1960s Fashion a la “The Help”

Have you seen “The Help” yet? Seeing as this movie just moved into the number one slot over the weekend, the word has gotten around that it’s pretty fabulous. I saw it just last week and loved it: it really felt like Mississippi in the 1960s in the volatile time of the Civil Rights Movement. What I do recommend is that you read the book first by Kathryn Stockett first because it is way better than the movie, as the book usually is. But that’s not to ignore the amazing acting of Viola Davis, Emma Stone, Bryce Dallas Howard and Octavia Spencer. You also can’t deny that it showed in vivid color the way of life in the deep South during the 60s, especially the amazing fashion of those Southern belles.

Emma Stone as Skeeter Phelan

There’s something to be said about fashion from the 60s. After the prim and proper fashions of the 40s and 50s, the brightly colored dresses were a breath of fresh air, epitomizing the freedom of the new decade. What I loved about The Help’s fashion choices was that they showed the way young ladies were experiencing new freedoms, having jobs, making personal choices, exploring their sexuality. Skeeter, played by Emma Stone, was the proverbial “working girl” who was throwing off the societal norms of only going to college for her “MRS” degree like the rest of her friends. In the book, Skeeter’s not a pretty girl. Of course, Emma Stone is not bad-looking but they definitely gave her a drab wardrobe. The look on the right is one of my favorites of hers in the movie when she heads out for a special date. Absolutely beautiful color.

Bryce Dallas Howard as Hilly Holbrook

 

Now Hilly Holbrook, she embodies the small-minded society that prevailed in the deep South as the Civil Rights movement swept through the country. Besides the Home Health Sanitation Initiative which asks white residents of Mississippi to build separate bathrooms for their black help, Hilly is just an all-around horrible character that you love to hate. Bryce Dallas Howard does a fabulous job playing this despicable character. And the fashion choices for Hilly were amazing; they stayed close to the 1950s full skirted dresses but in vibrant prints and colors matched with the cutest swing coats and prim gloves. I also loved her fabulous hair all bumped up and flipped out and hairsprayed to heavens.

Elizabeth Leefolt, played by Ahna O'Reilly

 

Speaking of hair, I loved Elizabeth Leefolt’s hair! Throughout the whole movie, her blonde tresses were teased in a beehive or curled up in a French twist. Is there anything so great as hair in the sixties? Even though I pretty much disliked Elizabeth for being a small-minded, social climber in Stockett’s novel, in the movie she came across as more airheaded and just blind to what’s going on. But she does it all with great hair.

Finally the character that I feel really embraced all that the 1960s had to offer was Celia Foote. Celia is the sexy, curvy and brash young lady newly married to one of Jackson’s former eligible bachelors. She’s the target of the Hilly Holbrook’s wrath from atop the seat of the Jackson Junior League and her foot-in-mouth syndrome makes her totally loveable. Her clothes are drool-worthy; bright-colored pencil skirts and frilly sleeveless blouses, a brightly striped shoulder-tied blouse and hot orange culottes, everything was bright and fun just like her hillbilly girl personality. Celia’s fashion was my favorite, including my favorite look of the movie, a yellow romper worn with heels poolside.

Jessica Chastain as Celia Foote

Is there anything more fabulous than a fun summer romper? Nowadays rompers are everywhere in every sort of print imaginable. They’re not right for everyone and they can be a tedious choice (think about bathroom breaks). But I love the sweetheart neckline and white piping of this 60s version. There are plenty choices at places like Urban Outfitters but they are too modern for my taste and most don’t give you the great shape of the cinched-in waist and the fun of those bright colors. I thought the only way I could steal this look would be searching out a pattern and sweating over my brand-new sewing machine. My mom saved the day by finding the cutest pink version at Forever 21 and I scooped it up right away. Here’s my version of Celia Foote on a stormy summer day in Philly.

romper: forever 21, shoes: merona from target, purse: vintage

It’s so comfortable! We ran around the city, going to a 19th century baseball game (gotta love some historic reenactment on a Sunday afternoon), eating cheesesteaks at Shank’s on the water and then heading over to Yards Brewery for a pint of my favorite Philly Pale Ale when the clouds rolled in. I loved how cute and comfortable I felt but I noticed quite a few looks my way. A romper is still a pretty unique fashion choice, especially one in this bright of a pink! I can’t wait until the cloudy and awful weather goes away and I can wear it more.

While I loved the fashion of the movie, the story of The Help shows an important moment in the history of our country. Read the book, see the movie, you’re going to love it!

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