Re: Outlander

Here’s a great interview (with pictures natch) with Terry Dresbach who is the costume designer for the Starz series, Outlander. Nice quote here about watching Tobias Menzies (Black Jack Randall) transform from regular guy actor into bad guy British officer just by putting on his uniform. That’s the magic of costuming!

Re: Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day

Miss Pettigrew Brown Outfit

Miss Pettigrew brown dress.

I’m working my way through Lee Pace’s backlist and while doing so discovered this little gem of a movie, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day (2008). The film is a throwback to the screwball comedies of the 1930s with heart, depth, a great soundtrack, fabulous costumes, and splendid sets. Miss Pettigrew (Francis McDormand) is a middle-aged governess who is down on her luck. Dismissed from her last position and desperate to stay off the streets, she wangles her way into the next job the temp agency has open: social secretary to the glamorous American singer, Delysia LaFosse (Amy Adams). Over the next twenty-four hours, Miss Pettigrew defuses a series of crises for her new employer and in the process redefines herself.

When our story opens, we find Miss Pettigrew looking very dowdy in her dark brown sack-like dress and coat. Frances McDormand says she decided that Miss Pettigrew probably hadn’t had any new clothes since she put together her trousseau as a young woman back during the Great War so many of her oufits appear to be stuck in an earlier era.

Miss Pettigrew Blue Scarf

The first change we see is when Delysia gives Miss Pettigrew a blue scarf. The scarf immediately brightens up Miss Pettigrew’s outfit and becomes an important prop later on as we shall see.

Miss Pettigrew Delysia's Blue Dress

Delysia’s blue dress gives her an all-American girl appearance.

Delysia first makes an appearance in her frou-frou peach dressing gown, then changes into a smart blue dress and hat for her visit to Edith duBarry’s Beauty Salon.

Miss Pettigrew Lingerie Show

Miss Pettigrew Lingerie Show

The lingerie show that Miss Pettigrew and Delysia attend serves as a commentary on the contentious relationship between Edith (Shirley Henderson) and her on-again-off-again fiance, Joe Bloomfield (Ciaran Hinds).

Miss Pettigrew Lingerie Corset Closeup

Miss Pettigrew Edythe duBarry

Edith’s designs are heavy corsets filled with whalebone and steel–a conservative approach aimed at older women such as the two matrons who look so disapproving when Delysia and Miss Pettigrew sit down next to them. It’s implied that Edith is a self-made woman whose worked her way up the social ladder and her lingerie designs reflect her conservative, unsentimental, and business-like nature. Although Joe is an older man, his designs are light, flowing, and very modern. We learn during the course of the scene that it’s Joe who has designed the blue scarf Miss Pettigrew likes so much–and the first point of attraction between them is established.

Miss Pettigrew Trio

Miss Pettigrew as nature intended.

Since Miss Pettigrew’s current ensemble is unsuitable for her current role as social secretary, Delysia and Edith give her a makeover. Miss Pettigrew re-emerges in a simple blue dress, updated but still appropriate for a working woman.


Miss Petttigrew Delysia's Cocktail Dress

Undoubtedly, Delysia has the best wardrobe (and the most costume changes) of any of the characters. Here we see her pink dress that she wears to an afternoon cocktail party.

Miss Pettigrew Delysia's Gold Gown

Delysia’s gold gown. Probably my favorite costume in this film.

The piece-de-resistance is her gold evening dress that she wears for her job as a singer at The Scarlet Peacock nightclub. It’s a wonderful Grecian draped, 1930s piece.

Blue Dress Waltz

Miss Pettigrew’s blue velvet dress in action.

Miss Pettigrew also gets an evening wear upgrade, a blue velvet dress with a rose. The small white ruffle is symbolic of her tentative flirtation with high fashion. The waltz with Joe, of course, cements their growing attraction to each other.

Miss Pettigrew Delysia's Traveling Outfit

Delysia’s final outfit, the white traveling suit.

The story ends, of course, as all good fairytales do with the all the lovers reunited. Delysia wears a very smart, off-white traveling suit which suggests bridal wear in her final bow to the camera.



Re: Pushing Daisies

Recently, I’ve become enamored of the late, great TV series, Pushing Daisies, and the wonderful costumes on the show. Pushing Daisies was a quirky romantic comedy/fantasy/mystery that revolved around a piemaker named Ned (Lee Pace) who had a “witching finger” that could bring the dead back to life. Ned’s gift came with a few simple rules: 1) he could only bring the dead back for a minute, 2) a second touch from him would render the dead un-alive permanently and 3) keeping the dead alive longer than 60 seconds meant that someone else had to die in order to keep the balance.

