Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Natalie Wood in Sex and the Single Girl (1964)

I saw this movie when I was young and I always felt very grown up and scandalous since I was watching a movie with “sex” in the title. In fact, this film is a screwball comedy. This great cast includes Natalie Wood, Tony Curtis, Henry Fonda, Lauren Bacall and Mel Ferrer to name a few.

Throughout most of the film, Natalie Wood wears only black and white clothes. Only in the last scene does she wear an actual color and boy – she goes all out! She wears yellow in the exact same shade from head to toe. She has a yellow scarf, dress, coat, and matching shoes. She breaks it up only with white gloves and a string of pearls. This is not monochromatic; it is just an extreme kind of matchy-matchy that no one does anymore.
I wondered whether I could capture that same hyper-yellow feel in an outfit without being so overly matchy and thus not wearable today.

Here is my interpretation:
Run-Down:Coat: Target, Mossimo Black, Volume Back Trench Coat in Ebony, on sale for $31.99
Dress: Anthropologie, Sunray Medallion Dress, on sale for $99.95
Necklace: Korto Momolu Seed Bead Multi row Necklace on sale for $28.80 via Dillard’s
Shoes: Madden Girl via DSW, Sursey Patent Pump in Yellow, $39.95
Total: $200.69
The first thing that had to go was the yellow coat. I don’t think anyone would wear a coat that exactly matched their dress if the dress was a statement color. I love yellow and black together (sort of a honeybee, Blind Melon No Rain theme) so I found a black trench in place of the yellow one Natalie wears.

Here it is layered:

Then I lucked out and found a gorgeous yellow sundress on sale at Anthropologie. This one is a bright sunny yellow but has some details on it in black which make the coat make some sense and tones down the yellow a bit.

I wanted the shoes to do the matchy-matchy bit in this look and I selected this awesome retro looking pair of yellow patent pumps from Madden Girl that are the same shade as the dress. Lastly, to replace Natalie’s string of pearls, I went with a black rustic looking bead necklace in keeping with the style of the medallions on the dress and again tying in the black to balance the yellow.

The result is definitely not an exact copy of Natalie Wood’s outfit but rather homage, taking hers as the jumping off point and ending up with something that I consider to be more interesting, sophisticated and wearable.

I think what this exercise did for me was challenged me to not be afraid of matching colors. I spent many years un-training the matching rules I was taught growing up. The rule I was brought up with was to dress the same color from the waist down but this was usually neutral colors. (I was born and raised in the South.) So the idea of wearing black pants and red shoes to work was a fashion breakthrough for me. I would probably have defaulted to a black or white sandal with this dress, but this post has challenged me to think about a statement color with a matching shoe as a viable option.

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