How to Be a Hitchcock Heroine

In Accessories, Beauty Products, Jewelry, Shoes, Work Wear on May 4, 2010 at 5:15 am

When I was younger, my mother and I watched Hitchcock movies together and swooned over the ladylike glamor of their champagne-blond bombshell heroines.  My mother was particularly enamored of Tippi Hedren in “The Birds” — she was nothing short of captivating on screen.

Watching the eerie, inexplicable plot unfold in conjunction with the gradual disarray of her polished appearance is half the magic of the narrative.  (At the climax of the film, her perfectly-coiffed hair “comes undone” — a tidy visual cue underscoring her frenetic emotional state.)  The same is true of most Hitchcock films, where wardrobe and styling contribute to the story-telling.  And what a wardrobe!  Slim-cut dresses and suits with nipped-in waists which, though fitted, are the picture of propriety; feminine capelets; structured doctor’s bags — oh la la!  If you’re as ga-ga as I am over the Hitchcock Heroine look, consider investing in some tell-tale statement pieces, like this luxe framed alligator bag (Brooks Brothers, $5,500):

You’ll need a prim tank watch with a leather or gold band — this Cartier is beyond lust-worthy and, for most of us, beyond practical, ringing in at a cool $20K and up:

You can get the label (and heroine look) for a little less by investing in one of their fine writing implements.  You never know when you might stumble upon one at a vintage/consignment shop (if you’re local to D.C., check out The Christ Child Opportunity Shop, an upscale consignment boutique where all proceeds benefit children in need — my mother has volunteered there for years, and I occasionally join her behind the register):

If you’re hell-bent on a Hitchcock-approved watch, consider this affordable alternative: a surprisingly well-styled variation on the Cartier classic by Anne Klein of all designers ($55, Nordstrom).  When I saw it at Nordstrom, I honestly did a double-take.  It’s lovely.  (I know, I’m a label snob too — but you can’t beat good design!)

You’ll need some lady-like shoes — I owned a pair of the Stuart Weitzmans below (“The Poco”) and literally wore them into the ground.  They are the perfect work shoe and they’ll inspire you to dress like Audrey Hepburn and Tippi Hedren for an entire year ($275, Endless — they also come in a lovely patent nude):

If you’re like my best friend from UVA (we’ll call her Miss Sleek — she’s all about jet black, sky-high heels and tailored lines) and your stomach churns at the idea of a low kitten heel, test drive these puppies (Kate Spade, $298 at Shirise):

Love ’em.  There’s something about the Hitchcock ladies that requires rich patterns and materials  like the snakeskin above — including fur.  (Avert your eyes if you’re a member of the Humane Society…)  Consider this delightful Cassin fur stole:

Like the look but prefer the faux for moral (or price-tag-related) reasons?  Juicy Couture’s had a couple of cool faux fur styles out over the past few years, including this precious little retro-style chubby coat, which I just may have to snag at 70% off (!) at Ssense:

Can you imagine wearing it over a chic sheath dress with the Weitzman pumps above and some enorma-studs?  Insta-Hitchcock-heroine.

The tailored dress above is by Michael Kors ($1,000, TheOutnet), but you can find similar versions (at least in terms of the front of the dress; check out the back of this dress at TheOutnet — it’s to DIE for) for much less at Ann Taylor and Banana Republic.  (Side note: I’m convinced that if someone attempted to remake the Hitchcock films today and was committed to preserving the wardrobe aesthetic, the entire cast would be outfitted by the one-and-only Roland Mouret:

I just wish we all wore dresses like that on a daily basis.  Tailored and tasteful but sexy!)  Back to emulating the cool, coiffed screenstars of yesteryear: you’d need some casual-glam gold accents, like these polished, patterned enorma-studs by Gump’s ($2,750, Gump’s):

Grace Kelly rocked a similar pair in “Rear Window”:

Kind of makes me want to start drinking cocktails out of a snifter (below, by Riedel — 2 for $66 at Zappos) and seriously looking into mint green as a color option for my daily wardrobe.

In other words — kind of makes me want to be her.  She was perfection.

