Costume Plot: Tom Ripley in ‘The Talented Mr Ripley’

To celebrate the release of The Two Faces of January today I thought I’d look at the Ann Roth and Gary Jones’ costumes from The Talented Mr Ripley – another Patricia Highsmith adaptation. (SPOILERS for The Talented Mr Ripley abound and if you haven’t seen the film – why not?)

The film (and the book) look at the life of Tom Ripley mostly concentrating on what happens following the murder of Dickie Greenleaf. Costume plays a huge part in this. In the same way that Catch Me If You Can is concerned with taking on different identities so is this film – but with very different outcomes. The aim was to do a normal costume plot but I realised that it’s more interesting to split Ripley into his different incantations: Tom Ripley and Tom Ripley as Dickie Greenleaf – the Dickie Greenleaf he wanted Dickie to be.

Tom Ripley

Ripley in New York

The first time we see Tom he is playing the piano wearing a borrowed jacket and it is this jacket that sets off the whole chain of events. Without the Princeton insignia he would never have been approached by Herbert Greenleaf. But he still made the decision to lie. Ripley has never fitted in and this was an attempt to not seem like an outsider. To belong in the entitled world he watches and attends to in the bathroom of the opera. Back in New York we have the first sight of Ripley’s corduroy jacket that makes regular appearances throughout the film.

Ripley in Italy

The clothes he wears when in Italy are the firm establishment of him and his differences from Dickie. His wardrobe is limited, well worn and not fashionable or particularly well maintained. The clothes serve a purpose but they are just another way in which he doesn’t fit in. When Dickie mentions getting him a suit made he feels like this is his true acceptance into Dickie’s world. However short-lived. His suit at the airport also show the first of Ripley’s button-down shirts. This is a common recurrence and helps to add that “buttoned up” view of Ripley and firming up his outsider status. He is dressing the same way in Italy that he dressed in New York. (With the swimming “trunks” a notable exception. They are seen only once and even on the beach Ripley cannot fit in.)

Ripley in Italy 2

The whites and blues are becoming more common here and contrast against Dickie’s cream colours plus his silk polos. Dickie is the wealthy American abroad and fully inhabits the part.

Ripley in the Bar

We have Dickie’s Italian friend, Ripley and Dickie. The style differences between the three is very noticeable. Even in a laid-back environment Ripley appears severe and overly structured.

Ripley in Rome

Dickie mentions getting Ripley a suit made. This feels like Ripley’s true acceptance into Dickie’s world. However short-lived. (Notice the return of the cord jacket I highlighted earlier.) Any acceptance is destroyed by the meeting with Freddie and Ripley’s subsequent game of dress up in Dickie’s clothes. The foreshadowing is combined with Ripley’s true enthusiasm and joy of “being” Dickie. If meeting Freddie was the beginning of the end, this revelation sped up the process.

Ripley on the Boat
The costuming of Dickie and Ripley is particularly important here because it enables the hotel concierge to fairly legitimately mistake Ripley for Dickie. We needed to see them dressed in a similar fashion so that someone who doesn’t personally know the two of them could be easily mistaken. Ripley’s shirt is undoubtedly a poorer quality than Dickie’s but that slight difference wouldn’t be noticed for such a fleeting moment.

Ripley post Dickie's death

From now on we have a different Ripley. We have Ripley keeping up appearances as Ripley as well as “being” Dickie. The key difference for this section of the film is Ripley’s hair. As “Ripley” it is usually parted on the right and when he’s “Dickie” it’s parted on the left. These are the examples of Ripley being Ripley but with Dickie’s hair. The first image is from Ripley’s return to tell Marge that Dickie isn’t returning. He’s already discovered that he can impersonate Dickie and his journey is about to start. This is the first appearance of the black polo neck jumper but this piece becomes important in showing Ripley’s inner turmoil. Then we have Ripley meeting Marge and Peter. He’s back in a suit we’ve already seen, as well as a knitted tie we’ve already seen. Then we have Ripley disposing of Freddie’s body. He may have been dressed as “Dickie” when he killed him but “Ripley” is doing the dirty work. Ripley has been the killer really – not Dickie. Following yet another murder Ripley has retreated back to the black polo neck jumper.


The hair parting has returned to “Ripley” and Ripley has come to Venice to see Peter. He starts the journey with the black polo neck and the cordroy jacket but these are quickly replaced with a white polo neck – actually belonging to his Dickie persona. Ripley for Peter is very different from Ripley for Dickie or Marge. He is closer to the Dickie persona and is much more comfortable in who he is. He fits with Peter. He starts wearing more of his Dickie clothes and is less awkward and ill at ease. The corduroy jacket disappears. The button-down shirts disappear.


On the cruise away with Peter (when the search for Dickie has been stopped and the matter apparently settled) Ripley has fallen back to the black. His short-lived happiness is destroyed by the presence of Meredith. She remarks that she barely recognised Dickie – this is Ripley as Ripley. He’d left Dickie behind but unfortunately for Peter, that is not to be. The big black coat he wears drowns him as Ripley is drowned in his own lies and deceptions.

Ripley as Dickie

I always thought it would be better, to be a fake somebody… than a real nobody.

Ripley’s confidence levels soar when he’s Dickie. He has beautifully cut suits, sharp shirts and silk ties. The Dickie he thinks Dickie should’ve been. He even surrounds himself with his own Marge – Meredith. Most of his suits are in dark colours but the first suit has the warm tones that we associate with the real Dickie.


We finally see Ripley having his suit fitted. The best costume here is Ripley’s dressing gown with silk pyjamas.


In fact the only thing that looks like Dickie is you.

Freddie has a point. The first costume is one of Ripley’s most Dickie-ish costumes. The warm but muted colours, the soft fabric quality – these are obviously a step up from his Ripley clothes. The next polo shirt is the one we see later when he plays piano for Peter. A light cream shirt makes a nice comparison from the last time we saw Ripley – disposing of Freddie’s bloodied body. Then there’s the white shirt he wears talking to the police another time. His guilt compared with the purity of the clothing makes for the perfect dichotomy.

S x

Costume Plot: Sidney Prescott in ‘Scream’

DIrector: Wes Craven

Costume Designer: Cynthia Bergstrom


I know that horror fans might dispute the inclusion of Scream as a “horror” film… well, I’m a wimp. And I love it but it still scares me. The costumes in Scream have little attention paid to them (the trials of contemporary costume design) but they do deserve it. There are not many costume changes because the film takes place within three days. I’ve chosen to focus on Sidney because, well, she’s the star. Sidney is the heart of the film and also the unintentional catalyst.


The first time we see Sidney she’s dressed in a nightie. But this is definitely not a sexy nightie. This is a shapeless Laura Ashley style nightie. From this poor screenshot you can just see the gathering at the yoke. This means that any shape over the bust is negated immediately – this nightie clings to nothing. The The tiny pattern on the white fabric does more to symbolise ‘virgin’ than anything that gets revealed once Billy comes into the room. (And then we see the trim at the bottom – all adding to this innocent and naive impression.) We’ve already started with the stereotypical female lead. One move? The “PG-13″ moment. But this is still off camera.


