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Movie Inspiration: Fashion Inspired By “The Help”


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The Help took audiences, critics, and awards shows alike by storm last year, and a post dedicated to the retro fashion from the film is long overdue!

Just in case you lived in seclusion or something last year, The Help centers around a group of black maids who share their stories (at first reluctantly) with a privileged white girl who sets out to write a book about the true nature of the Jim Crow south. The movie depicts an interesting look at the racial issues and role of women in the early 1960s. The film is funny, touching, and will definitely leave a lasting impression on you. If you feel a case of summertime boredom creeping up, this movie is a great one to watch!

As with any period piece, filmmakers paid a great deal of attention to the costumes in the movie. The girly southern dresses, dainty heels, stylish hats, and Southern hospitality had me about ready to throw out my skinny jeans, drink a gallon of sweet tea, and wear my hair exclusively in a beehive! I’ve picked out a few of my favorite looks below and recreated the looks.

Ready to steal some retro fashion? Keep calm and read on!

Hilly Holbrook

Hilly Holbrook from The Help
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Hilly Holbrook, played by Bryce Dallas Howard, is the villain of the film. She is racist, snooty, and a downright awful character that’s so fun to hate. (Don’t worry, she gets what’s coming to her eventually!) She wears frilly floral dresses in almost every scene, along with prissy heels and perfectly coiffed hair.

To recreate Hilly’s look, a floral dress with a simple A-line cut will give you the right aesthetic. Add a taste of the late ’50s and early ’60s with cat-eye sunglasses, red lipstick, and pearls. Finish with a modern take on the beehive hairdo, and a proper pair of pumps.

Fashion inspired by Hily Holbrook from The Help: Lavender floral dress, mary jane heels, cat eye sunglasses, beehive updo, pearl necklace
Photo: ELLE | Dress, Heels, Pearls, Sunglasses, Lipstick

Skeeter Phelan

Skeeter Phelan from The Help, played by Emma Stone
Photo Credit

Emma Stone plays Euginia “Skeeter” Phelan, a brave and intelligent college graduate who challenges the norms of Jackson, Mississippi and wants to make a difference in the world. Although she comes from as much privilege as her snooty “friends,” Skeeter wears clothes that are a little more subdued, probably in hopes of looking professional at her job. Full skirts and perfect heels comprise her wardrobe staples, of course, but she’s also seen wearing cardigans and collared blouses throughout the film.

To recreate Skeeter’s look, a subtly patterned brown dress with a conservative neckline and full skirt forms a perfect base. Add a bright cardigan, and a pair of mary jane pumps. Finish the look with a simple necklace, a pearl bracelet, and cat-eye glasses.

Fashion inspired by Skeeter Phelan from The Help: Floral dress, green cardigan, cat eye glasses, mary-jane heels, locket, pearl bracelet
Dress, Cardigan, Glasses, Shoes, Necklace, Bracelet

Minny Jackson

Minny Jackson played by Octavia Spencer from The Help
Photo Credit

Octavia Spencer won an Oscar this year for her fantastic portrayal of quirky character Minny Jackson. When Minny wasn’t in her work uniform, she looked like a perfectly proper Southern belle in conservative dresses, white gloves, and a bevy of interesting hats. She stuck with patterned dresses, but not necessarily floral prints.

To recreate Minny’s look, a retro patterned dress like the one below would be perfect. It would take some serious guts to rock a pillbox hat today, but if you’re up the the challenge, I salute you! Just tie a scarf around your neck, and finish the look with wedges and a matching clutch.

Fashion inspired by Minny Jackson from The Help: Patterned a-line dress, wedge heels, '60s hat, red clutch, scarf
Dress, Hat, Scarf, Wedges, Clutch

Celia Foote

Celia Foote, played by Jessica Chastain, from The Help
Photo Credit

Bubbly and eager Celia, portrayed by the gorgeous Jessica Chastain, welcomes Minny into her home and the two become fast friends. Celia wasn’t raised with the same pedigree as Skeeter or Hilly, so the way she dresses is a little sexier.

For Celia’s look, a pussy bow blouse tucked into a form-fitting pencil skirt with a waist belt will give you just the right mix of naughty and nice. Add a pair of peep-toe pumps and retro sunglasses for a touch of the ’60s. Finish by sweeping on a matte red lipstick, and rolling your hair in curlers for soft waves.

Fashion inspired by Celia Foote from The Help: Pencil skirt, polka dot blouse, belt, peep toe pumps, sunglasses
Blouse, Skirt, Belt, Shoes, Lipstick, Sunglasses, Curlers

What Do You Think?

Have you seen the Help? What did you think of it? Have you read the book? What do you think of the costumes? What other movies to you love? What films inspire your style? Leave a comment and tell us what you think!

Posted on on May 31, 2012 / Filed Under: Inspiration / Tags: , , , ,

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32 Responses to “Movie Inspiration: Fashion Inspired By “The Help””

  1. 1
    May 31st, 2012 at 11:15 am

    Love the ideas! Especially Celia’s, she was my favorite character. The dress from modcloth in Hilly’s look is absolutely gorgeous!

  2. 2
    May 31st, 2012 at 11:27 am

    This article is everything I hoped it would be! I am amazed at the sample outfits. They make me want to throw on my favorite sundress.