But back to gold baubles for the Hitchcock babe: you might also consider investing in a timeless gold signet ring by Tiffany ($1,200, Tiffany):

Word to the wise: J. Crew has a nearly identical-looking gold signet ring for $295!  And Tippi wouldn’t be caught dead without hers:

I know we shouldn’t buy into the idolization of cigarette-smoking in these old films, but don’t you kind of want one of those cool hard-sided gold cigarette cases anyway?  Just for kicks?  It’d be pretty on a dressing table…

(You can find an inexpensive but similar style at Gunther’s Gifts.)  And, if you declined to invest in the leather watch look, consider this eye-catching gold bracelet watch by Accurist ($152, Asos):

Love the feminine face against the sculptural, thick gold link chain.  A perfect feminine-masculine balance.  You might also throw on some gold-adorned glasses — like these obscenely expensive DSquared enorma-shades ($450, Bloomingdale’s):

While you’re piling on the accoutrements, try accessorizing with a Birkin-wannabe by Italian bag-maker Forzieri (fairly expensive in it’s own right at $498!):

Imagine resting it on the crook of your arm, casually patting your brut champagne blond up-do into place after a zip across town in your 1950s convertible…and while on the subject of ladylike arm candy, I’ve got to share another “FashionMagpie Dream List” item I’ve been ogling at for the past couple months (it’s up there with a classic Roland Mouret dress and those nude Louboutins) — don’t you die over this nude colored Ferragamo frame bag ($990, Saks):

It’d look lovely with this dreamy Erdem dress ($548, TheOutnet):

I feel as though Grace Kelly might have worn a similar look in “Rear Window” — a fab edge-of-your-seat thriller.  I swear you’ll want to adopt her high-society, patrician’s-daughter intonation for a solid week after:

If you’re going the Grace Kelly route, you’ll also need pearls, pearls, pearls (the strand below is by the industry classic Mikimoto — Kelly was the face of his ad campaign — and the studs are David Yurman):

Other musts?  Fantastic outwear — I’m talking boxy chubbies, dramatic swing coats, and even capelets.  I’m head-over-heels for the bracelet-sleeve coat/robe/muu-muu that Tippi sports in the scene from Marnie below:

(Yes, that’s Sean Connery on the left.)  You can test out the look with this textured coat by Milly ($624, MyTheresa) or this dreamy cashmere-blend cape by Stella McCartney:

Why not add some smart-looking reader glasses?  The pair below were fashioned by the uber-chic Barton Perreira — you can snap them up at Barney’s for $350.  Try them on to score the Grace Kelly librarian-chic look:

As if you need any further proof as to the staying-power or eternal chic-ness of the Hitchcock aesthetic, consider the fact that the late, great, and always fashion-forward Alexander McQueen bought into the entire look — horn-rimmed glasses and all — for his fabulous 2006 runway collection…just lovely:

Of course, as you may have noted in McQueen’s homage to the look, to be a true Hitchcock femme, you’d need siren-red lips or nail lacquer.  One of the common threads uniting all of Hitchcock’s leading ladies?  Though they initially appear the picture of cool, poised self-possession (even sangfroid), they slowly show their true colors: a tendency towards the wild and uncontrollable.  Hence the bold red lips and scarlet fingernails that so many of them adorn.  The YSL lipstick case below looks glam on its own — just imagine the punch you’d pack wearing it yourself (beware: this can be a tough look to master, so proceed with caution):

(I found the tube on sale at a fraction of the retail price at an Amazon vendor — $15 instead of $43! — how is that possible?!)  If you’re not ready for rouge lips, try Essie’s “Turning Heads Red”:

Or, better yet, some glossy red pumps with an otherwise staid outfit (Hitchcock’s ladies were known for their peep toes) — these Peeptoe brand pumps ($250) have a lovely arch to them and resemble the lust-worthy, more expensive Jimmy Choo “Quiet” pumps:

You might consider adding a classic trench to tone down their sassiness — you could go for the traditional Burberry (lovely, lovely), but I’m also digging this DVF “Spy Trench” ($495, Diane Von Furstenberg):

My uber-chic boss snagged a similar version from Land’s End of all places — she’s over the moon about it in terms of style and hue, and it costs less — $199!:

Imagine how fashionable you’d look with candy-red pumps, an all-business trench, and maybe this fab structured bag by vintage-chic designer, Brahmin ($275):

Love it.  And maybe, just for kicks, throw on some ladylike kid leather gloves?  I bought a pair of soft pink ones from a glove-maker in Venice, Italy, and was surprised at how much use I got out of them before they got too dirty to salvage (pink gloves = impractical).  Why not give it a try yourself?  This feminine dove gray pair hails from Imoni — you can find them for $119 at ShopSavannahs:

And of course — where would you be without the central prop from Hitchcock’s “Dial M for Murder” (also starring Ms. Kelly — he certainly had his favorite leading ladies):

You can snag your own at Pottery Barn ($59-$79) —

But only if you’re prepared to answer in a dressing gown with a luxe Grace Kelly lilt.

  1. Love! Particularly the phones…

  2. Great post – super creative!! PS – I love using cute cigarette cases as business card holders. They are the perfect size and you can just stick them in your purse. Love, Erica

  3. I’ve recently become addicted to Alfred Hitchcock Presents, so I was delighted to see this post! LOVE the 50s and 60s glamour.

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