Next we see Sidney during the day for the first time. Although her clothes are less childlike they are still covered up and leaning more towards the tomboy sphere. Notice the blue and grey colour scheme. We also have the first time Sidney’s seen in denim which is pretty much her staple for the rest of the film – we had previously seen her father wearing a sheepskin trimmed denim jacket. We never see Sidney before her mother’s murder but the impression is that the death affected her and caused her to dress to “protect” herself. Throughout the film there are references to Maureen having affairs and her “nature”:

Billy: That woman was a slut-bag whore who flashed her shit all over town like she was Sharon Stone or somethin’.

Stu: Yeah, we put her out of her misery, ’cause let’s face Sidney, your mother was no Sharon Stone, hmm?

What better way to distance yourself from the town’s impression of your mother than to cover up any overt signs of femininity?


Just a quick glimpse of Sid at her house having put on the jumper that was tied round her waist during the day. Her protection has built up – just in time for the first attack.


This screenshot is more about Dewey than Sid. We never see Dewey give her his jacket but as the only police officer not wearing a jacket it was clearly his. This little act sets up their relationship further from their short scene in the principal’s office.


This screenshot wouldn’t be out of place in a standard teen flick. Tatum has always been seen as the sexier of the two but here she seems much younger than her worldly attitude would have you believe. (She has been set up as an early victim – especially if you believe Randy’s rules.) Sid’s t-shirt is a sexier option than her first nightie but that’s not really a stretch. It still is nowhere near a negligee and fits with something that you would grab quickly for staying at a friend’s house. The colour is also a slight move away from white and closer to a nude skin tone…


The next day at school. The brown blazer is a much better form of protection than a jumper – especially as the news of her attack would inevitably have spread throughout the school and brought Maureen’s death closer to the fore than it was the previous day.


It is important to notice that the second attack on Sid happens when she isn’t wearing her outer layer of protection. She’s left with her jeans and a pretty patterned t-shirt. The small tight pattern reminds me of her nightie at the beginning. (As someone who was bought a lot of Laura Ashley as a child and hating it I might be more likely to fixate on it than others.) The t-shirt is also slightly longer than the first t-shirt (those short tops of the ’90s) so any femininity gained through the pink and pattern isn’t pushed with a fitted top.


Sid’s party outfit definitely contrasts Tatum’s (just visible behind Dewey). Tatum has an obligatory short skirt and super tight jumper on. This is Sidney’s most feminine costume so far.  The tight purple vest top but then we still have the denim protection plus some sturdy boots.


Having Sidney put on Ghostface’s cloak and mask wasn’t entirely necessary for the plot. She could have easily stabbed Billy dressed normally but by putting on the costume Sidney was taking control of the situation and being more proactive in her life. For the year following her mother’s death she has been obsessed with it but now she knows the full truth and can make peace with it. She overcame the obstacles and saved the day.


But Sid doesn’t end the film in any part of the Ghostface costume. She ends in her own clothes, covered in blood and supporting her father (about one second after this shot). Sidney has taken over the parent role and come into her own. But she had to lose most of her friends to accomplish this.

S x

Costume Plot: Princess Ann and Joe Bradley in ‘Roman Holiday’


Roman Holiday (1953) was re-released in cinemas at the end of July. The thought of that made me revisit the film but now we’re in mid-August and this shows how delayed I am with things like that… This film is fairly iconic for Audrey Hepburn’s role in the film and Edith Head’s work as costume designer. The film concentrates on Princess Ann and Joe Bradley and, due to the limited time frame and costume changes, I’ve decided to focus on both of them.

Joe Bradley

Gregory 1The first time we see Bradley he’s in the middle of a poker game. His shirt collar displays true 50s style – an extended spread collar. Before he leaves the game he re-buttons his shirt, fixes his tie and puts his jacket on before leaving. There’s no way he would be seen out in Rome in the ’50s looking disheveled.

Gregory 2Here we have the full view of Bradley’s suit. With his hands in his pockets you can see the true height of his trousers – waisted. At the proper male waist. Also, the trousers have a fairly wide leg. And fairly wide lapels on the suit jacket. The colour of the suit is a little hard to determine due to the black and white nature of the film. (Despite the awkward colour tinted photos on the DVD cover.) The suit is clearly not black but is probably a beige gabardine or linen (being in Rome and all). This is a day suit that he is still wearing, not a tuxedo or smart evening suit. He’s a journalist working at a paper to pay the bills nothing more.

Audrey 12-Gregory 3I love Bradley’s pyjamas. Love them. The traditional cut with the darker piping on the cuffs and lapels of the shirt. These pyjamas are not white (because of the colour tone difference with the pillows and bedsheets) but are clearly a lighter colour than his suit… The lightness of the pyjamas allow for a morning lightness feel even in the small cluttered apartment.

Gregory 4This looks like the same suit that Bradley was wearing the previous day/evening. But then again, he’s got dressed in a rush and doesn’t have the time/care to choose something new.

Gregory 5Just a close up of the front of the suit.

Gregory 6Here is a better look at his shirt and this also marks the first time he has removed his jacket since getting dressed in the morning. You can take two reasons for this. 1) He was just in the Tiber River (I think that’s the water they fell in…) 2) His relationship with Ann has changed. Up until now he was convinced that spending time with her was just to get the story and make money. But now? His feelings have changed towards her and he’s starting to fall in love with her. His barriers have started to come down and he is more approachable.

Audrey 20-Gregory 7Gregory 8Here we have two shots of Bradley’s suit with a tweed jacket. His original suit dried but he decided to change his jacket? Was the change of jacket just connected with his softer character? The tweed cloth has more lightness visible than the previous jacket and softens his colours overall.

Gregory 9Bradley’s final costume of the film is this dark grey (I think) pinstriped suit. The shirt, tie and cut of the suit are all keeping in with the shape of his previous suit but this is definitely the best suit Bradley owns; apart from a tuxedo. He is appearing in front of Princess Ann in his true persona. He is dressing up for her and to let her know that her secret is safe.

Princess Ann

Audrey 1(I apologise for the extremely unflattering image of Audrey Hepburn.) Our first view of Princess Ann in her first royal trip. A classic ’50s dress shape. The outfit is competed with obligatory hat and gloves. The gloves are amazing, the hat seems like it has much too wide a brim. The neckline of the dress fits with many traditional Edith Head designs.

Audrey 2 Another royal trip and another outfit. It’s hard to comment too much about these costumes in regards Ann’s character because these all feel a little like planned outfits by her “staff” or “minders”. However they are viewed. These are the images the world has seen of the Princess rather than who she really is. This is the Princess rather than Ann.

Audrey 3 One more royal event but this seems to be the costume from the first scene/appearance but this time seen in “full”.

Audrey 4 We seem again to have the same black dress but this time accessorised with different gloves and a hat. The same staid, ladylike appearance.

Audrey 5
Audrey 6 This is for one of the funniest yet simplest scenes in the film. Now we’ve got a beautiful dress. A dress that could never be damaged in any way. The slightly dropped waist with fitted bodice and the full skirt fits perfectly with the ’50s silhouette. It’s a perfect Princess dress but it also has a little bit more youth to it than her earlier Princess costumes. This leads to allowing for the little shoe losing moment – something that a younger Princess ight do rather than a seasoned “professional”.

