Fashion in Film

Fashion in Film: The Graduate

Benjamin Braddock

Benjamin Braddock Diagonal Tie The Graduate

The whole premise of The Graduate revolves around Benjamin lacking direction.  Nothing says, “I’m feeling completely out of sorts” quite as clearly as wearing diagonal stripes.

Ties in The Graduate

Benjamin’s diagonal striped tie and unbuttoned jacket certainly don’t fit in with the other men at his graduation party. All the other men we see have their jackets buttoned up and are either wearing ties in solid colors or with a floral/geometric print.

Benjamin Braddock The Graduate White Shirt

Before Benjamin starts seeing Elaine, Benjamin is mostly seen wearing white dress shirts. But after Elaine finds out about Benjamin having an affair with her mother, he falls into a deep depression. From then on, his basic day-to-day uniform becomes a black shirt with khaki pants and a tan or khaki jacket.  This whole ordeal has had a huge impact on him and his sudden change in clothing reflects that.

Benjamin Braddock The Graduate


Mrs. Robinson

Mrs. Robinson Animal Print Clothes

Mrs. Robinson sure loves her animal prints.  Tiger print, leopard print, giraffe print, she doesn’t shy away from any of them. Animal prints are definitely something that command attention and Mrs. Robinson is a woman who desperately wants to be noticed.

Mr. Robinson Benjamin Braddock The Graduate

When we meet Mr. Robinson, his outfit makes it loud and clear that he and Mrs. Robinson are no longer on the same level.  While Mrs. Robinson has her hair done and is dressed to the nines in her fabulous cocktail dress, Mr. Robinson appears to have just come home from a round of golf at the country club and looks like he’s ready for a low-key night at home.

Mrs. Robinson The Graduate

Mrs. Robinson also tends to wear a lot of black. Black can be a very powerful color and in Mrs. Robinson’s case, the color seems to signify two different things.  Like an animal print, black is a very bold thing to wear. But black is also a color that is often associated with death and mourning. The person Mrs. Robinson wishes she could have been is dead and she knows she’s never going to be able to have the life she wanted for herself when she was younger.

Mrs. Robinson The Graduate

When Elaine finds out what has happening between Benjamin and her mother, Mrs. Robinson is wearing a black robe, but there’s nothing strong about it. She looks like a mess, her life is a mess, and she’s literally backed into a corner. It’s a moment of total defeat.

Elaine Robinson

Elaine Robinson Benjamin Braddock First Date The Graduate

Elaine Robinson starts out dressing like the polar opposite of her mother. For her first date with Benjamin, she wears a cream colored coat with a pink dress.  Not even a hint of her mother’s fondness for animal print or black to be seen here. She looks very young and fresh.

Elaine Robinson Bus The Graduate

Unfortunately, we don’t get to see much of this vibrant, more innocent version of Elaine Robinson. After she finds out about Benjamin having an affair with her mother, she heads into a much darker place and her wardrobe reflects that. Just like Benjamin, she starts favoring darker clothes — black boots, brown coats, black and dark blue shirts and sweaters.

Elaine Robinson Benjamin Braddock The Graduate

When characters have a connection in some way, particularly in a romantic way, it’s common for costume designers to dress them in ways that reflect that connection. Benjamin and Elaine’s costumes in the last half hour of The Graduate are a prime example of that. For the first time in the movie, Benjamin looks like he’s finally found a person he really connects with.  Elaine hates to admit it at first, but she connects with Benjamin in a way she doesn’t with anyone else in the movie. At least Elaine looks like she has more of a connection with Benjamin than she does with Carl Smith:

Carl Smith The Graduate


Fashion in Film Blogathon Wrap-Up

Grace Kelly

I would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who took part in the Fashion in Film Blogathon!  Over two days, nineteen bloggers contributed some excellent and very insightful posts.  I thoroughly enjoyed reading every single one of your posts and I’ve learned a lot from you all this weekend.  Thank you so much for taking the time to write such excellent posts.  Hopefully we can do it again next year!

Fashion in Film Blogathon: Day 2

Walter Plunkett Scarlett Sketch

Kellee from Outspoken and Freckled takes a look at the costumes of two of her favorite 1950s movies, Rear Window and Pillow Talk.

Marlene Dietrich’s costumes never failed to make a splash on screen, but her wardrobe in Shanghai Express is truly unforgettable.  Head on over to The Lady Eve’s Reel Life to learn about Travis Banton and how he collaborated with Dietrich to create such memorable styles.

