Silver Screen Chic: Pretty in Pink

First of all, thanks everyone for all your support on my last post! I’m overwhelmed :-)

Today I’m very happy to be launching a new occasional series in collaboration with my friend, film writer Hannah who blogs over at I Watched This on Purpose. In case you haven’t seen her blog, Hannah is taking us through an analysis of her favourite movies in a bid to discover what makes them great. It’s well worth a read, especially if you’re into obscure and not-so-obscure movies from the 80s and 90s.

This collaborative series is going to be about refashions and fashion transformations in the movies. Hannah will be writing about the role each movie refashion takes in the plot, while I’ll be creating refashioning projects inspired by the same movies. Our first project together is on the classic thrift store fashion and refashioning movie, Pretty in Pink; I’ll be remaking this pink bridesmaid dress into something a lot more wearable.

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Take it away, Hannah:

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Right off the bat I need to tell you I don’t have any formal qualifications to write a guest column about movie fashions on a dressmaking blog. Especially not one as fabulous as Charity Shop Chic. In fact, this will go better if I confess a couple of things right up front:

1)      I have never watched Citizen Kane. Or any of the Godfather films.

2)      I have to ‘watch’ horror movies with my eyes shut and my unfortunate cinema partner narrating the action over the soundtrack.

3)      I cannot reliably thread up a sewing machine

4)      Only last week I had to ask Sally, proprietor of this marvellous enterprise, the correct way to pronounce ‘armscye’.

So I am very much an amateur around here, is what I am saying. But I’ve watched this blog grow from the very beginning and been in awe of the style and flair and sheer craftsmanship (craftwomanship?) that goes into its construction. Most of all I’ve loved seeing the supportive community that’s grown up around it and I’m really excited to be a part of it, if you’ll have me. And I’m especially thrilled to be here because this new series will be talking about one of my favourite things in films – fashion transformations! But I’m not talking about the girl putting on an expensive frock and discovering that under those unflattering glasses she’s a stone cold fox. At Charity Shop Chic, we’re above all that. This is about celebrating the imagination and creativity of those characters who want to approach the world a little bit differently, and use their fashion choices and crafting skills to do it. So in this series I’ll be taking you through a few of my favourites and hopefully introducing you to some fantastic films along the way, or inspiring you to revisit some old friends. And Sally will be joining in to give her own unique spin on the lessons we can learn from the silver screen.

The Film: Pretty in Pink

How could we not start this series off with Pretty in Pink? It’s classic, it’s iconographic, it’s Charity Shop Chic’s Citizen Kane. For anyone not familiar with the story, our heroine is Andie, Molly Ringwald’s finest moment (I’ll take counter arguments for The Breakfast Club in the comment section) a scholarship kid keeping her struggling single parent family together while she attends a swanky private school full of over-privileged yuppie snobs with immaculately blow-dried hair. She deals with this using an admirable combination of determination, hard work and amazing self-styling. Right off the bat we find out just how good she is, when she tells her Dad she made her whole outfit:

Even the hat, Molly?

Even the hat, Molly?

This may be a film of big themes – class in America, 80’s counter culture, the assumed privilege of the rich – but at its heart it tackles the most important issue of all the best teen films – who will take me to prom, and will he be cute?

Despite her apparent social pariah status, Andie has two potential dates vying for her affections: Duckie, her flamboyant and faithful old friend who uses his extravagant declarations of adoration (‘May I admire you?’) to cover up how deep his feelings for her really run, and Blane, a BMW driving rich kid with a sensitive side and nice line in oatmeal coloured jumpers.

Looking Good Duckie!

Looking Good Duckie!

‘Oatmeal’ actually describes him perfectly

‘Oatmeal’ actually describes him perfectly

This is important because what you wear really matters in this film. Like old cowboy movies where the hero can be identified by his white hat and the baddie wears black, in Pretty in Pink the bad guys favour pastel leisurewear and deconstructed linen jackets while you can pick out the good guys by their wicked eye for accessorising. It’s perhaps the only film ever where you can accurately pre-judge the state of someone’s moral core by the number of bangles they’re wearing.

