When we meet a new client, one of the first questions we ask is “Is there a style icon, movie, celebrity etc. you gravitate toward?” It helps get the personal style conversation started to see who and what resonates with that individual. Here, Jenn Barger highlights some of the modern and throwback influences the big and small screens have had on personal style and asks…have movies, television and its characters ever influenced your own personal style?
The first time I caught an episode of “Gossip Girl,” I barely registered the lines spoken by the show’s Upper East Side (and Brooklyn) teenagers and their attractive middle-aged parents. It was the clothes that kept me riveted— the slightly flashy, entirely elegant mini skirts and slouchy tops on Blake Lively’s Serena, the age appropriate-yet-sexy Hugo Boss and Tory Burch sheaths sported by her mother Lily, played by 40-something hottie Kelly Rutherford. Downloading episodes each week, I’d find myself aghast at the bad plot twists (threesomes! royal suitors who turned out to be phonies!) but hyped up to buy a blouse I’d see on Rutherford or to mix items in my wardrobe up in a boho way like Serena.
Any stylista who has ever swooned over the bias-cut gowns in a 1930s screwball comedy or rushed out to buy an Olivia Pope-esque sheath dress after an episode of “Scandal” knows that what characters wear on the big (and small) screens influence how we dress. “Watching a movie (or a television show) means that you are investing a significant amount of time looking at what is presented before you,” says Rebecca C. Tuite, a New York City-based fashion historian and writer who recently released the book “Seven Sisters Style” ($25, Rizzoli). “Perhaps more than in any other real-life situation, a film or television show encourages a viewer to engage with and watch more closely any number of outfits or garments.”
Still, this doesn’t mean you should hunker down with downloads of “Sex and the City” or “Clueless” and take copious notes on the outfits. “To be inspired by movies and fictional characters is one thing, but you want to make your look modern and today,” says DC Style Factory owner Rosana Vollmerhausen. “You need to add elements that are current.” This means “yes” to rocking a floor-sweeping camel coat à la Faye Dunaway in “Bonnie and Clyde” but “no” to pulling it on over a Depression-era dress. Try it over jeans and a sweatshirt instead, she suggests.
And choose your screen sirens wisely, unless you’re into renaissance festivals or want to give off a Halloween-night vibe. “There’s a risk of looking like a caricature,” says local fashion blogger Alison Santighian of
Many times, your fave sitcom or rom-com might exert a subtler influence on how your style develops or changes. Me, I cop to getting my love of bright colors and blazers from watching too much “Designing Women” in high school — though I’d never wear those funny little fitted suits. Santighian loved the sultry-sophisticated pencil skirts and drapey dresses Rene Russo wore to seduce Pierce Brosnan in 1999’s “The Thomas Crowne Affair.”
Vollmerhausen dug menswear-obsessed characters like Lisa Bonet in “The Cosby Show” and Diane Keaton in “Annie Hall.” “They didn’t wear body-conscious, overtly sexy clothing, but they were still undeniably sexy,” she says. Vollmerhausen’s dandyish 1970s and 1980s sirens influenced one of her top high-school outfits: Tapered, slouchy pants with her dad’s college-professor-like tweed blazer. “I felt so like me in that outfit,” she recalls. “Now, I’m not sure how it looked, but I remember really feeling good I had put it together.”
The sets and props of a movie or show can also spark style changes — as in how Baz Luhrmann’s glam spin on “The Great Gatsby” had me snapping up vintage cocktail shakers and big flower arrangements for parties, hoping Leonardo Dicaprio might drop by. “A recent example of a movie that influenced me was ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’,” says Tuite. “Every frame was so rich in colors, textures and beautiful objects. While I don’t want to wear the uniforms of a hotel porter, I noticed how those rich jewel tones look so beautiful together.”
Just the kind of wardrobe — and life — inspiration I tune in for.
Post by Jenn Barger (www.jennbarger.com, @dcjnell).