Emerson Cod (Chi McBride), a private detective, learns of Ned’s gift and makes him a deal: Ned will raise the corpses of the recently and suspiciously deceased, get them to tell him who killed them, then Emerson will solve the case, and he and Ned will split the reward money. Their unorthodox partnership is going well until Ned comes across the body of his childhood sweetheart, Chuck (Anna Friel). Unable to kill her again, Ned keeps Chuck alive, but the two are unable to touch lest Chuck go back to being dead again.

It all sounds very unwieldly, but the writers and the cast make it work. The sets and especially the costumes are a delight–brightly colored like a Technicolor fairy tale. The costume designer for the series was Robert Blackman. To create the series’ particular retro look, Blackman says “the decades I’d dip into were the ’40s, ’50s, ’60s, early ’70s, skip the ’80s and then come back to the ’90s until present day.”

Here are some of my favorite costumes from Pushing Daisies:

Pushing Daisies Dandelion Girl

This iconic dandelion dress is the uniform for Jeanine, the car model, in the episode “Dummy”. Jeanine and her fellow models are promoting a green car that runs on dandelions hence the outfit. The actress in the photo is the excellent Riki Lindholme whom you might recognize from her appearances in “The Big Bang Theory” and Joss Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing.


Dim Sum Waitresses

Chuck (Anna Friel) and Olive (Kristin Chenoweth) go undercover as waitresses in a Chinese restaurant (“Dim Sum, Lose Sum”) to crack a gambling ring.


Emerson and Ned Dim Sum Disguise

Love the ’70s vibe here as Emerson (Chi McBride) and Ned (Lee Pace) pose as players  in the same episode.


Sister Larue Pushing Daisies

Olive (Kristin Chenoweth), Ned’s waitress, attempts to forget her unrequited love for her boss at the convent of the Sisters of the Divine Magnatum (“Bad Habits”). Series writer/producer Bryan Fuller enjoys referencing classic movies in the series and this is his send up of The Sound of Music. I particularly like the way the sisters seem to be wearing coffee filters as part of their headress.


Bee Girl Costumes

In “Bzzzzzzz!”, our intrepid trio investigate a suspicious death at the Betty’s Bees cosmetics company. Everything on the Betty’s Bees set carries out the bee motif from the honeycomb patterned dresses and “beehive” hairdoes to Ned’s black and yellow striped tie. Fantastic!


PD Cooking Competition outfits

It’s hard to pick just ONE favorite costume, but if I absolutely had to, I would pick Olive and Ned’s pie shop uniforms from (“Comfort Food”).  In the show, Olive and Ned are competing at the Papen County Best in Belly Cooking Competition and must find out who is offing their fellow competitors before they are next on the menu. Ned’s pie-shaped hat is just epic.



Re: Halloween Costume Roundup 2014

We’re going to kick off this year’s Halloween costume roundup with the most topical costume of all:

Bindlestiff Instructables Ebola Virus Costume

Ebola virus costume by Bindlestiff (Instructables)

Yes, you knew it had to happen–the Ebola virus costume.  Actually, considering the other Ebola costumes out there, I rather like the science theme that this one brings to the table. Perhaps science-themed costumes will become a trend with people dressing up like bacterium.

Copenhagen Row House Costume

 Copenhagen Row House costume created by Brittany Watson Jepsen.

Awesome cardboard row house costumes made by Brittany Watson Jepsen. See the whole story behind the costume on her blog, The House That Lars Built.

Mother Earth Heather Artrip NPR 2014

National Public Radio listener Heather Nicole Artrip costumed as Mother Earth.

Heather made her beautiful Mother Earth costume from thrifted items  (“boo-cycling” as NPR’s Protojournalist Linton Weeks terms it). Although she made it for last year’s Halloween, Heather didn’t get to wear her costume outside the house because she went into labor and had her son on Halloween.  Read the whole story here and look for Heather’s addendum in the comments section.

Tom Burns Princess Leia Father Daughter Costume 2014

Most epic parent-child costume of all. Tom Burns as Princess Leia and his daughter as Han Solo (Oct. 2014).

When Tom’s daughter wanted to be Han Solo for Halloween and requested that he accompany her as Princess Leia, Tom did what any 21st century dad would do: he dressed up as Leia Organa. Read the full blog post here. A Star Wars hoodie forms the basis of his outfit.


Snap Crackle Pop Trio Costume Coolest Homemade Costumes 2014

Angie from Waukee, Iowa made these awesome Snap, Crackle, Pop costumes for her three kids. Posted on Coolest-Homemade-Costumes.Com (Oct. 2014).

This adorable trio costume features Snap, Crackle, and Pop from Kellogg’s Rice Crispies. Here’s the link to the full description of this great costume. If you haven’t visited Coolest-Homemade-Costumes.Com before, I highly recommend it as a source for costume ideas.

Saguaro Cactus Costume

A last minute saguaro cactus costume designed by xxlauraxx (Instructables).

