Monday, June 21, 2010

Mildred Pierce: Forties Frump? I think not

When I read over at The Painted Woman that HBO is doing a remake of Mildred Pierce, starring Kate Winslet, I was over the moon, in no small part due to the dazzling Depression-era costumes which Winslet has been snapped wearing on set.  However, I've now got a little bee buzzing in my bonnet after reading a couple of articles, including the FASHION RULES post, which suggests Winslet looks "Forties Frump" in these frocks.  First of all, in all but that one photo where she's wearing a blue outfit, Kate's clothes look pretty distinctly THIRTIES to me (the movie spans decades).  Second of all, "frump"?  Not in my world, honey!!!!!!







30 comments:

Harlow Darling said...

Oh my! I actually saw these photos floating around but no one mentioned what the movie was called or about so I am very glad you posted this! Kate Winslet is my favorite actress so I can't wait to see this when it's out, and I most definately don't think there is anything "frumpy" about these clothes, they are perfect! And, they look very good on her, as Kate Winslet has the perfect body to pull off any fashion ranging between the 1900s - 1950s due to the fact that she has the figure of a real woman, or atleast the decades where women looked like women...pre Twiggy times.

Miss Emmi said...

I think Kate Winslet has always looked a little older than she is, but that's not to do with lines or her clothes... I think it's something to do with her face shape. Similarly to the actress on the Good Wife at the moment, she's only going to look better as she gets older!

I love love LOVE the sensible walking shoes she is wearing here. Ms Winslet, where can I get me some of that?

ps Harlow Darling: Skinny women are "real women" too. Please read http://www.fatnutritionist.com/index.php/all-women-are-real/ I agree Kate has a great figure for 50s style clothing, but I don't agree with phrasing it that way.

1930s Girls About Town said...

Sigh! I've noticed to modern people the 40s are exactly the same sa teh '30s... or the '20s...or the '50s. I rememebr Angelina Jolie got called "frumpy" as well when pictures of her in her Chageling costumes appeared. I think kate W. looks terrific - my eyes popped out of my head when I first saw that distinctly '30s floral frock and hat.

Pixie Drive-In said...

Ohmigosh, I cannot wait for this remake! I've been following it and the photos for quite some time, and the more I see, the more excited I get. I heard Evan Rachel Wood is playing Veda, and I'd love to see some photos of her too. I don't think Kate looks frumpy at all--she's just sporting the style of the times. Love the look with the red plaid skirt!

nancy said...

Frumpy? Wow, somebody at Fashion Rules has and interesting sense of what that word means.

Kate looks wonderful. I love the shoes (of course!) and I adore each of the outfits she's wearing. Boy, if I were an actress doing period pieces, I'd always want to bring my wardrobe home!

bellisimama said...

why are they remaking everything? kate is one of the best actresses, but man....i doubt anyone can compare to my girl joan, especially as mildred pierce. i love that movie.

Brittany_Va-Voom Vintage said...

Fourties Frump? I don't recall -anything- about the 40's being fumpy! The 30's and 40's were the eras of classic hollywood glamour! The majority of elegant haute couture styles that we see on runways and red carpets today are based on fashions from these eras. AND if they can't tell the difference between 30's and 40's fashions, they have NO business talking about it!! I suppose that on "Fashion Rules" if you aren't showing your butt and boobs, you're considered frumpy? *ugh*
At any rate, I am SO excited about this series! I don't have HBO but my mom does! I think I'll have to have her put it on the DVR for me!! Thanks for sharing these gorgeous pics! I love Kate- she looks anything but "frumpy"!

art*deco*dame said...

how is this frumpy but MODERN sloppy fashion is "in"...aigh no,no,no.I think she looks fantastic!

MarieBayArea said...

frump? i'll take any of these dresses/skirts any day

MarieBayArea said...

and i'll take all of those shoes too!

Stefanie Valentine said...

Frumpy?! Err, nope! She looks totally fabulous, I love the dresses and shoes, totally yummy! x

Darlene said...

