Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Katharine Hepburn in Desk Set (1957)

Desk Set is a cute little Katharine Hepburn/Spencer Tracy flick. It is not as good or as funny as Adam’s Rib but it is definitely worth seeing if only for the adorable office attire on the ladies in this film. I decided to recreate Kate’s first costume from Desk Set because I definitely need to get used to the idea of mixing neutrals. I have long been told that wearing brown with black or black with navy is a big style no-no. Academichic states that this injunction is not true, that neutrals “go with everything including each other.” I think what is good for Kate is good enough for me.

Her outfit includes what looks like a brown tweed jacket and a black skirt. She wears a white button up underneath and turns the collar up. You never see the shoes.

Here is my interpretation:

Run-Down:
Shirt: Banana Republic, Cotton Button Back Shirt, on sale for $44.99
Jacket: The Limited, Polished Collar Jacket on sale for $49.99
Skirt: Shape fx, Shape and Slim Skirt in Brown Plaid, $49
Shoes: Nine West, Nuncio in Dark Brown, on sale for $49.99
Total: $193.97

I have reversed the color scheme of Kate’s outfit with a tweedy black and white jacket and a brown skirt. The jacket has a tie around it and a high collar: both characteristics of Kate’s jacket. I selected a short sleeve button-down shirt since the sleeves on the jacket are three-quarter length. (I used this shirt before from the first Cyd Charisse post.) Both of these items are on sale too!

I like this skirt because it comes in regular, petite, tall and women’s sizes. I also like that it is longer than many skirts but not ankle length. This matches what Kate’s skirt looked like.

The shoes were a bit tough because you just have to imagine what Kate wore (since, as I mentioned, they never show up on film). So, I did a bit of research. I found this site called Paper Past Yearbook and I searched for 1957 fashion. It had the following to say about shoes in 1957: “The ‘fancy’ shoe with a sharply pointed toe became an accepted fashion in 1957. Acceptance came through the ability of shoe designers to make the pointed-toe comfortable. The ultrahigh spike heel diminished in favor, being replaced by the medium Louis heel.”

These comments led me to select one of my all-time favorite shoes. Yes, I know….who has a favorite shoe? That’s silly. Well, I have a favorite shoe and it is the Nuncio from Nine West. It is the perfect, pointed-toe, medium heel height pump. I have had 5 or so different pairs of this shoe in various colors. Several girls that I work with and I actually watch for sales on this shoe and share reconnaissance with each other on a semi-regular basis. It met all of the 1957 criteria and an appropriate color was on sale too. I selected the Nuncio in what is termed “Dark Brown” but looks to me like a black and brown snakeskin print. I thought this shoe would serve to pull all the neutrals in this outfit together and make it cohesive.

This look is very office appropriate. I would wear this to a client meeting or another event that wouldcall for something in-between job interview attire and business casual. I would wear the white shirt with the collar up, like Kate did. Since these are neutral suit pieces, they could be endlessly remixed to create other outfits from them too. No single piece is over $50: great prices for suiting.

Do you have trouble mixing neutrals? I find I have no problem mixing white with any other neutral and I am getting more comfortable with black and brown together. However, I just can’t imagine a good way to put navy and black together. Is it impossible? Have you ever been able to pull it off?

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