Make It Your Own: "Hard-Hearted Hannah" Marries a Millionaire

"Hard-Hearted Hannah" (to the right of the puffy-sleeved pink and
white outfit).from 20th Century Fox's How to Marry A Millionaire.

One of our all-time favorite movies is 1953’s How To Marry A Millionaire, featuring Lauren Bacall, Marilyn Monroe and Bette Grable, which is lots of fun beginning to end as these ladies set out to marry a man with money – lots of it. Each of them are what we would consider “super models” today, but they didn’t make the kind of money we associate with modeling. They all wear fantastic clothes, of course (Lauren Bacall’s jumper worn over a sparkling white blouse with voluminous sleeves is a stand-out), but the real centerpiece of this movie is a private fashion show requested by one of their intended mates that features a pants-and-shirt outfit entitled “Hard-Hearted Hannah.”  This outfit is a true classic, and one that is near and dear to my heart – but the dazzling spin these folks put on it raises it to a new level.  The fashion show narrator in the movie describes the shirt as being made of black-and-white silk, cinched at the waist by a wide black belt, over “mustard” crash pants.  I’ve worn several incarnations of this outfit many times over the years and it never looks dated.  It’s also something you can easily create with your trusty sewing machine at home. 

"Hard-Hearted Hannah" from head-to-toe!

For those who don’t know, crash is a linen/cotton blend with a soft, yet crisp hand that originally was used for dish towels, no less! I can’t imagine making pants out of dish towels, but the fiber content does give us an idea of the type of fabric we might want to consider when making our version.

First, though, let’s talk patterns.  For the shirt, we like McCall’s 5052 (M/MP 6-20) and 5145 (W/WP 18-32); both are classic, universally flattering styles that call for cotton/cotton blends, silk, crepe and other similar options.  For the pants, we chose two patterns, again of a classic design, but offer various lengths (the pants featured in the movie appear to be rolled up to capri length).  Both are Butterick patterns – 5614 (M/6-22) and 5222 (M/XS-XL, W/XXL-6XL), which call for fabrics including linen (or a linen/cotton blend, if you so choose!), twill, gabardine, lightweight denim, and crepe.  As you can see, there’s lots of room for individuality and self-expression with these patterns, which is one of the great things about the outfit.  You can sew these styles with confidence knowing that the result will be smart and timeless, yet very much YOU!

Preview for next week: Christina tackles Lauren Bacall's suits. Should be interesting...


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