This is a fantastic excuse for me to include the best scene of the whole film which in itself was an opportunity for John Hughes to shoehorn in his signature song and dance number (see also: Ferris Bueller lip syncing Danke Schoen on a carnival float). Here it’s a lower-key but no less joyful version of Otis Reading’s Try a Little Tenderness which incidentally also showcases the general fabulousness of Iona, Andie’s older boss at her record store job, who sports the best outfits of the film including this New Romantic flavoured 40’s number. If you’re having a bad day then I guarantee this will give you a lift:

But this is all of course entirely incidental. Pretty in Pink is all about That Dress. Andie, righteously indignant in the face of spineless rejection by Blane (can you tell who I’m rooting for?) is determined to go to the prom to show him how much she doesn’t care, and to do that she’ll need to summon all her design and dressmaking skills to combine Iona’s old 60’s prom dress and a spangly number her adorably supportive Dad picked up for her to transform – no points for guessing what colour they are.

And transform them she does. In a glorious example of that makeover staple, the montage, we get to see Andie’s design process – sketching, considering, adapting, adjusting and finally creating her masterpiece. And after all that effort, this is what we get:

‘Look at you....!’

‘Look at you….!’

Blimey. ‘Look at you! Another first!’ enthuses her Dad, showing amazing tact in the face of what can only be described as an ill-fitting, shoulder-baring, midi-length sack with stuck on lacy bits. But that’s not really the point – we get the point when Andie shows up at the prom and we see the contrast she makes as she cuts a flame-haired Schiaparelli blaze through a room peopled entirely by sorbet shaded puffball confections of girls. For one glorious moment, she’s standing out, not fitting in, and she’s magnificent.

This should have been the moment it all came together in triumph – and movie myths suggest that Andie was originally supposed to end up with Duckie. But somehow the film loses itself along the way. Iona makes herself over for her new yuppie boyfriend – ‘But he’s so niiiice’ she wails, adjusting her mumsy blazer and pearls combo and breaking my heart very slightly in the process. And Andie might arrive at the prom with Duckie – sporting a victorious quiff and bootlace tie combo – but she leaves with Blane, wearing a boring white dinner jacket with a vaguely apologetic expression and entirely failing to stand out from the crowd. So I’ll ignore that ending and pick my own moment – Duckie and Andie, wearing outfits they might wince at when they get the pictures back later but that they won’t ever regret – brave, and defiant, and nothing but themselves. May I admire you?

‘Voted cutest couple’

‘Voted cutest couple’

 

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Thank you Hannah for your insights on this classic refashioning movie! Don’t forget, you can read more of Hannah’s film articles here.

For my Pretty in Pink-inspired make, I picked up this bright fuchsia pink dress for £5.50 at the East Lancashire Hospice shop in Darwen, Lancashire. I wanted something reminiscent of Iona’s formal prom dress and I think this fits the bill with its full skirt and petticoat.

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This is poly taffeta with just the right amount of sheen. Unfortunately there was at least one area of damage to the waistband.

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I carefully looked at the tag to confirm the shop’s label which said size 10.

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When I tried this on at home though, it’s much smaller than that. On closer inspection there are several areas where the dress has clearly been altered. Such a substantial amount of work has been done that it made me wonder whether this had been a bridesmaid dress. The straps have been made a significant amounts shorter, making me wonder if it was intended for a child. The effect on my frame was to make me look like an overgrown toddler bridesmaid having had a massive growth spurt between the dress fitting and the wedding.

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The first thing that had to change was the armscye shapes. Wearing this in front of the mirror, I pinned the new line that I wanted. The straps will be much simmer and the armscye a lot deeper.

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To be able to work on the armscye more easily, I detatched the skirt section at this point.

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I removed the waistband…

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Took out the bodice side seams and made a rough line of stitching to mark the shape of the new armscye.

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I cut the fabric and the lining 1cm from the line of stitching to account for seam allowance. To cut the other armhole, I pinned on the cut off section from the other side and used it as a pattern.

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The original armscyes had a thin strip of interfacing to stabilise the fabric, so I did the same for my new shapes.

 

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Here’s how it looks sewn up.

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In order to get rid of the rather unflattering empire line, I wanted to add a section to the midriff, replacing the old waistband with a much wider section.

I measured the seam length on the bodice and skirt, and made a quick paper pattern for the midsection. It’s basically a rectangle, with the top skewed slightly outwards to match the slightly wider bodice. This section is about 15cm tall.