Audrey 7Audrey 8 Princess Ann’s overly fussy nightgown. After earlier costumes that have made her look older and more mature this costume makes her look like a child. She stands on her bed, argues about bedtime, gets given a glass of milk. You’re almost waiting for Peter Pan to appear. The rows of ruffles are very delicate and pretty but very childlike. But then there’s that brooch/embroidery on the front yoke that I presume are connected to her royal family.

Audrey 9 Audrey 10 Ann finally has her first costume. Ann rather than Princess Ann. But currently this costume fits fairly closely with her earlier costumes – covered up so fully. We’ve got a full circle skirt with a wide belt, fully buttoned up long sleeve blouse, complete with jabot and gloves. That’s just exhausting to write let alone wear.

Audrey 11Just a close up to show Ann wearing (and removing) those little white gloves.

Audrey 12-Gregory 3Wearing Bradley’s pyjamas. Although why would he have three-quarter length sleeves on the top? Hmmm. They’re very cute though. The stripe pattern works best on Ann rather than the plain ones but they still fit with the idea that they’re Bradley’s because of the traditional buttoned up shirt style.

Audrey 13 Then back into the costume of the previous night – everything’s the same apart from the gloves. Her development hasn’t really started or affected her wardrobe yet…

Audrey 14 The first costume change comes through the purchase of sandals rather than her shoes. Much more suitable for Rome but also allow Ann to have some form of interaction with “normal” people. On her own. Making her own decisions.

Audrey 15After having her hair cut (a major change for her) and before buying ice cream we have rolled up sleeves. This is a combination of Ann becoming more comfortable with herself and with the heat of Rome.

Audrey 16 We’ve now lost the jabot and undone a few buttons. These changes have all occurred in a relatively short period of time…

Audrey 17 A scarf has appeared. But we never see from where… All of the other changes have been seen (such as the sandal purchase) or are easily understood (rolling up the sleeves). This change definitely adds some colour and interest (and was Edith Head’s way of hiding Hepburn’s “prominent collar bones”) but it would’ve been more interesting to see where it came from. Like if it was Bradley or Irving’s pocket square or hankerchief. Just something.

Audrey 18 Same costume pieces but this time Ann’s neck is hidden even more fully. Just because Ann is used to changing clothes from day to night and this is her way of dressing up for the dance? It makes a nice change and that idea is quite telling of Ann’s character and role within her world.

Audrey 19Wearing Bradley’s dressing gown.

Audrey 20-Gregory 7Ready for her return to the embassy Ann has returned to her blouse and skirt. The jabot has still gone (too fussy for her now) and the sleeves are not rolled up anymore. Ann is resigned to returning to her royal life but she is not the same person she was before.

Audrey 21Wearing a black velvet dressing gown – instantly showing the difference in wealth between Ann and Bradley. This is a much more adult costume than her nightgown but it doesn’t feel too old for her.

Audrey 22Our final view of Princess Ann in a softer dress. The skirt isn’t as full, the hem is much higher, the sleeves are shorter and the whole construction (despite the lace) seems less severely constructed. This is a regal dress that the earlier Princess wouldn’t have worn. She needed her day of freedom in Rome to become more comfortable with herself and confident with her role as Princess.

S x

Costume Plot: The Men from ‘Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day’


I started the Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day Costume Plots with Delysia back in October (I didn’t realise it was THAT long ago!) with Guinevere in March (oops) so I’ve finally got here with the men. As there are numerous male characters popping in and out of Delysia and Guinevere’s day it seemed important to look at their costumes as well.


Starting with the first male character we have Michael, the underdog you all root for. Delysia’s true love even if it takes her the whole film to realise and accept this.

Leaving Prison

Leaving Prison

We get the briefest of views of Michael here. He’s leaving prison carrying a brown paper package of any remaining belongings. That’s enough for Guinevere not to trust him and also explains a lot about his state. Prison in the ’30s isn’t quite like prison now. His suit (because everyone would be wearing a suit) would be wrinkled, probably smell and just generally be unkempt. The small view shows dark brown, black to a casual glance, because what colour would be more suited for a criminal? But also, having been in prison the dust and dirt that would have accumulated on a suit doesn’t bear thinking about.

Officially Meeting Miss Pettigrew

Officially Meeting Miss Pettigrew

Now we have a close-up of Michael’s suit. We can guess that it’s the same (besides it being the same day) because of his tie – you can just see the orange tinge from the earlier photo and here we can see the tie in full. His tie is the only bright aspect of his costume. The rest is made up of dark tones. A pinstriped waistcoat worn with plain dark brown trousers (not a full-on pinstriped suit because that wouldn’t suit Michael’s character) and a khaki grey shirt. These are all the dark colours that one would associate with someone not hugely wealthy because stains and wear and tear can be much more easily hidden within dark colours.

At the Cocktail Party

Cocktail Party

Michael’s work wear. The same suit that’s worn by the entire band. This is the first time we’ve seen Michael playing the piano for his employment. The next time we see him is at Nick’s nightclub where he’s wearing a traditional black tuxedo, so wearing a purple tuxedo with a wide grey shawl lapel makes for a great alternate. It is also more suitable for the slightly more restrained cocktail party setting – none of the guests are wearing tuxedos so it would seem a little extravagant for the band to be wearing full tuxedos.

At Nick’s Nightclub

Nick's Nightclub

This is the important scene. Delysia makes her final important decision. She’s dressed to the nines in her gold dress so why shouldn’t Michael? They are both dressed for “work” but they also fit in with the audience and are not stuck as ‘workers’. We can just see Michael’s braces, his pocket square, classic collar dress shirt and bow tie.

Leaving for London

Leaving for London

Leaving for London

The final time we see Michael is with a happy ending for him and Delysia. When you contrast this suit to his first brown and grey suit you can see the lightness shining through. The light blue shirt brings out the blue tone in his eyes, and his suit has a definite blue tone to it. His hat looks the same as from the beginning, but this is also likely to be a smarter, softer shaded hat – ready for their new beginning. Everything about this costume shows Michael’s character (everything slightly dishevelled) but the colour lightness shows the hope of a fresh start in New York.


The next male character we meet is Phil. The young, spoilt child trying to impress his father but seeming to always make disastrous decisions; due to the charm of women.

Leaving Delysia’s Flat

Leaving Delysia's Flat

This is the first full costume we see him wearing having been unceremoniously kicked out of Delysia/Nick’s flat. Despite its crumpled nature he is seen wearing a full three-piece suit (with a contrasting waistcoat), complete with hat and a pocket square. In comparison with Michael’s suit here are much lighter colours. There’s the white shirt (easily replaced/cleaned if soiled), a light grey waistcoat and a soft grey tie. Stereotypical “rich” costume.

At The Cocktail Party

The Cocktail Party

The Cocktail Party

This is when Phil comes into his own. This is his big moment – not Delysia or the Rabbit’s. This is the time for Phil to stand out from his father’s shadow. So what does he do? He wears the most respectable, mature suit he can. A double-breasted suit (we never see if it’s a three-piece suit but I would guess yes), the suit is in a heavy navy wool, a crisp white shirt, navy blue and cream diagonally striped tie (the blue playing in with the suit), a pocket square (deep royal blue) and, my favourite, a lapel chain. Nothing says grown up quite like suit accessories. Right?

