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Many People Have Annie Hall All Wrong

By , 15 January, 2009, No Comment

Annie Hall (1977) is one of those movies which permeates popular culture. The quotes are famous and Annie’s wardrobe iconic — so much so that you think you’ve seen it when you really haven’t. It doesn’t help either when movie critics paraphrase the movie down to those memorable quotes and simple phrases, like “it’s the story of the relationship between neurotic Alvy (Woody Allen) and insecure & ditzy Annie (Diane Keaton)”. It’s not that it’s completely untrue, but — and remember, I’m a chick & of a certain age too! — I just don’t see it as that simple. The feminist in me sees Annie’s “evolution” as a mirror for the women’s movement, yes; but more upsetting to me is this conversation about “the Annie Hall look”.

Annie Hall

Annie Hall

First of all, when they say it looks “sloppy” they are just wrong; Annie’s clothes were always super pressed & crisp looking.

Often reduced such words as “mannish” & “androgynous” (I’ve even heard the look described as “cross dressing”), people are focusing on the wrong things. Yes, Keaton as Annie wears hats, vests, tweed blazers, and men’s neckties; but that’s not all she wore. In her singing performances, she wears more of that romantic 70’s look, hair up, long skirt, and some puffy shoulders with more billowy sleeves. While playing tennis, she’s the one with her collar turned up in what we’d now call a “preppy” move.

Annie Hall Playing Tennis

Annie Hall Playing Tennis

And I see her using fashion to express herself, her humor, herself. Like those unpredictable green shoes in this scene:

Shrink Sessions

Shrink Sessions

Her clothing may seem, as it supposedly did to the costume lady on Annie Hall, “crazy,” but is it really? In a time when women were exerting their rights, but unsure how to do so; in a film where Annie is being “educated” by Alvy, so that she’s more in his image; as a young woman from small-town Wisconsin living in big-city New York, trying to keep her roots as well as find her wings; what do you think she would wear? What would you wear?

Her eclectic fashion sense is the composition of all the selves Annie identifies with and is literally trying on.

I saw that most clearly when she’s in California, in the scene at the health food restaurant, refusing to marry Alvy. She may be wearing the California-dreamin’ caftan — but she has one of her vests on over it. She’s exerting herself, her identity, in whatever land she’s in.

That’s the big fashion lesson in this film: Wear what is you.

Most of us cannot copy Annie Hall’s look; Diane Keaton, especially in ’77, was a very thin, straight-built woman.

Cast Of Annie Hall

Cast Of Annie Hall

Wearing such angular, un-constructed, loose clothing on a curvy figure spells disaster.

However, anyone can adopt eclectic fashion accessories like hats (old & new there’s a style suitable for any face), neckties, shoes; anyone can take an otherwise specific or generic look and turn up (or down) a collar or cuffs; anyone can add a splash of I-never-could-have-imagined-that color.

Vintage clothing, shoes, jewelry & other accessories are fabulous in creating your own unique look and style. You need not be tied to the trends being pushed today. You need not ignore your body-type, your individual tastes. You need not present yourself as a cookie-cutter girl in a cookie-cutter world. And for the most part, vintage fashions are less expensive than their modern made counterparts.

I can’t say that Annie Hall was all about the thrift stores and antique shops (that wasn’t expressed in the film); but I believe she would smile at what you dug-up there and how you put it together to express yourself.

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  • Some Like it Vintage

    Hi Jaynie, I just love the way you write! Excellent post – always loved the Annie Hall look. It is still relevent and stylish today, some 30 years later.
    xo
    Veronica

  • Jaynie Van Roe

    Thanks, Veronica 🙂

    I can’t “do” the vests (too busty) and ditto ties… but shoes, jewelry, belts work great. Hats are still a challenge for me, but I keep looking. And whenever I put something old with something new I feel very Annie Hall indeed. 😉

  • Solo Mode » Blog Archive » SoloMode Style, Edition 8

    […] Van Roe presents Many People Have Annie Hall All Wrong posted at Here’s Looking Like You, […]

  • Janna K.

    Diane Keation is about a decae older than I am, so I remember very well
    what a big deal this fashion trend was at the time. Ralph Lauren designed some of the pieces and the floppy hat was Diane” grandmother’s. I was working at Neiman-Marcus at the time and we sold an Annie Hall line of apperal in the junior dept. And ,of course, Diane Keaton was and is adorable. she just gets more interesting withall the interests that she has now. Do I dress like her? Not really, but there are a few “homage to Diane” clothes in my closet!

  • Aurumgirl

    I loved your blog entry about the much-maligned and not-really- understood Keaton style. And I also remember (though I was in my early teens at the time) that her clothing in Anne Hall was impeccable, very expensive, and witty–“androgenous” was just one “look” out of her character’s eclectic but unmistakable style. No one else looked like her: I think that was the (feminist) point about her as a character. You’d be very hard pressed to find any female characters so well drawn in American cinema today.

    As for the way she dresses now–the tailored, patterned, coloured clothes she loves to choose show off her figure better than the low-cut, stylist assembled wear-this-for-a-fee stuff that most celebrities put on today. At post 60, Keaton still looks sexier and smarter in a turtle neck than every other celebrity in a revealing get-up out there (don’t agree? Imagine Keaton next to Sharon Stone in almost anything Stone puts on these days). It amazes me that people just don’t get her style at all, when she’s always doing something unique, and always referencing and inspired by some of the best designers who ever worked in the business.

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