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Blanche Dubois’ Costume in “A Streetcar Named Desire” Essay (Article)

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Updated: Dec 31st, 2020

The sleeveless multi-layered dance/party dress, even in summer cotton, is impractical for travel, but probably wowed the soldiers. The easter-egg colors, sweetheart neckline, long fluttery peekaboo overlay hemline, and dropped basque waist all distract from aging neck and legs and highlight her childless waistline. The contrast-lined bolero jacket and coordinating gloves signal “ladylike”, as do pearls. The entirely unwalkable shoes suggest helplessness.

The dressmaker-crafted multi-yard outfit bespeaks a privileged past, but its inappropriateness suggests that such outfits are all that remain. This is reinforced by the fact that she sometimes draws on stocking lines to save on real, rationed nylons.

The dressmaker-crafted multi-yard

This is the shape of dress: a sleeveless sweetheart neckline, ruched bodice, with dropped basque waist and long multi-gored, multi-layered skirt falling from the hips, with translucent overlay. The color is a girlish pink, the fabric is cotton with cotton organdie overlay. The whole thing rustles just a bit when in motion. It contains tens of yards of fabric, which would have been very difficult and expensive to obtain in the Depression or during wartime, or even post-war, rationing.

Dress

This is roughly the shape of the cotton bolero jacket cover-up, but with much shorter sleeves for the summer heat. The shell is pink, the lining is spring green and shows at the turn of the color and the wrist cuff.

Short bolero jacket

Three-quarter length gloves in coordinating spring green conceal aging hands and look demure. The color suggests that the outfit was purchased together back before the plantation was lost through ineffective management.

Three quarter length gloves

Cripplingly useless for walking, such peep-toe ankle-strapped platform shoes can be worn with or without stockings for dancing. They should be cream or bone, combine leather and fabric, with bows, and be covered with fake New Orleans mud when she arrives. They were probably quite fetching when worn with the military men with whom Blanche spent so much time.

1940s open toe pumps platform shoes

The backs of her legs will have lines drawn on them to look like these stockings. Stockings were one of many things rationed during and immediately after the war. While she can pull dresses out of her trunk for months, stockings are consumable and thus she is forced to make do after the money and the house is gone.

1940s stockings

A summary, lighter-colored version of this type of purse would be just about right for Blanche – no shoulder strap and made with a Bakelite handle to reflect the times. It is, like her shoes, completely inappropriate for the long trip in the hot summer with cumbersome luggage.

1940s purse with Bakelite handle

In contrast, this practical, sleek outfit would be appropriate for Stella for going out in the daytime. The purse, shoes, and gloves are too high contrast, however, and would be better in cream. The shoes are strapped to keep them securely on the foot, the hemline is a thrifty length, and the color and fabric are appropriate for daytime and errands.

1940s dress

Bibliography

Etsy.com. (2011). . Web.

hydroponicsonline.com. (2011). 1940s open toe pumps platform shoes. Web.

Simplicity. (2011). . Web.

Sodahead. (2011). 1940s dress. Web.

wardrobecostume.co.uk. (2011). 1940s stockings. Web.

woodlands-junior.kent.sch.uk. (2011). War images. Web.

zoovy.com. (2011). Three quarter length gloves. Web.

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"Blanche Dubois' Costume in "A Streetcar Named Desire"." IvyPanda, 31 Dec. 2020, ivypanda.com/essays/blanche-dubois-costume-in-a-streetcar-named-desire/.

1. IvyPanda. "Blanche Dubois' Costume in "A Streetcar Named Desire"." December 31, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/blanche-dubois-costume-in-a-streetcar-named-desire/.


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IvyPanda. "Blanche Dubois' Costume in "A Streetcar Named Desire"." December 31, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/blanche-dubois-costume-in-a-streetcar-named-desire/.

References

IvyPanda. 2020. "Blanche Dubois' Costume in "A Streetcar Named Desire"." December 31, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/blanche-dubois-costume-in-a-streetcar-named-desire/.

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IvyPanda. (2020) 'Blanche Dubois' Costume in "A Streetcar Named Desire"'. 31 December.

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