At Nick’s Nightclub

Nick's Nightclub

A very brief appearance from Phil in this scene – he’s really in the periphery because it’s about Delysia’s decision between Michael and Nick. But we can see Phil wearing a traditional tux (complete with bow tie and wing collar shirt) but accessorised by a very large pink carnation boutonniere. He’s still celebrating his day – if with the wrong leading lady…


We hear more about Nick before we even meet him. The snake. The temptress. But very wealthy. And dangerous.

At Delysia’s Flat

At Delysia's Flat

Our first view of Nick is of him arriving outside Delysia’s flat but our first full view is when he enters the flat (and removes his hat). Nick wears a dark coloured suit like Michael but his dark colours are associated with shadier characters - he can slip in and out of situations and surroundings without being noticed. Unless he wants to be noticed. (Another reason I take for the dark tones of his suit are connected with his background. Generally, characters like this have worked their way up to the top and haven’t been born into wealth, like Phil, and they understand poverty.) He has a double-breasted suit (commonly worn by “bad guys”/gangsters) and all the accessories (tie and pocket square) and dark or muted. No bright warm colours like Michael’s tie. His mere presence seems to darken the wood in the flat.

At His Nightclub

At His Nightclub

This is a vast difference for Nick. We have the cream dinner jacket because he can feel safe here. This is HIS club. He doesn’t want to hide in the background; he wants to be noticed. The jacket is still double-breasted though – the only found among our lead males. He has safety and comfort in that suit style – it helps him to be recognisable. The collar on Nick’s shirt seems a little long for his bow tie…


Joe is the one character that can fully relate to Miss Pettigrew; and doesn’t judge her for anything.

At His Fashion Show

At His Fashion Show

At His Fashion Show

As if to show Joe’s belonging to an earlier period, he is always seen wearing a form of heavy tweed except at the nightclub. He wears the type of suit that wouldn’t be out of place at a country house gathering – the idea that wealthy mature gentlemen should be dressed like this. It is important to mark him out from the other men. Joe is different. He fits with Guinevere and never quite finds his place with the “younger” ones. The suit here (three-piece of course) manages to stick to softer, warmer shades of brown – nothing like the browns worn by Michael and Nick. His suit lapels are also very wide. Lapels in the ’30s were never “slim” but Joe’s seem to harken back to the wider lapel styles of the ’20s. It’s also worth noting that he has a white shirt on. This white shirt fits Joe more with Phil than with Michael or Nick, but, then again, he’s at a fashion show for his own range so maybe he’s just dressing himself up for the occasion! He has also fully accessorised with a light coloured pocket square and a carnation boutonniere. (There is a brilliant article here about the boutonniere – I recommend reading!)

At the Cocktail Party

At the Cocktail Party

Another social event, another three-piece tweed suit with a pocket square. This time, the costume has an overall blue tone to it. A tone that beautifully matches Guinevere’s blue dress *nudge nudge wink wink*. The cut of the suit matches that of his earlier suit and he is, once again, impeccably accessorised – I love the large puff/Cooper pocket square. [I've spent hours trying to find out the name of this style of pocket square. If anyone knows PLEASE tell me and I'll update this!]

At Nick’s Nightclub

At Nick's Nightclub

Finally we have Joe’s nightclub look. He has gone all out here. (Yes, I’ve pretty much said that for all of them…) Joe and Phil are the only lead males to wear wing collar shirts and here we can see Joe’s has shirt studs as well. (My poor picture of Phil doesn’t show whether he does or not…I would guess that he does because this fits with his “wealth”.) The satin lapels on Joe’s suit are again very wide, he has a perfectly crisp white pocket square and you can see a ring on his little finger – those are the accessories to look out for. This final look for Joe (still wearing it when he meets Guinevere at the train station) sums up his whole character: precise, careful, thoughtful and, above all, a consummate gentlemen.


(You can just see Joe’s hat and evening coat. For a final shot.)

S x

Costume Plot: Miss Guinevere Pettigrew from ‘Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day’


This is a continuation of the Costume Plot for Delysia LaFosse from Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day. As glamorous as Delysia is, the film (and the book) is about Miss Guinevere Pettigrew (played by Frances McDormand). She has the day long adventure facilitated by meeting and befriending Delysia.

Introduction to Miss Guinevere Pettigrew

Introduction to Miss Guinevere Pettigrew

Guinevere Pettigrew is the first character we meet. From a first glance, all you can see is brown. Different shades of brown but brown nonetheless. From the way that Guinevere is holding the coat together to keep out the cold, we can guess that she’s having a tough time. These clothes have probably lasted her for just too long. (And as we later learn, all she owns is what she’s wearing and whatever’s in her suitcase.) The brown coat she is wearing has very wide lapels, an old-fashioned style that does nothing to exude femininity.

The Arcade

The Arcade

This is the first noticeable change for Guinevere. Not only has her old-fashioned, dowdy hat disappeared but she has been given a gift by Delysia. A blue silk scarf with gold embroidery. Worn against all of the brown just makes it stand out more. And marks a slow change to Guinevere’s colour scheme. From this one scarf she will be seen wearing more and more blue.

The Fashion Show

The Fashion Show

A better look at the blue silk scarf worn over the brown dress – the blue brings out McDormand’s eyes and brightens the whole outfit.

The Make-Over


Here we go. The first stage of a make-over – the underwear. (A stage never taken on screen with Tai in Clueless (1995) but then the underwear in that case would’ve been a lot more different!) The underwear Guinever is wearing is light blue – very similar in tone to that of the scarf. A soft blue that has a wonderfully brightening effect. I also love the pink scarf worn over her hair while the style sets. Who doesn’t look great in a scarf like that?!

Navy Blue Day Dress

The Navy Blue Day Dress

Then we have the royal blue dress. Transformed Miss Pettigrew. The shape is perfect for the 30s and fits her beautifully – she would look ridiculous in any of Delysia’s dresses but this one is perfect for Guinevere. And the dress also marks a further move towards Guinevere’s blue colour scheme. More to come…

Nick’s Club

Navy Blue Velvet Dress

Navy Blue Velvet Dress

Navy Blue Velvet Dress

Navy Blue Velvet Dress

Now we have the navy blue velvet dress. The most noticeable change in Guinevere from her first entrance. The shade of blue also suggests a change. The navy blue is much stronger than the royal blue day dress. Guinevere’s confidence in herself has been growing throughout. Wearing the royal blue dress at Delysia’s party she was able to start standing up for herself, but not until her advice to Delysia at Nick’s club does Guinevere really come into her own. She lived for a day. And this change needs to last.

I love the colour and the texture of the dress but I’m a little uncomfortable with the ruffling at the neckline and the back – particularly the back with that bow. I get that the dress needs some more colour and contrast to highlight McDormand’s face but it seems a little fussy to me.

Leaving with Joe

Leaving with Joe

Then there’s Guinevere’s final scene. Back to the first costume but this time worn by a very different woman. Her day with Delysia has changed her, and now she’s leaving with Joe. Joe fits in more with Guinevere of the past, but with the confidence and self awareness of the ‘new Guinevere’. I kind if wish we could see what happens later with these two.

