The Well-Dressed Man

I’d like to take a moment to focus on the well-dressed man. Suits are not always necessary, but they can certainly look great.

Matt Bomer as Neal Caffrey in White Collar

One of the best examples of this is television’s White Collar, currently in its 4th season. The lead character, Neal Caffrey, is a connoiseur of fine suits. From the first episode, he’s had a fascination with old school, beautifully cut suits, including some vintage Sy Devore styles. And he knows how to accessorize too. Not everyone can carry off a hat, but he wears one often. Even when on the run in more casual looks, he still managed to find a fantastic straw fedora. It featured prominenty, as they took it out of the box with care and really took the time to show you the beautiful detail of the hat.

The remake of Ocean’s Eleven from a few years back is another great example. Andy Garcia’s character has some impressive suits, in all different colors, always perfectly accessorized with the right tie or handkerchief. Brad Pitt opts for a more casual look with his suits, usually going without a tie.

Under the Streetlamp (photo by Paul Natkin Photography)

Yet another fine example comes from the world of music. The pop vocal group Under the Streetlamp (comprised of Michael Cunio, Michael Ingersoll, Christopher Kale Jones, and Shonn Wiley) picked performance suits that are modern, and yet reflect the era (’40s-’60s) from which their music comes. Each one seems tailored specifically to each gentleman’s body type. And they were ahead of their time as well. They were the first I saw to have a shinier, thicker-seeming fabric, and now I’m starting to see the same type of fabric in all kinds of places. Even their accessories are well chosen – each has a different tie in the same color scheme, giving them unity and individuality at the same time.

So kudos to the well-dressed man. Check out each of these examples if you get the chance – you’ll be glad you did.

*The costume designers for White Collar are Stephanie Maslansky and Karen Malecki. Ocean’s Eleven was designed by Jeffrey Kurland. Under the Streetlamp’s suits are by John Varvatos.

The Random Fashion Montage

This is one of my favorite techniques used in classic film.  It comes out of nowhere, quite often has absolutely nothing to do with the plot, and features some stunning clothing.

The jacket with its own hand, from The Women

Perhaps the best example of this is 1939’s The Women, featuring gowns by Adrian.  This movie is a fashion gem to begin with, but the fashion montage in the middle manages to take it to a whole other level.  They managed to make it fit into the plot a little, as many of the characters attend a fashion show.  We, of course, get to see the fashion show.  But that’s not the best part – the entire rest of the movie is in black and white, but the fashion show is in color!  Yes, color.  There are elegant ball gowns, beautiful suits with elaborate hats.  There’s even a jacket that has its own hand attached, for easy opening I suppose.  It’s a masterpiece.  What I like, too, is that afterwards we get to see a few of the outfits from the show back in the black and white world, and it’s fascinating to see how they translate from the color scene.

A green evening gown with clear plastic hat, from The Women

Another great example of the random fashion montage is from the classic Singin’ in the Rain, with costumes designed by Walter Plunkett.  When the studio starts to convert to talking pictures, we get lots of “scenes” from the movies they’re making.  One of these is a fashion montage set to music.  It starts out with a gentleman singing with a bevy of girls in the same flowy dress.  We then transition to a fashion show, narrated by the gentleman.  Since the movie is set in the late 1920s, all the clothes are fun 1920s styles.  We get to see everything from bathing suits to evening wear, and even a wedding dress.  And as soon as the last “Beautiful Girl” has come down to join everyone else, the fictional director yells, “cut” and we go back to the main plot of the film.

From Singin’ in the Rain’s “Beautiful Girl” montage

1944’s Cover Girl features a montage within a theatrical production.  (Another of my favorite plot devices – the random, not at all connected musical numbers in a “show-within-a-movie” that make no sense when put together, but are great stand-alones.)  In Cover Girl, the lead girl, Rusty (Rita Hayworth), gets the lead in a big Broadway show.  There’s a musical number in it in which several women parade through as magazine covers come to life.  It’s a great montage, because it features an example of just about every type of 1940s fashion.  There are smart suits, elegant evening gowns, bathing suits, dresses with floral accents, even uniforms.  And all of that is before Hayworth comes down the ramp in her beautiful gold gown.

All of these movies feature beautiful costumes throughout, but they’re definitely worth checking out for the extra burst of beauty in the random montages.  (And they’re all great movies on their own too.)

