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Tag Archives: Virginia Johnson

Fantasy Costuming Masters of Sex: Vintage Inspired

7 Jul

As Masters of Sex is a period drama the costume design relies on vintage pieces and new garments that have been inspired/adapted by Ane Crabtree and her team (Crabtree’s Instagram has some great behind the scenes videos) to keep in line with the look of the late 1950s.* This edition of Fantasy Costuming is going to be a bit different from previous outings as I have selected garments from a variety of stores ranging from affordable to ‘one month’s rent’ and everything chosen is available to buy right now. Both 1950s and 1960s silhouettes (and especially the latter) have refused to be relegated to the past and each season seems to have a hint of these decades on the runway (much to my delight).

*Updated to include this behind the scenes video from Showtime and one revelation is how Crabtree makes everything.

The garments featured are reflections rather than something one of these characters might wear; an homage using current collections and inspired by the costuming from the first season. Virginia, Libby and Jane are the three women I will be looking at for wardrobe ideas as all three represent different aspects of this period.

Virginia’s wardrobe is dominated by subdued colors as she wants to be taken seriously and this means there’s a whole lot of black and grey. Color does slip in with red and green, plus bows and buttons are very much part of her look. One of my favorite aspects of 1950s style is how detailed necklines are and they often feature added embellishments/intricate collars.

Modcloth blackThe Rockabilly Your World top is one of several items from the vintage inspired ModCloth and the rounded collar/bow detail is so on point for Virginia.

Carven black dressSticking with black and a similar neckline with a Carven dress that sits a lot higher (mid-thigh) than something Virginia would wear, but definitely shares in the essence of her serious work attire.

LanvinGrey is Virginia’s backup work power suit color (just throw a white coat over the top for extra Virginia Johnson confidence) and this knee-length Lanvin wool dress is all nipped in waist, keyhole detail and shoulder embellishment.

red dress modclothTime to inject some color and red is rather symbolical for a number of reasons; it reflects the passion that both Virginia and Bill are having a hard time reconciling with as each pushes the other away at various points during season 1. Red is a dominant color on the artwork for season 2 and it holds significance when Virginia wears it. Plus Lizzy Caplan looks stunning in any form of crimson (lip color included). This frock is from ModCloth and is appropriately called the Dance Floor Date dress.

RedValentinoOne more Virginia item and Masters of Sex had me coveting all the coats last season. Coming from RED Valentino this stunning and super chic black woven coat has a hint of bowed femininity and an enduring quality. Virginia is both fashion forward for the time period and at the same time maintains a timeless look as a woman in the workplace.

ModCloth yellow Yellow heels

Moving on with a couple of items that make me think of Jane. Jane’s dominant color matched her sunny disposition with a whole lot of yellow. Both the You Got the Upbeat blouse and Member of the Board heels are from ModCloth and are well suited to those who wear this shade all of the time and those who want to give it a go for the first time. Regulars to the site know I am a slight yellow clothes obsessive and so I’m always happy to have a reason to shop this color.

Topshop skirtLibby is the most classically feminine of the women on Masters of Sex as she plays the traditional role of housewife and now mother. In season 1 Libby’s costuming reflects a wealthy lifestyle and even her loungewear/cooking/cleaning clothes are beautiful. This might see a shift in season 2 as she’s now dealing with a baby and their financial situation is far from secure. This beautiful cornflower jacquard skirt is from Topshop and matches the pastels and patterns Libby wears.

Alice and OliviaMore soft color from Alice + Olivia and this works for both a Libby influence and her younger counterpart Vivian Scully (pink dominates her costuming). The floral lace detail is stunning and the classic A-line cut is perfectly Libby with a modern twist.

Tory BurchLibby doesn’t really do the whole monochrome thing; if she did this Tory Burch ‘Wilda‘ polka dot affair would be her speed as those dots aren’t actually white but rose pink.

Masters of Sex returns Sunday, July 13 so be sure to join us next week for all the costuming and narrative analysis.

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Masters of Sex: Lab Coats and Laundry

15 Oct

The third episode of Masters of Sex involved hiding in the shadows both in a literal and figurative sense as characters were confronted with reality; some chose to continue down a path of reluctant acceptance of their situation whereas others tried to use this new found knowledge to help their progression in professional and personal matters. Ane Crabtree’s costume design continues to reflect this evolution and there is one piece of clothing that becomes central to how Virginia views her role at the hospital and with the external study work.