  3. 3
    May 31st, 2012 at 11:45 am

    I really dig Minny’s bright and quirky look! Lately, I’ve been super interested in 50s/60s fashion and have been trying to find the perfect pillbox hat. Still scouring vintage shops!

  4. 4
    May 31st, 2012 at 11:56 am

    I absolutely adored this article! The movie was amazing, and I think these outfits perfectly portrayed the 60s Southern-belle type look. (:

  5. 5
    May 31st, 2012 at 12:06 pm

    Great article! And it would also be amazing if you could write an article about the Movie ‘Easy A’… Emma Stone’s looks were so cool!

  6. 6
    May 31st, 2012 at 12:09 pm

    Love these outfits! They remind me of modcloth! lol

  7. 7
    May 31st, 2012 at 12:12 pm

    i love these looks! i just wish the dresses weren’t so expensive

  8. 8
    May 31st, 2012 at 12:46 pm

    Wonderful tie-ins to a fashionable film. Nicely done, Chelsea!

  9. 9
    May 31st, 2012 at 1:04 pm

    I agree with lala……. a post on easy A would be great.

  10. 10
    May 31st, 2012 at 1:22 pm

    Thank you so much for posting this! I have been looking for an article like this from the moment I finished watching The Help. This a great piece! Though I wish I could find more of Skeeter’s collared professional dresses. I would love to see more tutorials based on Southern fashion!

  11. 11
    May 31st, 2012 at 1:43 pm

    I loved this film!!

  12. 12
    May 31st, 2012 at 2:32 pm

    I love love love this post and all of the outfits!!

  13. 13
    May 31st, 2012 at 2:43 pm

    Love love love this fashion inspo! All the looks are great!

  14. 14
    May 31st, 2012 at 3:30 pm

    I guess I live under a rock (: I havn’t seen The Help yet!!!!!!!!! This fashion alone makes me want to see it!(:

  15. 15
    May 31st, 2012 at 5:48 pm

    Read the book, watched the movie, loved both! These outfits are amazing I really loved the fashion aspect of the movie (as well as the great acting and plot). Great post!!

  16. 16
    May 31st, 2012 at 7:57 pm

    Love these outfits! I usually don’t find historical fiction interesting, but The Help was phenomenal. The movie was awesome, also :D

  17. 17
    May 31st, 2012 at 10:29 pm

    I am so thrilled you did this! I’ve been waiting for an article on this movie since it came out! Wonderful stuff!!!!

  18. 18
    May 31st, 2012 at 10:34 pm

    Do you know any others similar to the hilly dress? It’s out of stock now :( but beautiful outfits!

  19. 19
    May 31st, 2012 at 11:21 pm

    Vintage fashion never fades! That’s why when I chose clothes I pick on something on the way back styles. Can’t take my eyes off the 2nd look.

  20. 20
    May 31st, 2012 at 11:26 pm

    oh my goodness!! This was great! I love The Help! It’s my favorite book, and one of my favorite movies. :) This was awesome! Hilly Holbrook’s outfit was my favorite, but I liked Celia Foote’s too :)

  21. 21
    June 1st, 2012 at 12:44 am

    Awww what a great article! Awesome descriptions of these characters’ outfits and personalities.

  22. 22
    June 1st, 2012 at 12:56 am

    You hit the nail on the head, Chelsea!

  23. 23
    June 1st, 2012 at 9:22 am

    I thought these outfits were great but I thought they were less of an inspiration and more like a literal translation of the outfits they wore in the movies. I liked it, just wish there was a little more of a modern twist to them.

  24. 24
    June 1st, 2012 at 11:02 am

    These outfit ideas are great and really pretty! I love the Hilly one :) But I do wish you could have had an outfit inspired by Aibileen, she was one of the main characters too!

  25. 25
    June 1st, 2012 at 1:02 pm

    These are so cute!
    You should do a Game of Thrones post next. I really like Daenerys’ clothing :)

  26. 26
    June 1st, 2012 at 2:46 pm

    Nice start! How ’bout putting Viola Davis in the mix as well as some of Octavia’s and Viola’s churchwear? More diversity would be appreicated. Thanks!

  27. 27
    June 1st, 2012 at 10:27 pm

    isnt that scarlett johansen? not bryce dallas howard under hilly holbrook? the blonde girl?

  28. 28
    June 2nd, 2012 at 8:43 pm

    Amazing Website, over love this entry!! ^_^

  29. 29
    June 5th, 2012 at 5:10 pm

    Lala – Good idea; will keep that in mind for a future post!

    Gilda – Things tend to sell out fast once we feature them; I’ve had things I wanted sell out before I could get them because I blogged about them first. A few things to try: 1. Keep checking ModCloth, they’re known to restock popular items. 2. Try eBay for retro/’50s floral dresses; they may have a vintage one that’s similar. 3. A few similar dresses I found: (similar shape & floral), (lavender color & flare skirt). Hope it helps!

    Fran – Yes, it’s ScarJo and is meant to show a modern take on the beehive hairstyle. I can see how the text made it sound like we were calling her Hilly, though. Will change!

  30. 30
    July 24th, 2012 at 9:26 pm

    It would be really cool if you did a post inspired by the Amazing Spiderman movie! Peter Parker has a cool laid-back style as does Gwen Stacy.

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