*The costumes for Cover Girl were designed by Travis Banton, Muriel King, & Gwen Wakeling.

The Exquisite Mad Men

Mad Men – where to begin? Now about to wrap up its fifth season, Mad Men has been a feast for the eyes since the first episode. Costume designer Janie Bryant consistently outdoes herself. There have been times when I’ve had to rewind my DVR because I’ve been so enthralled by the costumes and hair that I’ve missed chunks of dialogue! (But don’t worry, I’ll try to keep this as spoiler free as I can for those of you who may not be caught up to the current episodes.)

Jon Hamm as Don Draper

Being set in a 1960s ad agency, there are, of course, a lot of suits. Don Draper is almost always dressed impeccably. The well-tailored suits, the fedoras, the beautiful overcoats. It was an era when almost all men wore suits to the office every day, and Bryant has done an excellent job of recreating that vibe for the men. As the show has progressed through the 1960s, the creative department of the agency has gotten more casual. Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce has a couple of gentlemen who have never worn a full suit to work. Stan usually even skips a jacket and opts for more polo shirts and sweaters.

Peggy (Elizabeth Moss) & Joan (Christina Hendricks) in their earlier days at the office

And then there are the women’s costumes! What a gorgeous display. Each of the main female characters has her own distinct style. Joan has always worn clothes with a tighter, sleeker silhouette to accentuate her curves. Her style has actually not evolved that much over the years. While her ensembles are consistently beautiful, I think it symbolizes in part Joan’s desire to hold onto the effortlessness with which she attracted men just a few years back. She hasn’t quite made the transition to the more stylish dresses many of the other women at the office are wearing.

Peggy, on the other hand, has evolved quite a bit in her style. She started out as a mousy secretary, and her clothing reflected that. Her dresses were almost little girl-ish, and so was her hair. As she moved up at the agency, she seemed to become more interested in her clothing. She got some advice, cut her hair, moved on to more fashionable dresses. By last season (4), she had quite a few cute suits and hats. I have noticed, though, that this season she seems to have regressed a bit – she’s back to some of her earlier, plainer blouse and skirt combos. Perhaps it was an outward sign that she has seemed to have a little less confidence this season?

A more stylish Peggy

Megan has been very interesting to watch in season 5. She is perhaps the most fashion-forward character on the show, and she’s had some beautiful and fun ensembles. When she and Don go out for an evening, she quite often has some sort of exquisite beading on her dress. Most of her dresses also reflect the shorter length that was becoming popular as the 1960s charged on. They’re quite a contrast to the dresses Betty wore when she was married to Don. Quite often they had fuller skirts, or if they didn’t, they were floor length. She tended to wear a lot of pastels as well, whereas Megan leans toward brighter, more saturated colors.

I know I’ve only highlighted a few characters, but every single outfit on the show, even those worn by the extras, is remarkable. Bryant pays great attention to detail, so the hats and accessories are always fun to look at too. And while most of the show takes place in the office, occasionally we get to see that more formal event, with gorgeous evening gowns and gloves, and fancy French twist hairstyles.

If you haven’t had the chance to check out Mad Men, do yourself a favor and watch it – if only for the costumes alone! (Although the drama is pretty great too.)

Good Luck Charms

One thing that helps a movie or TV character seem more real is a wardrobe-related good luck charm.  We all have a favorite piece of clothing or jewelry, one we like to wear to make us feel happy or lucky.  Some of us have a piece of jewelry we wear every day, a ring given to us by someone special or a necklace we got on a great vacation.  I love noticing when a character has something like this.

In my experience as a costume designer, I know how much a little costume detail can help an actor get into character.  Whether the audience knows it or it’s simply a small item that goes into the actor’s backstory or inner monologue, it makes a difference.  Sometimes it’s a choice I’ve made as a designer that they then incorporate into their performance.  Other times actors have a special request.  I once worked on a theatrical production of Neil Simon’s Laughter on the 23rd Floor, which is a semi-autobiographical account of Simon’s time as a writer for Sid Caesar’s 1950’s TV show. The actor playing the Simon part had discovered in his research that the real Neil often wore red socks for good luck, so he asked me if I could find him some red socks to help him feel more like the character.  No one in the audience knew specifically why he had red socks, but the actor felt more at home in his character, and turned in a great performance.

