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Of All The Gin Joints… Femme Fatale Fitted Suits Walk Into My Life

By , 13 August, 2009, 5 Comments
Mildred Pierce

Mildred Pierce

When most people think of the fashions women wore in film noir, they think of the sultry, clingy, glamour girl gowns worn by torch singers. They are stunning — but me? I always think of the fabulous female forms in those fabulous fitted suits.

Maybe someone has done an accounting to see which sort of fashions appeared most often in film noir features… I don’t have any idea, myself.

But even if the glamour girl gowns out-number the fitted suits, the suits are more far more iconic to me.

The suits conveyed a sense of power on the part of the women — even if in their situations they were doomed and therefore powerless by definition.

And when they performed the simple act of removing their suit jacket, oh the sexual tension!

Casablanca

Casablanca

Every film noir script or pulp detective novel I ever wrote (yup, I’ve got folders full of ’em!), always featured a woman as powerful & wise as she was beautiful & jaded — and she always walked in wearing a fitted suit above those clicking high heeled shoes. And so, here’s a salute to the film noir femme fatale fitted suit!

1940’s fitted black suit by B. Altman & Co. Fifth Avenue New York:

Black Fitted Vintage Women's Suit

Black Fitted Vintage Women's Suit

A stunning vintage Adele Simpson suit with Ermin collar:

1940s Adele Simpson Suit With Ermin Collar

1940s Adele Simpson Suit With Ermin Collar

Pretty vintage lemon yellow gabardine suit:

Vintage Yellow Gabardine Suit

Vintage Yellow Gabardine Suit

A vintage rayon suit in a rainy grey color and deco detailing:

Vintage Femme Fatale Suit

Vintage Femme Fatale Suit

And this 1940’s women’s black suit jacket — with blue glass beading:

1940s Suit Jacket With Glass Beading

1940s Suit Jacket With Glass Beading

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5 Responses {+}
  • BobbinsAndBombshells

    I’m a huge fan of film noir too! Great post!

  • thatgrrl

    I’ve always thought of the fitted suits too, long before the gowns. I really liked that Katy Perry music video where she has the whole outfit on, that whole look. I don’t even remember the name of the song now. 🙂

  • Desiree

    I absolutely love your blog.

    I was reading something in my film class about this…its not so much suit vs. dress, but its all about restricting the body and forcing the silhouette into a very severe shape that kind of fits with the dramatic darks and lights of noir. and i think all that black, all those tight clothes makes us reall feel the sexual tension.

    i love mildred pierce, btw. nice to see someone else does too!

  • Jaynie Van Roe

    ThatGrrl, I’m not sure if I’ve seen that video you’re talking about…But I did interview one designer that’s “dressed” Katy Perry

  • Jaynie Van Roe

    Hi Desiree,

    Film noir was highly stylized, and the fashions too. Most were body hugging silhouettes — but not all of them. Many of “the good girls” were far less so… Indicating their lack of power — or a lack of wielding it. Men were mainly victimized by the sexual power women — or at least held hostage by it; or they were oblivious to the woman altogether. Even without the lighting etc., it’s pretty hard not to have sexual tension that way 😉

    I’d be interested in hearing more about your class materials… Share, please?

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