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Stage Inspiration: Fashion Inspired by Chicago


Photo credit

Broadway is back on College Fashion! We’ve decided to revive the Stage Inspiration column, which features outfits inspired by various musical theatre productions. This time, we’ll be looking at the musical Chicago and fashion inspired by costumes from the 2002 movie version starring Catherine Zeta-Jones, Renee Zellweger, and Richard Gere.

(In case you missed them, see past Stage Inspiration posts on fashion inspired by Hairspray, Wicked, Les Miserables, The Phantom of the Opera, The Rocky Horror Show, and Rent.)

You Can Like the Life You’re Livin': About Chicago

  • Set in Prohibition-era Chicago (shocker, huh? I’ll bet you were totally expecting it to be set in LA), Chicago was written by John Kander, Fred Ebb, and Bob Fosse. The musical satirizes bureaucratic corruption, public obsession with scandal, and the idealization of the “celebrity criminal.” 
  • Velma Kelly is a vaudeville performer accused of murdering her husband and sister in a jealous rage.  Roxie Hart is a naive but ambitious housewife who shoots her lover.  Ironically, the media attention they receive from the murders is what helps propel them to the top. Yet they quickly learn that when it comes to the Second City, fame is fleeting.
  • Chicago premiered in 1975 and starred Chita Rivera, Gwen Verdon, and Jerry Orbach (of Law and Order fame) as Velma, Roxie, and Billy, respectively. 
  • The 1996 revival, which was the longest-running Broadway revival ever, starred Bebe Neuwirth, Ann Reinking, and James Naughton.
  • In 2002, Miramax released a film adaptation that went on to win six Academy Awards, including Best Picture. 

Outfits Inspired by Chicago the Movie

Now that you’re up to speed on the musical and film, check out a few outfits inspired by the 2002 movie!

All That Jazz

Photo credits: 1, 2, 3

Get ready to paint the town in an ensemble inspired by Velma Kelly, the vampiest vaudeville vixen in town.

A swishy, tiered frock will look great on the dance floor  Add seductive touches like fishnet stockings and a lace bed jacket. While you might not want to rouge your knees, you can definitely slick on a coat of crimson lipstick. Finally, accessorize with piano-inspired earrings and oxblood stilettos. You’ll be dressed to kill!

Product Information: Dress, Jacket, Tights, Shoes, Necklace, Earrings, Lipstick

Cell Block Tango

Photo credits: 1, 2, 3

The Six Merry Murderesses of the Cook County Jail may be psychopathic killers, but there’s no denying that these ladies are fierce. During the popular number “Cell Block Tango,” the inmates explain the reasoning behind their crimes while dancing in skimpy bondage-inspired outfits.

Channel their style (but not their 25-to-life sentences) with edgy pieces like a cropped cutout top and high-waisted bandage skirt. Since this look is skintight, stilettos would be sexpot overkill, so choose unexpected footwear like tough combat boots. Tie on a blood-red hair scarf and a fun handcuff-shaped bracelet for the final touches.

Product Information: Scarf, Top, Skirt, Boots, Bracelet

All I Care About

Photo credit: 1, 2, 3

Slick lawyer Billy Flynn, who represents both Velma and Roxie, doesn’t really care much about money, fame or power…or so he says. He specializes in the “razzle dazzle,” using the sensationalist media to give a scandal-hungry public what it wants. The courtroom is his stage and his only business is show business.

While I’m hoping that all you pre-law folks consider justice at least somewhat important, there’s definitely a [sartorial] lesson or two to be learned from Mr. Flynn. Menswear-inspired clothing is hot as ever for fall, so give a pinstriped blazer and cropped trousers a spin! A vintage scarf and oxford flats add some pizzazz while a briefcase-esque satchel holds all your essentials. Top it all off with a cool fedora.

Product Information: Blazer, Top, Trousers, Shoes, Purse, Hat, Earrings, Scarf


Photo credit: 1, 2, 3

Roxie dreams of being a celebrity — that means somebody everybody knows — and her wardrobe, both real and imaginary, reflects this overarching desire. She’s all about slinky slips, sequins, and slits up to there.

Snag her sexy ingenue look with tap shorts and a sequinned top. Back seam tights and T-strap pumps, along with an updo featuring finger waves, add to the retro vibe. Finish the look with a glamorous white faux fur coat. The only name on everybody’s lips is gonna be yours!

