Chic? Yes / Affordable? Partly

The Movie: “I Love Trouble.”

The Setup: The if-you-can’t-beat-'em-join-'em mentality prevails between Sabrina Peterson (Julia Roberts, pictured) and Peter Brackett (Nick Nolte, pictured), reporters at competing Chicago newspapers.

The Costume Designer: Susan Becker, whose credits include “Father of the Bride,” “Baby Boom,” “Dying Young,” “Flatliners,” “Sea of Love,” “St. Elmo’s Fire” and “True Romance.” Her women’s clothing is available at Maxfield in Los Angeles.

The Look: Imagine the restraint here--the famous Roberts body is revealed in but one itsy-bitsy, Saran Wrap frock. The rest of the time, Sabrina wears what can easily be called perfectly chic business clothes: sculpted skirt suits, loose trousers, navy blazer, basic blouses and sweaters, a dark brown leather pea coat.


The only nagging question is, could the average newspaper reporter afford such a look? Yes and no. It took two designers--Becker working with Richard Tyler--to concoct Sabrina’s simple, fitted black and white houndstooth suit. Price tag? Oh, easily $2,000. The good news is that a fantastically luxurious short trench coat is an affordable J. Crew. A black mock turtleneck? Courtesy of nothing-is-ever-cheap Isaac Mizrahi. A cream silk blouse? Also J. Crew.

Hemline Watch: Two to three inches above the knee. While some designers are pushing knee-skimming skirts, this length looks as good as ever. “Coco Chanel said, ‘Cover the knees, they’re ugly.’ But she also said, ‘Find the length that you look best in and wear it,’ ” Becker says.

Hit: Little jewelry--not always the most popular or riveting choice for women on screen. Yet one can’t help but notice Sabrina’s delicate, barely perceptible silver hoop earrings, and her garnet and moonstone bead necklaces played off a masculine, stainless steel Swiss army watch.

Try This at Home: The subtle approach to pattern. First Sabrina appears in a houndstooth suit, then Peter surfaces in a houndstooth jacket. Sabrina wears a glen plaid coat dress. Peter dons a glen plaid suit. “I’m not a big fan of pattern, for men or women,” Becker says. “Houndstooth or glen plaid for women or men, and a couple of great striped shirts for men, that’s it,” she says.


Trivia: “I tried 100 trench coats on Nick. I called Burberrys and said, ‘Send me the classic Burberry Humphrey Bogart wears in “Casablanca.” ’ We (ultimately chose) a Ralph Lauren coat because it’s a lighter-weight version with great style--the shoulders, the big collar, the belt, the very, very classic light tan color,” Becker says.

Sources: Becker designed Sabrina’s coat dress. Her navy blazer and brown trousers are by Richard Tyler. Her black evening gown is by Adrienne Vittadini. Her necklaces are by Laura Alvarez; silver earrings, Ralph Lauren; shoes include the labels Belgian Shoes, Freelance, Manolo Blahnik and Ralph Lauren.

Most of Peter’s suits are custom-made by Edgar Pomeroy in Atlanta and the Polo/Ralph Lauren label. His tuxedo and houndstooth jacket are by Armani. Most of Peter’s shirts were made at Anto in Beverly Hills. His shoes are Ralph Lauren and Allen Edmonds. His horn-rim glasses are from L.A. Eyeworks.