First of all, granny chic, baby. She's channeling Miss Marple here, albeit, a younger, curvier dame... I love the look Kate's embodying here. Oy, how perfect would my fainting couch blanket be in HER home? :)

Second, I wasn't offended by the first poster's comment about women, pre and post Twiggy. Perhaps her choice of real is a debatable point, but I knew what she was driving at. :)

Nancy said...

Love those outfits! They're just calling them Frumpy because fashion has gotten so out of control lately. I'm sorry that she isn't wearing something that makes her look like a sausage stuffed too tightly into its casing like most actresses today. Sheesh.

garofit said...

Great costumes, can't wait to see it!
The skinny/curvy debate, I find it ridiculous since in all times there were all kinds of body shapes and weights. Just look at photographs from those times!
As for wanting to make out of golden era clothing the last - and exclusive! - refuge of the very shapely female, my skinny self must protest! I will so fight you for my piece of it!

BaronessVonVintage said...

Really interesting thoughts here, both about contemporary society and the fashions of the film (and the whole idea of a remake of the film in general).

Here are my thoughts: I think we need to distinguish between real women and social ideals of women/femininity. I think Harlow Darling is voicing what I suppose has become a commonly voiced response on the part of a significant number of contemporary women who are tired of feeling they are inadequate and imperfect because they do not fit into the media-produced and perpetuated social ideal of femininity (embodied by the likes of Twiggy in the 60s, Kate Moss since the Heroin chic movement of the 90s, and a majority of Hollywood celebrities and high fashion models on the runways and in the pages of Vogue today). Miss Emmi and garofit touch on an interesting, important, and dare I say less oft voiced view, which is that, perhaps the "pro-curvy" movement (fronted by corporations like Dove etc and even men's magazines like MAXIM and so forth that put Scarlett Johanson and Jessica Biehl on their covers as the ideals of what men should consider attractive perfect women) may have produced an unfortunate backlash against the social ideal of feminine thinness which has affected women who are naturally thin in ways that have the potential to be equally damaging. I don't think it's a coincidence that both the rates of eating disorders and plastic surgery numbers have both reached epidemic proportions in the late 20th to early 21st centuries. Mainstream media has indoctrinated us with two equally unrealistic sets of ideals.

Now, when we are talking about VINTAGE ideals of femininity in the 1930s, for example, the historical-cultural artifacts (movies, magazines, etc) show us that the dominant social IDEAL of female attractiveness (or so called hegemonic femininity) was that of a woman with a physique possibly more in line with the likes of a Kate Winslet than a Kate Moss (ironic, isn't it, when this was a time of relative poverty--I would argue it was BECAUSE of the Depression that a fleshlier look was idealized). That does not change the fact that women of the past did not all look like that. Nor does it change the fact that women of the past did not, many times, go to extremes or feel depression or inadequacy from being unable to look like a Jean Harlow, for example. That's my 10 cents' worth. Ideal vs. real...'nuff said.

BaronessVonVintage said...

Sorry, that last bit is a touch garbled. I was trying say that we must remember that women of the past were not any more immune to issues related to feeling unable to attain society's ideals of femininity than we are nowadays!

Charlotte said...

Kate Winslet has always looked "old fashioned" to me - by which I mean that with her oval face, full cheeks and big eyes she conforms better to vintage ideals of beauty than to modern ones.

And also I think she looks fabulous in the last photo - want that outfit!

xx Charlotte
Tuppence Ha'penny

BaronessVonVintage said...

Oh, the LAST thing I will note is that, from the perspective of a vintage buyer and seller, I do think slender gals like you, Garofit may not have to fight any harder than any other size group for your "piece" of the 30s vintage fashion pie. In fact, I would argue that contrary to the social ideals shown in movies and magazines from the 30s, the majority of real dresses I have ever come across from the early to mid 30s especially are usually in sizes best suited for wearers with smaller frames and slender hips. As well, many 30s dresses have small seam allowances/selvedges, which means it's a lot harder for a gal to have a 1930s dress let out than taken in. I'm not at all trying to diminish anyone's justified feelings in response to the curvy-topic...just noting that if the "real women" of the 30s were as curvy as we may be making them out to be, I would not have to CONSTANTLY "fight" in my own way to find any 30s dresses that can get over my hips. ;) Hopefully you get my point. ALL women of all sizes feel anxiety, fear, stress, insecurity about their abilities or inabilities to match up to the glossy idealized images of female beauty (whether past or present). Let's stop the madness!!