S x

Costume Plot: Justin Hammer from ‘Iron Man 2′


As I mentioned in the post about the Avengers marathon at The PCC, Iron Man 2 isn’t one of  my most watched Marvel films but one of my favourite things is Sam Rockwell. I love him as Tony Stark’s antagonist and if the film could just be the two of them bickering I think I’d have enjoyed it more. But that’s just me. I love snark. Another great thing about Rockwell in Iron Man 2? The suits that Justin Hammer wears. There is only one time where he’s shown not wearing a suit. And that’s when he’s playing golf. You’ve gotta applaud dedication to style like that. The costumes were designed by Mary Zophres who is mostly known for designing films with the Coen brothers – and garnering Oscar nominations for that work (True Grit). (By the by, Iron Man was designed by Laura Jean Shannon and Rebecca Gregg and Iron Man 3 is designed by Louise Frogley.) Well, I’m just gonna go straight into it…

The Court Room

Court Room Suit

This is our first introduction to Justin Hammer – the anti-Tony Stark. He needs to make a big impression, he needs to stand out and, due to the court room setting, his costume needs to be appropriate. So he’s got a three-piece suit, wide striped tie and pocket square. In a room full of grey suits, and army personal in navy suits, Hammer’s grey suit has a much bluer tone to it – helped by the blue accessories. This blue suggests coldness and this is even more apparent when contrasted with Stark’s warmer toned grey suit, matched with a yellow tie. These combinations even affect the look of their shirts. Hammer’s looks bluer in tone, Stark’s looks creamer. These could be the shade of shirts used (probably for Stark) or it could be that the surrounding clothing has given this effect (possible for Hammer).

This first introduction to Hammer also sets up his ‘classic’ look: single-breasted three-piece suit with middling width lapels, wide shirt collar and pocket square. This is his, nearly, consistent look. This sets up his character for the audience, who he is trying to be, and makes him instantly recognisable.

Monte Carlo

Monte Carlo Suit

This “meeting” with Stark mearly alters the original colours the two were wearing when together – here Stark has the cool colours, but the yellows (more gold) that Hammer is wearing still feels cold. The tones aren’t quite warm enough to make him seem comforting. The white collar on a yellow shirt also harken back to Gordon Gekko in Wall Street - not exactly a reassuring figure. And the gold tie on top of the yellow shirt feels a little uncomfortable – too similar in tone and so supporting the “try hard” feel of Hammer. Stark’s suit is of the same tone but feels more relaxed and comfortable – less attention seeking. Yes, I know, saying Tony Stark isn’t attention seeking is pretty strange but look at that picture. Who is your eye drawn to? (And not just because he’s in the middle of the frame.)

Airplane Hanger/Meeting Vanko

Airplane Hanger/Meeting Vanko Suit

From first glance this suit appears to be exactly the same as the suit worn in Monte Carlo. The suit seems to be slightly lighter in tone but because the scene takes place in an airplane hanger that is coated in white, it could be the setting that has altered its appearance. I originally thought that this suit was different from Monte Carlo, but the more I look at it the more I am unsure. Hammer has a napkin tucked into his shirt for the whole scene so you can never really see the suit that clearly – or the shirt and tie he wears underneath. We can see the white collar and cuffs of the shirt but it could be another Gekko style shirt. Regardless, the point of this scene, as far as Hammer is concerned, is to get Ivan Vanko on side to destroy Stark. He is clearly an eccentric millionaire (billionaire?) because he has broken a criminal out of prison and is treating him to lunch in an airplane hanger. And he has an obscene amount of fake tan residue on his hands. Obscene. By this point the audience already knows that Hammer is…idiosyncratic, but this is the moment that they see how far he will go to take down Stark. Money is Hammer’s answer to everything and he needs Vanko to know that, so that he has an additional motivation to join with him. A time when Hammer’s extravagance completely plays into his hand.

Hammer Industries

Hammer Industries Suit

Hammer shows Vanko around his factory. This is the place where he has made his fortune (we presume – I don’t know anything about the Justin Hammer of the comics). It is empty of workers – hiding Vanko’s presence I would surmise. Hammer’s suit is another cool toned collection albeit the lilac tie and darker grey adds a slight warm touch. He is welcoming Vanko into his world. The more comfortable Vanko is, the better work he will do. This picture shows the noticeable suit style worn by Hammer that I mentioned earlier.

Checking Up on Vanko/Giving the Bird

Checking Up on Vanko Suit

Here Hammer is feeling optimistic about the work Vanko has been doing. And he’s got him “his” bird. The grey suit is darker than his previous appearance with a more subdued dark blue patterned tie. This is possibly the most restrained we’ve seen Hammer look. He feels calm about his situation, his clothes feel calm. As much as Hammer’s clothes can ever feel calm.

Selling Guns to the Army

Selling Guns to the Army Suit

Selling Guns to the Army Suit - Without Jacket

This is official business Hammer. Dressing how he thinks the army expects a businessman to? The mid-tone grey pinstriped suit, white shirt, patterned tie? I feel that Hammer dresses less for himself but more to suit his “audience”. He may chose to have a consistent suit shape but the colour and style always seems well judged for the people at a situation. Monte Carlo – over-the-top, because of the wealth that surrounds the Grand Prix. To stand out more? Here he wants the army to buy from him. They wouldn’t take him seriously if he were to wear his Monte Carlo suit, but a suit style that could be worn by someone in the city? Something that Tony Stark would never wear?

Playing Golf


This is the perfect example of what I said above. We can presume that Senator Stern (on the right) is a regular golf player. Contrast what he is wearing to what Hammer wears. Hammer is wearing what he thinks golf players “should” wear. The diamond patterned jumper, the correspondent golf shoes, the white golf glove, the hat. All to give the illusion of his comfort on a golf course. We never see Hammer play golf, he is just on the golf course with Stern. On the phone.

Threatening Vanko/The Stark Expo

Threatening Vanko/The Stark Expo Suit

This is Hammer’s pièce de résistance. He has his Hammer Drones. He is planning on showing up Stark to the nth degree. At Stark’s own Expo. It is a more grown up suit than others. The eye is drawn to the warm red stipe on his tie, reflected in his pocket square. He is ready to impress, but not look showy. This suit wouldn’t look out of place on someone other than Hammer. Most of his other suits would only suit someone with his level of self-assurance. Hammer feels comfortable in his knowledge that he doesn’t need to distract from his show. He isn’t going to cower in the shadows, but he’ll get his audience and publicity through Vanko’s work. It would look out of place to be more outrageous than a stage full of military sprayed drones. Side note: it’s also my favourite suit.

I hope you enjoyed this post, that it made sense and gives you something different to think about when watching Iron Man 2. If you do. If not, just when watching other films!

(Screenshots taken from

S x

Costume Plot: ‘The Cabin in the Woods’


I was one of those fans that first heard about The Cabin in the Woods back in… 2009 I think. So I’d been waiting for this for quite a while! I am not a big horror film fan (I’m mostly a big wuss) so I can’t base my enjoyment on it for the ‘horror history’ – I just find it hilarious. I recently listened to a Costume Café podcast interviewing Cabin‘s costume designer Shawna Trpcic (where they discussed her work on Power Rangers, illustrating for Albert Wolsky’s designs for Bugsy, Firefly and referencing Dollhouse and Torchwood) and felt inspired to write about Cabin‘s costumes. This time I am going to look at all of the characters together because there are so few costume changes. From the order we see the characters in the film, here goes…

Sitterson (played by Richard Jenkins)

So we start with these two. So far, so average seeming. Two men in white shirts and ties. But even this shows their differences. Sitterson has a short sleeved white shirt, skinny black tie, unbuttoned top button. What does this tell me? He is a much looser character than you would first think. This becomes more apparent through scenes in the film, and also comparing his costume to Hadley’s.

