Dressing Don’t Worry Darling

The young adults of 2022 are constantly streaming media. Tik Toks, Instagram posts, Snapchat stories, tweets on their twitter feed, all reducing their attention spans to a few seconds. Concentration has grown sparse. Multitasking has become common. How often do we feel as if we don’t have enough time to sit and relax to watch a movie? As students, the constant pressures of school and social life keep us from enjoying the simple things such as films or going to the theatres. But, if we were to pause and watch a movie not for background noise, but for the entertainment of the film, what would we learn?

In the popular film, Don’t Worry Darling, starring Harry Styles and Florence Pugh, the famous costume designer, Arianne Phillips, used costumes to convey character development and their feelings beyond the script. One of the first scenes shows Florence Pugh, playing Alice, only in the white buttondown of her husband, Jack, played by Styles, kissing him goodbye as he heads off to work. This state of undress would have been viewed as controversial in her 1950’s stimulation life, but is Phillips’ way of foreshadowing the reality behind Alice and Jack’s seemingly perfect life. 

Throughout the film, the costumes show the development – or lack thereof – of the characters. One of the secondary characters who provides perspective about life in the town of Victory – Bunny, played by Olivia Wilde –, remains in traditional 50’s style clothing because of her superficial love for the Victory. The suits of Jack and Frank, founder of Victoryn, were meant to seduce the audience into loving the townas much as the characters seem to at first glance. Victory was a living area centered around the male gaze and patriarchal control. Jack and Frank’s alluring suits made the audience’s fascination of Alice and Frank’s perfect life, often providing sexual undertones to the scenes. Lastly, Alice’s costumes evolved throughout the production with the evolution of traditional colors of the 50’s to brighter colors, like fuschia, and outfits more often seen in the 60’s. Phillips intended for these costumes to hint at Alice’s forward thinking and the growth towards her revelation of what was truly happening around her.

During the tumultuous scene of Alice’s major unearthing of the lie she had been living in, she was wearing a white dress. This became a popular halloween costume for many women this year following the releaseof the film. Phillips often saw white dresses as a foreshadowing of blood or gore, as red contrasts so strongly with white. Phillips was able to use this costuming contrast to further accentuate the dividebetween Alice’s seemingly perfect life in Victory and reality. 

So next time you sit down and plan to overstimulate yourself with the many forms of media at your reach, don’t forget to look for the analysis behind films through the evolution of costuming and set.

By Carol Grace Andrews

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