Most Oscar fashion talk revolves around the movie stars’ red carpet style. In fact a huge part of Oscar talk full stop is about off-screen style. Who’s more red-faced than red carpet? That kind of thing … So I thought let’s take a look at some of the styles from the films themselves. Here’s my selection of vintage fashion worn by the characters played by the five Leading Actress nominees. Each of the five pieces could be picked up in vintage or high-street stores but I’ve tried to opt for classics rather than fast fashion.
Glenn Close – Albert Nobbs (Rodrigo Garcia, 2011)
The Tuxedo/Le Smoking
An androgynous fashion choice here. In the film, Glenn Close plays a woman who passes as a man, Albert Nobbs, to make a living and survive in nineteenth century Dublin. There are many different kinds of androgynous looks to choose from baggie pants to brogues. And after seeing a friend make an entrance in a bowler hat recently, I think this could be a way to work the Albert Nobbs look. It’s a definite stylish statement.
But for this movie, I’ve opted for the tux. Here we go from the androgynous looks of 1920s La Garconne to Yves Saint Laurent’s Le Smoking in 1966 and its various incarnations season after season. I love this look on other people but have never really used it as an alternative to an LBD or any dress. Maybe I’ll give it a go. As Yves Saint Laurent said, “Fashions come and go, but style is forever.”
Viola Davis – The Help (Tate Taylor, 2011)
Sunday best hat
As Aibileen Clark in The Help, Viola Davis is mostly dressed in a blue housekeeper’s uniform with a white apron. The colourful, pretty clothes of the white characters (and the lack of attention given to African-American characters in fashion spreads) illustrate their social position in the movie.
So I thought I’d leave the floral full dresses and the pretty playsuits and go for an accessory – a 1960s hat. As we don’t wear hats as much in Western society now, when we do (unless it’s woolly) it makes a statement. Often worn in the burlesque scene, it’s easy to pick up 1960s hats from vintage shops so you can look your Sunday best every day.
Another androgynous look from Rooney Mara, who plays Lisbeth Salander in David Fincher’s remake of the Swedish thriller, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. It’s a grungy, punky look, establishing her as an outsider with goth dyed hair, tattoos and piercings. These elements of alternative lifestyles have been incorporated into the mainstream from catwalk to high-street. The same goes for the rebel choice of outerwear – the leather biker jacket. Although it’s one of those items, where if it suits you, I think you can comfortably ignore those tweaks from the designers. Does the rebel need a wool version?
Meryl Streep – The Iron Lady (Phyllida Lloyd, 2011)
Pussy bow blouse
“The pearls are non-negotiable”. I love this line from The Iron Lady when Meryl Streep as Margaret Thatcher is encouraged to deepen her voice and get a new do. Thatcher politics may have inspired 1980s power dressing but her look was more boxy suits, blouses, structured handbags and pearls. In blue or blue of course. Although an unlikely fashion icon, I do love blue, have recently bought some pearls and have been known to tote a granny-chic handbag. But my vintage piece from The Iron Lady, is the pussy bow blouse. It’s another classic – ladylike with a sexy wink. You can find different versions through the decades in vintage shops from 1950s sleeveless numbers to the puffy shouldered 1980s. Check out Vogue for lots more on the Iron Lady’s style, including sketches of the film’s designs and for the seamstress in you, here’s a how to make a pussy bow blouse (blue’s optional).
Michelle Williams – My Week with Marilyn (Simon Curtis, 2011)
Black polo neck
With Michelle Williams as Marilyn Monroe circa 1956 it is difficult to pick one fashion piece. My Week with Marilyn, is an adaptation of Colin Clark’s memoir about the time he spent with the starlet on the set of The Prince and the Showgirl (Laurence Olivier, 1957). So it’s about “Marilyn” in down-time style as well as “Marilyn”, fashion icon. Which piece to choose? The star must-have – shades and headscarf – to escape the paparazzi (though head-scarves can look more rain-mac on us mere mortals)? The sexy, curve-inducing dress, the lush wrap woollen coat or the simple pencil skirt?
After some consideration, I’ve opted for a sweater – the turtle, polo or roll-neck. It’s a look that still says hip beatnik cool to me. It can be difficult to pick up vintage knitwear but if you buy carefully you can find gems. A high-street polo doesn’t seem too fast-fashion wasteful as it never really goes out of style. OK, so you may not look like Marilyn but at least you don’t look like you’re trying too hard to channel her (think that white halter-neck dress).
Who’s the Oscar fashion winner?
The Oscar nominees don’t have long to wait to find out who’s won for their acting ability. But who would you pick for fashion style? Get in touch and let me know.