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October 21, 2010 7:54 AM   Subscribe

What late 1940s female celebrity am I going to be for Halloween?

I am a busty curvy woman in her early 30s with long dark hair and glasses. I just bought a great vintage brown wool dress that is circa late 1940s-early 1950s. It hits right below the knee, and has an asymmetrical button front, high neckline and cap sleeves that make the bodice look very triangular. I have shoes that will match. It is a professional-looking dress- not glamorous, but very stylish working-woman.

I want to wear this for Halloween, but I am blanking on who I will tell people I am (other than very lucky to have found this dress that fits at a local shop).

Need some ideas for post-war celebrity, literary figure (fictional or nonfictional), political figure, etc. Must be curvy (I can't pull off Katharine Hepburn). I'm a librarian and I'm going to a party with my trivia team, so geeky/obscure is welcome.

I will happily carry props, acquire gloves or a hat, and attempt to figure out how to make a 1940s hairstyle. I could not do anything that might damage the dress (it is beautiful and I will totally wear it to work). I must wear glasses, but I have some retro frames that will look ok if not totally accurate.

Bonus question for those who know this style: The cap sleeves are cut really low under the arms, so that several inches of the side of my bra is totally visible. What should I do about this? What did they do in this era- just wear a slip or possibly a silky blouse underneath? I will likely wear a black bra and not worry too much about it, but I am interested.
posted by aabbbiee to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (20 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I bet you could find an appropriate Silver Screen gal to be from this list.
posted by zizzle at 8:01 AM on October 21, 2010

Jane Russell? This would be extra-awesome if you could find a friend willing to go as Marilyn Monroe.
posted by purlgurly at 8:02 AM on October 21, 2010

Ethel Rosenberg?
posted by hermitosis at 8:14 AM on October 21, 2010 [3 favorites]

Simone de Beauvoir?
posted by elsietheeel at 8:33 AM on October 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

Okay, seriously: BETTIE PAGE!
posted by Skot at 9:08 AM on October 21, 2010

Wonder Woman's alter ego Diana Prince.
posted by coolguymichael at 9:09 AM on October 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

Vintage Lois Lane?
posted by drlith at 9:09 AM on October 21, 2010

Disney's Snow White on a free day. No contacts, no fancy come-hither-prince-costume, and no singing.
posted by Namlit at 9:11 AM on October 21, 2010

Mae West? Mais oui!

You'll need a blond wig and might need to lose the glasses, but you can also learn some fabulous quotations ("I'm no model lady. A model's just an imitation of the real thing," "Too much of a good thing is wonderful") to sprinkle throughout the evening!
posted by googly at 10:06 AM on October 21, 2010

Celia Johnson?
posted by MuffinMan at 10:17 AM on October 21, 2010

I personally would award the greatest number of coolness points if you said you were Clare Booth Luce - of whom Dorothy Parker famously said, after being told Luce was kind to her inferiors, "Where does she find them?"
posted by Joe Beese at 10:26 AM on October 21, 2010

To clarify, I am assuming that, as a Halloween party, rather than some other kind of costume party, "scariness" is a plus. So Luce, a Goldwater Republican, would be preferable to Parker herself, in that respect.
posted by Joe Beese at 10:29 AM on October 21, 2010

Yvonne De Carlo.

Probably best known as Lily Munster, but also the take-your-shoe-off-and-hit-yourself-in-the-head gorgeous femme fatale in "Criss-Cross" (1949) and "Salome When She Danced" (1945).
posted by ryanshepard at 10:57 AM on October 21, 2010

For a somewhat obscure reference, I was going to suggest Bridget von Hammersmark from Inglorious Basterds (Tarantino cosplay, why not?) but I don't think she fits your curvy requirement.

As for 1940s hairstyle, the search term "victory rolls" may be useful.
posted by mhum at 11:34 AM on October 21, 2010

I know you say you're too curvy to pull off Katherine Hepburn, but, really, a librarian in period dress and you're NOT thinking Bunny Watson?
posted by 100watts at 12:18 PM on October 21, 2010

Really, just about anyone could be Joan Crawford very easily. Lay on that brow pencil with a heavy hand.
posted by Madamina at 12:35 PM on October 21, 2010

Kind of obscure but book-nerdy: Ariadne Oliver, Agatha Christie's mystery-novel writer alter-ego?
posted by estherbester at 1:21 PM on October 21, 2010

Given the glasses requirement, I'm voting for investing in a blonde wig and going for Maryland Monroe in How to Marry a Millionaire, which is an awesome movie from 1953 in which Monroe's character desperately needs to wear glasses (and is practically blind without them) but believes fervently that "men aren't attentive to girls who wear glasses."

Anyway, fits the time period, the glasses figure into the story, and people seem more likely to go "Oooooh" when you say you are Marilyn than most other options....
posted by CharlieSue at 2:53 PM on October 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

Eva Braun?
posted by Biru at 3:42 PM on October 21, 2010

Can you sport a New-Yorker reporter accent and wear a little pin hat with a press pass tucked in it among the netting? Carry a little notebook and start conversations with, "Listen, honey, give me the scoop." I'm thinking of the accent the lead girl reporter uses in The Hudsucker Proxy. Sounds like a great start to the costume--it should be great with whatever you pick!
posted by shortyJBot at 4:56 PM on October 21, 2010

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