Hot! The “One More Drink” Outfit

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Notorious-medium


The Factsimage from ny-image0.etsy.com

Fabric: Zebra print linen from Jo-Ann’s, $10; Cream linen from Jo-Ann’s, $12
Pattern: McCall 6881, $10 from Etsy
Year: c. 1945
Notions: Vintage zipper, $.05
Time to complete: 7 hours
First worn: July 2011
Wear again? The top, definitely yes! The bottom will be refashioned into a shorter skirt, most likely Hollywood Patterns 864.

Total Cost: ~$32

image from 4.bp.blogspot.com The statement, “I want to make an outfit based on that leopard print belly shirt that Ingrid Bergman wears in Notorious” is kind of ridiculous when you actually stop to listen to what is being said. Leopard print? Ok. Belly shirt? Seriously? Ingrid Bergman wears a belly shirt in an a movie? Really?

That’s the wonderful thing about fashion. You think that all the daring stuff is a modern phenomenon and then realize that it has been so done before. 1946, to be precise.

That’s the year when Hitchcock first collaborated with Edith Head for the film, Notorious. For Notorious, the costume decisions are quite deliberate. From the book, Alfred Hitchcock: A Life in Darkness and Light Patrick Mcgilligan writes:

Head always said that of all the directors she worked with, Hitchcock was the most precise. “Every costume is indicated when he sends me the script, Head wrote in her memoir. “There is always a story reason behind his thinking, an effort to characterize.

When Devlin meets Alicica for the first time, in the scene where she is partying to excess, Ingrid Bergman would be dressed in stark contrast to everyone in the room — “zebra-skin print blouse with her midriff exposed,” in Head’s words. Later on, Alicia had to wear more demure clothing; as an infiltrator, Hitchcock cautioned, she needed to blend in, not stand out. 

And so, this week, my Hitchock inspiration is the outfit Bergman wears to stand out. 

When I first thought about what film I wanted to use for this challenge, I quickly assumed it had to be Vertigo. After all, that film is a love letter (albeit a twisted love letter) to San Francisco and my photo shoot would be a breeze! I love Vertigo, but to be honest, I’m just not a suit kind of girl. The work that would go into Madeleine’s grey suit (or black dress and coat) would just be too much for something that I know I would never wear again. And then I thought about doing The Birds and taking a trip up to Bodega Bay. Another great location, another great outfit. But yet another formal outfit I won’t wear. And I would look horrible in that green color. I’m sorry, I’m just not a Hitchcock blonde.

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And then my husband suggested Notorious. And that was it. I was going to make Alicia’s wild little zebra-skin number. While it doesn’t seem like a practical outfit, the top would get much wear on any vacation I plan to take this year. After having a baby and getting the most horrid stretch marks, I never thought I’d ever be able to wear a midriff again. Thankfully, the 1940s look is complete with an incredibly high waistline — my stretch marks are hidden (as well as belly flab) and the magical 2 inches of my skinny belly is on display! The skirt, less likely to be worn again, would be made out of linen and refashioned into a shorter skirt once I finished this challenge.

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While I didn’t have a midriff top from the 1940s that looked exactly like the Head-designed Alicia top, McCall’s 6881 would be sufficient with a little modification. It was kind of remarkably easy to change the top up. Instead of cutting the top to be a button down, I cut the middle front on the fold. I did the same thing with the band. I omitted the neck tie and sewed a zipper up the side. And that was it! 

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The hardest part of the top was finding zebra-print fabric that I liked. Alicia’s top is a very subtle print that almost looks just like stripes at a certain angle. I would have loved a print that didn’t look quite zebra huntish — I even considered fabric painting white linen with subtle zebra stripes. And then I just said whatevs and embrace the jungle print.

The skirt was simply 2 3/8 yards of linen that was gathered and then sewed on a band of zebra-print fabric. I was going to put in a zipper but then thought better of spending the time on something I was planning on refashioning. So, I cheated and simply safety-pinned the back closed. This post is about the top, anyway. 

About the photographs from today’s post: I usually get playful grief from Ben’s co-worker and friend, Abe, that Ben should be getting photographer credit for my shots. To which I retort: I plan them and creative direct them, so no. However, Ben did all the lighting for this shot. I think that’s enough work to give him a little “All photographs by Ben Trott” shout-out. No watermark though.

image from farm7.static.flickr.com


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 And here’s a photo with the lights on, for a better look at the outfit (including the wrinkled linen).

image from farm7.static.flickr.com

Author

Mena Trott

Mena Trott started The Sew Weekly to document her attempt to sew all of her own clothes in 2010. Since then, she's made over 125 outfits and has way more clothes than she needs.

45 Comments

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  1. You got it again, you impressed me!!! If I see this film, probably this suit would have gone unnoticed me, but you have done a wonderful job and you seem really a heroine of an old movie, the effect of lights and your hair help to enhance on stage. Fabulous, Mena!

  2. Oh wow, I love it! I really, really adore the skirt that long…maybe you’ll rethink your decision to make it shorter?

  3. Love love love this one! The challenge is great, and I love the dress you chose – anything Edith Head is pretty much a home run. And your midriff looks fab!

