We’re going to do things a bit differently this time around- there were so many looks in my Review post that I’m a bit nervous to go look-by-look. There’s just too much ground to cover. Instead, I’m going to approach this by doing a combination of character/ situation how-tos. Links to the original images and suggested patterns are scattered throughout this post (they’ll be italicized) and the images are links to the patterns as well.
1. Karen: casual day wear
She wears suits or dresses throughout the movie. In fact, none of the females wear pants at all. If you want Karen’s look, start with the Vintage Butterick patterns that are in reproduction now. For Karen, I really like Butterick 5556. It has the high collar, with options to include lapels or not. There is a center-back seam that you could open up to include a button placket; or, if you are truly lazy but love the look- leave the side zipper as is, and just run a bunch of buttons down the back. There is also a center-front seam, from which you could introduce the sash with the waterfall bow seen on her first dress. The skirt on this pattern is really full- depending on the fabric and undergarment of choice, I would probably try to reduce some of that fullness for a slimmer look.
2. Karen: evening wear
We see Karen in three evening gowns- the first is her lace get-up for the awards show; the second is the pleated/ beaded chiffon number at Margo’s party; the third is the sequined knit dress she wears to the dinner party late in the movie. They all have a few similarities- V neck, high collar, fitted bodice, and true waistline. One dress has lapels, while the other two do not. One has short sleeves, while the other two have long sleeves. Two dresses have full skirts while one is slimmer. One is lace; one has accent beading, and one has scattered sequins. You really could mix and match any of these features and come up with a pretty great looking evening gown. Check out Vogue 2401 for a high-collar V-neck with lapels- you could lengthen the skirt and have a nice evening gown. For other options, take a look at Vogue 8633– the high collar is really pretty, the waistline is perfect, and it gives you good options for sleeves and skirt fullness. Even though it looks like a casual dress, your fabric choice will make all the difference. Imagine it in a dark purple chiffon with beading around the collar and sleeves and a long tiered skirt- all easy to do with this pattern, and very elegant.
3. Margo: casual day wear
Also known as temper tantrum wear. Margo is sensitive about her age and weight; she also spends so much time on stage that her casual clothes tend to be non-descript in comparison. More often than not, if she wasn’t in an evening gown, Margo would be sporting a simple pullover shirt and long, full skirt. By wearing a sparkly brooch, necklace, or earring she dressed up her outfits and distracted you from the lines on her face. Let’s think a bit more modern for Margo, since her dilemma is a timeless one. I really like Vogue 8534– it’s a super-simple blouse with a relaxed fit and cute bow option that has high distraction potential. It can be worn loose or tucked in, with slacks, jeans, or a skirt. For Spring and Fall, one of the major trends is mid-length hems for skirts- so they hit you somewhere between below your knee and mid-calf. It’s not the most flattering look for us short girls, but if you’re a tall glass of water it can really slim you out. Simplicity 2257 is a fantastic go-to pattern for all of your skirt needs- options for lengths, fullness, and waistband details are all there. And it would look cute with the top! To really complete the look though, you’ve got to have something sparkly. Head to Steinmart, or TJ Maxx, or whatever your preferred discount store is, and pick up one completely neutral rhinestone brooch or hair accessory. By neutral I mean clear or white- this way you can wear it with absolutely anything and it can be your go-to diversionary piece.
4. Margo: evening wear
For evening wear, Margo is all about drama and elegance. And slimming black. We really only see her in two gowns- one on the night of her party with those peek-a-boo sleeves, and one for the dinner party with Karen. Her party gown, which she wears when she declares it’s going to be “a bumpy night” is spectacular, with details including wide off-the-shoulder neckline that dips into a V in the back; detached elbow-length sleeves; fur cuffs and pocket lining, a long full skirt, and simple diamond (rhinestone) accents. She also wears a black dress to the dinner party- this with a simple across-the-bust neckline, sheer black sleeves, and a rhinestone pin she has worn already in the movie. We never see the bottom because she remains seated for the entire scene (I’m pretty sure), but she also wears sheer above-the-elbow gloves with a ridiculous diamond cuff. Let’s put the bits and pieces together here, because the dresses are difficult to replicate: B5184 for the sleeves and V7949 for the gloves (I would find a fine-weave black stretch mesh or tulle, rather than attempt a well-fitted chiffon glove). Acccessorize however you wish!