Pride & Prejudice's Elizabeth Bennett (Jennifer Ehle) wearing her cross necklace

I always like to watch for good luck charms.  Even if I don’t know their specific story, I know that they probably have one, and it’s fun to speculate.  In the 1995 BBC adaptation of Pride & Prejudice, Elizabeth wears a gemstone cross necklace throughout the entire series, presumably because it means something special to the character.  In both Bridget Jones’s Diary and its sequel, Bridget wears a silver heart pendant in every scene.  So much of these two movies, particularly the first, is a loving homage to Pride & Prejudice, right down to the casting of love interest Colin Firth, so it makes me wonder – was the choice to have her wear a special necklace a conscious tribute to Elizabeth as well?

Renee Zellweger as Bridget Jones, with her silver heart necklace

Sometimes a character’s good luck charm isn’t so subtle.  On the classic TV series Laverne & Shirley, Laverne just wouldn’t be Laverne without the iconic “L” she wore on every outfit.  Even when the character wore a “costume,” she found a way to incorporate the initial, no matter how ridiculous, which made her even more endearing.

In 1996’s That Thing You Do!, one of the lead characters, Guy, is given a pair of sunglasses by the band’s new manager, in an effort to create a recognizable, fan-friendly personality.  They become his trademark, and earn him attention and a nickname, “Shades”, until the band begins to unravel and the sunglasses are no longer such a good luck charm.

*Pride & Prejudice’s costumes were designed by Dinah Collin; Bridget Jones’s Diary featured Rachael Fleming’s designs, while its sequel was designed by Jany Temime; That Thing You Do!’s costume designer was Colleen Atwood.

One Outfit, Different Looks

More often than not, characters in movies and TV have an unlimited amount of clothing at their disposal.  Their outfits share a common style, and occasionally they mix and match, but for the most part they don’t recycle.

Sometimes, though, there are stories that require a character to have some ingenuity when it comes to their clothing.  Due to circumstances and key plot points, a character ends up stuck in one outfit throughout almost the entire movie, and finds lots of fresh new ways to wear what they have.  I always enjoy watching the creative ways the costume designer has come up with to keep the character (and the audience) from getting bored with the wardrobe.

I’d like to share two of my favorite examples of this.

Hepburn's buttoned-up look as the escaping Princess Ann

The first involves a fashion icon and a legendary costume designer. In 1952’s Roman Holiday, Audrey Hepburn’s Princess Ann escapes from her stifling royal duties and spends a day exploring Rome (and finding herself) with reporter Joe Bradley (played by Gregory Peck).  When she runs away in the dead of night, costume designer Edith Head has her wearing a simple full skirt, long sleeve blouse, heels and gloves.  Throughout the course of her journey, Ann’s outfit evolves along with her.  Early on, she trades her heels for a pair of lace-up sandals she buys from a street vendor, which she then pairs with a new, shorter haircut.  Her sleeves always fascinate me when I watch.  She starts out rolling them up just a little.  As the movie progresses, and Ann’s adventures get bigger, her sleeves get shorter, until her blouse looks much more breezy.  Eventually she adds a flirty scarf around her neck.

Princess Ann's more free, stylish version of the same outfit

As Ann learns to let go and enjoy herself, her outfit loosens up with her, and Audrey Hepburn carries it off beautifully as usual.

Another great example is a little more recent, and also revolves around a woman who finds herself on her own in a European city with the unexpected help of a man with ulterior motives.  In French Kiss(1995), Meg Ryan’s character, Kate, travels to Paris to win back her fiancé and encounters a series of disasters, including the theft of her luggage.  As a result, she is left with only the clothes on her back.  Luckily, Kate is wearing several layers!  Costume designer Joanna Johnston cleverly uses these layers throughout the film.

Ryan's initial layered look

Like Princess Ann, Kate’s journey through France is one of self-discovery, and again, her clothes reflect her gradual transformation.  Kate begins the movie buttoned-up, with a blazer, vest, and a white shirt closed all the way up to her neck.  She then mixes and matches these layers, and eventually loosens up quite a bit, throughout the movie.  By the time of her train ride to Cannes, she has let go, wearing just her white tank top while regrettably eating a platter of lactose-filled cheese.  She then reverts a bit, but not all the way.  The white shirt comes back, but we can still see that she has not gone back to the prim, worried, buttoned-up Kate.  What always captures my attention when I watch this movie is the fact that she wears her basic 5 pieces in a different way in almost every scene, using just about every possible combination of these items.

