Rose DeWitt Bukater, Titanic (1997)
Designed by: Deborah L. Scott
As many times as I’ve seen this film, I never cease to be absolutely wowed by Rose’s costumes. Whether she’s boarding the ship or floating on a door in the middle of the freezing cold Atlantic ocean, Rose is always dressed beautifully. Her dresses range from simple to extravagant, but even the most casual serve as a symbol of the high status that her mother so desperately wants to hold on to. In that respect, Rose’s wardrobe may symbolize the fact that she’s constricted by the expectations that come with being a first-class woman, but I’d be more than happy to take these gowns if she’s tired of ’em.
Ellen Arden, My Favorite Wife (1940)
Designed by: Howard Greer
Living in a black and white world doesn’t stop Ellen Arden from making bold fashion choices. While we can’t see the colors of her clothing, the patterns that she wears are unmistakably eye-catching. Bold graphic prints are her signature. Irene Dunne gives a completely delightful performance in this film, but I have a feeling I’d like this character even if a different actress had been cast, because her personality is just as vibrant as the loud patterns that she wears.
Vivian Rutledge, The Big Sleep (1946)
Designed by: Leah Rhodes (wardrobe) and Eugene Joseff (jewelery)
Vivian’s wardrobe is simple and quite classic, with a few twists in the form of a menswear edge (in the famed plaid dress suit) and bold details. It’s no wonder Philip Marlowe falls under her spell. This is one case where the wardrobe really reflects the character, in my opinion. Vivian, though a bit conniving and hot-headed, is a very strong, intelligent character with a deep desire to rely on herself and solve her own problems. Her wardrobe is equally strong, with visual impact to boot. Not a single person could carry these outfits quite as well as Lauren Bacall, but that doesn’t mean we can’t want them all the same.
Frances Stevens, To Catch a Thief (1955)
Designed by: Edith Head
Starring opposite The Most Beautiful Man Ever, Cary Grant, was not enough for Grace Kelly while making To Catch a Thief. She just had to go and make us jealous with her beautiful gowns and classy casual outfits as well. And she has the phenomenal, legendary Edith Head to thank for that. Technicolor brights, ladylike neutrals and even a metallic dress or two are staples for the wardrobe of Frances Stevens. In one word, her outfits could only be described as “perfect” – always minimally but appropriately accessorized, with flawless hair and makeup to match.
This list is in no order, and is part one of many to come. Do you love these costumes? Who is your favorite out of the four? (Click on the images for a full-size view!) As always, share your thoughts in the comments!