Re: Getting Phryne’s Style

Inspired by Miss Fisher’s Mysteries? Want to dress more like Phryne? Luckily, adding a 1920s flare to your modern wardrobe has never been easier.

Phryne's Black and White Coat

Inspector Jack Robinson (Nathan Page) and Phryne Fisher (Essie Davis) in a black and white coat with an Oriental design.

Add a jacket or cardigan. One of the things that immediately strikes the viewer is Phryne’s wardrobe of eye-catching jackets. The jacket, duster, or cardigan frequently functions as the statement piece with the rest of the outfit solid-colored and simple. Jackets are very in fashion nowadays, but you’ll have to use a number of different search terms to find them. Use “kimono”, “jacket”, “shrug”, “cardigan”, and “duster” and see what you can pull up.

Another option is to create your own shrug or jacket from a long, rectangular scarf, shawl, or stole. Fold the stole in half length-ways and knot the short ends together to form sleeves. If the shrug is falling off your shoulders, tie another knot about 6-12 inches away from the first one, further down the arm of the jacket. Slip your arms through the sleeves and voila! instant shrug. When I was a young dancer, we would use small veils (about 72″ long and 36″ wide) to make shrugs for our bellydance costumes. You can also sew the sleeves partway closed in order to form a more permanent jacket.

Phryne's Cream Cardigan

Phryne (Essie Davis) sports a scarf made of assuit, a vintage Egyptian textile very popular in the 1920s, over her cardigan.

Add a scarf. Indoors or out, Phryne is often seen wearing scarves, usually long rectangular ones. If your local department store isn’t carrying anything you like, try the on-line shops of major museums (e.g. the Metropolitan Museum of Art). Museums often sell smart scarves as part of their revenue-generating efforts.

Use your costume jewelry in innovative ways.  One of Phryne’s brooches, for example, will appear variously as a hat decoration, scarf pin, and robe closure.

Phryne's Embroidered Black Coat

Phryne in another one of her fabulous coats, this time a long black duster with embroidered trim.

Experiment with ethnic designs and textiles. In the 1920s, there was a lot of fascination with the Far and Near East on the part of the general public and the fashions and accessories of the time reflect that. This was the era in which King Tut’s tomb was discovered among other things. Today, there is a similar vogue for ethnic designs so take the opportunity to add a print blouse (or scarf) to your wardrobe.

Go for a clean, streamlined look with strong, intense colors. Although Phryne can and does wear pastels, more often than not, she favors deep colors such as navy blue, black, and winter winter. Black and white together is a favorite color combination for her. When she wears prints, they tend to be simple geometric designs such as circles. And while we see her wearing fancy ballgowns from time to time, mostly she wears very non-fussy pieces–wide leg pants, sleeveless blouses, short jackets, tear drop earrings.