Honky-Tonk Togs

THE MOVIE: “Thelma & Louise”

THE SET UP: Two friends from Little Rock, Ark., housewife Thelma Dickinson (Geena Davis, right) and waitress Louise Sawyer (Susan Sarandon, left), head off for a weekend of girl fun. But when Louise shoots and kills her pal’s would-be rapist, their outing turns into a car ride on the lam throughout the Southwest.

THE LOOK: Strictly honky-tonk. You might figure that with two such distinctive, stylish actresses above the title that this movie would be packed with great looking American Tex-West gear. No such luck. Nonetheless, at first sighting, both characters have fashion potential: Louise in her Mexican embroidered blouse, jeans and Audrey Hepburnish chiffon scarf wrapped around her head, Thelma in a frilly pearl-and-denim jacket, off-the-shoulder peasant blouse and full skirt and, soon thereafter, a ruffled bikini. But producer Mimi Polk explains that this story is about two women freed from their past lives and starting out fresh. Director Ridley Scott wanted their on-the-road wardrobe to reflect a distinct change in style and emotion. “We all very much wanted them to be down-to-earth and natural,” Polk says. So it’s standard-issue blue jeans and T-shirts, a pair of cowboy boots for Louise, sandals for Thelma. These are worn for the duration of the film, in progressively dirtier shades. To be sure, there’s no cheating on glamour here: neither actress wears makeup, and the two actresses’ reddish-blond hair (it’s strictly a coincidence that their hair shades match, assures Polk) just gets more and more frazzled.

THE SOURCES: Thelma’s pearl jacket is an L.A. label, Jett Paris, but just about everything else is vintage, although costume designer Elizabeth McBride beefed things up, adding such touches as rhinestones around the pockets of Thelma’s jeans. As for the denims, because Levi wouldn’t participate in a product placement arrangement with the film company, McBride says, the actresses wear everything but. The Tony Lama boot company, however, is credited in the film. That explains Louise’s cool cowboy boots as well as those worn by J.D. (Brad Pitt) and Jimmy (Michael Madsen).


THE PAYOFF: Gritty, yes. Strong fashion statement, no. For that, you’d be better off at the Gap.