Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Cyd Charisse in The Bandwagon (1953)

The Bandwagon is a musical-lover’s musical. While almost everyone has seen Singin' in the Rain, The Bandwagon seems to be more a cult classic. Similarly, I think Cyd Charisse is undervalued as a style icon. She looks absolutely fabulous in every role she played. In the Bandwagon, she was perhaps at her loveliest.

Here is the ensemble that I chose to recreate from this film. I think that most people today would shy away from white-on-white. Not only is it considered to be a bit boring but also impractical and unflattering. I have been told so many times not to wear white because it will make you look fat. Plus, it gets dirty too easily. I think that with the full skirt and waist-cinching scarf sash, looking thin is not a problem in this outfit. Furthermore, the skirt I have selected is inexpensive enough to be practical.
Cyd wears white-on-white not once but twice in this film. Once in her famous “Dancing in the Dark” number with Fred Astaire and again at a party after their opening night. I have chosen to recreate the later except that I have opted to “steal” the purse from the first outfit and stick it with the second. For some reason, the basket purse with a scarf handle just captured my fancy when I was watching this film for ideas. I think it is just adorable.
Here is my version:

Shirt: Banana Republic, Cotton Button Back Shirt, $44.99 on sale
Skirt: Alloy, Full Eyelet Skirt, White, $29.90
Scarf (used as belt): Fossil, Bella Scarf in Pine Green, $38
Shoes: Target, Mossimo Odell Ballet Flats in Red Patent, $12.99
Purse: Vintage Polynesian Woven Basket Purse, $39 on Etsy - erstwhilevintage
Scarf (used as purse handle): L.L. Bean, Kennebunk Scarf Belt Gingham in Navy, $19.95
Total: $184.83

Again, this outfit comes in well under $200 and several of the items most people might have in their closets. Any flats would work with this, as well as any coordinating scarf/belt. And really any simple white blouse would work as well. I think the trick to this look is finding the full skirt. I don’t think anyone makes them as full as Cyd’s skirt anymore (although I am scouring the web to find out). But, I think any full circle skirt or A-line skirt would give you the effect you are looking for. You could potentially wear a fuller slip underneath it to give you a bit more lift and bounce, assuming you could find one.

Ultimately, I think the very full skirts have been ruined for everyday wear. They have become inextricably linked in the public mind with costume poodle skirts. What do you think? Could you rock the super-full classic 1950s skirt without looking like a caricature? Does anyone know where to find them these days?

And before I go, I have to give you a glimpse at the sexiest dress ever put on film. Here is Cyd in the “Girl Hunt Ballet” from the Bandwagon. Wow!

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