Hadley (played by Bradley Whitford)

So, I’ve said that Hadley is a looser character than you would originally think, implying that Hadley is super serious (due to his buttoned up long sleeved shirt). I’m not. Look at that picture. Neither of these are serious people. They have a serious job to do, but they have fun through the rest. (Judge as you choose.) There does not seem to be a clear separation between these two – they are equal bosses of the control room. To me, it appears that Hadley takes more of the general responsibility and choices, leaving Sitterson with slightly less responsibility. This is how I read it, but I could be completely off the mark. I think this is how it is written and played – like in the scene where Hadley is left in charge of the control room while Sitterson deals with the cave in. This could show Sitterson being in charge but I see this as job allocation. Big boss stays in charge, assigning jobs to other staff members…

Lin (played by Amy Acker)

Lin is the scientist working in the chem department. She has worked with Sitterson and Hadley for years and has developed a noticeable working relationship with them. She is the only other member of the staff we see in the control room and it is through her interactions with new man Truman that a lot of exposition is given. Her costume sticks to the subdued “office wear” that we see the rest of the departments wearing. The most obvious part of her costume is her white coat – a quick link to the fact that she is a scientist before the joke about the chem department is made. The rest of her costume is not that easy to see. She is seen wearing a light blue shirt (to differentiate from the white coat and Sitterson and Hadley’s white shirts), a dark skirt with a slit up the front, sensible shoes (perfect for running…) and it also looks as though she has a cardigan or at least a darker jacket on underneath the coat. I can’t see! Lin takes her job seriously and, through little smiles and bets, enjoys it – although she downplays that side to Truman. Having a new character involved makes her change her perception…

Dana (played by Kristen Connelly)

The first scene of Dana is her dancing in her underwear. This was included for the stereotypical horror purpose. And, as someone who has listened to White Knuckles by OK Go while getting changed, it is perfectly reasonable to dance around in your underwear. But I never did it with curtains and the window open. Be aware of your surroundings. The reason for Dana in her underwear is also as a way of subverting ‘The Virgin’ character she ends up playing – the incorrect character we know her to be from the beginning.

These pictures show the rest of her costume (with coat worn for one scene only). Dana is wearing cool colours. These help her red hair to stand out but also mean that she fades a little when compared to Jules. After dancing in her underwear the rest of her costume is fairly covered up – again playing to the stereotype but also perfectly fitting for an average college student.

The lake scene – this is all you get. Wearing the red bikini that Jules threw at her at the beginning. At this point, the characters have not completely travelled to their stereotypes and so still dress and act mostly as their actual personalities.

Dana’s change for the party is very limited. Denim cut-offs that she wore earlier, a blue cardigan of very similar colour to her top during the day and a light pink shirt. I’ve tried seeing what the print is but haven’t been able to – yet. The important fact is that it is a light coloured shirt that is reminiscent of a young girl’s top. At this point everyone is fulfilling their stereotypes according to the company’s plan.

Jules (played by Anna Hutchison)

Our first introduction to Jules is with her “newly dyed” blonde hair in a white highly flowered dress. She is wearing the “skimpier” outfit of the two girls but this really isn’t overtly sexual. It is a self-assured dress that expresses confidence rather than sex. She wears an emerald green cardigan so she stands out from the more muted colours of the rest of the students.

Jules’ bikini at the lake is pretty small and its mismatched nature shows some fun in her character. She is self-assured to wear whatever she wants – she can choose to match her own bikini and not rely on manufacturers designs!

This is the costume that Jules is remembered for. She starts off simply enough, then goes on to make out with a “mysterious creature” (wolf), dance seductively in front of the fire and paw at every guy. We have now officially met ‘The Whore’. The main costume point for Jules here is the pair of teeny tiny Daisy Dukes. The shirt is not particularly “slutty”. The pink is darker than that of Dana’s shirt so there’s an instant separation there. It is a girly colour but not an innocent tone. The main reason for the buttoned down nature of the shirt is for the sex scene with Curt. There is build up to Jules taking her top off and having to unbutton it slows the process down – leading to suspense in the control room.

Curt (played by Chris Hemsworth)

Curt’s first costume is very plain – a simple grey jersey and jeans. In the above picture you can see him carrying his letterman jacket. It is important to note that he is obviously carrying it from the start (as comments are made to him playing in a football team – where he met Holden) but never wears it until he has become ‘The Athlete’.

Curt’s trunks are again very basic. So far, he has worn very muted colours. Even here, the white on his trunks is limited. The style of his trunks very much keeps the idea of sportswear.

The party starts and the letterman is on. Here the attitude noticeably begins to change. As audience members we are not fully aware of the extent of the change – Marty makes us aware of it. We have seen Curt discussing books with Dana at the beginning so we know that he’s intelligent – possibly smarter than Dana – but we have very little interaction with him. The whole of his costume is brighter here. There’s the v-neck white t-shirt and light blue checked shirt. He stands out a lot more than earlier on – he is a more powerful figure in the group.

Then the colour gets completely saturated by blood. Par for the course in a horror film.

Holden (played by Jesse Williams)

We first see Holden catching the football thrown by Curt – clarifying that he has “the best hands on the team”. His clothes keep the muted colours but with bright tones coming through. On the navy blue hoodie there’s the white zip and bright turquoise drawstrings. These help Holden to stand out when we first see him as our view is from Dana’s room. Later on we see that he’s wearing a navy blue and burgundy jersey underneath – the burgundy (blood?) stands out more than the navy blue.

Holden’s trunks are white with black checks. Everything is light in colour and fun and happy.

Now the colours are softer. Although the light blue shirt is fairly light, the white top under the dark brown/grey top with brown trousers make it seem darker. Compared to his earlier heavily patterned clothing this is all subdued. Although it can be seen that the blue shirt is checked, the check is very small and can only really be seen in close-ups. Holden hasn’t changed completely so he still wears patterned clothing, but ‘The Scholar’ has less noticeable patterns.

After the cellar, when they have chosen their fate, Holden suddenly has glasses. He can read Latin and becomes the “egg-head”.

Marty (played by Fran Kranz)

Marty’s costume is the most interesting due to its almost lack of change. He wears many layers – we first see the white shirt, the dip-dyed t-shirt, the turquoise shirt, the dark brown hoodie and the big dark yellow cardigan. Marty has earthy colours with a touch of brightness just for the early scenes. The layers are a form of protection – adding to his “womb of reefer”.

For the lake scene Marty has removed his outer layers and changed into cargo shorts. He’s carrying a towel, despite the fact that he has said repeatedly that he is not going to go into the lake. The towel helps him “belong” with the rest.

It is important to note that for the party scene when everyone has become their new character and Marty should be ‘The Fool’, he is still wearing his costume from the beginning. The big yellow cardigan has gone, but the turquoise shirt and brown hoodie have returned from after the lake.

For Marty’s return to save Dana he has lost his two outer layers. The first layer of protection was taken off while he was reading ‘Little Nemo’ in bed before “going for a walk”. He still had his turquoise shirt when Jonah Buckner attacked him, but through killing Buckner and returning for Dana the shirt has gone. He now has limited protection from his clothing and has to rely on himself.