BaronessVonVintage said...

Okay, totally not my last comment!

I really want to respond to a couple of the other "themes" that have come out of the fantastic comments provided by you all (I really should do a whole post on this, but whateva...

1) Art *Deco* Dame, Brittany Va Voom, Nancy, and others have hit on an important topic, which is the state of fashion and its links to female sexuality and even morality. I tend to agree with cultural critics who argue that a negative (and perhaps unforeseen) byproduct of the "Sexual Revolution" and second wave feminism is this pervasive ideology that sexual power and freedom is really the most important form of freedom there is for women. In the words of media critic Jean Kilbourne, the pervasive myth sold to women now is that we "have the right to remain sexy." Arguably, we have seen this hypersexualization and what I am going to call antifeminism masquerading as "girl power" manifesting in women's clothing (esp. in clothing worn by celebrities, music artists, etc). Look, I'm not personally someone who is against women's rights to freedom, sexuality, self-expression, etc. HOWEVER, I personally don't necessarily feel that in order to feel powerful, feminine, whatever, a woman should feel the need to emphasize or overemphasize her physicality and sexuality in order to be noticed or gain a level of social currency. What it comes down to is that I resent people calling 30s fashion "frumpy." What I find interesting about that fashion article is that it reveals another telling social issue that pervades North American culture: a kind of fear of aging and redefinition of what it means to be a woman 30 or over. On the one hand, women over 30 (such as myself) have been told that we can still look "attractive" (meaning sexy, capable of gaining male attention) when in past decades (like the 1930s), 30 = "Woman of the World." HOWEVER, what this culture of "eternal youth," with its skin creams promising to "erase" age lines, and its cult of the "yummy" mummy also does is pressure women over 30 to keep obsessing about being a sex object, being without age spots and wrinkles, etc etc. At the end of the day, it's a bit of a catch 22. My opinion: I am thankful that we are at a place and time where women feel they have power to choose and control their own destinies and sexuality. However, I don't like that the media is encouraging YOUNG girls to want to look, act, dress like sexually mature women and to encourage women to want to look like ageless mannequins and dress and act like sex and appearance obsessed cosmo sipping extras from Desperate Housewives or women of Real Life Housewives of Orange County. Case in point: if I want to wear floral dresses below the knee, don't think that I can be called "frumpy" without having something to say about it ;)

Trixie said...

I just don't get the whole Kate Winslet is big thing. I'm looking at her and she just looks thin to me. I've talked about this before. What am I missing here?

Also, I think maybe they're calling her frumpy because of her dull make up and her brown hair all pulled up combined with the not quite as fitted as normal clothing. She just looks a lot different than she normally does.

By the way I don't think anyone would ever accuse YOU of looking frumpy in your 30s outfits! You always look perfectly adorable. I however do tend to look frumpy in 30s unless my make up is bright and my hair is not pulled up!

BaronessVonVintage said...

Trixie, I agree her different hair color might have something to do with the article calling her "frumpy."

Thanks ever so much...I probably should have typed that if a woman over 30 in a 1930s frock is called frumpy I'm gonna have a problem with it because, HEY I'm a year older than Kate Winslet and I wear 30s outfits like hers every day. Trying to fight to redefine what so called "fashion" experts are calling frumpy. The fact that, as several bloggers have noted, the article can't even tell the diff between 30s and 40s fashion makes it a bit hilarious...truth be told, the bee in my bonnet wasn't a killer bee. Just one wanting to buzz softly but clearly. Think it's time again for milk and honey. ;)

Q's Daydream said...