Here is a a fabulous and unique cactus costume made by Instructables user xxlauraxx. The spines are ruffles that Laura sewed onto a green hoodie. She then added ribbon flowers to the hood. I would definitely vote for adding red mittens as cactus fruit. Read Laura’s tutorial here.

Re: The Lioness in Winter

Lioness in Winter I

My 83-year-old mother, Lori, costumed as Eleanor of Aquitaine (Oct. 2014).

When I broached the subject of dressing up again for this year’s Take Back Halloween contest, I was pleasantly surprised to find my mother very open to the idea. This is our second year participating in the contest and it has become our shared art project.

Lionesss in Winter II

Lori as Eleanor of Aquitaine showing the full dress (Oct. 2014).

The only purchased part of this costume is the crown. Everything else came either from my closet or my fabric stash. It helps to be a bellydancer :-)

Lioness in Winter III

Lori as Eleanor of Aquitaine minus the cloak (Oct. 2014).

If you haven’t had a chance yet, be sure to surf over to Take Back Halloween’s Facebook page and check out the current crop of entries for this year’s contest. [Update as of 11/18/14: Mom won most Inspired Performance in the Queens category. Like a boss.]

Re: Halloween in the Time of the Cholera

Plague Doctor Wikipedia

Illustration of a plague doctor (Wikipedia). Plague doctors were physicians hired by towns to attend victims of the bubonic plague. The distinctive costume was the first hazmat suit.

Halloween is all about dressing up as the things that scare us. So, if it’s okay to dress up as the Grim Reaper or a zombie, is it okay to dress up as the latest virus outbreak du jour? National Public Radio has an interesting discussion about the ethics of dressing up as an Ebola health care worker here.

Re: Sexy Halloween Costumes for Men

This is a post I’ve been wanting to write for a couple of Halloweens now. Guys, need some help putting together a Halloween costume that will attract the ladies?  Wonder no more, dudes, for I’ve got your back.

First rule of the Fight Club: don’t talk about the Fight Club. First rule of Halloween: wear the costume. Tear up your cool card now, friend, and put on the fake fur. Wearing a costume says that you’re joining in the game, that you’re fun, playful, and have a sense of humor. In study after study, women consistently cite those qualities as the top things they look for in a mate.

Suit up. Seriously, a two or three piece suit in a dark color is one of the best costume foundations you can have plus it comes in handy for dates, job interviews, and meeting the parents. For some ideas on how to dress up a suit, check out the following:

Men in Black Halloween Costume

Men in Black Halloween costume by Honus (Instructables)

The Men in Black costume above is basically a dark suit (ideally black) with a black tie and dark sunglasses set off by some excellent sidearms. You can purchase a commercial MiB costume through most Halloween costume sites or put your own together. As a compromise, I would recommend sourcing the suit from home or a thrift store and purchasing the props.

If you want to upgrade, get a tux. You can probably rent one of these bad boys if there is wedding or prom shop near you. The black-and-white tuxedo is the basis for a number of cool looks such as the classic Bela Lugosi vampire (just add fangs and a cape) or a Phantom of the Opera costume:

Phantom of the Opera Costume

A Phantom costume is nothing more than a tux with a cloak and a half-mask. If you feel the yen to sing “Music of the Night”, go right ahead.

Bad, bad, bad boys (they make us feel so good). Ladies love a dashing outlaw and there are a number of possibilities here:

Captain Jack Sparrow

Johnny Depp  as Captain Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl.

Pirates have both a dressed up and a dressed down version. See my post here for costuming information. Commercial costumes and props are readily available. Again, I would recommend sourcing as much of the clothing from your closet or Goodwill as you can and buying the props.

Dread Pirate Roberts

The Dread Pirate Roberts from The Princess Bride.

If a pirate costume and a Zorro costume had a love child, it would be the Dread Pirate Roberts. Classic black here, guys–black shirt, black head scarf, black mask, black pants, black sash, you get the idea–topped off with a rapier.

Men in uniform. It’s true, women love a man in uniform and this is a category open to a wide range of interpretations from the quick and easy to the very complex. A Viking warrior or a Roman centurion are easy to do and costumes and props are readily available. A historically accurate costume is much more difficult, but can be very striking.


Jason Isaacs as evil Colonel Tavington in The Patriot. Possibly the only film about the Revolutionary War in which the audience was rooting for the British.

Last, but not least, go for an iconic character like the American cowboy. A cowboy costume can be very simple or complex, sourced from your closet or purchased at a store, historically accurate or totally Hollywood. It doesn’t take much to make them look distinctive and the costume works well for all age groups.

Gary Cooper High Noon

Gary Cooper in High Noon. Add a string tie and a tin star to your costume and you’re the sheriff.

John Wayne True Grit

John Wayne in True Grit. Add an eye patch and you’re Rooster Cogburn. Just a kerchief and you’re a regular working cowboy.


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