fashion in film: the women


[ check out the unique, "winged" sleeves on the jacket, and the lacing up the front of the playsuit. ]

In my last round up of late 1930s film fashion, I can’t believe I forgot to mention one of my favorites (and seemingly many of your’s too!): the 1939 classic The Women! If you haven’t seen it, you really must. I won’t clutter this entry with a description of the plot, but suffice to say it’s a wonderful mash-up of fashion, amazing actresses (Norma Shearer, Joan Crawford, Rosalind Russel… just to name a few!), and witty dialog. It’s basically what we’d call in modern terms a “chick flick”, but it’s certainly one of the chicest chick flicks I’ve ever seen!

The film is so chock full of wonderful, over-the-top clothes (designed by the talented Gilbert Adrian), that I’m not even going to try and cover it all in one post! For this (first!) post I decided to cover my favorite part of the movie: the fashion show! Although the rest of the movie is in black and white, midway through the main characters attend a fashion show and the film switches into color (a true late 30s touch!). The fashions are fantastically theatrical as only Adrian could design them, with many sly winks at the mania for surrealism at the time. (Check out the beach jacket with the modeled-hand closure!) I hope you’ll be as inspired by all these fun looks as I am! (If you haven’t seen the movie, check out the scene in action here.)

Seeing all these makes me wildly excited about playsuits with sweet little details and jaunty hats! What details catch your eye?


[ more sweet playsuits. ]

02_03_10c[ one of the most interesting, surrealist pieces in the whole fashion show--check out the modeled hand clasp on the jacket! ]

02_03_10d[ I've pretty much decided if I can have a beach jacket with snappy red stripes around the shoulders, I'd be a happy girl! ]

02_03_10e[ more seaside fashions; two longer lounging outfits. the series of pockets on the left outfit are so interesting! ]

02_03_10f[ eye-catching cool-weather outfits. the center one is my favorite--especially the jaunty hat! ]

02_03_10g[ more gorgeous daywear. the fur details on the black outfit are pure Hollywood--so glamorous! ]

02_03_10h[ fanciful gowns. the one on the right with the simulated black skirt and midriff waistband and scalloped hem is so pretty! ]

02_03_10i[ more floaty gowns! ]

02_03_10j[ striking evening gowns. take a close look at the hat the model in the green gown is wearing: the crown is a clear plastic! ]

02_03_10k[ the caped evening ensemble is so interesting... ]

02_03_10l[ more glamorous looks! ]

02_03_10m[ I love this bustled gown so much--the shaping is divine, while the color keeps it elegant. ]

02_03_10n[ gloves all in one with the sleeves! ]

02_03_10o[ another nod to surrealism: gigantic gold "studs" on the gloves! ]

February 4, 2010 · 40 lovely thoughts
posted in fashion in film · tags: , , ,

Stéphanie February 4, 2010 at 07:52

Fabulous pictures !

Andi B. Goode February 4, 2010 at 08:24

Wow. I’m speechless! Thanks for sharing these.
-Andi x

Jill February 4, 2010 at 08:27

My favourite film fashion moment EVER. LOVE being able to linger over these stills!

Melissa February 4, 2010 at 09:23

I’m always amazed at the leap fashion made in the early 1900′s. From buttoned up with corsets to those tiny tennis shorts in one decade. Amazing. I’m watching Lilies right now. It is a BBC series I rented from the Library. One of the sisters sells ladies’ corsets that are ‘healthier’ for them than previous corsets. Even in the house there are different fashions. the older sister wears more conservative, older fashions while the younger ones (esp. one in particular more exposed to modern living) wear more contemporary things including a 1920′s swim suit as she is trying out for the ladies Olympic swim team.
I love your blog. Have a great day!

Rebecca February 4, 2010 at 09:48

Wow! What a fab post. Thanks for sharing all these photos.

Karen February 4, 2010 at 09:48

Thank you for this post–I love The Women! Aside from those crazy hats, I’m most struck by some of the colors. I’m loving the various shades of green (especially the jade greens!) and the shades of orange on the feathered hat-wearer’s outfit. I really need to see The Women again!

Francy February 4, 2010 at 10:32

I’ve never seen this one before (it’s been on my list for years) but now I’ve just got to! These costumes are fabulous.

Kristina February 4, 2010 at 11:01

My favorite movie EVER! I’m so excited you posted this :) I just love the bathing suit with the matching lining on the jacket(I can live without the hand clasp though).

The caped ensemble is another that I think is so incredibly beautiful.

It’s a good thing I’m off work today. I’ll be firing that movie up :) to watch while I do housework.

Sydney February 4, 2010 at 11:21

I swoon over the glorious fashions in that movie, every time I watch it!


DizzyDame February 4, 2010 at 11:28

thanks for posting these,I Love them!!!!

Quincy February 4, 2010 at 11:43

omgosh! that first playsuit is a dream!

Aurora F. February 4, 2010 at 11:55

I’ve always loved that movie. So many great performances, so many wacky and/or wonderful clothes! My favorite garment in the movie is the shirt Rosalind Russell wears with the three eyes on it. One of my major sewing dreams is to recreate it. I never made the connection between surrealism and these clothes. I used to watch it with my mom and think, “What the heck, Adrian?” but it all makes sense now. Thanks!

g February 4, 2010 at 12:06

I started to follow your blog a few weeks ago and I think it’s fabulous.

good luck !


