Friday, June 4, 2010

Claudette Colbert in It Happened One Night (1934)

Essential Movie Trivia: It Happened One Night was the first film (and one of only 3 films ever) to win “The Big 5” Academy Awards. (The Big 5 include: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Actor and Best Actress and the other two films are One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and Silence of the Lambs.)

I watched this movie for the very first time recently and it was very entertaining. Clark Gable is great and Claudette Colbert is extremely cute and likeable. She plays a spoiled socialite who has run away from home because her father disapproves of who she has married. But she seems so accessible you just want to go have a cup of tea with her. Clark Gable is a journalist who is helping her only (he thinks) to get a story out of it in the end. Antics ensue. Happy endings abound.

As cute as this is, I am not really sure why it won all of those Oscars. I think that it was so early in film history perhaps the Academy voted for the film that provided the most entertaining rather than demanding great social meaning and life essence from every film. In a way that is sort of my working definition of movie versus film. A movie is entertainment, for entertainment’s sake. A film has a higher ambition to change or move the audience in some way (sometimes that ambition is pretentious but not always). But I digress, if the criteria in 1934 was to award the most entertaining movie of the year, then I do understand why this won.

On to fashion: Claudette wears the same ensemble for most of the movie. It is a chevron striped jacket over a rounded collar shirt with a long black skirt. She accessorizes this with a belt, black pumps and a beret.

Here is my interpretation:

Shirt: Anthropologie, On and Off Hours Blouse, on sale for $29.95
Dress: Zoe Tees, Striped Wool Blend Dress, $88.75 via (reg. $355)
Shoes: Madden Girl Bluebery in Black Fabric, $49.95 via Zappos
Hat: San Diego Hat Company, Wool Beret with Bow in Black, $32
Belt: Red Dress Shoppe, The Chevron Belt, $18
Total: $218.65

I stumbled upon this dress and it seemed perfect for this movie. It would be predictable to do some sort of jacket or blazer/skirt combo for this movie but I think that this snazzy dress with the chevron stripes captures the essence of Claudette’s look. Then I selected a shirt with a peter pan collar to layer underneath the dress. (The neckline of the dress comes up higher than you think; it is an optical illusion with the stripes.)

Here is a Polyvore to show how it looks layered together:

Then the retro accessories: belt, hat, shoes. I have been browsing this website Red Dress Shoppe for a while now. They have adorable retro-inspired clothes! I happened to search it today and found this awesome chevron belt. I think the details are a great match for this look. The beret I found has a cute bow on it (while Claudette’s doesn’t) but I think that this and the Peter Pan collar on the shirt soften the harsh look of the bold stripes. Lastly, these shoes are perfect. They look almost exactly like Claudette’s but they have a little striped metallic detail on them which echoes the chevron belt. Too cute! Everything feel into place so well for this outfit that I don’t even mind that it goes a little wee bit over budget.

I would wear this out to dinner, to work, to a coffee shop, to a party, pretty much anywhere. This seems like a very versatile day-to-evening look to me. What do you think? What makes for a great all-around outfit in your wardrobe?

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