Ronald the Intern (played by Tom Lenk)

I’ve included Ronald the Intern mostly because I love Tom Lenk. The fact that he is separated from the rest of the control room is made obvious by his constant reference to being ‘The Intern’ and his knitted tank top. It is almost as if he’s wearing it because he thinks that a mature grown up would wear it. He just wants to fit in!

The Director (played by Sigourney Weaver)

The director has a very important role to play at the end of the film – to give out the rest of the exposition. Her costume needs to set up that feeling of her being ‘the boss’. We see her wearing a grey fitted, tailored suit – almost like it’s from the ’40s. The jacket has a wide collar, fairly low neck, with a top underneath matching the colour of the suit. The rest of the costume is made up of long black leather gloves and, I think, knee-high black leather boots – I can’t see! The leather is a strong form of protection and also fits with the business woman impression you get. Also, leather – dominatrix-y?

Well, those are my thoughts on The Cabin in the Woods. I love the film and looking at the costumes made me appreciate it even more. I love when this happens – the subtle art of costume design.

And I leave you with this:

S x

Costume Plot: Delysia Lafosse from ‘Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day’


After writing a costume plot for Peggy Carter I realised how much I enjoyed writing about costumes in the films so I’m going to try to do a semi-regular feature of this – including a wide range of films (mostly DVD releases so I can re-watch and pause to get the most from them).

This post concentrates on Amy Adams’ character Delysia Lafosse from Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day (2008). I’m very fond of this film, based on the novel of the same name by Winifred Watson, for its simple yet effective story, time period, characters, performances, set design and, of course, costume design. the costume designer was Michael O’Connor who is most famous for his Oscar-winning work in The Duchess (2009). This was his first nomination as well as first win – he has subsequently been nominated for his work on Jane Eyre (2012). Delysia has the largest number of costume changes in the film, especially considering that this is all in one day – pretty much.

First introduction to Delysia

The first time we see Delysia she is “dressed” in a silk dressing gown trimmed with feathers – ostrich I think. Straight away this person is different from everything we’ve seen in the film. Miss Pettigrew’s London is dowdy, full of browns, greens and beiges – and definitely not silk and feathers. Delysia’s dressing gown lights up the room and successfully fulfils the task of an introductory costume – it tells the audience who this character is. The soft colour of the dusky pink also suggests youth, if not quite innocence (given what we know) but naivety. The costume also works for story-telling. Delysia has had an extravagant night, she’s rolled out of bed and this is the first thing she grabs. How I wish that were true of my life.

Changing for meeting Nick

Following the fear of being seen in the dusky pink dressing gown by Nick, Delysia quickly disrobes and grabs a long brown fur coat – as you do. I wish I could guess on the type of fur (or the type of fur it pretends to be) but I have absolutely no idea. Sorry. The coat itself has a very interesting collar with wide-ish lapels – giving off that distinctly ’30s vibe. Discussions have already been made about Nick owning the flat so one can presume that these extravagant clothes (at this point we’ve only seen the gown and the coat) are due to Nick’s “generosity”.

Changing for the negligee show

Before we see Delysia dress for the fashion show we see her underwear briefly – interesting to compare with the first negligee range shown at the fashion show. It’s established that the first range is all whaleboned, support-wear and corsetry whereas Joe’s collection is beautiful fine silk negligee – with no “support”. This is the style of underwear that we see Delysia wearing. Negligee that just flows and doesn’t leave unflattering VPL underneath flowing, bias-cut ’30s dresses. And she’s wearing seamed stockings as well. Of course.

Then there’s the dress itself. In an interview with Michael O’Connor he mentioned the colour:

And it’s in relation, because Miss Pettigrew’s in dowdy browns, so you don’t have to be so bright with Delysia, so she’s wearing a light blue, to start with, which is a brightness in the street where all the extras are in darkish colours. And so she stands out, as if she’s living in a fantasy world in her own head and that was the plan.

The cut of the dress itself is beautiful. The flow of the skirt very effectively shows off the bias cut and the graceful flow of the fabric. The emphasis on the shoulders, using shoulder pads and slight gathers at the sleeve head, are very symbolic of the period. And the dress has accessories galore – as one would. Despite it possibly seeming a little fussy to modern audiences this is how wealthier women in the ’30s would dress – brooch, hat, gloves and stole.

Bath scene

Now here’s a rather tenuous “costume” change. The head scarf is to maintain the curls – not quite tied in the ’40s style though. The colour of it is in the same dusky pink tones as the silk dressing gown – possibly made from the same fabric. This would then suggest that the dressing gown was constructed for the film rather than being sourced. As the dressing gown was Delysia’s “introductory” costume this doesn’t seem too unlikely – it needs to make an impact.

From the bath scene, via the Venus pose, comes the very boring towelling dressing gown. If anything, this is merely to aid Delysia’s drying and make Guinevere feel more at ease – she’s clearly uncomfortable with Delysia wandering around just holding a towel to herself. The towelling dressing gown is seen for a very short amount of time and you only ever see the top section of it.

This then moves into dusky pink underwear underneath a light pink dressing gown. Delysia has moved on from being mothered by Guinevere and back into her “glamour” stage. The underwear seen is very similar to that of Joe’s range at the fashion show – as Delysia had spoken of her intention of buying underwear from there to wear that evening. This underwear is “smaller” than the black set she wore underneath her day dress – intended to make the right impression…

The Pile on the Pepper party

The pink dress Delysia wears for the party shows a slight lean forward to ’40s fashion. The dusky pink colour is close to that used in her lingerie. The colours that Delysia has been dressed in (excluding the black lingerie) have all been soft tones. I mentioned the youthfulness and naivety and O’Connor mentioned her living in a ‘fantasy land in her own head’ but the tones also allow Guinevere to be a more nurturing, motherly influence. The ruching at the shoulder seams adds to the material at the bust and compliments the  interesting plunging neckline. Delysia is positive that this party will include the announcement of her starring role in Pile on the Pepper so she needs to stand out – or at least overshadow Charlotte “The Rabbit” Warren. The diamante detailing on the dress focuses the attention on the two key features of ’30s (and ’40s) clothing – the shoulders and the waist. The patterning is minimal and subtle but ensures that Delysia catches the light and is always the focus of the audience (and party guests).

Delysia’s final night singing at the cabaret

This scene is only shown briefly for Delysia to tell Guinevere the truth about her life. She shows her frailty in this scene and by being drenched in soft white feathers she seems even more at risk. And more able to be cared for by Guinevere.

For this scene Delysia needs to stand out and feel secure more than ever. Her last night singing at the club and also interacting with Nick (the owner of the club), Michael (her accompanist) and Phil (audience member) – all together, in one place. The dress needs to make her feel safe, so the gold is a little bit like armour. The draping of the dress is very similar to Grecian dresses. Is this a callback to the Venus pose in the bath scene? Or because those three men see her as a goddess? On a pedestal, although each places her on a very different pedestal.

