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How Onscreen Fashion Is Rewriting History for Women



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“Difficult diva.” “Wanton pin-up girl.” “Greedy clown.”

Sound familiar? It should, because we’re in the midst of a cultural reckoning as we revisit how society has viewed and treated women over the years. In the instances of famous—or infamous—women in particular, those perceptions still linger, not helped by judgmental media portrayals (and a few cruel Saturday Night Live impressions). Along with memoirs and documentaries, dramatized film and TV projects give us a reintroduction to these narratives through a fresh lens, and an opportunity to reassess those one-note perceptions nailed into our consciousness.

Above all else, appearance and style influenced surface-level appraisals and helped construct perceived personas. Think Pamela Anderson’s form-fitting white dresses, Aretha Franklin’s sparkly gowns with plunging necklines, and Monica Lewinsky’s playful ‘90s outfits. In the on-screen dramatizations, these iconic aesthetics enabled costumes to distill emotions, layers, and intentions through storytelling.

The Eyes of Tammy Faye chronicles the rise and fall of a Christian televangelist empire through the viewpoint of matriarch Tammy Faye Messner, then Bakker (played by Jessica Chastain). As her husband Jim (Andrew Garfield) brought the organization down through financial fraud and sexual transgressions, she was relegated to a clownish joke. Her over-the-top ‘80s power shoulders, ostentatious furs, and heavy eye makeup, which inevitably resulted in cascades of melting mascara whenever she expressed emotion, almost seemed tailor-made for memes.

But costume designer Mitchell Travers leaned into Tammy’s fearless, flashy, and, yes, “outlandish” fashion sense to telegraph her hopes and aspirations, especially as the only woman in her male-dominated, ultra-conservative world. “I wanted the audience to have the same experience with Tammy, but on her terms—instead of being the wife of somebody or the poster child for ‘80s greed,” he says.

In the ‘60s, when Tammy and Jim began climbing the ladder of televangelist fame, they attended a lavish Easter party at the mansion of Jim’s boss, Pat Robertson (Gabriel Olds). Tammy, clad in a mod green shift dress, pink pilgrim collar blouse, and black tights, reveals glimmers of ambition as she admires Robertson’s wife’s plush mink coat. “You’re introduced to this new woman in Christian broadcasting,” Travers adds. Later, Tammy confidently pulls up a chair to sit with the top-level men in the ministry, to their surprise and annoyance.

Andrew Garfield and Jessica Chastain in The Eyes of Tammy Faye.

Searchlight Pictures

The inventive color combination illustrates Tammy’s vivacious personality, which helped attract upwards of 12 million viewers (and annual contributions of $1 million) to the Bakker’s show, The PTL Club (for Praise the Lord or “pass the loot”) at its height in the ‘80s. The pink-and-green combo also foreshadows Tammy’s audacious style evolution and brings the Maybelline Great Lash tube to life. “It was really interesting for me to find the character through the lashes,” Travers says. “This is a woman who is willing to stand up to these incredibly powerful men in her industry, and do it in a way that comes across as charming. Her secret weapon is that she was able to really look everybody in the eyes.”

Pre-fame backstories help illuminate the animus behind famous figures and their trajectory, while also allowing creative storytelling through costumes, as in the case of the Aretha Franklin biopic Respect, starring Jennifer Hudson. With a dearth of early images, costume designer Clint Ramos studied photos of the Detroit Black community’s Sunday Best church ensembles to help create a culturally rich world conveying the singer’s upbringing as gospel nobility. (Her father, C.L., played by Forest Whitaker, was an influential preacher and civil rights activist.)

jennifer hudson stars as aretha franklin and forest whitaker as her father cl franklin inrespect a metro goldwyn mayer pictures filmphoto credit quantrell d colbert

Jennifer Hudson and Forest Whitaker in Respect.

