I finally saw the movie Carol a week or so ago. My friend, Elizabeth, and I both loved it. And we decamped to my favourite Indian restaurant to enthuse about it afterward. The acting is superb. I loved Cate Blanchette and Rooney Mara. But it was the cinematography, the opulent shots of city streets or roadside motels, yearning looks out of car windows, surreptitious sideways glances, smoulderingly evocative half-smiles which kind of left me breathless. As Tim Robey of The Telegraph says in his review of Carol… director Todd “Haynes makes unhappiness beautiful.” So… yeah. The movie is beautifully filmed. There was that. That and the clothes. Sigh. The clothes.

Cate Blanchette and Rooney Mara in Carol

The costumes in Carol are stunning, I think. But then again I love the fashion of the fifties. I am a fifties girl after all. Born in the fifties. And in my fifties… even if only for a few more months. I’ve rapsodized about fifties fashion on the blog before , about vintage fashion or current looks that riffed on vintage fashion. And with the exception of the hats of the twenties, I love the fashion of the fifties best.

I adore the tiny pill-box hats and slim fitting suits. Wearing a hat and gloves with a suit, like in this Vogue cover shot from 1953, is so elegant, so civilized. My mum says, when she was young, a lady did not venture downtown in Fredericton without her hat and gloves.

Vogue September issue, 1953
This burgundy suit from Vogue with the silk scarf tucked around the collar is the epitome of chic, don’t you think?
I love this shot too. Trousers with pockets, a sweater, and flats, is a timeless look. Blanchette wears pants like these beautifully in the film, especially as the road trip with Therese unfolds. I’d wear those plaid pants and mock turtleneck myself. I’d lose the belt, add my jean jacket, and be good to go.
Trousers with pockets, Vogue 1951
This Vogue cover look from 1951, is echoed in the film Carol.
See? I love that coral hat and scarf on Cate Blanchette. Doesn’t she remind you of Lana Turner in that outfit? Or Grace Kelly?
Cate Blanchette in Carol, in fur coat and coral hat and scarf
And that bag. I remember when I was a kid, my mum’s bags always snapped shut with a satisfying click. That way a lady could remove her gloves, place them into her bag, tap out a cigarette, and snap the bag shut with elegant and confident Γ©lan.
Long shot of Blanchette in fur coat and coral scarf and gloves
Here are four more looks from the film that I love. Cate in more suits, especially the grey with the scarf, is divine. And brooches, she wore tons of brooches in the movie. Rooney in her plaid tam-o-shanter. And Sarah Paulson, who plays Abby, in a plaid jacket with a knotted neckerchief. Love the mix of patterns there. And you just know that Cate in the red suit is about to snap that bag shut.
Four beautiful fashion shots from Carol
I love a period movie. There’s nothing like reliving the past on the big screen… full immersion in another age for two whole hours, so to speak. But we’ve been reliving the fifties and early sixties on the small screen, too. I know many of you were devastated…okay maybe disappointed is a bit more realistic… when the very stylish Mad Men wrapped up last spring. But if you’re looking to scratch that vintage clothing itch, to ogle some fifties fashion, it’s not the only game in town, you know.
Stylish Mad Men

Hubby and I love the new TV series Partners in Crime, based on the Agatha Christie “Tommy and Tuppence” mystery novels. The books take place in the twenties, but the television version is set in the fifties. Tuppence is adorable in her hats and cardigans, slim suits, and slacks and plaid jacket. I’m particularly fond of the yellow sweater and beret. Hubby and I really enjoy the Partners in Crime mysteries, but then we haven’t actually met a British mystery show we don’t love. And I have to admit it’s created some serious hat envy for me.

These shots below from Netaporter’s magazine The Edit are a good example of life imitating art, don’t you think? Even if the wearers of these hats have never watched Partners in Crime, those berets look like pure fifties fashion to me. And according to Alyson Walsh who writes the blog That’s Not My Age… the cardi is back this season. Hmmm. I might look for a lovely yellow or red cardigan, like Tuppence’s. I could pop on a beret and a couple of vintage brooches and be the very epitome of mid-century chic.

Three looks from Netaporter.com
IIf you haven’t seen the movie Carol yet, you should. If only for the clothes. The cars. And the wonderful period settings. Check out this article by Jeremy Allen which analyzes the “Cars and Clothes of Carol,” as well as some of the settings in the movie which was filmed in Cincinnati. Apparently Cincinnati looks more like 1950’s New York, than New York itself.

I’m at my mum’s in New Brunswick this week. We scoured all her old photographs looking for shots of fifties fashion. She has lots of pictures of her sisters and herself in the forties. But by the mid-fifties Mum had four kids and undoubtedly not much time for picture taking. I do have a 1958 photo of my two older sisters in their matching skirts and blouses, crinolines and all… but it’s in my album at home. Ah well… I’ll include it in another post.

I’m quite happy to be at home in New Brunswick just now. Not just because Mum and I are having a good visit… but also because Hubby is back at home (too many homes) in Ottawa “battling” (his word) a mouse in our kitchen. And because they’ve just received over fifty cm of snow. By the time I swan in later this week, the roads will be well cleared and the ski trails freshly groomed. I hope.

Now that’s a coincidence, isn’t it? Fifty centimetres of snow. Fifty. Fifties fashion. I’m in my fifties. For a while yet anyway. But I’m trying not to think about that too much.

