Monday, January 20, 2014

Masters of Fashion

I recently started watching Showtime's of Masters of Sex and highly recommend it.  In case you haven't heard of it, it's basically like Mad Men but with doctors and is based on the real life sex research of William Masters and Virginia Johnson during the 50s and 60s.  I love clothing from those time periods (who doesn't?) and tend to get obsessed with it.  Peter pan collars, head scarves, sleeveless shifts, pencil skirts with belted waists, and prints and patterns everywhere.  I am always curious about how costume designers deal with period films/series, particularly with this show being that there is a fair amount of undressing going on.  I came across an interview with Ane Crabtree, the wardrobe designer, where she talks about the process and what is involved in either finding or making the vintage clothing and undergarments.  Here are a few stills from the show, mostly featuring Lizzy Caplan, who, with that long neck and tiny waist, looks like she was made to wear vintage clothing.

Lizzy Caplan and Caitlin Fitzgerald looking radiant whilst sipping martinis and wine.

That collar.  Swoon.

More of the cast looking fabulous with Michael Sheen sporting one of his many bow ties.

If you are a fan of mid-century decor as I am, there is plenty of that to drool over as well.  Sometimes, during the scenes that are filmed in the Masters' home, I find myself getting so distracted by the furnishings that I forget to listen to the dialogue.  I mean, just look at those little triangle pillows.

The Wardrobe Architect: In what ways does body image affect your choice in clothing?

     Watching Masters of Sex has really got me thinking about personal style and the questions posed by Sarai's Wardrobe Architect project, specifically the one about body image.  I have always been attracted to vintage style but rarely find myself wearing it.  Part of that is due to the fact that true vintage clothing from that period rarely fits me (did they really have such small waists?) and part of it is because it's simply not me.  My style has always been more 90s grunge than 60s Mod.  I also value comfort immensely.  Not just physical comfort but making sure I am mentally comfortable with what I wear. Or, as Sarai puts it, trying not to feel "alienated" from myself.  For example, I love high waisted skirts and fitted dresses but am not sure they are flattering to my body.  In fact, I have a hard time wearing any kind of skirt or dress because it feels strange to me.  Disingenuous, even.  I am petite but curvy with not much definition in my waist and I have a hard time figuring out what works for me.  Body types confuse me; am I pear shaped or hourglass?  Fretting over what to wear is self-defeating at times, making me revert to the old standby of jeans and a t-shirt.  But I long to wear more beautiful, tailored things.
     Often, what we love seeing on other people isn't what we wear ourselves, even though we want to. How many times have you said, "I wish I could wear that ___"?  Do we say that because it doesn't look good or because we are not accustomed to it?  Our perceptions of our physical appearances (accurate or not) heavily influence what we are comfortable wearing.  Can those perceptions be changed?  Do they need to?  One of the main reason sewing appeals to us is that we can now create for ourselves.  However, it's still hard, maybe even harder, to define your style when you can make whatever you want.  Hopefully, by participating in this project we can learn to pin down what we really love and learn how to build a wardrobe that fulfills both the comfort and aesthetic needs we all have. For me, maybe it's as simple as finding the proper pattern or fabric or style of dress that looks right on my shape,  or discovering what enhances the features I am happy with.  Perhaps, if I really want to wear something, I should just do it and see what happens.  I might surprise myself.

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