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Andie adds to her dress using a lace insert from a thrifted dress her father gives her. I’m not adding lace to mine, instead I’m adding a section made from this multi-coloured digital print fabric I bought at Minerva Crafts, on my trip to Darwen last month (same day as I bought the dress, but at the time, I had no plans to combine these two materials). The fabric is digital leaf shapes in every colour. I carefully chose some sections that were predominantly pink. Since the fabric was a lightweight slinky polyester, I interfaced both pieces entirely.

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I cut matching pieces from some white lining as I couldn’t bear the thought of pink lining behind the white/multicoloured section. Here’s how they both look joined onto the bodice front and back.

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At this point I realised that the zip, which was still attached to the skirt section, was not going to be long enough, so that had to be replaced with a much longer version.

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Here’s how the dress looks – this is before I inserted the new zip, but it gives you a good idea overall.

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The lining looks a but bouy-like but no-one will see that.

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Here’s how it looks on. Sadly I’m a bit too old to be going to a prom, but the dress was perfect for a few glasses of Laurent-Perrier champagne at one of London’s swankiest bars. This is ‘Vertigo’ at the top of Tower 42 in the centre of the financial district. It’s 42 floors up so it’s a great spot for views of London, especially at sunset.

Overall, I felt great in Andie’s signature colour, but I do think it helps that I picked a shade of pink which flatters my complexion. I wore matching shoes and lipstick with this (a la Andie) but next time I wear it, I think I’ll go for contrasting shoes, maybe navy, to break up the matchy-matchy vibe.

What’s your favourite movie refashion? Which movie should we tackle next? Leave a comment below and let us know your requests!

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Cheers!

 

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62 comments

  1. april

    The only other movie I can think of, which I am sure it’s just that I haven’t had my coffee yet and my mind is blanking out on me, is “Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead”. Christina Applegate’s character was into mixing and matching outfits.I don’t remember if she sewed anything and actually refashioned one. It’s a start. :D I loved this post. :)

  2. Helen // Grosgrain Green

    What a great idea for a series! And what a fantastic opener! I LOVE Pretty in Pink, and definitely agree it’s MR’s finest!!! I need to go and watch it again now. Love the refashion. Not quite as “quirky” as Andie’s but definitely more wearable! 😊

    The bit that always bothers me in that film is when Andie cries on Iona’s shoulder, and Iona is wearing the white blazer – how come the blazer doesn’t end up covered in mascara? I wonder this every time…

  3. kmom14

    Great post and refashion!

    I too was disappointed in the ending to “Pretty In Pink”; ending up with snobby boring Blane and Ione changing her style lost the message of “be an individual and be accepted for who you are into “Be a Sheep and Conform” to seek the approval of the snobs. I like Hannah’s imagined ending much better.

    A few movies I can think of that have refashioning is “Gone With The Wind” where Scarlett O’Hara makes her dress out of drapes, and “Enchanted” where Giselles spoofs the reference.

    Also in “Uptown Girl” Brittany Murphy’s “Molly Gunn” uses a lampshade from Home Depot as a hair ornament and when she ruins her love interests jacket she pulls out the spray paint and sacrifices a favorite stuffed toy to revamp his jacket.

    • charityshopchic

      When I watched it for the first time, I couldn’t believe the ending. I had to rewind it and watch it again to make sure. I couldn’t believe they invested so much time in the Duckie storyline to then have it end in nothing.
      Thanks for the movie suggestions! They are now on the list so stay tuned!

  4. fionaparker17

    I love the idea for this series Sally! So great. Pretty in Pink is one of my fave films plus I love Vertigo, been there for many a special occasion! Love what you did to this dress to make it much more contemporary…as always!

  5. KathrynH

    I love Pretty in Pink and would proudly say it’s my favourite film! At 40 something I have to say I was the right age when this film came out to be inspired by Andie’s thrift store style (at the time I thought her boss, Iona, was really old and now I think how young and cool she is!). I wonder how many other charity shop shoppers have been inspired by Andie’s wardrobe? What a great idea for a series- can’t wait for the next one…

  6. Jess

    Two more refashioning films are Batman Returns, where Michelle Pfeiffer makes her catwoman outfit from a PVC coat and The sound of music where Maria makes the children clothes out of old curtains.