Speaking of Marlene Dietrich, The Best of Alexandra examines the costumes of one of my personal favorite movies, Witness For the Prosecution.

Lana Turner was another woman who never failed to turn heads.  Jessica from Comet Over Hollywood tells us about Lana’s personal style and how she loved to have fun with fashion.

Bad girls also get to have a lot of fun with their wardrobes. The Nitrate Diva examines the clothes worn by some of cinema’s greatest femme fatales.

By 1967, the “Old Hollywood” system was dead and a new crop of filmmakers were coming in to shake up the system. Many of those “New Hollywood” filmmakers made movies set in the “Old Hollywood” era, and Carley of The Kitty Packard Pictorial is here to highlight some 1960s/70s-does-1930s styles.

Film Flare shines the spotlight on one of my favorite fashionable films, Federico Fellini’s .

Fashion in Film Blogathon: Day 1

Helen Rose Designing Woman

A great hat can really make a statement and nobody understood that more than Lilly Daché. Lily’s hats graced the heads of everyone from Marion Davies to Carmen Miranda.  Kay from Movie Star Makeover is here to kick off the blogathon  by telling us a bit about the legendary hat designer to the stars.

Sometimes, all you need to stand out on screen is a nice slip.  Head on over to A Person in the Dark to take a look at some of cinema’s greatest slips.

Inspired Ground takes to Polyvore to create looks inspired by Audrey Hepburn, My Week With Marilyn, and Midnight in Paris.

Valley of the Dolls may have been one campy movie, but it did have some pretty fabulous costuming.  The Gal Herself offers up some musings on Travilla’s work on this cult classic.

Louise Brooks was truly an icon of 1920s fashion, but her influence has extended far beyond the 20s.  Kimberly from GlamAmor takes a look at Brooks’ most famous film, Pandora’s Box, and how it continues to set trends today.

I Luv Cinema shares some of her favorite film costumes, ranging from ones worn by Audrey Hepburn to Kiera Knightley.

Silver Screenings pays tribute to Lina Lamont and her lavish Walter Plunkett wardrobe.

It’s hard to talk about fashion and film and not talk about Marilyn Monroe and Travilla, the man responsible for some of her most iconic costumes.  Dawn from Noir and Chick Flicks tells us about the story behind the infamous white halter dress from The Seven Year Itch.

Java’s Journey showcases Helen Rose’s work in The Tender Trap.

Caftan Woman ventures over to the dark side with a look at the costumes of the film noir classic Born to Kill.

Fashions of 1934 may not be one of the all-time great movies, but it is interesting for a number of reasons and Critica Retro tells us why.

When it comes to fashion, women don’t get to have all the fun.  Christian from Silver Screen Modiste spotlights some of the most stylish men to grace the silver screen.

Fashion in Film Blogathon Update

Travilla and MarilynWe’re just a couple of days away from the big Fashion in Film Blogathon!  Are you ready?

If you’re participating, here’s how it’s going to work:  On Friday and Saturday, a post will go live at about 9:00 AM Eastern for that day’s contributions.  Just leave a comment with your link on that day’s post or e-mail it to me at HollywoodRevue AT gmail DOT com.  Since Easter is coming up on Sunday, I know some of you might be busy this weekend.  So if your post is ready before Friday, you can just e-mail your link to me or comment on this post and I’ll make sure it’s included in the post when it goes live.

So far, twenty-three amazing bloggers have signed up to participate and I think it’s safe to say we’re in for one majorly stylish blogathon!  If you’d still like to participate, it’s not too late to join.  Just let me know and I’ll add you to the list.

Fashion in Film: Berets

If you’re like me, you often find yourself watching films and seeing tons of fashion styles you would love to wear in real life.  I watch movies from so many decades and from so many different genres, if I actually did copy all the styles I like, I’d have one diverse wardrobe.  But if there’s one accessory you could easily get a lot of mileage out of, it’s a beret.  Berets have been a popular hat style for decades, so if you want to go for a Norma Shearer inspired look one day and a Faye Dunaway inspired look the next, a beret could easily work for both styles.


Fashion in Film: Saturday Night Fever

Saturday Night Fever PosterWe’re already just two weeks away from the second (not quite annual) Fashion in Film Blogathon! If you would like to join in, just let me know. There’s still plenty of time to think of a topic if you haven’t already decided!

I thought it would be fun to start the festivities a little early by taking a look at one of the most stylish films ever made: Saturday Night Fever.