Further along in her journey, Ryan's Kate loosens up and loses some layers

So next time you’re watching a movie, particularly one where the characters find themselves in unusual or luggage-less situations, take note of the creative use of wardrobe.  What are your favorites?

*The costume designer for Roman Holiday was Edith Head; French Kiss’s designer was Joanna Johnston.

Bob Mackie & Carol Burnett – A Fine Collaboration

I’ve worked with many directors, but there is one I have worked with on seventeen productions (and counting), and every collaboration has been a pleasure.  He gives me a great deal of artistic freedom, and I’ve had some of my biggest design challenges and created some of my favorite looks while working with him. Because of these great experiences, I always love hearing about other great collaborations between designers and actors, writers, or directors.  One of my favorites is the relationship between Carol Burnett and legendary designer Bob Mackie on her classic variety show.  They both tell some great stories about the work they did together.  As a designer, it’s inspiring to hear how much a part of the creation of comedy Mackie was.  He and Burnett fed off each other – she asked him to create some iconic and fun costumes, and he helped create some of her most beloved characters and hilarious moments.

The classic curtain dress

Probably the most iconic example of this came from the classic Gone with the Wind spoof.  In the movie, Scarlett O’Hara, in a cash-strapped moment, memorably wears a dress and hat made from old draperies and mostly passes the ensemble off as the height of new fashion.  On The Carol Burnett Show, Burnett’s version of Scarlett has a similar moment where she decides to use the curtains, but Burnett wanted to make it look ridiculous.  It was Mackie’s idea to leave the curtain rod in the curtains, cementing Burnett’s entrance and descent down the stairs in comedy history.  I’ve seen it many times now, and it never fails to make me laugh.

Mackie also helped create a unique character trait for Burnett’s dizzy secretary, Mrs. Wiggins.  One of the many comical things about her was her walk.  The skirt Mackie made for her was a little too tight, but by hiking it up in just the right places, it fit.  And because of the way it fit, Burnett ended up walking with her behind sticking out a bit.  One of the things people remember most about those sketches was the hysterical way Burnett would walk from her desk to her boss’ office, all the result of the costume’s fit.

Burnett as Charo's mother

There were so many more memorable looks.  Burnett’s imitation of Norma Desmond was sequined, feathered, and over-the-top.  And who can forget Charo’s mother, with her spangled bell-bottom pants and low, swinging tennis ball “bosoms”?  The list goes on and on.  And they’re all priceless.

On The Carol Burnett Show, the costumes were always important, which is part of the reason I love watching it.  You can really see how the costumes play a part in the humor, and the stories of Burnett’s and Mackie’s wonderful collaboration back that up, in addition to demonstrating how a strong relationship between actor and designer can create magic.

Downton Abbey: Serious Eye Candy for Costume Lovers

I want to take a few minutes to talk about my favorite costumes currently on television – the stunning Downton Abbey, currently in its second season on PBS here in the States.  Entertainment Weekly called it “costume crack” and I couldn’t agree more.  The series has been absolutely beautiful to watch.

The Dowager Countess in one of her many fascinating hats

What’s great about Downton is the variety we get to see.  The series started in 1912, and so far has taken us up to the end of World War I in 1919.  There are the upstairs residents and the staff, and several generations, as well as civilians and soldiers.  It’s been particularly interesting this season, as the characters have dealt with war, to watch the evolution of their costumes.  Many of the men, of course, have transitioned to uniforms.  Lady Sybil became a nurse, so she wears a uniform more often than her beautiful dinner gowns.  I have noticed, too, that many of the ladies are also recycling their dinner gowns more than they used to, which is good, in a way, because it gives us in the audience more chance to admire them!

Lady Sybil's scandalous dinner pants

And they are admirable.  I love looking at the intricate beadwork and fancy fabrics, plus all the gorgeous jewelry – the dangling earrings and lovely necklaces that always seem to match the gowns so perfectly.  The dress styles have been evolving slightly as well.  The hemlines have gotten a bit shorter, and the silhouettes a bit slimmer, since the beginning of season one.  I enjoyed the memorable scene from the first season when Lady Sybil ventured out and tried the new style of (gasp!) flowy pants for dinner, and of course faced the ire of her conservative grandmother.

