While there are many classic movies and television shows that portray the fifties, one of our favorite examples is 1998's Pleasantville. Between the superb casting, amazing cinematography, and tongue-in-cheek send up of the nuclear family, it's become one of our favorite flicks. However, we also strongly suspect that our affinity for this film has a lot to do with the iconic and slightly ironic take on fifties fashion: wholesome, kitschy, and playful without being overtly sexy. Yes, the letterman jackets and poodle skirts make appearances (we recommend leaving these styles in the past), but the great gingham garments, meticulously adorned cardigans (very Doris Day), and beautiful dresses complete with the New-Look silhouette could have been plucked from the spring runways. The past is present for designers like Nicole Farhi and Michael Kors, who both riff on this bygone era in their S/S 09 collections which further influenced us to present today's edition of Currently Channeling: Pleasantville.For those of you who missed the movie, let us provide you with a quick run-down. Tobey Maguire and Reese Witherspoon play David and Jennifer, your typical 21st-century high-school siblings immersed in pop culture. While Jennifer prefers to spend her evenings running with a fast crowd and watching MTV, David would rather lose himself in the innocent Leave It To Beaver-esque program, Pleasantville. When a strange electrician mysteriously appears to fix a broken remote, the two are accidentally transported into their television set, and discover that they are trapped in the stereotypical Father Knows Best 1950's family sitcom. Unable to get home, they must assume the roles of Bud and Mary Sue, the son and daughter of George and Betty Parker (played by William H. Macy and Joan Allen, respectively). They accidentally, then intentionally, expose the Pleasantville residents to art, music, and the counterculture revolution, and ignite the curiosity and passion of an entire town, irrevocably changing the Pleasantville universe from a monochromatic and conservative community into a Technicolor parallel world.
While this cinematic gem about transformation is poignant and moving, to be sure, it is also a visual feast. (It's no wonder that the film was nominated for best art direction and costume design.) Of course, as fashion-philes, we are partial to the clothing worn by the two main female characters, Betty and Mary Sue Parker. Today, we have gathered a swell selection of Pleasantville-inspired pieces to help you reinterpret the sartorial spirit of these two leading ladies and their lovely retro looks!
Guess Drifter Heels($90)
These flirty heels are the very definition of femininity. While Betty Parker would most likely wear these to cook a hearty breakfast or while vacuuming the wall-to-wall living room carpet, we recommend pairing them with your favorite A-line skirt. The garnet suede pumps will give a modern ensemble a hint of dainty style and are the ideal selection for taking a stroll down Lovers' Lane-if you're feeling bold!
Steven Alan Soma Silk Dress($290)
Steven Alan is always our go-to resource for classic pieces with a casual-chic vibe. This silk dress has an eye-catching floral print (some of our favorite trendsetters also pick these unfussy florals), while the shape is demure enough for any sock-hop or Sadie Hawkins dance you may have on your springtime agenda.
Clarins Lip Colour Tint ($20) in Groseille
When Betty Parker begins to stray from her typical 1950's stay-at-home wife and mother routine, her sepia-tone visage goes from gray to Technicolor. Though she initially tries to cover up her transformation, she eventually embraces the change. We are sure this lovely lip tint would be a fixture on Betty's vanity and an everyday necessity to keep her lips colorful and hydrated! This retro-rouge shade will give your kisser a little sparkle, as well as a delicate fruity fragrance.
Milly April Knits Cardigan($255)
We can totally see Mary Sue throwing this over her shoulders for a shot of shocking color in the land of black and white. This coral cardigan is great way to add a richly hued swath to your own summer wardrobe, while the bead-embellishments create a lovely, vintage touch.
Urban Outfitters Leather Saddle Shoe ($58)
Here at Who What Wear headquarters, we have all been crushing on these updated saddle shoes. Wear them with your favorite full skirt, and prepare yourself for an onslaught of people stopping you on the street to regale you with stories about their grade-school uniform days!
Delia's Plaid Halter & Cinched Skirtini ($50)
The itty-bitty bikini made it's official debut in the fifties, so we had to celebrate this summer staple in today's CC story. Saunter the shore in style in this Gidget-worthy gingham suit. The modest style halter is great for adding a little lift and the skirtini is fun while providing extra coverage!
American Eagle Denim Bermuda Shorts ($40)
While trailblazers like Marlene Dietrich and Katherine Hepburn were making waves by wearing menswear-inspired trousers, suburban mothers and daughters were not yet wearing these risqué pieces. Instead, they would opt for a pair of prim, clam-diggers or even a knee-length pair of denim cut-offs, like these from American Eagle.
APC Madras Check Ruched Top ($74)
The lightweight fabric and colorful checked print is lovely on its own, but one of our favorite things about this top from APC's Madras line is the tied-and-ruched shoulder details on this versatile warm weather must-have!
Lee Angel Serena Beaded Earrings ($85)
The alternating white and gold beading on these ever-so-prim drop-earrings feels very old-fashioned glam and current at the same time. We can imagine Mary Sue picking this pair for a date with Trip, the dreamy Basketball team captain!-KM
Runway photos, from firstVIEW.