Yay!!! I ADORE HER!

nancy said...

Baroness, you said everything I was thinking! So I won't repeat it all here, but I will say that as a more curvy girl, I have a heck of a time finding vintage dresses and vintage sewing patterns that are my size. I'm a 39-32-42, and it's darned hard to find vintage things that fit. I also cannot find many pairs of size 8 shoes from the 20's-40's.

I have a friend who studies such things at university, and she says that humans as a race have been getting bigger, especially post-WWII, because our diets are better. So there might have been curvy women in the 30's but the scale may have been relative to their less-curvy counterparts.

(Goodness gracious, did that make any sense? I shouldn't try to write while I have low blood sugar!)

I'm wondering if Kate's "barely-there" makeup may be contributing to the writer's perception of her as "frumpy"?

Miss Emmi said...

Oh, Baroness, I really hope I didn't come across as "poor, skinny me" - I just think that people need to realise how exclusionary language like "real" can be to people who don't fit in the body type. This includes women whose curves aren't in the right places (we have the 'right kind' of fat now, and it's only those with a perfect hourglass shape - sorry if you've got a rounded middle, but you won't be on the cover of a men's magazine anytime soon) and those who are too skinny or too athletic to fit the very narrow definition. And I honestly think a lot of this is due to the media and advertising world - after all, how will they sell us products if everybody loves themselves as they are? They sensed the tide was turning and that people were demanding representation, and are now creating another idealized body (big breasts, big hips, tiny waist, no fat on the face or neck) to promote to people. Baroness, I'd be really interested to hear your thoughts on beauty standards and advertsing, especially as you have that glorious stack of magazines from the 1930s to compare the modern versions with!

aramblingfancy said...

Oh my goodness---thanks so much for posting these pictures! I've been out of the loop and had no idea about this production. Kate Winslet is one of my favorites and those costumes are amazing. I'm especially fond of the last outfit you posted--frumpy my foot!

BaronessVonVintage said...

Miss Emmi, I LOVE that you posted that comment. I truly do think it's a very good point to make in relation to the types of feminine ideals contemporary women are bombarded with; I am definitely in agreement that the pressures on a woman to manufacture curves when her body genetically was not programmed to be that way is just as problematic as the pressures on women who are not tall and willowy. I look at that wretched creature from the show The Hills, Heidi Montag, as an exaggerated example of what can happen if real women were to take the messages (which I 100% agree are primarily produced and perpetuated by the media/corporate advertising) literally. Breast implants size "H" for Heidi? Butt implants to look like Jessica Biel? A tiny, emaciated frame that can barely support these distorted proportions? Modern women may be facing the most unhealthy and unrealistic messages yet...instead of binding our bodies with whale bone corsets, we have been encouraged to corset our minds and to use the regimes of the gym and the plastic surgeons' knives to cut ourselves down to size.

It's funny you mentioned the idea of showing some 30s ads. I had a post like this in the works, especially after poring over the ads in a "new" magazine I got at a flea market yesterday. Your wish is my command. Expect such a post shortly ;)

Coedith said...

I can see why the word frumpy was used and I think it maybe because she looks unhappy. She could rock that look with a smile : )

Andi B. Goode said...

I wonder if the problem is that, because these are candid shots, a couple have not-so-good posture and facial expressions? Because I don't see frumpy, either. Except for where she's hunched over, midstep, and pulling a funny face. It's not the dress - it's the posture, perhaps. But this looks awesome, anyway. Thanks for sharing! Am going to come back and read all the comments later. ;]
-Andi x

BaronessVonVintage said...

Nancy, Coedith, Andi, these are great hypotheses...if only the blog post didn't explicitly say, Kate "is going for the forties frump look too, the big shouldered look. It's crazy what these clothes can do to the way a woman looks." So, it's the CLOTHES, according to the web article. Hrumph.

Riikka said...

Kate's costumes are absolutely gorgeous! I especially love the blue dress she's been photographed wearing. It is a stunner!