The “One More Drink” Outfit
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
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.
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.
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!
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.
And here’s a photo with the lights on, for a better look at the outfit (including the wrinkled linen).