Gold Digging Women with a Heart of Gold
The 1953 film How to Marry a Millionaire is a classic movie overflowing with gorgeous clothing. Nipped in waists, long gloves, diamonds, hats and fur, fur and more fur are found throughout the film. It isn’t the first time I have watched this film, but I rewatched it to focus in on the costumes and not the plot of these three women who are strategically hunting for big bear, aka millionaire husbands. I found I loved a lot of the outfits and even the ones I did not particularly like had details that sparked ideas for different designs. Besides the six minute long musical introduction I think the movie was enjoyable and worth watching for the clothes alone.
Set in New York City, there are lots of opportunities to ogle interesting garments. We see the ladies in evening attire, wearing daywear, dress to the nines at a wedding, and modelling at a fashion show. The film costume designers, Travilla and Charles Le Maire, were nominated for the Academy Award for Best Costume Design, Colour in 1954.
Hunting Big Bear
How do the characters played by, Marilyn Monroe, Betty Grable and Lauren Bacall plan to catch their desired game, the single millionaire? Why, with gorgeous clothing, and their youthful good looks. I loved the clothing they wore to dinner when targeting the wealthy Americans. The pink dress above was not my favourite, but I enjoyed the delicate detailing at the bust and the unconventional shape.
Lookie, Lookie, Lookie
During the fashion show, Lookie, Lookie, Lookie, is the name they gave the convertible playsuit. I loved how the cape came off to reveal the outfit underneath. The buttons down the back and the jaunty scarf were amazing details. I love the look of buttons down the back of a garment even though it is not the most practical detail. My Pinterest board Buttons Got Your Back contains some of my favourite examples. I was surprised how little difference there was between the length of the bathing suit shown during the fashion show and the length of the playsuit’s shorts.
Day Dreaming and Drape
I found myself slightly fascinated with the outfit Marilyn Monroe wore during her dream sequence. It looks like a wrap with a sleeve incorporated into the design. I am definitely going to make an outfit inspired by this garment – minus the head scarf. I find myself wondering what a hoodie version that stops at the waist would look like as a garment.
There is a lot of garments that use fur in this film. An alternate title for the movie could have been Fur is a Girls Best Friend. Putting the issue of furs in fashion aside, I love the design of this wrap. The pockets are lovely and would be welcomed on a chilly day.
These have to be some of the biggest sleeves I have ever seen. At first, I wasn’t a fan, but I think I might make one of the design challenges for my blog a sleeve inspired one. I could not look away from her sleeves the whole time this outfit was on camera.
I know Marilyn Monroe is the most well-known actress in this film but for me, Lauren Bacall completely stole the limelight. She smolders in this movie. Her character starts the film as a cold, calculating gold digger. In the end, she changes, however, throwing all her strategic money making plans out, for true love.
Odd But Inspirational
There are far too many interesting garments in this movie to illustrate here, but I thought I would end it on some of the more outrageous. Some of these outfits seem more like caricatures. But even if they were a bit outrageous and over the top all of them had interesting details that made me take a second look. The pom-pom neck tie and strapless flounced south of the border inspired outfit were kitschy yet fascinating at the same time.
Have a favourite outfit from the movie? Does one of these sketches inspire a new design idea? I would love to hear about it in the comments.