Stellar Vintage #486: Peter Falk and Natalie Wood wear matching suits and fedoras in a publicity still for Penelope, 1966.

Stellar Vintage #486: Peter Falk and Natalie Wood wear matching suits and fedoras in a publicity still for Penelope, 1966.

Stellar Vintage #419: Natalie Wood in a plaid circle skirt frock and cropped jacket featuring starched white cuffs, next to a rotary phone with a fur-lined handset.

Stellar Vintage #419: Natalie Wood in a plaid circle skirt frock and cropped jacket featuring starched white cuffs, next to a rotary phone with a fur-lined handset.

Stellar Vintage #348: Natalie Wood in a toffee pencil skirt and matching turtle neck with pearls, gold charm bracelet, box purse and a poodle.

Stellar Vintage #348: Natalie Wood in a toffee pencil skirt and matching turtle neck with pearls, gold charm bracelet, box purse and a poodle.

Stellar Vintage #228: Natalie Wood in a wool sheath with loads of black liner, chequered tights, leather gloves, sunnies, 1964.

Stellar Vintage #228: Natalie Wood in a wool sheath with loads of black liner, chequered tights, leather gloves, sunnies, 1964.

Stellar Vintage #165: Natalie Wood presses her prints down for posterity in a bouffant  hair ‘do and skirt suit, 1961.

Stellar Vintage #165: Natalie Wood presses her prints down for posterity in a bouffant  hair ‘do and skirt suit, 1961.

Stellar Vintage #112: Natalie Wood in an empire waist column dress with beaded bodice and draping at the shoulders.

Stellar Vintage #112: Natalie Wood in an empire waist column dress with beaded bodice and draping at the shoulders.

Lessons from Women of the Silver Screen #5: Towheaded Ain’t for Everyone.

Blonde may feel compulsory from the beauty mandate, but it needn’t be nor does it suit every lady. Some women just look weird after they go to the light side. Were you friends with Rita Hayworth, Natalie Wood, Sophia Loren, Ava Gardner, Norma Shearer or Elizabeth Taylor when they took to the bleach bottle, you would intervene, ‘oh, honey, no.’ Resist the notion of blonde at the top of the aesthetic hierarchy. Ginger and raven may better complement your skin, brows and eyes.

Stellar Vintage #32: Natalie Wood with red hair & lippy, yellow scarf and striped jumper.

Stellar Vintage #32: Natalie Wood with red hair & lippy, yellow scarf and striped jumper.

Classic Film Fashion #78: Natalie Wood’s virginal sex expert in Sex and the Single Girl (1964).
In the plunging white slinky number with gloves, cigarette holder, brandishing a cocktail, Wood’s Helen Gurley Brown calls to mind a girl playing dress up, one trying very hard to appear grown up and sophisticated. The deliberate nature of Wood’s costume telegraphs the lady’s a virgin long before we’re told outright. It’s as if the audience needs reassurance that no pretty young woman could ever know what she’s talking about, never really be an expert on sex of all matters. Best to watch this one on mute.

Classic Film Fashion #78: Natalie Wood’s virginal sex expert in Sex and the Single Girl (1964).

In the plunging white slinky number with gloves, cigarette holder, brandishing a cocktail, Wood’s Helen Gurley Brown calls to mind a girl playing dress up, one trying very hard to appear grown up and sophisticated. The deliberate nature of Wood’s costume telegraphs the lady’s a virgin long before we’re told outright. It’s as if the audience needs reassurance that no pretty young woman could ever know what she’s talking about, never really be an expert on sex of all matters. Best to watch this one on mute.

Classic Film Fashion #8: Natalie Wood’s LBD in Love with the Proper Stranger (1963).

The wrong dress from the early 1960s achieved iconic status when the insufferable Audrey Hepburn, the bloodless-brunette-baby-voiced-bats-lashes took a bite of a danish while ogling overpriced blood diamonds. As Holly Golightly, in a horrible morality play, she wore the little black dress that launched praise and imitations. Two years later, Natalie Wood blows her out of the water with a minimal black sheath. Look at her motherfucking waist, people, and tell me this isn’t a far prettier frock, one you could wear anywhere until you die. When it comes to stories about the perils at the ready for young women in the big city, Love with the Proper Stranger is also one for the ages, a story about how hard it is to make love be about more than duty and propriety. It sure beats the vision where we’re all sex workers. And as Angie Rossini, Natalie Wood has a droolworthy wardrobe. The headscarf in one scene alone kills me.