In About Time, the new rom com from Richard Curtis (director of the best Christmas flick of all time, Love Actually), Rachel McAdams takes a turn as Mary, a plucky American who becomes the apple of an adorably awkward British time traveler’s eye (Domhnall Gleeson)… trust me, that description of Tim will actually make sense once you see the film.
Tim loves Mary for all the ways in which she doesn’t love herself: She’s plain, she’s got questionable “fringe”(that’s the Brit’s word for bangs), and she’s insecure. What she doesn’t realize, though, is that all of those traits only serve to highlight her natural beauty even more.
Plus, it doesn’t hurt that she also has a very cute wardrobe. Below, About Time Costume Designer Verity Hawkes explains how she brought the character to life.
ON SCREEN STYLE: How would you describe the character Mary’s look in About Time? Were there any sources of inspiration you looked to to create her wardrobe?
VERITY HAWKES: We wanted Mary’s look to be eclectic; a combination of vintage and modern that would give her an original quirky cute look. At the time, we used references like Kate Moss, one because Mary’s character admires her and because she is a perfect style icon. Although, we had to tone the “Kate style” down for Mary as her character is much less confident and stylish. I also referenced Annie Hall or her kookiness. But, as always, you start from a reference point and then the character takes on their own identity throughout the fitting process until hopefully you have a totally original unique character.
How closely did you work with Rachel McAdams to create her character’s closet? Was there any input she gave on specific outfits?
I worked closely with Rachel, she was wonderful to work with. We had so many looks to design in a very short time, so it was so important that we found the character together and went on to create the best possible wardrobe for Mary.
Was there a significance behind the Paris-print shirt dress Mary wears (pictured left) when Tim first meets her outside the restaurant?
I wanted Mary to look sweet when we first see her — Tim falls in love with her in the dark, and I wanted his first impression of Mary to be an idealized, romantic, and feminine one, hence the very girlie dress.
Was it intentional that Charlotte’s (Margot Robbie, pictured right) and Mary’s styles were glaringly different?
Yes, it was totally intentional to make Charlotte’s wardrobe different from Mary’s. Mary is unaware of her beauty and charm, whereas Charlotte is totally aware of her appeal. I wanted Charlotte’s look to be deliberately sexual — she had to look desirable, knowing, and unattainable at the same time, making her rejection of Tim in the beginning of the film poignant, and his subsequent rejection of her later a statement of his absolute love for Mary.
When it came to Mary’s wedding dress, why did you decide to go with the color red instead of traditional white? Was it written in the script that way or was that your idea?
The red dress was all Richard’s idea, it was written into the script from the start. Richard left the final decision up to me, but I thought the red dress was great idea and really suited Mary’s character. Some ideas are too perfect to alter.
I wanted the dress to look like Mary had found it in a vintage shop and fell in love with it, I didn’t want her to look like she spent anytime in “wedding dress fittings.”
Her character was not the kind of girl who would spend hours planning her wedding or designing a dress — a setiment echoed in John Paul Kelly’s production design. The wedding needed to have a thrown together, joyous, and make shift feel; nothing overly considered or planed.
Special thanks again to Verity for providing me with such great details on Rachel’s looks!
MARY’S RED WEDDING DRESS:
A vintage 1950s dress from Angels, a UK-based costume shop, was used as the base for the look. Verity altered it even more by adding rosette-adorned sleeves and adjusting the neckline for “the most flattering shape.”
GET THE LOOK:JS Collection Red Carpet Cowl-Back Gown
MARY’S NAVY BLUE PRINT SHIRTDRESS:
Henry Holland for Debenhams Navy Eiffel Tower and Poodle Print Dress (no longer available)
GET THE LOOK:
ModCloth Tower Dress <– my favorite match!Mod Cloth Pot Luck Pretty Dress
ASOS Shirtdress in Floral Print
Yumi Pixel Shirt Dress
MARY’S BLUE DRESS WITH LACE SLEEVES:
At the request of the director, Verity made sleeves for the Zara Fantasy Dress (no longer available), extended the length, and dyed it so the pattern wouldn’t strobe on camera
GET THE LOOK:Do, Chambray, Me Dress
Eva Picone Fit and Flare Dress <– it’s cream colored but has same sleeves as Mary’s
MARY’S RED, HORIZONTAL/VARSITY STRIPE CARDIGAN SWEATER:
“The red cardigan was once mine,” Verity recalled. “I bought it from New Look. I spend so much time in shops doing my job I find the best things. Richard loved the cardigan so much he really wanted to use it for that scene, and I think it works perfectly.”
GET THE LOOK 1. rsvp Finna Sweater
2. Volcom Stark Wrap Sweater
3. Coincidence & Chance Varsity Stripe Cardigan
MARY’S TAN TOTE:The purse came from Verity’s own stock of costumes and she thinks it was originally bought at Zara. “It has a timeless quality that I love,” the stylist said.
GET THE LOOK:Need Supply Co. Nantucket Tote
MARY’S FLORAL BORDER PRINT SHIRT DRESS:
ASOS Collection Floral Embroidered Shirt Dress (no longer available)
“This dress was one of my favorites!” Verity said (EDITOR’S NOTE: it was mine, too!)
GET THE LOOK:Free People With A Light Heart Dress
ASOS Shirt Dress with Floral Embroidery
MARY’S YELLOW LACE-YOKE DRESS:
Zara Guipure Combination Dress (no longer available)
GET THE LOOK:ABS Allen Schwartz Cap Sleeve Lace Dress
Sam & Lavi Trina Floral Lace Dress
MARY’S FLOWER NECKLACE:
“The necklace was from my stock,” the costumer said. “I have had it for a while… I think it came from the high street.”
GET THE LOOK:1. Bauble Bar Jumbo Bloom Bib Necklace in Ivory
2. Forever 21 Sweet Side Floral Necklace
MARY’S NEON YELLOW ELEPHANT-PRINT SHIRT:
ASOS Shirt with Elephant Print (no longer available)
GET THE LOOK:Forever 21 Elephant Print Top
One pair of Mary’s glasses (by Burberry) came from David Cullow in Ealing: “We were always limited to the time we could spend with Rachel as the schedule was so tight, so one day we ran round there with Rachel and tried loads of styles until we made our selection,” the stylist told OSS. “We made one fan’s day as she couldn’t quite believe Rachel McAdams was in the same store as her!”*****That the main pair of glasses the actress wore, however, actually belonged to Emma Freud, Richard Curtis’ “lovely wife,” Verity confirmed. “Films are always a team effort as you can see, Rachel wore everyone’s favorite things!”[EDITOR’S NOTE: I am not sure which pair Rachel is wearing in the image above!)
GET THE LOOK:Burberry BE2103 Tortoise Eyeglasses
MARY’S BLACK T-STRAP HEELS/MARY JANES:
The costumer designer is pretty sure these shoes were made by Clarks, but I couldn’t locate a product image online
GET THE LOOK:1. Antonio Melani Angie T-Strap Pumps
2. Chelsea Crew Malibu T-Strap Pump
3. Gabriela Rocha Cynthia Heel
MARY’S BLACK SHORT-SLEEVED DRESS IN TUBE STATION:
Sorry guys, this one was an one-of-a-kind piece: “I designed that dress and had it made by a fantastic maker called Chris Winter who makes all my designs ,” Verity told OSS.
MARY’S BLACK & WHITE SLEEVELESS DRESS WITH WHITE COLLAR:
Vero Moda Straight Collar Dress (no longer available)GET THE LOOK:Romwe Polka Dot DressThe Limited Polka Dot Shirtdress
——Check out more on movie fashion OSS by clicking right here!
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