Quantrell D. Colbert

To launch Aretha’s recording career, C.L. takes her to a meeting with Columbia Records in New York City. She enters the posh gold lobby, outfitted in a green wool coat, with a luxe fur collar and matching pillbox cap. Upon arriving in the office of label exec John Hammond (Tate Donovan), she unveils a sleeveless marigold silk shift dress. C.L. begins pitching Aretha and orders her to stand up and twirl around, as Hammond reacts in visible discomfort. “She’s like a little treasure that [C.L. is] selling,” says Ramos. “I wanted the audience to be aware that the two big male figures in her life and in the movie—her husband [and manager Ted] and her father were operating in the same pimpish way. He was selling this idea of a person, who was not her. It was total patriarchy in action.”

In the upcoming Pam & Tommy, costume designer Kameron Lennox helps revisit sexy, girl-next-door Pamela Anderson (Lily James) for a public scandal played for salacious laughs in the mid-’90s. The Hulu limited series is reportedly a comedic depiction of a then-unprecedented, pre-social media viral moment resulting from the release of a sex video of then-newlyweds Anderson and Tommy Lee (Sebastian Stan). In the very early days of the Internet and rise of celebrity culture obsession, the contents of the VHS tape were disseminated through bootleg copies and marketed as pornography. The situation feels especially exploitative considering the footage was shot by a married couple for their own private enjoyment and stolen from their home safe.

The public pretty much high-fived the Mötley Crüe drummer (and his, erm, endowment), while sneering at Anderson and conflating her signature bombshell style with her unconsented exposure in this situation. “She was extremely confident about her body,” Lennox says. “That was her armor.”

In studying ‘90s-era Anderson, Lennox also found a “classic” element in the Baywatch star’s sartorial confidence. So she tried to get into Anderson’s head to mine the influences behind her style. “I did a whole board with images of Brigitte Bardot and Marilyn Monroe and even some ‘70s photography.”

hulu pam and tommy

Lily James as Pamela Anderson in Pam & Tommy.

Erica Parise

Fast forward to 2021 and images of James and Stan in jaw-droppingly spot-on recreations of Anderson’s and Lee’s defining costumes, hair and makeup—down to the tats—really did go viral. A self-proclaimed “purist,” Lennox replicated exact fits to match those larger-than-life moments seared into our memories. “It was really important that everything—even the cut of the Baywatch bathing suit—had to lay on her body exactly like it did because it was so iconic,” says Lennox.

American Crime Story: Impeachment takes another look at the women involved in the fallout of President Bill Clinton’s affair with then-22-year-old intern Monica Lewinsky (Beanie Feldstein). Painted as a Lolita with no agency, Lewinsky took control of her own narrative through her 1999 memoir, activism, and social media. As a producer on the Ryan Murphy anthology series, she consulted on the script and shared significant wardrobe details with costume designer Meredith Markworth-Pollack to authentically communicate her frame of mind in those moments. “Beanie actually wore one of Monica’s dresses, so that was a really special moment for all of us,” Markworth-Pollack says, referencing a Gap floral maxi dress that Lewinsky wore to the same hearing depicted in a scene.

Recognizable looks can also be incorporated into the plotline at intentionally inaccurate times to amplify a specific plotpoint. During the peak of the Bakker’s fame, the PTL crew, jammed into SUVs, tears across the open terrain to visit the future site of the Bakker’s Christian theme park, Heritage U.S.A. Swathed in an opulent—and absurdly impractical—white mink coat and matching Russian hat, Tammy is ignored and dismissed by her husband and the group of suited men in the ministry.

In real life, Messner wore the same extravagant white ensemble on the cover of her 1979 album, We’re Blest. But Travers found that the example of Tammy’s “camp” aesthetic helped drive home the notion of the Bakkers’s “wild” and ambitious endeavor to build a religious theme park to rival Disneyland. “That’s the moment when [the Bakker’s lives] all become so over the top,” Travers says.

In Respect, Ramos interprets a renowned look in a different way to represent a turning point in Franklin’s journey. In 1968, the U.S. chart-topping singer embarked on a European tour, expected to launch her into global superstardom—but not just yet. Franklin’s second rousing overseas performance in Amsterdam was recorded on black-and-white film, thus giving Ramos documented reference material. He found an exact copy of Franklin’s glimmering gown—revealed to be gold, which didn’t feel quite appropriate for that point in her career. “If she wears gold in that scene, it seems like she’s already hit a pinnacle, right?” says Ramos.

jennifer hudson stars as aretha franklin inrespect a metro goldwyn mayer pictures filmphoto credit quantrell d colbert

Jennifer Hudson as Aretha Franklin in Respect.

