Clothes Make the Character

The Role of Wardrobe in Early Motion Pictures

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About the Book

“Clothes make the man” (or woman). This is especially true in early Hollywood silent films where a character’s appearance could show an immense number of different things about them. For example, Theda Bara’s role in A Fool There Was (1915) was known for her revealing clothing, seductive appearance, and being the first “Vamp.”

Wardrobe and costume design played a larger role in silent films than in modern movies. The character’s clothes told the audience who they were and what their role was in the movie. In this in-depth analysis, the author provides examples and explanations about noteworthy characters who used their appearance to further their fame.

About the Author(s)

Lora Ann Sigler is a professor emerita of art history at California State University. She lives in San Pedro, California.

Bibliographic Details

Lora Ann Sigler
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 212
Bibliographic Info: 43 photos, appendices, glossary, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2021
pISBN: 978-1-4766-8185-6
eISBN: 978-1-4766-4216-1
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vii
Preface 1
Introduction 5
1. We Flutter to the Flickers 9
2. The Look of Life 23
3. The Look of (Foreign) Life 37
4. Warner’s, We Have a Problem 52
5. Strangers in a Strange Land 85
6. We’re Funny That Way 96
7. Past Imperfect 109
8. That Sounds About Right! 117
9. Where Did You Get That Frock? 142
Epilogue: (Ad)dressing the Present 163
Appendices
A: Busby Berkeley 167
B: The Thomas Mooney Case 170
C: The 1919 Entertainment Strike 172
D: On the Flip Side 174
E:  Photoplay (August 1925) 177
Glossary 179
Chapter Notes 181
Bibliography 191
Index 197