  7. Eme (@la_madalena)

    Pretty in Pink is the film that started it all for me! I watched one summer when I was a kid and I remember draping plastic bags on my cousin and then sewing them by hand to make clothes because, of course, no one in his right mind would give fabric to a child. I was also madly in love with James Spader because I always fall for the bad guy :P
    Also, Blanco made The Pretty In Pink Prom Dress a few years back. I did not like the fabric nor the print but I bought just so I could trace the pattern!
    My favourite film refashion is from Seven Brides For Seven Brothers, when Adam says to Millie: “There is a trunk in the attic full of things that belonged to my mother. You’ll have clothes if you are handy with the needle”. It remind me of my grandma, who used to make her clothes from her father’s discarded/worn out shirts. Later on the movie we see Millie and the rest of the girls making clothes. They were designed by the same guy who designed the clothes for Gone With The Wind -ah, the curtain made into a velvet green dress!!!
    Love your bridesmaid dress. Who would have thought that a simple piece of fabric could make such a difference!

  8. Claire

    What a difference a strip of fabric makes, and what a strip of fabric! Glad you figured out why it was so tight, but it’s horrible to find out your charity shop treasure has been altered. Ah well, it all came good in the end, and how! Love the idea for the series of posts, can’t add any refashion film ideas to the hat as I’m more inspired by Morticia of the Addams family, and not a great film goer. I do remember Pretty in Pink though, and thinking I could do a lot better with that fabric!

    • charityshopchic

      Hi Claire! Yes I had rather a sinking feeling when I tried this on at home and it was so significantly smaller/shorter than it should have been. I am happy with the final dress, though!

  9. anenthusiast

    Love this! So looking forward to more!! I’m loving people’s references to fashion transformation moments in film- some I’d forgotten about and really want to watch again!

  10. PLL

    Gone With the Wind…Scarlet O’hara tearing down and then wearing the beautifully refashioned drapery.

  11. Chris

    Funfeature – and great refash on the dress. My one big pet peeve of the Pretty in Pink prom dress was the neckline – I could never see how she got into it. From the front picture that you show to back views in the movie – where was the fastening? Aggravating as I was sewing at the time and could never figure it out.

  12. Kathleen

    I have been following your blog for several years, and have enjoyed every post of yours. I myself have started refashioning, since I retired 6 months ago. It’s so nice to have inexpensive clothing that fits me, my style, and my life circumstances. This current post is my favorite – what a great idea! Fascinating- I look forward to future posts! Thank you so much for sharing your interests and ideas with us!

  13. sewlittletime

    love it all – the dress (yours, not hers – her dress has got to be the most disappointing film moment in history!), the film, molly ringwald, duckie dancing in the record shop (why didn’t she end up with duckie?), evil james spader, and above all the song pretty in pink by the psychedelic furs. my favourite film refashion is scarlett o’hara with the curtain in gone with the wind. and until i read the comment above i had never thought that Enchanted was referencing that bit!

  14. Joyce Wan

    Someone up here has already mentioned it, but Sound of Music when she makes the outfits out of curtains was really memorable for me, and also explains why I make a lot of my own clothes out of old curtains. Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion is also fantastic, and oddly inspiring.

  15. Roberta

    Great Refashion! I always wondered why she didn’t end up with Duckie too. But you cannot forget the greatest refashion of them all–Cinderella refashioning her Mom’s old ball gown into a new one (even though she never got to wear it).

  16. Amy

    This is awesome! I love the Minerva flower fabric as well,perfect color match! Dusky pink is definitely one of my favorites! Looking forward to more movie/refashion crossovers!

  17. Helena A.

    Hi!
    What a great refashion! The fabric you chose to the waist is perfect!
    kisses from Potugal!

  18. Teresa

    I love the new dress! You are so skilled! I would love to see you do something based on the clothes from the movie Auntie Mame with Rosalind Russell. I know it’s an older movie but I love the clothes she wore in it and I bet with your talent you could pull it off beautifully!

  19. sonya benson

    I love “pretty in pink”, one of my all time favourite films, for so many reasons, but especially the fashion, which was the amazing, the music (ditto) and, dare I say, the social commentary? Afraid I did fancy Andrew McCarthy (blane) and apparently the original ending was supposed to have andie and duckies getting it on, but the test audiences didn’t like it so the ended was re shot. Useful movie fact there, fact fans! Love James spader, too, such a brilliant actor, have u seen him in “Secretary”? Also good fashions in this one (Maggie Gyllenhaal).

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