Quantrell D. Colbert

So he took “the spirit of the dress” and custom-designed a gown, with similar intricate and Swarovski-embellished lattice-work, in a pale champagne pink. “It was the aspiration of fabulousness, but absolutely delicate,” explains Ramos, citing that Franklin, at that time, was still under the control of her abusive husband and manager. “It was trying to give her a little bit of nuance. She was still very fragile.”

For dramatized scenes in private, and often intimate, settings, pared-down leisurewear helps subliminally express vulnerability and conflict. In the ‘70s, Franklin strikes out on her own, embraces her own distinct sound and style, and dedicates herself to civil rights activism. Ensconced in her sun-filled manse with her family and entourage, she’s also exhausted, overextended, and battling addiction. Taking a rollercoaster ride of emotions, Franklin flits through her rooms in a billowing sheer leopard-print caftan layered over a matching slip.

“I imagined her to be super powerful at this point, when she’s come to her political resolve,” says Ramos. “She’s freed herself of the men who were encumbering her. Yet she’s still trapped like a caged animal. That was what led me to the leopard print.”

Markworth-Pollack used grim at-home scenes to create an origin story for “The Most Hated Woman in America,” i.e. Linda Tripp (Sarah Paulson), who betrayed Lewinsky when she tipped off the FBI. Outside of Tripp’s affirming professional space, she eats sad-looking microwave dinners in front of her TV, wearing baggy sweaters and capri pants. “She really doesn’t love herself,” says Markworth-Pollack. “I wanted to make sure that that was relayed at home.”

The costume designer also used loungewear to illustrate the dynamics of Bill and Hillary Clinton (Edie Falco), when not being scrutinized by TV viewers or White House staffers. After discussions with Falco, Markworth-Pollack determined that in the White House bedroom, Hillary would wear pajama sets and silk nightgowns to characterize her steadfast composure in the face of pressure. “She’s still trying to hold onto their routine, like nothing out of the norm is happening,” says Markworth-Pollack. Bill, for his part, looks slightly disheveled in T-shirts and pajama pants.

Coincidentally, Travers’s favorite at-home reveal of Messner also involves a TV dinner, but in a more relaxed, upbeat setting, in line with her optimism and self-admitted love of all things “cheap and cheerful.” Her biggest feat was getting Chastain to wear Garfield (no pun intended to her co-star) slippers, albeit in a scene that was ultimately left on the cutting room floor. But the message remains consistent. “There was always a sense of humor to what Tammy wore—when no one was looking, when everyone was looking—and I wanted that to carry through.”

Let’s all take a moment to reevaluate, shall we?

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Jennifer Lopez Joined Ben Affleck In L.A. With Kids For Thanksgiving



Jennifer Lopez Joined Ben Affleck In L.A. With Kids For Thanksgiving

On Wednesday night, Jennifer Lopez arrived in Los Angeles with her 13-year-old twins Max and Emme. The family was likely there to join Lopez’s boyfriend, Ben Affleck, for the Thanksgiving holiday. Lopez recently returned from the much colder climate of British Columbia, Canada, where she was filming her latest project, The Mother.

J. Lo touched down in her private jet wearing a teddy fur coat from Coach’s Autumn/Winter 2019 collection, and a pair of Ugg boots. Classic airplane outfit, celebrity style. Lopez and Affleck originally dated in 2002 and broke up in 2004. Their romance was rekindled earlier this year, soon after Lopez ended her relationship with baseball player Alex Rodriguez. The new couple went official in July, while celebrating Lopez’s 52nd birthday abroad.

Affleck’s most recent relationship with Ana de Armas ended in January after about a year together. He had divorced ex-wife Jennifer Garner in 2015 after being married for almost a decade. Garner and Affleck had three daughters, Violet, Seraphina, and Sam.

Before traveling back to the U.S., Lopez posted a story to Instagram Reels about how grateful she was to be headed home.

“Hey everybody, it’s my last day here shooting on The Mother out in Smithers in the snow, it’s been beautiful, but tonight I’m on my way home,” she said, as she walked through the wild landscape in a black coat and beanie.

