Saturday, January 29, 2011

Doppelganger Dresses, Part 21: Scarlett's Blue Portrait Dress

Today we feature a paradoxical dress in the Doppelganger Dresses series--Scarlett's blue portrait dress, which holds the unique position of being in Gone with the Wind the movie without being an actual costume. Yet although it's only shown in an oil painting, it's hard to forget Scarlett's lustrous blue dress and white lace shawl--thanks in no small part to Rhett Butler flinging a tumbler of liquor at 'Scarlett in Blue' to vent his frustration over his marital banishment.

After the jump, you'll find a period fashion plate that resembles Scarlett's own blue dress. One important note on that front: Scarlett's dress is miraculously less elaborate than our historical gown. In fact, dare I say it, by the standards of the day (circa 1869), Scarlett's blue portrait dress would be considered downright modest and (horror of horrors!) almost old fashioned. This was the era of the bustle and evening dresses had become lavishly ornate, adorned with flowers, lace, ribbons, and frills galore.  So to find an appropriate match for Mrs. Butler's blue dress, we had to go further back into the archives--to 1855! And even then Scarlett wins the battle for sartorial simplicity.

But enough explanations. Be sure to check out the dress and let us know what you think!

Blue dress with white lace accents. Les Modes Parisiennes, 1855.

Portrait of Scarlett O'Hara Butler in Gone with the Wind.


  1. In all honesty, when comparing the fashion plate with the painting, I actually prefer the painting! It's elegant and understated. My guess is (story-wise) Rhett probably chose the gown for her. :D

  2. I think it is quite lovely, I love her version of it because it
    is a bit more simplistic...:)

  3. I think the portrait dress is stunning. Such a vivid shade of blue. The fashion plate is lovely as well. The portrait dress always brought to my mind the scene in the novel where Bonnie demands the blue velvet Scarlett had originally been intending for a party dress. I know this portrait (in the film) was painted before Bonnie was born, but nonetheless...
    I agree with Ladyfuzz. If Rhett had commissioned a portrait of Scarlett, he would never have let her choose her own gown. Unlike Scarlett, Rhett would realise that fashions change, but that paintings don't. I would imagine that, if the dress were executed for the portrait, as soon as it was completed Scarlett would've had it down to the seamstress quick smart to have it festooned with lace and flowers and what have you.
    Movie aside, does anyone think the Butlers would have had portraits painted? Surely they would have at least posed for photographic portraits and family shots. Wouldn't it be great to find some vintage photos that could pass for the Butlers?


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