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


One thought on “Costume Plot: Miss Guinevere Pettigrew from ‘Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day’

  1. Pingback: Costume Plot: The Men from ‘Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day’ | Damn, That's Some Fine Tailoring

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