“I’m so excited for Thanksgiving! I hope everybody has an amazing weekend with their families and their loved ones, there’s so much to be grateful for this year. I’m on my way!”

This is the first major holiday of the year since Lopez and Affleck reunited, so it’s likely to be a big one for both families.

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Everlane’s Black Friday Sale is Packed With Winter Essentials





This is not a drill: Everlane just kicked off its Black Friday sale. Now through Monday, November 29, the direct-to-consumer brand is offering 20 to 40% off its cozy sweaters, minimalist activewear, and popular jeans. If you’re not super familiar with Everlane, let me spell it out for you: this is a big deal.

The e-tailer might be known for making sustainable, ethically made clothes and accessories at a fair, affordable price, but Everlane rarely has sales beyond its Choose What You Pay section. So, if you want to stock up on cute basics for less, now’s your time to shop.

And, in true Everlane fashion, the brand is taking this opportunity to give back. Everlane is partnering with Rodale Institute and help U.S. farmers transition their farmland to regenerative organic—and donating $15 per order to the cause. A great sale that gives back? I’m sold.

But, hurry! These deals are going to sell out fast, so you won’t want to waste any time filling your e-cart.

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The Cloud Turtleneck

$150 $105 (30% off)

Sweater weather is officially here, so why not pick up a few fresh layers? This turtleneck is the S’s: snuggly, stylish, and on sale. 


The Authentic Stretch High-Rise Skinny Jeans


$78 $58 (25% off)

Looking for a great pair of jeans, minus the markup? Everlane’s classic skinny style is not only super stretchy, but it’ll look good with everything from chunky sweaters to silky blouses.


The ReNew Teddy Slippers


$65 $39 (40% off)

Why limit the shearling trend to the upper half of your body? These plush slippers will give even your most worn-in sweats a stylish edge.


The Chunky Cardigan


$110 $77 (30% off)

Sure, this may not be the cardigan Taylor Swift was talking about. But, with an exaggerated collar and ribbed finish, this style would definitely score top marks from the singer herself. 


The Canvas Utility Boots


$115 $59 (40% off)

Brave the cold weather in style with Everlane’s chic boots. The canvas uppers and thick sole make these an ideal, all-weather option.


The Lofty-Knit Henley


$150 $105 (30% off)

Made with a nubby blend of merino wool, alpaca, and recycled nylon, this henley is perfect for a cozy night in, yet stylish enough to wear in public.


The Perform Bike Shorts


$45 $22 (51% off)

No, you can never have too many stretchy pants. Everlane’s bike shorts ooze major Lady Di vibes — for under $25, no less.


The ReLeather Court Sneakers


$110 $66 (40% off)

Made with recycled leather, these refresh sneakers will serve up major curb appeal — and Mother Nature’s seal of approval. 


The Field Dress


$100 $60 (40% off)

Found: a fun, flouncy frock you can wear year-round. For a wintry take, pair with opaque tights and your favorite chunky boots.


The Cozy-Stretch Wide-Leg Sweatpants


$150 $75 (50% off)

With a straight-legged silhouette and wool material, it’s safe to say these are the chicest sweatpants we’ve ever seen. To sweeten an already enticing offer, this pair is half off.


The Organic Cotton Flannel Popover

$80 $56 (30% off)

Everlane reimagined the traditional flannel with a cropped silhouette, voluminous sleeves, and a slew of minimalist colors.


The Studio Bag


$275 $192 (30% off)

Large enough to fit all your essentials, but not too big that it’ll weigh you down, Everlane’s Studio Bag is the perfect everyday purse.


The ReNew Long Liner


$158 $118 (25% off)

House Stark was right: winter really is coming. Made with recycled materials, this liner is a great layering piece that’s considerably chicer than the yesteryear’s Michelin Man-worthy parkas.


The Felted Merino Beanie


$50 $30 (40% off)

All set on clothes? Pick up this cheery beanie, which is 40% off its original price.

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29 Winter Fragrances That Exude Main Character Energy



29 Winter Fragrances That Exude Main Character Energy

29 Winter Fragrances That Exude Main Character Energy

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