Set in the Roaring Twenties and filmed in the fabulous fifties, Singin’ in The Rain’s fashion is a unique mixture of twenties cuts and styles mixed with bolder fifties colors. The world’s most beloved musical is also the glitziest with all the color, sparkle, and decadent splendor that we now associate with the golden age of Hollywood Musicals. Debbie Reynolds, Jean Hagan and Cyd Charisse are the leading ladies but their outfits are the stars of the show.
In keeping with her sweet girl-next-door character Kathy, Debbie’s outfits are simple, demure and girlie but still incredibly stylish and very twenties. For the “Good Morning” dance sequence Debbie wears a drop-waisted dress with a pleated skirt to the knee. Although it could have easily been a long-fitted top over a pleated skirt. The drop waist and pleats were very popular at the time. The drop waist featured nice clean lines and the pleats offered movement that was especially good for dancing in. The typical 20s “flapper” dress featured straight lines on top with a drop-waisted skirt with a little bit of flow. Daytime hemlines were usually at the knee but evening dresses could be scandalously short. Unlike many of the loosely fitted dresses of the time, the dress has a tight fitted top that shows off her svelte figure unlike many of the dresses of the time which were boyish in shape. The grey-blue colour palette with matching shoes was neutral but chic and the art-deco tri-colour zig zag keeps it from being too plain.
Like the “Good Morning” dress, the “Would You” dress features a drop waist and pleats. This straight-lined dress gives shape to her figure by adding green pannels to the hips. It’s high neck and scalloped edge sleeves make it incredibly sophisticated while the bright green art deco leaf pattern makes it fun.
The “Dream of You” dancers outfits are the perfect blend between 50s and 20s. The outfits take inspiration from The Ziegfield Follies, a series of elaborate theatrical productions on Broadway in New York from 1907 through 1931. The Ziegield Follies were the American version of the famous dancers in The Folies Bergeres in Paris. They were known for their lavish and glitzy costumes and although hemlines were at times quite low and the level of skin on show was at times quite racy they were the epitome of showgirl glamour. The “Dream of you” outfits are playful and fun, the head cap and dress style are 1920s but the bubble gum pink and gold is pure fifties showgirl.
The same fifties bubble gum pink comes out for the finale scene of the film. A slightly low waisted prom style dress with one spagetti strap as well as a short sleeve with a mesh corsage. It’s a mish-mash of styles but a very pretty dress.
In the “You were meant for me” scene Debbie is beautifully dressed in romantic chiffons, lilac pastels and a little silver shimmer that perfectly match the and purple hues of the sunset. The low waisted silver and lilac dress has ragged hemline below the knee and a lilac sash at the waist with a diamond brooch. A lilac chiffon cape adds to the flowing movement of the dress and is finished off with a matching brooch on the shoulder.
In contrast to Debbie Reynolds, Jean Hagens’s Lina is full on glamour and glitz, adorned through out the film in the finest fursand plenty of sparkle.
Monkey fur was very popular amongst the rich 1920s dames. This beautiful monochrome jacket screams wealth.
Pure glamour for the red carpet, Jean Hagan wears a pastel lime green knee-length dress with perpendicular beaded tassels. Tassels added spectacular movement to a dress when a lady was dancing and were very popular at the time whether plain or beaded. The dazzling tassels are complimented by sparkling bangles, chandelier earrings and a sparkling head band which were the accessories of choice in the 20s. Her bright white coat with its big fur trim is Hollywood opulence at its finest.
For the final scene Lina wears the most dazzling 20s dress. A drop-waisted dress with a silver-beaded spagetti strap top and a full length ostrich feather skirt. Mixing glittering 20s beading with one of the 20s biggest fashion favors the feather. Whether it was at the hemline instead of tassels, in a ladies hair or around their neck, feathers were coveted by all. The more expensive and luxurious the better with ostrich, marabou and peacock feathers being the flapper’s feathers of choice. The dresses full feathered skirt and delicate beading looks a million dollars.
While Lina is full on glamour and glitz, Cyd Charisse’s nameless character is by far the most captivating and steals the show with the films most famous dress. During the “Broadway Melody Ballet” she catches Gene Kelly’s eye in a white satin flapper dress with silver beaded embellishments, a chiffon cape pinned to her shoulders with diamond brooches and feathered head piece.
Her dress then transforms into a ballet leotard with a chiffon skirt and long chiffon cape that both flow in the wind.
One of the most famous dresses in film history, Cyd is bewitching in this emerald green flapper dress. Instead of tassels the dress features long bejeweled panels from the neckline and from the waist. She is entrancing as she dances seductively around Gene Kelly with the panels of the skirt swaying side to side and wielding a cigarette holder like a dance baton. Each panel is cut to the waist line so there’s a lot of leg on show when she performs her famous dance. The outfit is finished off by chandelier earrings, a matching choker, bangles and shoes.
Singin’ in the Rain is so fashionable that not only are there countless drop dead gorgeous dresses on everyone from the leading ladies to the extras, there is also a fashion show.
Key 20s looks are melded with fifties style for films most flashy fashion show.
Singin in the Rain’s famous “Broadway Melody” scene is a non stop Technicolor extravaganza with costumes to match. Flappers in bright tasseled flapper dresses sashay across the screen, showgirls move around Gene Kelly and dance in more 50s-style leotards.