Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Wardrobe Wednesday: Costume, Character, and Film

I was clicking through the pages of a 1918 book called Handicraft for Girls, and was struck by the chapter on Wardrobe. If you read Feeling Stitchy, you'll see that Lia just started a series of posts based on a project in this book, and I was curious to see what the other chapters might say.

I LOVE books that were written in other time periods. I think they have something to say in particular to this generation that moves at such a frenetic, fast pace. I love the care with which they write their sentences - they're all crafted so elegantly and are such a pleasure to read, even when you're smiling at their seemingly outmoded sentiments.

So here's a few quotes from the Costume chapter that I found fascinating, and I completely recommend a readthrough of the whole thing. :)

In the selection of one's garments there are a number of points which must be taken into consideration, such as health and comfort, cost, fitness, color and style, as well as beauty.
It has been wisely said that the best dressed woman is she of whose clothing one is unconscious, whose dress is neither conspicuous from extreme style nor too noticeable from a total disregard to the custom of the times. Good taste demands that one be not overdressed. Street and business suits and young girls' school dresses should be plain, well made and neat, of subdued and becoming color.
Before sewing machines were to be found in every home and ready made clothing in the stores styles did not change so rapidly. Commercial conditions now make it to the advantage of a great army of people that the styles in dress change often and radically. The manufacturers of cloth, the wholesale merchants with their agents, the retailers and their numerous clerks, wholesale garment-makers and their many employes, pattern-makers, dress-makers, milliners and the manufacturers of all minor articles of clothing are all benefitted by this oft recurring change in style. This condition has come about so gradually that we hardly realize to what extent we are victims of trade-tricks. It is not necessary nor desirable that woman should enslave herself to follow all the vagaries of style.

Whenever I want to really sink into wardobe talk, I pop over to Chris Laverty's blog, Clothes on Film - I love the way he breaks down costume in delicious detail, and his analysis of costume as a means to move a movie forward and express a character's mood and personality. If you're at all a fan of 60's style or Doris Day, you'll love the piece he did recently on Pillow Talk.

Chris also did a post recently on a book by Liz Gregory called Sew Iconic, and the description he gave left me salivating - it apparently has a breakdown of tons of famous, iconic dresses in film, and accompanying "patterns" so that you can (maybe) reproduce them yourself...

I can't rationalize buying a book on sewing when I can't do anything more than basic handsewing. But I may break down and order it anyway, as it's just as much about iconic films as it is about costume.... :)

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