Natalie Wood portrays Dr. Helen Brown in the screwball comedy Sex and the Single Girl (1964). Natalie is adorable as a young psychologist who has recently published a best-seller, omonymous of the film title. Tony Curtis plays Bob Weston, a sleazy tabloid editor, who wants to know if Dr. Brown has based her book on personal research. The plan is to get very personal with her to find out. The result is a comic combat also starring Henry Fonda, Lauren Bacall and Mel Ferrer. Edith Head was the costume designer, helping Natalie shape her image as a young and independent woman. The two worked together on many films and Edith even designed the actress’s wedding dress for her marriage to Richard Gregson.
I should tell you that I have previously written about the fashion in this film, but it was in Romanian at the beginning of my blogging and I didn’t use my personal screenshots back then.
Except for the last outfit in the film, Helen’s wardrobe comprises black and white looks. The set decoration (designed by Edward G. Boyle in the film), just as the costumes, serves the needs of the characters in a movie. Dr. Brown’s office and apartment are decorated in black and white too (and elegantly so, definitely post-worthy; notice the striped curtains, chairs, chaise lounge and cushions, how chic are all these pieces?) and we could say that this is her code colour and view on life. Doesn’t Natalie look lovely even in her doctor robe, especially with the gorgeous glasses on and the hair pin?
In the first scene she appears in she’s wearing a ladylike little black dress, an elbow-sleeved white jacket, with a high slit at the back (this looks beautiful in motion), black trimmed neckline and two apparent pockets on the left side. The length of the sleeve requires elegant elbow gloves.
A gorgeous white satin cocktail dress with a beautiful bust detail: fabulous sweetheart neckline cut and also the pendant dangling from the center (hence no necklace needed, just the way I like it). The long gloves create the perfect accessory along with the large pearl bracelet worn over the glove and the pearl earrings. The fur trimmed white coat goes on top and the sleeves are again elbow-high.
This one above is a robe, but a robe I would be happy to see transformed in an evening gown (with certain alterations of course) and worn with no jewelry whatsoever. Slit up on both sides, fantastic rope detail and this is another neckline I adore, the way the fabric falls and gathers in the bust area.
Houndstooth coat with mandarin collar, black fur stole and hat and those cat-eye sunglasses!
All Helen’s gloves are elbow-long. Here they complete the white cashmere sweater and checked tweed pencil skirt.
All-black outfit, the only time she wears an entirely black ensemble in the film, very suggestive for the plot, but I won’t spoil it for you. What a fabulous hat!
The final look. Bright, joyful yellow. She is finally in love. I like the way she wears the attached scarf over her head in the car, as a hood. Scarves often came with a day or evening dress, making an outfit very versatile. And speaking of versatility, Natalie’s wardrobe is ageless and could be so easily adaptable to modern day. Last, but not least, her hair style, the fringe bob, is so stylish too, one I myself sported a while back and that I feel like adopting again.
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images: screenshots captured by me from the film Sex and the Single Girl (1964); kindly link back to classiq if you use any of these images; production credits