Let's face it - we all want Ginger Rogers' cinematic wardrobe, ja?
MONOCLE APPRECIATION POST.
I am Irene Malvern, High Priestess of Week-End at the Waldorf. HEAR MY DIGNIFIED ROAR.
Let’s just start off by saying…what Ginger wore here is a HAIR-RING, people. I didn’t even know those existed. It’s almost like Glamorous Irene said to herself “Earrings worn in ears? Tosh! How horribly conventional. I WILL PUT ONE IN MINE HAIR.” (That is not at all how she talks in the movie - don’t worry.) As if her hair twist wasn’t already elaborate enough!
But I suppose this is how supreme actresses must dress in order to fully assert their power, and Irene Malvern is not here to disappoint. She pretty much out-dresses everyone in this movie on a scale of 100:1. This makes sense, because she is playing a high-profile film star — and also, the other main characters are all men. Except for her maid. And Lana Turner. But poor Lana Turner is forced to play a secretary, named BUNNY, and thus is left to office garb, dreams of the Park Avenue life, and TERRIBLE chopped-off-Marie-Antoinette hair. Seriously, what a curse that hair is. I really feel for beautiful Lana Turner in this movie. It’s twice as insulting when you compare her unfortunate hairdo to the truly elaborate updos Ginger gets to work with in almost every scene, so much so that I wonder if Wardrobe specifically wanted hair to be the focal point, like all of Irene’s queenly power was invested atop her head in a naturally-derived crown.
Lest we believe that, though, Wardrobe reminds us that Irene is Queen not only through her magnificent hair dids:
…but also her BLING! Look at that bracelet! What is it? It looks like the clockfaces of several watches strung together to be The Ultimate Wrist Accessory, but I don’t know. It could just be full of giant gemstones. Either way, we would not be disappointed.
Also, I’m pretty sure Wardrobe does not want us to ignore her actual clothes:
…which are fabulous and oh so elegant. Just look at that soft draping around her chest and waist compared with that sharp shoulder frame. The ensemble is punctuated and floaty all at once (she may have a mild genie pants situation going on - it’s hard to tell as she drifts so ethereally throughout these scenes), and it’s just so perfectly structured and effortless in every way. Irene, I know you were just complaining to your manager that fame and money aren’t everything, yadda yadda, but can I still have your life? Thanks.
Ginger Rogers, 1930s
Another beautiful photographic rendition of G’s curiously sexy LBD from her Shall We Dance verbal/sartorial showdown with everyone’s favorite gay uncle, Arthur. She’s quite the statuesque doll in this portrait, isn’t she?
Ginger Rogers as Beatrice Page, Pat Crowley as Sally Carver, and lots of my feelings in Forever Female (1953).
Here is my conflict: in the divine Forever Female, the way that Ginger Rogers and little Pat Crowley are styled is very interesting. There is definitely some cool age, class, taste, etc. stuff going on here. Plus, we here at What Ginger Wore just love to compare things. And yet…I just can’t bring myself to go ahead and compare these outfits, or the others in this movie. And the reason is sort of embarrassing and needs a disclaimer (haha, no it doesn’t, but for my own peace of mind – DISCLAIMER TIME.)
Okay, generally I am not an enemy of, for lack of a better term, the Other Girl. The woman you are supposed to hate in practically every other TV show, movie, etc. You know her, I’m sure. Anyway, I almost always LOVE HER! Favorite character from the Sound of Music? The Baroness. Favorite character from Singing in the Rain? The divine and deeply sympathetic Lina Lamont. I like the Other Girls in Ginger and Fred movies – Fred’s fiancée Margaret in Swingtime and his sexy ambiguously-Russian ballerina stalker Denise from Shall We Dance are A-OK by me! Margaret seems fun, and I forgive Denise for the reasonable urge to stalk Fred Astaire, plus her clothes are great and she turns out to be a pretty good sport for a stalker (I also just love her a lot). I like Other Girls! Heck, I even like BETTY DRAPER ON MAD MEN! No one likes her! I DO.
So all this build up is to confess – I happen to kind of HATE HATE HATE WITH A PASSION little Pat Crowley’s Other Girl character in Forever Female! She is the worst! She doesn’t ruin the movie for me, but every scene she’s in makes me fervently want the movie to go all slasher-horror. Why the hate? I will list some reasons, but bear in mind – I now have to fast forward through her scenes, so undoubtedly some of her heinous crimes will be left out.
1) Almost every scene she’s in, she puts down the lead heroine for being a) too old for a part, b) not young, and therefore not sexy, c) just generally daring to be another woman.
2) She clings to a man who clearly states multiple times that he doesn’t like her, at one point coming to a rehearsal of his play and CRYING at him.