Lady Mary in her striking red coat and hat

The daytime clothes are pretty remarkable as well.  In season two, Lady Mary has been wearing a beautiful red coat and matching hat.  As the time period moves closer to the 1920s, we’re seeing a lot more close fitting, cloche style hats.  They’re all in beautiful vibrant colors, and look like they’re so much fun to wear.  And of course, there are still the more traditional hats, mostly on the Dowager Countess, played expertly by Maggie Smith. Hers are always over the top, with big feathers and flowers and other assorted plumage that she just wouldn’t be the same without.

If you haven’t had the chance to watch Downton Abbey yet, be sure to check it out before it finishes its current run in the next few weeks.  It really is a feast for the eyes.

*The costume designer for Downton Abbey’s first and part of its second season was Susannah Buxton, and the remainder of the second season was designed by Rosalind Ebbutt. 

If the Shoe Dances…

As a designer and a fashion lover, I have always had a deep appreciation for a beautiful shoe.  I have also always been fascinated by dance shoes in particular.  And classic musicals are a feast for the eyes when it comes to dance shoes.  When you see dance (other than ballet) on film today, quite often you see a variation on the ballroom dance shoe.  Many of the styles would seem right at home on Dancing with the Stars.  And don’t get me wrong, ballroom shoes are gorgeous.  I have often been tempted to get a pair for myself, even though I am not a dancer.  But the classic musicals seem to have had a lot more variety.

These don't have an ankle strap like Vera-Ellen frequently wore, but they're some of my favorites of hers.

Often when you see the greats dancing in the classics, they seem to be wearing the regular high-heeled styles of the day, from pumps to elegant peep-toe and ankle-strap shoes. Ginger Rogers wore a huge variety of styles to match her fantastic gowns.  Vera Ellen often wore similar shoes in a variety of colors – usually they had a slightly pointed toe, and an ankle strap with an open heel.  Ann Miller often wore pumps with an ankle strap.  And no matter what style she chose, Miller’s tapping always had the same distinctive sound.  You can almost recognize it without even having to look at the screen.  I’ve often wondered how much of that sound came from her style, the type of taps she used, or enhancements put in later by a sound engineer.  (It was probably a combination of all three.)

Gene Kelly's shoes from Singin' in the Rain (Photo by Brianne Gillen)

And then there was Gene Kelly.  He made dancing look effortless, most often in loafers.  Sometimes he branched out and wore oxfords, but more often than not, when you think of his classic dances, you picture him in his loafers.  Having walked in loafers on more than one occasion, I would imaging tapping in them might not be as easy as he made it look.  But Kelly was such a perfectionist when it came to his dancing, I’m sure he had them custom-made especially for him.  (Can you imagine having that lucky job?  I recently attended the exhibit for Debbie Reynolds’ costume auction and saw a pair of Kelly’s shoes from Singin’ in the Rain.  I could feel the magic just standing next to those shoes – imagine helping create them!)

One final side note on heel height.  I always find it fascinating to look at the height of the women’s shoes in classic musicals, particularly when they’re dancing with a partner.  You can often tell that a gentleman must have been on the short side when an actress (especially one you’ve seen in higher heels for a different number) suddenly appears in flats or very low heels. I’m sure that could have been due to injuries from time to time, but usually it was a trick to even out a significant height difference.  It did happen when women were paired together too – Rosemary Clooney was 2 inches taller than Vera-Ellen, but in the “Sisters” number in White Christmas they appear to be the exact same height.  If you look closely, you can see that, even though they’re technically wearing matching shoes, the heels on Rosemary’s are just a little bit shorter.

And, of course, I haven’t even touched on classic movie ballet shoes, and all the beautiful colors and fabrics designers used to make them.  I could do another whole post about that… Maybe I will – stay tuned!

The Good, the Bad, & the Ugly: When Characters Make Their Own Clothes

In film and television, as in life, people occasionally attempt to make their own clothes.  Sometimes their efforts are brilliant, but sometimes they are far from it.  I’ll start with the impressive.

In the movie Enchanted, Amy Adams’ character, Giselle, finds herself in the strange “land” of New York wearing a wedding dress with a giant skirt.  She industriously makes a dress out of her host’s curtains, a la Scarlett O’Hara.  What has always impressed me about this scene is the detail.  You can see the specific pattern pieces Giselle cuts out of the curtains, and they are not random at all.  Unlike many other on-screen attempts, her cut-outs look like real pattern pieces that could be used to create an actual dress.  (Granted, she inexplicably and mysteriously finds pink pumps to go with a second dress she creates later, but at least her dressmaking skills are realistic!)