I think it goes without saying that Saturday Night Fever is one of the most iconic films to come out of the 1970s.  The opening credit sequence of Tony strutting through the streets of Brooklyn is one of the most famous opening credit sequences of all time.  You can’t talk about disco without talking about the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack.  And when it comes to 1970s fashion, the first thing many people think of is the image of John Travolta in that white suit.


Hollywood Sketchbook: A Century of Costume Illustration

Hollywood SketchbookWhile many movie fans may admire the costumes they see characters wearing in their favorite films, not as many of them may know much about the costume design process.  Renowned costume designer Deborah Nadoolman Landis seeks to remedy that with her new book Hollywood Sketchbook: A Century of Costume Illustration.

Nadoolman Landis does a wonderful job outlining the vital, yet under-appreciated, role costume sketches play in the process of producing a film.  Most importantly, she gives credit to some truly unsung people in the costume design process, the costume illustrators.  While some costume designers do their own sketches, not all of them do and that’s where the illustrator comes in.  The costume illustrator takes the designer’s vision and interprets it as a drawing that is shown to producers, directors, actors, and is given to the cutter-fitters, who turn it into a real garment.

Not only does she offer a lot of insight to the importance of costume design, she’s found some incredible anecdotes from designers.  My personal favorite story was about a time when Adrian was showing a sketch to Garbo, going into great detail about his reasoning for each of his design choices, while Garbo listened in absolute silence.  Her silence was making him very nervous and when he was finished, she simply said, “Yes.”  A moment later, she smiled, said, “Garbo talks!” and broke into a fit of laughter.

Hollywood Sketchbook isn’t merely eye candy, it’s a decadent feast for the eyes.  Lavishly illustrated with several hundred pages of costume sketches by sixty-one designers and illustrators, anyone with an interest in movie costumes could easily spend hours marveling at all the spectacular sketches.

Although it features sketches of very famous costumes from movies such as Gone With the Wind, My Fair Lady, and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Hollywood Sketchbook is far from being a compilation of Hollywood’s greatest fashion hits.  No film was deemed too unimportant to be represented in this book.  In the section on Theadora Van Runkle, you can see sketches from The Godfather: Part 2 on one page and sketches from Myra Breckinridge on the next. I loved that Hollywood Sketchbook also avoids focusing only on glamorous gowns. There is no shortage of glamorous gowns to be seen here, but you also get a look at sketches for things such as togas from Animal House, hippie costumes from Hair, a suit of armor from Camelot, and a trooper costume from Spaceballs.

While the sketches of recognizable costumes are fascinating to see, the most intriguing part of Hollywood Sketchbook is the unidentified sketches.  Many times, costume sketches are created for designs that, for various reasons, never make it to the screen and several of those sketches are included in this book.  Looking at those unknown sketches, it’s fun to imagine which movie they might have been created for or who they could have been designed for.

Disclosure: I was given a complimentary review copy by Harper Design.

Fashion in Film Blogathon: The Contributions

The Trendsetters:

Anna from Defiant Success takes a look at some of the greatest fashion trends set by classic films like From Here to Eternity, It Happened One Night, and Annie Hall.

Le over at Crítica Retrô discusses the impact Esther Williams had on swimwear.

Letty Lynton may have been pulled from circulation due to legal problems, but not before it had a chance to make a huge splash in the fashion world and Craig from Blame Mame is here to tell us all about it.


Katie and Hillary of The Scarlett Olive podcast (and a special guest!) discuss the career of Walter Plunkett.

Vincent from Carole and Co. sheds some light on the life of Irene and showcases some of the work she did for Ginger Rogers, Doris Day, and of course, Carole Lombard.

No fashion in film blogathon would be complete without some Edith Head!  Meredith from Forever Classics has ranked her top ten Edith Head costumes.

There is no such thing as too much Edith Head!  Rianna from Frankly, My Dear pays tribute to Miss Head and showcases her sketches for some of her most memorable designs.


David from Film Classics loves clothing from the 1940s and has given us an amazing overview of 1940s fashion for both men and women.

The always wonderful Carly from The Kitty Packard Pictorial discusses how Hollywood capitalized on people wanting to wear the clothes they saw in movies in the 1930s.  (Can those stores please make a comeback?)

Over at True Classics, Brandie has written a great piece on costume design in the early days of cinema.


Craig from Blame Mame takes a look at the story behind Bette Davis’ iconic party dress from All About Eve.

Elizabeth Taylor’s Cleopatra tends to get all the credit for being a trend-setting movie, but Yvette from in so many words… is here to showcase the stunning costumes in Cluadette Colbert’s version of Cleopatra.

Lauren from The Past on a Plate not only showcases the incredible costumes from Stanley Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon, she also gives us a few recipes, too!  Can’t beat that combination!