Have you seen the movie Carol? What did you think?


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From the archives


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Leather Pants Redux. Again and Again.

My leather pants are a stalwart in my closet. And I’m looking to update them. Again.

26 thoughts on “Fifties Girl”

  1. I'm really hoping to see this movie soon.

    Yes, Tommy and Tuppence have fabulous outfits in the TV version.

    I'll be in my fifties for another 27 days … πŸ™‚

  2. I haven't seen Carol yet, but the clothing reminds me very much of The Talented Mr. Ripley, which, of course, Cate B. also starred in. She really does suit those fashions.

    I'm not so sure that you have totally avoided our snowmageddon – I hear there will be more next week!

    1. Cate does look wonderful in lady-like outfits. I hope I arrive home after the first storm is cleared and before the second descends. Looks like rush hour in Ottawa on Tuesday was a nightmare.

  3. I love "Partners in Crime" and 50's fashion. Anything Grace Kelly wore in Rear Window and To Catch a Thief is gorgeous. And then there is the outfits Kim Novak wore in Bell, Book & Candle – the leopard print cape with the red gloves is beyond fabulous! Don't you love the wardrobe credits in old movies – "Miss Kelly's gowns designed by Edith Head". Now I need to make a cup of tea and re-watch another old favourite. πŸ™‚

  4. Thanks for another interesting post . I can remember the 50s , just , but here in my part of the post war U.K. it was much greyer than this & carried on into the early 60s .It's like looking back at black & white photos & films – only Hollywood seems to have been in colour then . Apart from that , it was all very ladylike & grown up . My older sister married in her teens but , on her photos , in her nipped in waist suit with straight skirt , little hat & gloves she looks about thirty five . I made my first grown up dress , a straight , short , bright yellow canvas cotton shift in desperation against all this . So you see I was very much a sixties girl rebelling against the 50s ladies ( though I did live in some plaid trousers & a black roll neck )
    Wendy in York

  5. Yes I have seen Carol and I would recommend it but only for the fabulous clothes, settings and cars. I found the film tedious overall and the surreptitious sideways glances etc which left you breathless, were overused to such an extent that I found them irritating. Fortunately the beautiful cinematography meaningless (oops meaningful) glances aside compenstated somewhat. Disappointed as I really expected to like this film and generally love movies and dramas of that era (also enjoyed Partners in Crime). Glad you're enjoying your visit to your mum. A bit harsh denying a little mouse some shelter from 50cm snow?! Iris

    1. I can see what you mean, Iris. It could seem over-wrought at times. I found that a little at the beginning. But then I was so focused on the clothes, I hardly noticed. One track mind, me. That dang mouse had better be gone by the time I get home. #nomercy πŸ™‚

  6. Maybe not the fifties but Kate and the clothes in Blue Jasmine were great too. And the clothes and filming of Tilda Swinton in I Am Love is worth seeing also.

    1. Yes…I loved Blue Jasmine as well. But so sad and a bit too much like Streetcar Named Desire. I haven't seen the Tilda Swinton one. I will keep my eye out for it.

  7. We loved the film as well, found it sad and moving (no spoilers here, but let's acknowledge that few in either Carol's or Therese's situations found happy endings in the 50s). We both thought of Tom Ford's similarly gorgeous movie, A Single Man, similarly concerned with the difficulty of being gay in less tolerant times (and similarly inspired by a novel). There's also some similarity, isn't there, with the contrast between lush setting, costume, and cinematography and the repressed emotions and forbidden sexualities and racial and class restrictions of the period in Far from Heaven. All three set up a fascinating tension between aesthetic gorgeousness and emotional constraints.
    Thanks for the post — so fun to see the other sources you've pulled in to compare to the movie stills.

    1. Good call… "tension between aesthetic gorgeousness and emotional constraints." Love that. Wish I had said that. The scene where Carol is at dinner with her husband and in-laws is a good example of constraint, restraint, repression etc. It made me feel claustrophobic listening to them talk about Carols' enforced psychiatric treatment over dinner. Gad what a crazy mixed-up world we were born into.

  8. I haven't seen "Carol" yet, I LOVE fifties style, and one of the reasons is because those of us who are a bit curvier can look great in some of these cuts and styles. (In fact, in last summers 'makeover' series, I did a post with examples of how 50s fashion can suit a 50s body quite nicely!)

    Of course, the ignorance and conservatism of the 1950s are something else again…


    1. I know what you mean about how fifties fashion suits curvy figures… just look at Elizabeth Taylor. In that white dress in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof… nobody does a dress better that Liz, in my opinion. I just checked out your post from last summer again…I remember reading it at the time. I think you will love the movie, if you see it.

    1. Thanks for hosting Dawn. I was so fascinated with the fashion shots in Carol, I didn't even notice some of the stuff which other people didn't like. I guess I have fashion tunnel vision.

  9. I haven't seen the film yet, but I intend to. I will see Cate B. in anything, everything, I adore her acting talent and beauty. Gorgeous fashions in the film, and in your Vogue clips – it looks like a lot of work, but worth it, to dress so elegantly. xox


  10. Fifties fashion is the absolute best. I pick up vintage crinolines at estate sales and pair them with a cardi, some fabulous heels, and a bag that snaps shut and never fail to get compliments. People don't realize that my "skirt" is just a petticoat! Loved the pictures in your post.

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