Monday, November 9, 2015

When Boots Trump Dowdy

In season two, episode two of the FX show Fargo, we see a lot of Kirsten Dunst's character wearing a wonderfully vintage pair of brown leather boots.  While finding the image below, I read that Dunst needed to gain weight for the role.  Her character is a working class, married woman who works in a beauty salon and these facts together makes me think that the casting director wanted her to look a bit frumpy.

But to a boot fan of any degree, the boots just accentuate Dunst's innate beauty, even as wardrobe tries to disguise it behind big '70s glasses and a bulky coat.

This is just the latest example of the resistance provided by fashionable boots to attempts at "frumpification" of an otherwise attractive actress.  We can look all the way back to 1976 and the character of Adrian in the feature film Rocky. Adrian's initial intentionally dowdy image (reinforced by her unisex name), is almost entirely spoiled by the choice of fashionable brown dress boots.

Was this a conscious choice on the part of the filmmakers? When we see Adrian's tall, glossy boots, we immediately re-evaluate her appeal and look more closely at the classical features of actress Talia Shire.  We get a glimpse of the transformation of the character as illustrated by her wardrobe changes throughout the film.  We see the potential that Rocky sees.

Whether conscious or not, the choice of putting an intentionally Dowdy character in boots necessarily adds an additional layer to the character.  The boots soften the image and add a spark (and sometimes more than a spark) of sex appeal.

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