Carol Irene over at An Elegant Obsession has given us this incredibly insightful post about the costumes in Singin’ in the Rain.

Ready for a little sci-fi?  Krell Laboratories is taking a look at the styles seen in Flash Gordon.

Rachel from The Girl With the White Parasol has just made me want to re-watch A Letter to Three Wives with her fascinating look at its costumes.

When it comes to the infamous fashion show scene in 1939’s The Women, Adrian is often the one who gets all the credit for that scene.  But as Lara from Backlots points out, Elsa Schiaparelli deserves some credit, too.

Who can forget the fabulous things worn by Rosalind Russell in Auntie Mame?  Be sure to head over to Java Bean Rush to take a look at some of the things she wore.

Style Icons:

Who says women get to have all the fashion fun?  Not Yvette from in so many words…!  She also did a list of her top ten stylish men!

Natalie from In the Mood sure loves Barbara Stanwyck and is here to tell us all about Barbara Stanwyck’s collaborations with Edith Head.

Love Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton?  I sure do.  Head on over to As Time Goes By for a look at the iconic looks of both actors and how their influence can still be seen in today’s runways.

Who doesn’t love Cary Grant?  Be sure to check out Sittin’ on a Backyard Fence’s tribute to Cary’s style.

Miscellaneous Articles:

Ever have a hard time deciding what to wear to work?  FlickChick is here to help you navigate the “dos” and “don’ts” of dressing for the office.

Audrey from Fedoras and High Heels has a review of the book “The Way We Wore” by Marsha Hunt.  I think I’ll have to see if they have this one up at my local library!

If only those stores that sold replicas of movie costumes still existed, maybe they could help Sophie from Waitin’ On a Sunny Day find some of her 10 favorite movie costumes!

Jessica at Comet Over Hollywood is all about incorporating her love of classic Hollywood into her everyday life.  Today she’s talking about how she strives to dress just like some of her favorite stars.

Fashion in Film: My 10 Favorite Costumes

10.  Rita Hayworth’s “Put the Blame on Mame” dress from Gilda

On a lot of other women, that gown would have been pretty unremarkable.  But Rita Hayworth had so much charisma in that movie and had such an incredible screen presence that she turned what could have been a forgettable gown into the most iconic costume of her career.

9.  Elizabeth Taylor’s white slip from Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.

This right here is proof that Elizabeth Taylor could take the simplest garment and turn it into a definitive screen costume.  Nobody worked a white slip better than Elizabeth Taylor.

8.  All of Norma Shearer’s gowns from Marie Antoinette

I’d be very hard pressed to pick just one favorite costume from Marie Antoinette.  Adrian put an enormous amount of time and effort into designing all those exquisite gowns, no detail was overlooked.  They are all works of art.

7.  Debbie Reynolds’ “Good Morning” dress from Singin’ in the Rain.

Plain and simply, she looks absolutely adorable in it.  She had a lot of wonderful costumes in Singin’ in the Rain, but whenever I think about her in that movie, this is the first costume that comes to mind.

6.  Myrna Loy’s striped party dress from The Thin Man

I just think this dress is pure Nora Charles.  It’s fun, but classy.  She looks like the life of the party.

5.  Grace Kelly’s black and white outfit from Rear Window

This just epitomizes Grace Kelly to me.  It is so clean and simple, it’s not bogged down with a lot of accessories or jewelry, but it’s one of the most elegant dresses I’ve ever seen.

4.  Jean Harlow’s party dress from Dinner at Eight

It’s slinky and ridiculously glamorous.  This is Jean Harlow at her finest.

3.  Marlene Dietrich’s tuxedo from Morocco

In an era when women rarely wore pants, Marlene Dietrich went all out and donned a tuxedo.  Not shocking by today’s standards, but it’s no surprise that her tux caused a commotion when Morocco was released in 1930.

2.  Gloria Swanson’s outfit from her first scene in Sunset Boulevard

This outfit tells us right off everything that we need to know about Norma Desmond.  She looks rich, she looks like a movie star, and she’s definitely got some issues.

1.  Charlie Chaplin as The Little Tramp

As far as I’m concerned, this is the most iconic movie costume of all time.  It doesn’t just represent one movie, it represents Chaplin’s entire body of work and it’s a symbol for that whole era of film history.  When you see that hat, the cane, those shoes, that mustache, there’s no mistaking him for anybody else.  Even when people who don’t know silent films try to describe silent films, odds are they’re going to describe Charlie Chaplin and what he wore.