Leaving Suit

Delysia’s final costume is much more structured than her other costumes – she is happy, safe and secure and no longer living in her fantasy world. The grey and white stripes on her dress (and the lapels of her jacket) give the hint of ‘wedding’ wear but this is a travel dress. It is reminiscent of suiting and a much more mature choice for Delysia. The cut of the dress is still in keeping with the cut of her previous dresses – she hasn’t changed her entire personality – but the subdued colours highlight her internal change. Maturity shows through, and although Delysia would never want to be overlooked, she doesn’t need to ‘stop traffic’ by standing out so completely.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my ramblings. I’m not sure how much of this makes sense! But I enjoyed thinking about it all – the reason I took a costume degree. Any thoughts or things I missed/mis-read? Please let me know your opinions.

S x

Costume Plot: Agent Peggy Carter from ‘Captain America: The First Avenger’


Damn right she gets her own poster.

I’m sure that most of the audience of Captain America: The First Avenger fell in love with Peggy Carter (and, in turn, Hayley Atwell) as I did. She’s brilliant. Now I have to admit that I’ve never read the Captain America comics so I cannot state whether she’s an accurate portrayal of the Peggy in the comics but I can say that she made a strong impact as a powerful and intelligent woman. Plus, she’s always so damn stylish. Now, most of this needs to be attributed to the costume designer Anna B. Sheppard (currently designing Maleficent) and the 1940s setting. Every outfit is carefully considered and smart. All the time. My re-watching of Captain America made me decide to start wearing red lipstick. And to actually commit to it. Why? Peggy. I won’t go so far as to grow my hair cos I’m too lazy to deal with it long and would never sustain a 40s hairstyle. But I considered it. This love made me decide to create a Costume Plot of Peggy’s costumes within Captain America: The First Avenger. So here we go…

Peggy addressing the new recruits

This is the first time we see Peggy and she’s wearing her standard army uniform: khaki fitted single-breasted jacket with brass buttons (seen in the poster at the top of the post) and worn with a belt at the waist, a khaki pencil skirt (shown above with a high pleat at the back – less risque than just a slit), a white/cream shirt with a khaki tie. The uniform is exactly that. A uniform. It is still 1940s in feel but Peggy’s job comes first. She takes a role in training these boys/men and must look the part.

Further training

Here Peggy wears the same uniform except that her shirt seems to be a light khaki colour rather than white and instead of two SSR (Strategic Scientific Reserve) pins on her lapels she has just one on her tie. This is when the official training starts – there is less ‘procession’ about it.

In this image Peggy is wearing trousers tucked into army boots. Much more down and dirty for serious army training. She still wears the fitted jacket and, to be honest, may be wearing trousers in the above picture (and probably was) but the film never shows us beyond the jacket.

Project Rebirth and Hydra’s attack

For this scene, I have a feeling that Peggy’s original costume has been adjusted slightly for filming purposes. This is the only time that Peggy is seen wearing an A-line skirt – and as she gets thrown to the ground by Steve it makes total sense. Total filming sense, while still not being out of character or too noticeable. Another interesting aspect is the return of the two SSR pins on her lapels. The Project Rebirth experiment was a big deal with many officials present (such as Senator Brandt) and Peggy needs to be as smart as possible.

Post Hydra attack

Peggy has changed out of her khaki shirt and tie into a white silk blouse. I have to say that I don’t really understand the purpose of this. I don’t understand the purpose of the change unless it is a different ‘story day’, although we are led to believe that it is the same day as the attack. I’m going to go with this is the day after the attack and that’s why Peggy’s changed.

USO tour When I was watching the film to track Peggy’s costumes I didn’t think that she was wearing her white shirt in this scene with Steve after his disastrous performance. This picture is much brighter than the light in the film though so it may be that the film makes the shirt appear darker in colour than it actually was. But, again we have Peggy in her standard uniform (complete with pencil skirt) with her two lapel pins.

In Stark’s plane

The first, poorly lit, photo is to show that Peggy is wearing trousers. Wouldn’t you if you were planning an attack? And the second photo shows her khaki shirt (the white shirt from before looking khaki in dark lighting?) with a floral scarf and a leather aviator jacket. I like the feminine touch of the scarf as Peggy tends to be very structured in all of her costumes – this far. And the aviator jacket is incredible. I like to think it’s a riff of Steve’s leather jacket and also the leather jacket he wears at the end of The Avengers/Avengers Assemble. (It’s period appropriate and I might be right about Steve in Captain America but I’m clearly reaching with the Avengers link.)

This is included because I’m making a link. There is a reason behind it. I’m not just using this as an excuse. We clear? Good.

Rogers’ return At this point, everyone thinks Steve is dead. Peggy is still dressed in her army uniform with the khaki pencil skirt, khaki shirt, khaki tie with the SSR pin but instead of her fitted jacket she’s wearing her leather aviator jacket. What she was wearing when she last saw Steve. The only item there she could ‘get away’ with wearing at work. Coincidence? Decide for yourself.

Mapping out Hydra locations Steve’s safe and planning attacks on Hydra. But was meant to be receiving a medal of honour. The reason for Peggy’s extra uniform effort? The two pins, the silk blouse? Trying to make a good impression for the latest war hero?

In the pub

Now. Finally we come to THAT red dress. She looks incredible. The 40s were made for Hayley Atwell and the biggest problem with this dress is that it’s barely on screen. Or maybe thats a bonus. If it was on for a few scenes the audience would forget how brilliant it is. And it’s so simple. (Although, saying that, I’ve been analysing images of this dress for ages trying to figure out how to make it. I can’t seem to see any seams or darts to provide shaping, apart from the hip draping. They MUST be there and I just cant see them. If someone knows where they are please tell me before I go mad. Or lose patience and just invent them.)

Rogers kissing Private Lorraine

This photo shows the soft gathering at the shoulder seams to allow extra shaping and detailing over the shoulder pads (a 1940s staple before ‘Dynasty’ got hold of them). You can also see the darts to create extra shaping and to emphasise the waist.

This photo is just to show the back gathering underneath the yoke. This blouse is just so beautifully constructed.

So, Agent Peggy Carter essentially propositioned you in the pub wearing THAT red dress and you chose to kiss Anne Boleyn. Really? Why? Idiot. Especially when Peggy walks around in a beautifully cut white silk blouse and a pencil skirt. Steve Rogers you are a moron. She was dressing down, loosening up. You ruined that. (That’s how I read it.)

Montage Back to serious Peggy’s uniform. I don’t really have much more to add to this.

Bombed pub We can’t see what Peggy’s wearing under her trench coat (with a nice flare at the waist, again to emphasise her hourglass shape) but I do assume that it is her regular army uniform – we can’t even see if the SSR pin is on her tie or there are two on the lapels!

Planning Hydra attack Serious uniform. This is war.

At Hydra’s base Back to the leather aviator jacket. I think it’s the same as before but this one doesn’t have any fleecing on the collar. So it might be a very slightly different jacket. The more I think about this I think it is a different jacket but probably only very slightly different and meant to be accepted as the first jacket. This “analysis” of Peggy’s costumes is not really that. It’s more of a description of her costume arc with some thoughts sprinkled about. But one thing to take away from this is how few items of costume Peggy has in the film, not taking into account doubles of pieces of course. She has distinct looks and manages to make every appearance look fresh and new. (By “she” I mean Peggy and not Hayley Atwell.) I LOVE her:

For more information on the costume design in Captain America: The First Avenger please read here. Clothes on Film interviews Anna B. Sheppard and does a much better job than I ever could.

(Screenshots mostly taken from

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