Iconic Dresses: Working Girl,1988


My mum was staying with me for just over a week recently while my Gran was in hospital and it was the first time in ages we had spent so much continuous time together.  We’ve always been close and it was nice for some of our old similarities to come to light again.  In particular I began to think of how much influence she has had in my tastes and subsequently my style.  She’d probably laugh if I told her she was an influence on my style as she finds my colours and er ‘statements’ somewhat over the top most of the time.

Nevertheless, it is true.  My love of vintage I reckon has its roots in an appreciation since childhood of old movies, especially Westerns, firmly placed there by my mother.

Many of my favourite things have been adopted from favourite things of Mum’s and this is especially prevalent when it comes to my choice of movies.  Probably the most quoted movie between the two of us is 1988’s Working Girl starring Melanie Griffith, Harrison Ford and Sigourney Weaver.  It is a brilliant film for so many reasons.  It’s funny, it’s romantic without being sickening and it’s one of the best examples of modern cinderella story / triumph of good over evil / girl power movies around.

This movie on paper should not work for me.  I don’t like ‘chick flicks,’ I don’t really like Melanie Griffith and I have a love hate thing going with Sigourney Weaver.  However it has plenty of things I really love…

Harrison Ford Jack Trainer Working Girl 1988

Harrison Ford as Jack Trainer.

Even though there have been stages in my life where I have suffered from 80s/90s leading man blindness rendering me incapable of differentiating between him, Kevin Costner and Richard Gere (I know, I KNOW!).

Joan Cusack Cyn Working Girl 1988

Joan Cusack as Cyn

Steals every single scene she appears in. Her insane 80s hair and make-up, New Yoik Drawl and brilliant lines including my favourite: “Can I get ya anything? Coffee? Tea? Me?”

The Oscar Winning Soundtrack Song by Carly Simon which for years I was convinced was actually sung by Sigourney Weaver and I’m embarrassed to say invokes many emotions for me!

Anyway, this post is supposed to be about a dress non?

YES! SORRY!

I was not very old the first time I saw this film but I remember being struck by the fashion.  I can’t help myself, I love 80s fashion.  I think it’s just my age and the fact that I first started noticing ‘fashion’ around the late 80s. I’m not talking about the leg warmers, neon and baggy sweaters though.  I love a silhouette.  For me much of the 80s shape is heavily influenced (albeit hugely exaggerated) by the 50s which is the era I would choose to visit in my shopping time machine.

In this film is an example of the classic makeover genre where the main character has to change herself a bit physically to be taken seriously.  This is set up by main character Tess (Griffith) receiving advice from her new boss Katherine (Weaver):

Katherine: I consider us a team, and as such, we have a uniform. Simple, elegant, impeccable. Dress shabbily, they notice the dress, dress impeccably and they notice the woman. Coco Chanel

She then tells Tess to “lose the noisy accessories” and she self-consciously removes her bangles in the bathroom.  I think every woman can identify with the moment an “Alpha Female” points out “you’re not me” and it’s done very well in this movie.

Tess however does become Katherine and ultimately beats her at her own game by literally dressing up in her clothes.  The dress she chooses for this will forever be iconic for me.  Yes it’s 80s and possibly velvet which is one of my least favourite fabrics but there’s something so alluring about this sparkly LBD cocktail dress.

Melanie Griffith Working Girl LBD 1988

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