Product Information: Jacket, Top, Shorts, Tights, Shoes, Clutch

What did you think?

Would you wear these outfits? Are you a fan of Chicago? Are there any musicals that you’d like CF to cover next? Let us know in the comments!

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

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18 Responses to “Stage Inspiration: Fashion Inspired by Chicago”

  1. 1
    August 31st, 2012 at 3:33 pm

    I wish you would’ve done an outfit for Razzle Dazzle. That’s my favorite number from the movie.

  2. 2
    August 31st, 2012 at 4:01 pm

    I think you meant “You can liKe the life you’re living”

  3. 3
    August 31st, 2012 at 4:32 pm

    Where was this yesterday? I had my audition for Chicago! Love this but as fantastic as the movie is, I wish it had been more “Stage Inspiration” or a post just about the movie itself.

  4. 4
    August 31st, 2012 at 4:39 pm

    Loved this so much! Had to sing All That Jazz for a preforming arts camp last year. Please do Phantom of the Opera next! That would be my dream come true seeing how to reinvent the ornate costumes for everyday wear!

  5. 5
    August 31st, 2012 at 5:05 pm

    So many amazing outfits! Though I think you could always do a part 2 and show the rest? I’m imaging a take on Mama Morton and the Emcee right now. Being a massive musical geek, I love this post. Especially the all that jazz outfit. I wonder if I can convince myself that I need that dress in my life.

  6. 6
    August 31st, 2012 at 6:20 pm

    Hi! As a costume designer (and theatre nerd) I love this column! I’d love it if you’d do some more stage-y plays. Maybe Thoroughly Modern Millie, Anything Goes, Kiss Me Kate, South Pacific, Catch Me If You Can (all of which are period pieces) or Spring Awakening, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, Next to Normal or Hair (all of which are more modernly designed-ish and are rock operas)

  7. 7
    August 31st, 2012 at 6:41 pm

    I LOVE this and as a theatre geek I’m so, SO happy to see this feature back. I’d love to see your take on Spring Awakening :D

  8. 8
    August 31st, 2012 at 7:02 pm

    I love Chicago! As someone else said above me, South Pacific would be a great source of inspiration – or 42nd Street or Oliver!

  9. 9
    August 31st, 2012 at 7:03 pm

    YAYAYAYAYAY!!!!!!!!!! so happy this series is back just made my day :)
    i haven’t seen chicago yet, sad i know :( but i’m definitely going to in the near future! loved the outfits :)

    may I suggest some ideas for this series??
    JOSEPH AND THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAMCOAT. please! i’m doing that show right now, it’s one of my all time favorites since i was like 7. would love to see your take on some of those outfits ;P
    also WEST SIDE STORY and the producers!!!

  10. 10
    August 31st, 2012 at 9:12 pm

    Love these outfits! I love Chicago, it’s a great play I saw it at a local high school and the kids did an amazing job! Great post!

  11. 11
    August 31st, 2012 at 10:02 pm

    I love the Roxie one. Ahh, this movie…

  12. 12
    September 1st, 2012 at 9:11 am

    Could you do Newsies please?

  13. 13
    September 1st, 2012 at 7:23 pm

    I’m obsessed with Chicago. Velma, Roxie, and Mama Morton are all in my top twenty list of dream roles, I would looooove to see a Newsies and South Pacific and Addams Family Musical! Also, Legally Blonde the Musical is an excellent source of inspiration, both from the lawyers and the soroity girls! Hello Dolly also have a couple gorgeous costumes!

  14. 14
    September 1st, 2012 at 9:35 pm

    @Syd: I’d love to see a Newsies one! Especially the stage version with Katherine!

  15. 15
    September 2nd, 2012 at 7:15 pm

    I LOVE THAT THIS IS BACK. I do agree, however with those that said they’d like to see more THEATRE inspiration rather than inspiration from film interpretations of the show. I was much more impressed, however, with this post than the others in this column. I look forward to seeing many more!

    On a side note, I love that there are so many fellow theatre geeks (enthusiasts, if you don’t like that term) on here!

  16. 16
    September 8th, 2012 at 10:00 am

    Loving this! Let’s see something inspired by Cole Porter’s Anything Goes! Please! Thank You!

  17. 17
    October 18th, 2012 at 10:21 pm

    I wore the Velma Kelly inspired outfit tonight to see our production of Chicago :)

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