The result of Lucy's misguided sewing adventure

And then, of course, there are the sewing-challenged, whose valiant efforts can yield great comic moments.  One of my favorites is from a true comedy legend, Lucille Ball.  On I Love Lucy, Lucy tires to save money by making her own dress.  Her problems begin when, after finding manicure scissors inadequate, she cuts out her fabric with a razor blade.  One ruined carpet later, she has her pieces cut out and must figure out how to work a sewing machine.  In classic Lucy fashion, the results are far from perfect.  Ethel’s response says it all: “It looks like you made it with your own two feet.”  It really is a mess of a dress, but you can’t help feeling sorry for Lucy at the same time.  As any beginning sewer can tell you, it can be pretty intimidating!

Another of my favorite fashion attempts gone wrong is from yet another classic sitcom, The Cosby Show.  In another effort to save money, Denise offers to recreate a designer shirt for her brother, Theo, so that he can look cool.  The result is a hilariously ill-fitting, bright yellow shirt, complete with sleeves of different lengths.  Theo is furious, until people see him and label him as fashion-forward.  All is then, of course, forgiven.

I always find these DIY fashionistas entertaining, whether or not they’re successful.  And they certainly get credit for at least trying.  I also applaud the costume designers, particularly where the end result had to be so wrong.  It’s not easy to make a flawless garment, but it’s not a cinch to make something terrible on purpose either.  Although I imagine it’s probably a lot of fun.

 *Enchanted’s costume designer was Mona May; The Cosby Show’s was Sarah Lemire.  This particular episode of I Love Lucy does not list a costume/wardrobe credit.

Pride & Prejudice – A Tale of Two Austens

Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice is one of my all-time favorite books, and I’m equally enamored with two of its screen adaptations.  Having seen the 1995 BBC version shortly after reading the book for the first time, that production will always hold a special place in my heart.  (And Colin Firth will always be Mr. Darcy to me.)  But I also greatly enjoyed the film version from a few years back starring Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen.  From a costume perspective, both versions are stunning (and traditional Austen), though different in their approach.

Elizabeth & Darcy (Jennifer Ehle & Colin Firth) in the BBC version

The BBC version is crisp and beautiful.  The women mostly stick to pale, neutral shades in their empire-waisted gowns.  The Bennett sisters have their varying degrees of style, with the elder two displaying a hint more maturity, and the younger girls appearing slightly more disheveled.  Mary, shy and in the middle, tends toward more drab styles and colors than her more social sisters.  I love, too, that the older sisters, Jane and Elizabeth, have jeweled cross necklaces that they wear throughout most of the film.  Each of them has a piece that means something to them, where the younger girls have a more disposable attitude toward their fashion.  The real exception to the women’s color palette comes from those of the slightly higher classes, like Lady Catherine and the Bingley sisters.  Caroline Bingley primarily wears jewel tones in richer fabrics that look like they might have been imported from somewhere like India.  She also has much more elaborate hats and even gets to wear some turbans, making her look even taller.

The men in this version are also well dressed.  The officers wear dashing bright red uniforms, and the gentry the traditional tailcoats and cravats.  And, of course, one well-placed white shirt, combined with a lake, has made Colin Firth infamous for nearly two decades.

Members of the Bennett family (incl. Keira Knightley, center) from the big screen adaptation

Director Joe Wright’s more recent adaptation differs slightly from the BBC.  In this one, the costumes have a slightly more earthy, realistic feel to them.  While Mr. Bennett is a gentleman, he and his family are not the richest of people, and their clothes reflect that a little more in this film.  We can see more of the everyday wear and tear, and the designer used more coarse fabrics for their casual daytime dresses and coats.  Their ball and party gowns, however, are still stunning, and provide evidence of where the characters seemed to have splurged a little.  In this adaptation, Caroline Bingley stands out more by the style of her dresses than the colors, as they seem a little more daring, and even at times, almost more modern.

Both films are a feast for the eyes, and it’s fun to compare the costume styles of each.  But even as different as they are, each one captures the spirit of Austen’s characters in its own way.

*The 1995 BBC production featured costumes designed by Dinah Collin, and the 2005 film’s costume designer was Jacqueline Durran.