5. Eve: casual day wear
Eve is a very intentional dresser- she uses her clothes to portray whoever she wishes to be to whichever audience she will face that day. If she wants to be a sad waif, she has an outfit for that: poorly fitted dress in a nondescript color, waterlogged trench coat, floppy little hat. You are sorely mistaken if you think I’m going to help you dress like a sad waif, so let’s move on to her next look! If she wants to be an efficient Girl Friday, she has an outfit for that as well: high waisted tight (but not too tight!) skirt, simple work blouse with lapels and cuffs, no-nonsense shoes, no stand-out jewelry. Finally, if she wants to be the understudy-on-the-rise, she has an outfit for that as well- hand-me-downs from Margo, tailored to fit her younger, slimmer body to perfection. Here, the details are bigger and more feminine- more bows, softer silhouettes. Again, let’s do a modern interpretation of Eve; even if we don’t love her character, there’s nothing wrong with imitating her style. Plus, I caught an Eve Harrington reference during a recent episode of Glee, so it’s safe to move her into the 21st Century. For the scheming secretary, I LOVE Vogue 8697. I own this pattern, though I haven’t made it yet- and I saw on PatternReview.com that the sizing may run large. So double check the finished measurements before you start. Take a look at Vogue 7903 for a prim, but well-structured blouse. The darts on the front should mean a good fit and a smooth tuck-in to a high waist, but what I really love is that notch in the collar and cuffs. It looks like little fangs or horns, and it would be so perfect for an Eve Harrington kind of day! These two pieces are really foundation pieces- you can further modernize with a wide waist-cinching belt, jewelry, and maybe even stockings with a seam running up the leg. Naughty indeed…
6. Eve: evening wear
Again, Eve’s evening wear tells the story she wants to tell. For a wide audience (like the awards presentation) she prefers innocent, virginal white. For more intimate encounters, she sticks with black (possibly inherited from Margo) with sweet little touches. Her evening gown for Margo’s Bumpy party is stunning- pointed shoulders and half-length sleeves, perfectly fitted bodice, white Venetian lace lining (sweet, or naughty?) and a humble single strand of pearls. On the night of the dinner party, while she is dining privately with Addison, her dress has a very cute scalloped all-around neckline, with chiffon gathered right up to the base of her neck. Her piece-de-resistance, thought, is the incredible white beaded number she wears to accept her Sarah Siddons’ Award (with a matching capecoat, but we barely see that). Semi-sweetheart neckline, ruched bodice, sequined waistband and wide straps, low back with a string of buttons, and an “oh-please-don’t-look-at-my-butt (but really do)” rear peplum over a surprisingly slim skirt, despite lots of gathering in the front. The problem with recreating this dress is that the peplum just might take you back to the wrong decade (late 80s/ early 90s). I’m fairly certain this is a dress that must be rendered in silk- no other fabric I can think of will drape that perfectly. To make your own version of this dress, I say GO BRIDAL- and keep the details in mind: low/ wide neck and back, lots of gathering, slim skirt. Vogue 1030 oddly fits the bill- especially the skirt. How about M5806– it’s super-simple, but that means you can go crazy with the beading without overwhelming the look. And my final option is V8360– the shelf bust is a little racier than Eve would choose, but the details are mostly right and it has that little “don’t look at my butt, but do” peek-a-boo. I’m actually making this dress right now, but in a knit as a maxi dress (and I’m altering out that peek-a-boo). I’ll let you know how the pattern behaves.