Elizabeth February 4, 2010 at 12:20

This makes me want to do some serious classic watching. It’s been too long. I can’t remember how I came across your blog but I have been following for a few weeks now and love it.

These movies make me wish we ALL still dressed this way – hat, gloves, the whole 9. I think I’d need more than hour to get ready every morning though!

kas February 4, 2010 at 12:30

WOW they are all phenomenal! I have so many favorites, I don’t know which I like best :)

reilly February 4, 2010 at 12:30

I love this movie! Those playsuits are going to be some serious inspiration in a few months, especially the first one – I love crazy shoulder details!

So much of the clothing in The Women is beautiful but I have to admit I think I like Norma’s equestrian and around-the-house outfits best.

Jesslyn February 4, 2010 at 12:32

I love this movie!! It’s great to see it showcased so nicely. :) Every time I watch it I find myself replaying various parts just to look at the clothes again.

Roisin February 4, 2010 at 13:31

The caped ensemble is just lovely, it reminds me of a dress worn in An Education (although set in the 60s).

Heather Love February 4, 2010 at 13:41

I love the movie The Women. I wish movies were still as witty and fashionable. Thanks for sharing.

Angela February 4, 2010 at 13:58

One of my favorites as well. Great pictures!

Jennifer February 4, 2010 at 14:20

Oh my! All of the clothes are simply fabulous!! True works of art!

Victoria February 4, 2010 at 14:32

. . i want to wear them all for just one day!

sharla February 4, 2010 at 16:04

Cutest movie ever! Love the pictures! <3

Maggi February 4, 2010 at 17:49

This movie is soooo good and I just love that so many movies of this time period somehow stuck in a fashion show whether it had anything to do with the plot or not! lol

Mel February 4, 2010 at 18:00

I’m so happy you posted this! The Women is one of my favorite films, though in terms of chick flick, it is WAY better than modern chick flicks! I love the fashion show too, all those wonderful suits and playsuits and dresses! Great post!

Marmielu February 4, 2010 at 19:08

I just love the fabrics on those last few gowns. Oh, and the one that has the criss-crossing! I just love the lines. Oh well, major foundation garments for those fabrics. Thanks for all the beautiful pics.

Aleksandra February 4, 2010 at 19:27

Awsome pictures!

Marianne February 4, 2010 at 20:28

I’ve only seen the fashion scene, and not the whole film, but it was stunning! Absolutely breathtaking. I can’t wait to watch the whole film.

Amy February 4, 2010 at 21:51

I’ve never heard of this movie, now I just have to see it. I really love the black and white gown, the bustled gown, the sweet orange jacket and matching bag. Thanks for posting all the pictures. :)

Peldyn February 5, 2010 at 00:22

I love The Women! Now I want to watch it again. Classic movies always cheer me up.

Jenni February 5, 2010 at 03:04

Ah! Oh my God, those hats! I’ve got to see that movie. I love George Cukor movies, I love Rosalind Russel… Why haven’t I seen it yet? :)

Nadja February 5, 2010 at 03:09

Oh, the beauty of those creatios!
The white dress with red bands reminds me of Vivien Leigh in Gone with the wind (only her had green bands)
The last pichure is just so fanstastic!

Alexandra Crocodile February 5, 2010 at 05:21

Hi! :) Those outfits are just darling – I really like the shorts-skirt (is tht what they’re called?) in the top picture!

I also wanted to say that I’ve linked to your site from my blog, but I’ve completely forgotten to tell you – for ages! I hope you’re not offended:)

Couture Allure February 5, 2010 at 07:06

Love, love, love “The Women”! That beach ensemble with the hands is very Schiaparelli-esque, don’t you think?

ashley February 6, 2010 at 09:06

Thanks so much for the stunning photos. The Women is one of my all time favorite films; I’ve seen it more times than I can count. The things that always stood out to me were the linebacker shoulder pads on those longer beach jackets and the sheer glamour and frivolity of the Picnic attire. We all wear jeans and t shirts to picnics…what the heck happened to womanhood?

‘Our new one piece lace foundation garment; zips up the back and no bones’

C-dot February 6, 2010 at 19:56

I love this movie, and all the fashions! Thanks for taking stills of them, they’re great :)

jm February 7, 2010 at 10:09

A red and white striped beach jacket would be just the thing! Are you planning one?

I love the colors and the fabrics. And the gloves.

@Couture Allure: Yes, Schiaparelli and Chas Addams. I’ve always thought Addams had a decided flair for design.

angie.a February 7, 2010 at 12:04

Ok, the beach hand closure is just a little too over the top, ha! It borders on creepy (reminds me of that hand in the Addams Family??)

But…that fashion show sequence is one of my favorites too. I find it interesting to think about all of the long, beautiful gowns, so reminiscent of the Victorian period (like that divine bustle gown.) When you think about how close they actually WERE to the Victorian period, I think it makes it that much more interesting to see those fashions. To us, they look costume-y in a way, but to them, they would have been quaint and old-fashioned, like what grandmother would have worn. Women were just beginning to really enjoy freedom of expression in clothing.

Katie February 7, 2010 at 20:03

I believe I have passed out for a moment… It has been a number of years since I have seen this movie and forgot how freakishly beautiful the clothes are! I would kill for the beach cover up robe that the gal has on carrying the beach ball!!

kendalcroix February 7, 2010 at 21:02

ever so lovely.

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