Friday, 5 April 2013

The Help - Whitetrash Wardrobe Inspiration



The other day I watched The Help, the film version of the book of the same name by Kathryn Stockett. I read the book in 2009 when it came out and I enjoyed it a lot. It tells the fictional story of a young white female journalist in the early 1960s in Jackson, Mississippi. She decides to write a book from the point of view of black maids, detailing the racism they suffer while working for local white families, which becomes a surprise best-seller. 

The film version, while faithful to the novel, is a little more touchy-feely and lighthearted, but I did really enjoy the costumes, especially those of one of the characters, Celia Foote. I love the way her clothes are all a bit too revealing, too tight, too sexy. I want to look like a 1950s tart too! 


Played by Jessica Chastain, Celia is a white-trash girl with a heart of gold. She wants to fit in with the prissy and conservative young wives of Jackson, but you can see that her clothes signal that she doesn't quite belong. Here she is on her poolside phone wearing a custard-yellow playsuit with white piping. Note the daisy earrings, and matching pale yellow sunglasses and bracelet!

I found a couple of costumes sketches from the movie. The costumes were designed by Sharen Davis (who also did the designs for Dreamgirls and Django Unchained among others). Looks like she left off the little tie at the front of the playsuit in the final version.


And these are Celia's shoes! Floral slingbacks with rosettes on the front. Aren't they darling?

Celia in her grand old house. I love this outfit, it would have looked SO tacky in the early 60s. The skirt is too tight, the top is too sheer, it looks cheap and tarty. I love it!


The blouse looks like it is made of a seersucker printed with tiny pink flowers. The skirt is perhaps a stretch corduroy? The belt is elastic with a patent buckle, and she has matching red earrings.


A very blurry picture of the whole outfit, see the red patent heels?


This is the outfit Celia wears when she is learning to cook - it's a comfortable at home outfit of red slacks, a pretty top and a tight belt.


A close-up of the top, which I really like. It is darted over the bust so it is quite fitted, but has that nice soft neckline and the cute knotted shoulders. Even in the kitchen, Celia wears matching earrings, you can just see the clear red hoops she has on.


Her shoes are beige or tan leather heels, which don't match with her black patent belt, but are much more flattering, as they would make her legs look longer. Clever!


In this scene Celia is taking a pie round to Hilly Holbrooke's house, so it's kind of dressy casual. It's a great winter look - a bit sexy librarian! 


The skirt is a sort of nubbly flecked tweed, and the neckline of her plum-coloured sweater is very flattering.


This not particularly flattering sweater is hardly worth looking at. Boring.



For a charity dinner, Celia has this dress specially made, to the horror of the other women and the delight of their husbands! It's too tight and revealing, but isn't it the most divine colour! It looks like it has been made of a silk brocade which has been embellished with beads.



The original costume sketch. Although I love the version in the film, this one looks more showgirl-ish with the all-over squiggly sequin decoration.


Finally, this pretty frock for playing the happy hostess in. It's similar to that worn by many of the other well-to-do white women in the film, with its full skirt and floral print, but of course Celia's version is a one-shouldered dress, more revealing than anything a nice society matron would wear.


There are some other nice frocks in the film, but they are standard late 50s wear.


1 comment:

  1. :) I'm so glad I'm not the only one who left the film thinking I wanted to look like the 50's tarty Celia. I love her looks, they were sexy and yet also very sweet (probably just because she wore them).
    Great round-up! Now I just need to find these clothes....

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