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THIRTIES COSTUME DESIGN PART 2

YESTERDAY WE BEGAN GLEANING tidbits from Daughter Suz’s Christmas present (from me). Today in Part 2, we’ll see a guy wearing no undershirt, a gal who could wear just about anything, and a pair who did with almost nothing.

An Arbiter of Dress.  Deborah Nadoolman Landis describes that, in a sense, Hollywood became an arbiter of dress: “When Clark Gable removed his shirt in It Happened One Night (1934) to reveal a bare chest—no undershirt!—men abandoned their own.” 

Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert. It Happened One Night (1939) “led to an immediate drop in the American sales of men’s undershirts of around 30 percent,” recounted writer Stella Bruzzi. This and following images from Dressed.

As another example, Landis says, “The white organza tea gown that Adrian created for Joan Crawford in MGM’s Letty Lynton (1932) has been called the most copied dress in history.”

Joan Crawford, Letty Lynton (1932). Adrian, costume designer.

On the Other Hand. Landis cites Charles LeMaire, Fox wardrobe director: “Joan Crawford, I believe, could wrap a tablecloth about her, pin it with a safety pin and make a sensational entrance into a crowded room, and people would cry, ‘How gorgeous.’ ”

Joan Crawford, Rain (1932). Adrian, costume designer. 

I agree. She’s a real dish.

Me Tarzan. You Zowie. Landis quotes historian Thomas Doherty that “In April 1934, Joseph Breen, then head of the Studio Relations Committee, rejected Tarzan and his Mate for its quite visible violation of the prohibition against nudity.… The author theorizes that the scene was deliberately put in the film as ‘a negotiable offering to the censors,’ which would take the focus off other scenes with Tarzan and Jane ‘prancing around in their revealing jungle togs.’ ”

Tarzan and his Mate (1934). See “Old Movie Tidbits” for infamous swimming. 

By the way, Turner Classic Movies just broadcast Tarzan and his Son (1939), in which Jane prances around in a most demure mini.

All in Good Thirties Fun. And I’m confident that, from time to time, Daughter Suz will lend me Dressed for more education and entertainment. ds

© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2023

One comment on “THIRTIES COSTUME DESIGN PART 2

  1. Michael Rubin
    January 8, 2023

    Myrna Loy and William Powell both are dressed “to the nines” in the Thin Man series. Ditto the Martini shaker though the glasses are minuscule. The repartee is great, too.

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