time, less


I caught “Girl, Interrupted” on television a few weeks back – a movie I disliked the first time I saw it when I was 15, even though it themes should have resonated with me at that age. 12 years down the road, I still find the movie pretty unengaging – I don’t think it’s a bad movie, it’s just not my type of movie.

What I loved then, and still found myself pretty in love with the second time round, is Susanna’s (played by Winona Ryder) clothes. Stripes, slouchy button downs, cropped trousers, prim knits, tailored jackets.


The movie is set in the late 60s, and I don’t know how accurate the styles are for the time, but it works for me because it lacks the kitsch that actual movies from the 60s have – I guess it’s more along the lines of how a person living in the 90s interprets 60s clothing.

It made me think about what makes clothes and styles date. We all think of blue jeans as a classic and yet even that is subject to trends – acid wash from the 80s, flares from the 70s, and some styles unbearably regrettable to modern eyes.

Looking at Susanna’s clothes, and my old magazines, my personal take on what keeps a look timeless is:
  • Simple hairstyles - nothing too teased and processed
  • Minimal or no make-up.
  • Clean lines, no extreme silhouettes – things that follow the natural lines of the body
  • Neutral colours (black, white, cream, navy, beige, grey)
  • Trousers: neither too skinny nor wide
  • Skirts: long, short, or knee-length. Nothing in between
  • Slouchy (but not too baggy) things look less dated than super fitted things
  • Flat shoes (heel heights and shapes change too much)
Also, I find that clothes designed for function - parkas, fisherman sweaters, peacoats, jeans, t-shirts, trenchcoats, those L.L Bean canvas ice totes - tend not to date as much.



Pictures from imdb, moviepicturedb

P.S - A digression; I found this terrific post called "When does an outfit become a costume" on The Daily Prep by chance, and it perfectly describes my feelings on the subject. And I'm not in anyway a preppy type or an expert on prep.


You nailed it perfectly on timeless style. Goes to show there's a reason why certain things have been around for x amount of years.

I like Girl Interrupted for the Angelina Jolie scenes.
0000 said…
Really interesting article at the end! I also agree that functional clothing tends to be more classic than flashy clothing, which often reflects a prevailing mood of the time. I do prefer to mix a few contemporary with classic pieces though. I like donning something fun that really speaks to me, even if it's not the most classic piece, because it keeps my wardrobe from getting so classic that it's solemn.
Joy said…
great 90s and 60s mix. was going to write about similar things for this film i saw recently called "a nos amours". you should go check it out. i thought it was filmed just yesterday but i obviously dont know my pialat and its filmed freakin 1982! ok its not like it's all that long again but heck what Suzanne wears are immortal.
Lindsay K said…
Great food for thought!

I find myself in the Sally Singer camp when it comes to what's timeless and what dates. It's largely about proportion. That's my biggest criticism of minimalism. When all your eye has to look at and analyze is cut and proportion- it's inevitably dating. Sometimes items that are a bit more original are far more difficult to assign a time to.

That being said, some of my favorite designers of all time produced clothing that's incredibly timeless. Take Mme Gres, it's impossible to distinguish when her dresses were designed. They just all look so classic and yet truly relevant.
Camille said…
I agree with you on every point. Another good cinematographical example I have found is Woody Allen's "Hannah and Her Sisters", have you seen it? Although it was filmed in the 80s--the decade that often looks the most dated in my opinion-- most of the characters, Lee in particular, wear very timeless items which ascribe to the list you made.
Fen said…
lovely screen caps, I love Winona in this movie, her clothing and hairstyle are perfect - fresh faced and simplistic.

what a great link, it's made me feel very nostalgic for the time I spend in New England! I especially like the column in which she comments that a costume 'highlights the wearer at the expense of the scene', so true and such an inspired observation.
The Waves said…
Great observations; I agree with all of them. I'm particularly drawn to the idea of how make-up and hair can totally age a piece of clothing. I'm sure there is something that could be said about jewelry as well; my gut tells me that silver and platinum age much better than gold or bronze.

I'm not a huge fan of Girl, Interrupted either. The subject matter is of great interest to me, and I can recognise that there is good acting in the movie, but personally I feel like it lacks a heart.
petrichore said…
Wow, it's been awhile since I've seen that movie! But the scenes you chose all have such classic clothing. Sometimes I feel like '90s clothing looks so dated and baggy, and I cringe for the day that the fashion world decides to revisit it (what is the saying--That if you were old enough to live through the trend the first time, you are too old to wear it the second time around?). Yet the minimalism of Calvin Klein from that era still largely looks fresh to my eyes, as do the outfits you have chosen for this post. Thanks for a trip down memory lane!

minima/maxima, a blog about minimalist style
lin said…
Pret a Porter P: Actually, Angelina's clothes were pretty good too. Not my style but I love the 70s rock feel.

0000: I agree. Classics are great because they're great on their own but they're also great canvas for expressing style....people build on them and create something new and that's inspiring to see.

joy: I shall check out that movie.

Lindsay K: You're right about minimalism...a clean-edged shift dress from the 60s is very minimal and sleek and yet it looks dated because of the shape. But a tea dress from the 40s can look very modern with updated hair and make-up...

And I agree about Mme Gres. She's modern in a way that's different from the Coco Chanel idea of modern...I can't articulate it but it's just classical and innovative at the same time.

Camille: I haven't seen that movie but I saw pictures on a blog (think it was Her Ribbons and Her Bows) before and I totally agree!

Woody Allen movies usually have great clothes, or at least, my idea of great clothes...even Midnight in Paris was full of great time stuff I want to wear.

Fen: Glad you liked the link....I think it just clarified for me everything that bothers me about how some people dress. Some people look great in theatrical styles but some people just look pretentious...it's hard to describe that feeling but I think the things she listed in the tables to articulate which side of the line a look falls into.

The Waves: Perhaps its the styles that date it, rather than material? I think discreet designs date less...although they may also be less interesting, haha.

I agree with what you say about "Girl, Interrupted", it just didn't move me the way I thought it would.

petrichore: I'm very much in love with Calvin Klein from the 90s as well!
Eileen said…
I haven't watched the movie but the outfits look as relevant today as it was set in the 60s. Thanks for posting the link at the end. It served as a personal reminded to cut down on those "cute and unnecessary" buys.

Great post, Lin!
lin said…
Eileen: It's not that great a movie, haha. If you have HBO they show it rather often. At least one month a year it's on regular rotation.
chrisbean said…
absolutely couldn't resist passing this along, because I have a soft spot for Ms. Simpson, the woman who said, "I'm nothing to look at, so the only thing I can do is dress better than anyone else." Even if she was kind of a Nazi.

Apparently the "Girl, Interrupted" costume designer also worked on Madonna's new biopic of Wallis Simpson, and it's just a fabulous interview.

editor said…
i agree about the wardrobe. definitely one that you can get by watching with the sound turned off.
lin said…
chrisbean: I know what you mean abt wallis simpson, she gives me the creeps but i grudging admit she was kind of formidable and she was 100% chic. but she still gives me the creeps.

arianne philips! she's done so much great work for movies, I still remember Tank Girl, and of course A Single Man, and The People vs Larry Flynt.

editor: Hahah, I've never thought about it that way...I might actually try that the next time.

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