Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Carol / Forget Cate Blanchett and look at Rooney Mara's beatnik style

Rooney Mara

Carol: forget Cate Blanchett and look at Rooney Mara's beatnik style

Therese is the truly stylish one in Todd Haynes’ new film: less glamorous, more ordinary – and above all achievable

Lauren Cochrane

Monday 30 November 2015 14.27 GMT

If Cate Blanchett’s character Carol has title billing in Todd Haynes’ Carol, its Rooney Mara’s Therese who is the fashion insider’s character to study. Set in 1952 in New York, Carol has the wealthy grown-up artifice of the decade – all peplums, set hair, trapeze jackets and red lipstick – familiar to fans of Mad Men’s Betty Draper or Grace Kelly. But Therese, a twentysomething shop assistant living in a cold-water apartment, brings a different take. It’s one that’s less glamorous and more ordinary but simple and chic in a sort of beatnik way, like Audrey Hepburn in Funny Face before the makeover. 

Rooney Mara as shop assistant Therese in Carol. Photograph: Moviestore/REX Shutterstock

As a relatively poor young woman, Therese has very few clothes – she wears the same thing several times – but this sort of spartan look works for her. Take her shop uniform – a green and black ribbed sweater worn underneath a black V-neck dress, sometimes worn with the indignity of a Santa hat, sometimes an alice band over her fringe. It’s unremarkable compared with all the finery of Blanchett’s fur coat, ostrich handbag, half hat, stockings and stilettos, but its neat simplicity is endearing, and part of what attracts Carol to her. 

Rooney Mara’s plain shirt and plaid skirt contrasts with Cate Blanchett’s glamour.
Photograph: Moviestore/REX Shutterstock

If Blanchett’s character is in luxuriant fabrics – fur, cashmere, satin – Therese’s wardrobe is defined by the rather more prosaic plaid. She wears a plaid dress over another poloneck, a plaid skirt with plain blouse, a hat and matching scarf with plain naval jacket. All useful, smart and presentable, never frivolous or attention-seeking, hers are humble clothes. 

 A plaid scarf and alice band are Therese staples.
Photograph: Moviestore/REX Shutterstock

Sandy Powell, the costume designer for the film, has said in interviews that she based Carol on models in fifties Vogues while she looked at images of real people from the era for Therese and the photography of Vivien MaierStreet style, basically – the current major influence on our wardrobes. Like Therese, we might aspire to Carol’s perfection but, in reality, it’s far too much effort. For those who take their style cues over their popcorn, her look is achievable.

Cosy, girlish style worn by Therese v Carol’s ladylike chic. Photograph: Everett/REX Shutterstock

Anyone seen dressing like Carol herself might look a bit costume party in 2015. Therese, however, is a much more transferable look because the simplicity of her clothes mean they haven’t changed much in the last 60 years. Polonecks, plaid and naval jackets are still part of our reality because people with very little money still wear them. Now, with Therese on screens, they have a new reference to drop.


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