Masters of Sex 1.03 Virginia and Bill

In the first session Virginia is performing her role as Dr. Master’s assistant and while I am in love with her pinstripe round neck dress, it’s pretty clear they are operating on different levels. At the study Master’s is slightly more affable to Virginia, but his prickly demeanor is in full force when he is talking to her at the hospital. He asks her to pick up a lab coat for a new doctor and when he gives Virginia a similar laundry based task at the end of the episode Virginia challenges this request. Master’s flaunts his experience and tells Virginia when she has as much experience as he does then she will be able to give him menial tasks. This is him asserting his authority and reaffirming their positions.

Masters of Sex 1.03 Virginia and Dr DePaulThe new doctor is Dr. Lillian DePaul and much to Virginia’s surprise she is a woman. Virginia thinks there is something inspiring about Dr DePaul even if all of the other secretaries mean girl it up with remarks about how she has no feminine qualities and how she’s never getting near their lady parts. Dr DePaul isn’t exactly warm and welcoming to Virginia as she treats Virginia as any of the other doctors would be asking her to get her coffee. No new bestie for Virginia. This is the second role for Julianne Nicholson where she is playing a pioneering woman in a field dominated by men – in Boardwalk Empire she plays Esther Randolph, an Assistant Attorney General. This interaction with Dr DePaul has a big influence on Virginia’s costuming as the next session at the brothel sees Virginia wearing a lab coat.

Masters of Sex 1.03 Virginia's white coatThis puts Virginia on equal footing with Masters from a visual perspective and even though he mentions she is taking liberties he doesn’t ask her to remove her new coat.

Masters of Sex 1.03 white collar white coatThis is from the last night they visit the brothel for data and after a bit of coercion (Scully is someone living in the shadows) they will return the study to the hospital. Will Virginia continue to war the lab coat now they are back on hospital grounds?

Masters of Sex 1.03 White collarVirginia has the bedside manner that Masters lacks and she uses this in several scenes with Libby Masters. This slate grey dress is possibly the most conservative of Virginia’s costumes so far (not that any of them are all that provocative). The button detail combined with the white collar gives it a serious tone and there’s something almost priestly about her look when she comes and sits with Libby. Later on Virginia shows further mercy as she is the one who tells Libby the truth about who is the one with fertility issues as she can’t stand to see Libby blaming herself for something that isn’t her fault.

Masters of Sex 1.03 Virginia and BettyAnother discussion puts Virginia in the role of truth teller as she tries to convince Betty that lying to the Pretzel King isn’t her only option. Betty turns the tables on Virginia and suggests that Masters is in love with her. Betty suggests that they are both just as stuck by circumstance and that Virginia is no better as she is also hitching her wagon to a man. It’s a sad scene and we once again get to see Betty in her trademark red, a color she has worn throughout these three episodes.

Masters of Sex 1.03 BettyThis shot of Betty is before her surgery and shows the repeated red palette and on this occasion she is the one who uses the threat of public embarrassment against Masters at the hospital. Everyone is hitching their wagons to someone in this episode and using whatever means to get what they want with varying degrees of success. Masters agrees to do the surgery but it is too late and so Betty must live a lie to get the life she thinks that she wants. I’m not sure if this is the last we will see of Betty now that both her story and the brothel have served their purpose but I’m so glad they took the “hooker with a heart of gold” story and spun it into something so much more than that.

Masters of Sex 1.03 colour and patternWhile I sadly can’t show you the full range of costuming from the brothel (too many nipples) this snapshot reveals the variety of colors and patterns the women of this house wear. It’s all about bathrobes and there’s a splash of leopard print and bright, bold colors. From this shot it looks like the most fun, but it’s all a facade and some of their research reveals the depressing truth why some of these women are here. Dottie is still wearing the heavy framed glasses that Masters gave her last week and she wouldn’t look out of place with this look today.

Masters of Sex 1.03 LibbyLibby’s costuming is all about pastel colors and delicate prints, once again showing how here role is completely different to all of the other women on Masters of Sex. One similarity she does share with the women at the brothel is that she is being treated as a scientific specimen but unlike those candidates her medical condition is being withheld from her. Even when Libby is sobbing she is still in light shades, whereas Virginia wears a lot of dark purple this week heavily telegraphing their contrasting characteristics. The friendship between Libby and Virginia is strong at the moment and I wonder how Libby’s pregnancy might change this.

Masters of Sex 1.03 flashback Bill

So far I have spent all of this discussion looking at the women of Masters of Sex but I couldn’t leave out this flashback shot of Bill Masters where he looks optimistic and less buttoned up; the longer, less controlled hairstyle and jaunty bow tie will do that. Yes Bill Masters even makes patterned bow ties look rigid.

For more Masters of Sex coverage head here.

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