3) She HAS A CATCHPHRASE! It is putting SIAMESE before another word. If that isn’t bad enough, she explains that she invented it so PEOPLE WOULD NOTICE HER.
4) Now I’m just angry.
5) Deep breathes.
Okay, she is supposed to be young and annoying. But I think we are supposed feel something other than blind rage towards her. Here, the movie fails by setting her against the beautiful, charming Ginger Rogers in a particularly intelligent and sympathetic role. It’s a bit of an actress fail too – though Pat Crowley is a lovely and promising actress who (ironically) got better as she got older. But she was AWFULLY young (early, early 20’s) when she played this part, and she doesn’t have the acting chops of the other experienced and charming leads. And you can’t help but NOTICE this, especially when she’s going on about her amazing acting abilities.
I think another reason for my strong dislike for Pat Crowley’s character is that in many ways, she isn’t a proper Other Girl. Her salient characteristics – young, naïve, overenthusiastic – is typical of lots of female protagonists. Just think Sound of Music! In fact, Ginger Rogers’ Beatrice has a lot in common with the Baroness – a beautiful, sophisticated, older woman who has a lot more power than her younger romantic rival. Part of my love for this particular role of Ginger’s is her character archetype would usually make her the Other Girl. Doesn’t the Other Girl deserve to win, just this once? GO AWAY, PAT!
And, to prove that Ginger Rogers plays an Other Girl in lead role clothing; and Pat Crowley is the female protagonist of my nightmares: I give you, finally, clothes (escorted by one William Holden).
See! This is what I’m talking about. Both are in white outfits while making a public appearance. And just look how flouncy and 50’s and virginal Pat’s is! I mean, it is the 50’s, so it isn’t unfashionable, but the whole thing is quite girlish and demure. She is in the bridal dress the innocent heroine wears at the end of the movie, with a simple, almost veil-like shawl over her shoulders. The comparison to Ginger is especially striking, as Ginger is dressed for an actual engagement announcement, yet comes across as FIERCE TO THE MAX. Even when she takes the furs off, the dress is so well designed! It could come across as robe-like if not so perfectly fitted. But instead it is deceptively sexy, elegant without seeming to try, and crazy flattering on her. If any outfit screams, “older woman of the world who knows how to dress herself,” it is this outfit.
(Join us next time, for another exciting episode of: “Every Single One of My Many Passionate Feelings About Forever Female!” or as we call it around here “ESOOMMPFAFF!”)
Speaking of In Person, here is a much more glorious photographic impression of Ginger’s Disney Princess kitchen ballgown than what we were able to capture from our secondhand video film.
Ginger Rogers as Carol Corliss in In Person (1935).
At first glance, you’d probably see these PJ’s and go “What a darling little outfit! A tailored satin shirtwaist over pants, which also happens to have some lovely delicate piping on the seams that makes it all quite streamlined! Elegant enough for Movie Star Carol Corliss, but still casual enough for sensible sleepwear!” Carol / Ginger looks so fresh-faced and happy, you get the sense she must really be enjoying her peaceful woodsy retreat, all tucked away from the demanding lifestyle of Celebrity, right? She can just spend the morning lounging around in a set of immaculately constructed pajamas! What a welcome reprieve from her party clothes that must be so binding!
But then we remember…a) Carol Corliss is not Cher Horowitz of Clueless, who, like any modern gal, indeed finds party clothes VERY binding, and b) you can’t take the Actress out of the girl, no matter where she goes. That is a lady strutting around a cabin in pajamas and HEELS, my friends. SHE LITERALLY ROLLS OUT OF BED INTO A PAIR OF HEELS. HAHAHAHAHAHA.
Now, ok — while this is completely laughable, I also find it kind of admirable. I mean, I can’t even pull myself together enough to put on a pair of slippers before I leave my bedroom, let alone real shoes. And if we’re getting real, I can barely wear heels to actual EVENTS (I attribute this to the fact that I may be sort of flat-footed? I mean, when I took dance back in the day, I thought I had an okay arch when I pointed my feet, but, far from being a prima ballerina, I couldn’t really tell, and my teacher, far from being someone who would ever want to drive teenage girls towards Body Issues, didn’t really care. There’s also the little fact that I was an early adolescent who was really more concerned about things like geometry and whether the Lakers could pull off a three-peat than reshaping the growth and development of my feet. All I’m saying is, being flat-footed would certainly explain why I cannot handle shoes with ANY arch formation AT ALL, which I guess isn’t that big a deal — except for maybe that time I really wanted those Pumas everyone had in middle school, that was a BIG DEAL). My point is, what you have just read is but the introduction to my ongoing memoir Troubles with Heels: A Blogger’s Life, and here we have Carol just nonchalantly slipping into them to commemorate the act of waking up. I am supremely envious. Girl definitely takes diva footwear consciousness to a whole new level.
…Your move, Beyonce.