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