…for the Elderly and Beautiful. You know who you are.
This was my reward for the end of my first year at fashion design school. Once again, Hubby and I were by far the youngest people in the theater (that was also the case at Midnight in Paris, for some reason). What can I say—we have diverse taste! And we adore older British actors: Judi! Maggie!! Bill Nighy!!!
So, if Slumdog Millionaire did not convince you to inject some color and flowy cotton into your summer wardrobe, Best Exotic should do the trick.
The costuming was divine, and such a no-brainer for women of a certain age and/or shape. The colors, cuts and styling are perfect for summer, and can be translated for work, play and special events.
Judi Dench sports some very elegant, cool and comfortable ensembles throughout the film, mostly consisting of a long tunic-like shirt known as a kurta, paired with wide-leg pants, and topped with a scarf or shawl. She also carries a simple cloth bag as a clutch. And she doesn’t forget her hat when she’s going out in the sun.
Judi’s long-top-and-pants-with-scarf ensembles are often sold as matchy-matchy suits known as salwar kameez, but you can improvise your own with a tunic top or short dress, pants of whichever width you like, and any lightweight scarf (or none at all). College towns and towns with large South Asian populations are a great place to look for the real thing, if you can’t get overseas.
It’s easy to pair together your own tunics with loose pants, or even jeans or leggings. I don’t recommend wearing a long top with cropped pants or capris – the proportions and the amount of fabric will create the illusion of a shorter, wider figure.
Obviously, I’m a big fan of cotton and linen for summer, but if you need something more polished for work or a social event, look for synthetics or blends, or even formal fabrics like silk blends or brocades. I just found these fun print pants (in light weight polyester) at Gracia, online and in NYC.
Marketplace Handwork of India is basically a one stop shop of really stylish, ethically traded clothing and accessories in fabulous prints and colors. Be sure to check out their blog for styling ideas.
Image via Pfangirl.
As you can see from this shot, each of the characters has a fairly distinct style. Mrs. Greenslade (Judi Dench) and Ms. Hardcastle (Celia Imrie- seated) embrace local style much more freely, than Mrs. Ainslie (Penelope Wilton) who maintains a lot of distance emotionally, physically, and stylistically from her new surrounds.
Nevertheless, her shirtdress in a traditional-inspired print is a great way to add some spice to a more conservative wardrobe for work. These kinds of prints in traditional cuts are all over the retail world these days, so I won’t bog you down with links.
Celia Imrie’s Ms. Hardcastle is the saucy lady equivalent to Ronald Pickup’s randy Norman. She goes out on the town seeking wealthy bachelors (or widowers, as the case may be), dressed for success in styles that show off her neck, shoulders, and decolletage.
Dress over pants?!
Instant lengthening and sleekening (I may have just made that up) action, and too easy. Image via Conde Nast Traveller.
There is a scene where she swans down the path into a private club, wearing a stunning ensemble in navy blue: a sweetheart neckline jacket, wide legged pants in a brocade, with an evening wrap and handbag. I wish I could find a still photo, because it is so gorgeous, but I will try to recreate it here.
Evening shrug shown here
[on sale!] from Gaiam– update: looks like it's no longer available. 6/16 Ed.
Well, this is actually nothing like what she wore, which was very “postcolonial princess”, but I think I’ve given you some less-costumey options that you can absolutely pull off.
And for the gents…
Shirts you should buy for the male person in your life, and then steal for yourself.
Bill Nighy sported some really great print shirts, and some of the background male cast members also had some lovely printed shirts and jackets.
Of course, there are no still photos online, but here are a few that I found to inspire you:
Sorry, I had to decapitate that guy, it was just too cheesy.
Again, throw one of these over a sleeveles top and long pants – palazzos, jeans, or leggings – for a sexy, gender bending style.
Here's a great interview with the director, if you need more enticing to go see the movie – or book a ticket to India. I highly recommend the former, and I'm definitely saving up for the real thing…