  4. I think I remember this outfit from the Steve Martin’s ‘Dead Men don’t wear Plaid” – (more to my taste lol) How gorgeous your outfit is. And you really could get away with the long skirt. It looks so glamorous.

  5. Long dresses are totally in right now. You might want to wait a bit before you cut the skirt.
    Super cute!

  6. Looks so pretty on you.. You did a great job with this one.. Happy Sewing.

  7. You look absolutely stunning, Mena!

  8. These photos are absolutely stunning! The outfit is FANTASTIC! I love the lighting (hats off to Ben!) I love the photo of you drinking absinthe from the bottle! super fabulous!

  9. Are those dogs gog and magog? :D

  10. Magnificent! You look fab in the zebra stripes midriff baring outfit and the photo are just gorgeous!

  11. I agree, an amazingly weird statement, but in reality something completely sophisticated! Great photos, especially that one of you looking down, and kinda close up. Just gorgeous lighting on your face!
    You look like an uber skinny minnie as well, that kinda midriff is so flattering!

  12. Oh yes! My favourite Hitchcock film! Good work!

  13. Oh my gosh, this challenge and your choice are so amazing.It has to be my favorite challenge to date. I love the top and would love to wear that everyday:) I am sure the skirt can easily be reworked. The photos and information about Edith Head are so interesting. Thank you!

  14. I have to admit I squealed a little when I saw that you had made an outfit inspired by Notorious! :D I think that is perhaps my favorite of all Hitchcock movies, and this particular one has fascinated me (perhaps because I’ve always wondered if I could get away with something like that at a modern evening party… hehe!). I love your version of it–you look stunning! :)

  15. on top of the stunning outfit, so many yeses in this one:
    1. embrace the zebra print
    2. take full credit no matter what (sorry, ben)
    3. DRINK STRAIGHT OUT OF THE BOTTLE

  16. I agree with everyone who said don’t cut the long skirt. It’s a maxi! so in right now and ESPECIALLY for a vacay. I like it just the way it is, a least until you get back from your getaway.

  17. margueritedesigns

    Nothing wrong with the dress but I keep looking at the pot dogs because I’ve got a pair exactly like that!

  18. Wow, you look fantastic. I know you’re going to shorten the skirt, but I think it would look great refashioned into wide legged trousers gathered into the zebra waistband. Just a thought :-)

  19. This is one of my fav films. The outfit is divine. I like what Jane suggested. Wide leg trousers may be ideal.

  20. Love this! The noir lighting, the perfect interpretation of the dress – everything!

  21. A to the amazing Mena the outfit, the setting and lighting and the whole write up. I cant believe you contemplated painting leopard print OoOps zebra print. I can totally see your skirts fabric made from that Hollywood pattern. Brilliant!

  22. Thanks, Rosy! It was quite fun to play a character this week — and actually quite hard photos to shoot. You have to be really precise with that short of lighting!

  23. Thanks, Marie! We’ll see. It would be a nice vacation skirt at this length. I just want to get the most mileage out of it!

  24. Thanks, Katie! It’s quite amazing how many films Head designed for. What’s neat is to think that Hitchcock actually had the fashion sense to direct this in the script! And thanks for the midriff shout-out. The power of sucking in :)

  25. Thanks, Jen! Yes, there’s something pretty glamorous about a long skirt — even paired with a midriff shirt!

  26. Thanks, Karen! I know — I’m really loving long skirts right now! I just need to go on a tropical vacation with this getup.

  27. Thanks, Debi! Once I switched from Vertigo to Notorious, this challenge actually became fun. Absinthe is my drink.. Actually Death in the Afternoons.

  28. I’ve never heard those names before…

  29. Thanks, Adey! It was pretty fun to do this, this week.

  30. Thanks, Veronica! I’m lucky that I just happened to have photographers lights in my house. :) Thanks on the midriff compliment. That’s what strategic sucking in will get me.

  31. Thanks, Rebecca! This is actually my favorite photo shoot/challenge so far as well!

  32. Thanks, Casey! I actually was looking at your site when planning the outfit since I remember you doing a couple posts on the midriffs of the 1940s. So thanks for the “research.” :)

  33. Thanks, Jessie!

  34. Thanks, Oona! I’m going to print that list out and use it as a daily affirmation.

  35. Listening to you guys, I’ll probably keep it long! :)

  36. Those were a Christmas present to Ben (from my daughter — aka me) a couple years back. We love them!

  37. Thanks, Jane! That was something I was considering. I just didn’t have a pattern for that and decided to go the easy way.

  38. Thanks, Angela! It’s a tempting idea to cut it into pants.

  39. Thanks, Sarah! This was a totally fun challenge!

  40. Thanks, Kazz! This turned into my favorite post for the Sew Weekly — so I’m glad you folks liked it too!

  41. When I read what this weeks challenge was this is the very outfit I thought of! I’ve shown the opening scene to a few friends now just because of the mid-rif baring. Great work! I love the easy line on the shirt shoulder. Such a great shape!
    And Minnie – as a Prince Edward Island native I think I can assure you those are Gog and Magog on the mantle piece. Though the originals have green spots and it looks like those ones might have gold?