Movies have always held a fantasy world that the viewer can escape to, that is their purpose. So when movies create a realistic world it becomes even more desirable. Many ‘chick flicks’ have fashion as a focus point, which also includes the transformation scene. This can vary from something like a character getting ready with their usual style through to a complete change, including appearance and behaviour.
How though, can a simple change of clothing change the way a person acts? While watching the movies we never notice this odd detail, it’s simply accepted. We love to watch the transformation, perhaps it is something we are drawn to, as though we were there for the process and somehow had a hand in it (Dancey 2005). In The Devil Wears Prada, the main character, Andy Sachs, is an awkward, fumbly and incapable assistant to the high up fashion editor, Miranda Priestly. She tries to keep her job at the magazine despite having no interest in fashion, until one day she is pushed too far. Her only solution is to become exactly what she has hated, a fashionable woman. Up until now her skills had not developed, however as soon as she walked out of the transformation sequence she was fully capable and confident at her job. This gives us the impression that simply changing the way we dress could have an effect on, not just how we look, but also our ability to complete tasks properly. (If only this were the case.)
It’s a strange concept, yet we accept it as normal, because we want to be just like that. We wish someone would come into our lives and give us free clothes just like in the movies. Clothing has a strong influence on how we act, communicate and how our personality comes across to others. So clothing is already a big part in our daily lives. (Johnson and Lennon 2016)
The transformation scene takes hold in many movies. It turns the geek into prom queen, the ‘unladylike’ to a pageant contestant, a prostitute into a lady, the sweet girl into a bad-ass and of course, a unkempt girl into a ball-ready princess. Every time, creating the illusion of successfulness and fashionableness.
One of the most iconic transformation scenes was in the 1990 classic, Pretty Woman. A prostitute is picked up to give directions, has her life changed when she is offered money to stay for a few days. Vivian (Julia Roberts) clearly doesn’t belong in the fancy hotel that Edward (Richard Gere) is staying in. As the movie progresses she learns that she has to change her wardrobe to fit in and attempts to go shopping, however, is rejected because of her appearance. Once Edward finds out about this incident he takes her himself, and there is immediately a different attitude, especially once the question of money is answered.
Cue the makeover music and multiple outfit change scene with many laughs and smiles, and Vivian emerges as a changed woman. However it isn’t just her image that has changed; now she can be a proper lady and attend formal dinners and polo games, all thanks to her brand new wardrobe.
Despite the unrealistic ideas put into our heads from these make-over scenes, we will probably remain in denial, (because who doesn’t love a corny transformation scene?) and continue to watch the movies believing that I too, just need to change my wardrobe in order to become a functioning person.
Dancey, Angela Clair. 2005. “Before And After: The Makeover In Film And Culture”. Etd.Ohiolink.Edu. https://etd.ohiolink.edu/rws_etd/document/get/osu1126899524/inline.
Johnson, Kim K.P and Sharon Lennon. 2016. “The Social Psychology Of Dress : Berg Fashion Library”. Bergfashionlibrary.Com. http://www.bergfashionlibrary.com/page/The$0020Social$0020Psychology$0020of$0020Dress/the-social-psychology-of-dress.
“Pretty Woman (1990) – Synopsis”. 2016. Imdb. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0100405/synopsis.
Youtube,. 2011. Shopping Part 2. Video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jT5rMvo3Clc.