easy to tell that I have a thing for the 1960s, but I have just as much love for the 1940s. Give me a structured blazer and a knee-length skirt and I’m a happy woman. In Agent Carter, Peggy carries on Captain America’s fight against evil and looks fantastic while doing so.
Much Ado About Nothing (1993)
Shakespeare’s prototypical romantic comedy set in a sun-drenched Italian villa. The women wear white cotton dresses, the men wear military uniforms. The simplicity of the costumes isn’t lazy – it is strategic and effective. I blame this movie (and A Room With A View) for my deep desire to run around the Italian countryside in a white cotton dress with a voluminous skirt.
“Good Lord, for alliance! Thus goes every one to the world but I, and I am sunburnt; I may sit in a corner and cry heigh-ho for a husband!” – Beatrice
Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day (2008)
Another late 1930s/early 1940s period piece. Miss Pettigrew (played by Frances McDormand) goes through a dramatic external makeover, but she’s surrounded by people who need dramatic heart transformations. A champagne cocktail of a comedy with an expected emotional kick.
Pushing Daisies (2007-2009)
Another tv show that deserved to be on the list, Pushing Daisies is crazy, colorful, sometimes creepy, but charming. The off-the-wall premise is that Ned, a piemaker, can wake the dead by touching them. But only for 60 seconds, or somebody else will die. He broke this rule to bring his childhood friend back to life, but now they can’t touch. Weird? Absolutely. Creepy? Occasionally. Funny? Definitely. Quick dialogue, a great cast of eccentric characters, and some of the best color work I’ve ever seen on screen. (They match the sets to the costumes. That’s commitment.) Like The Brothers Bloom, these costumes have a timeless, fairy tale quality to them, but with even more humor.
How To Steal A Million (1966)
Last, but certainly not least, this Audrey Hepburn/Peter O’Toole art heist movie. These costumes may not be as famous as Breakfast At Tiffany’s, but they are even more fun. If I could take one thing from this movie, it would be the bright pink coat she wears over her nightgown and rain boots:
It is a seriously good coat, but it is not the only great coat in this movie. Check out this blue peacoat (and make a note of the perfectly matching tights and shoes):
These looks are pure Audrey magic, but the pièce de résistance is this is black lace ensemble that she wears as the most conspicuous disguise in movie history:
Thanks for reading, everybody! This week has been such fun. My goal for the blog is to help everybody have as much fun as I have getting dressed every morning! I loved the challenge of incorporating my favorite movies styles into my outfits, because it pushed me to be creative. It made me realize that I love drawing inspiration from the 1960s and the 1940s. I’m drawn to bright saturated colors, bright white cotton, and clothes that combine beauty with personality and humor. What do you love? How can you start incorporating those things into your everyday style? Have fun and get creative!