Fashion & Beauty

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’s Closet

February 13, 2018

Miriam “Midge” Maisel, confident she’s got it all in a carefully coordinated pink swing coat, magenta dress with matching velvet hat and long gloves./ Photo courtesy of Amazon.

NO VALENTINE’S DAY plans on your calendar? Cheer up, there’s nothing better than watching Amazon’s “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.”

If you’ve ever had a Jewish mother, lived in NYC, gone through a divorce or experienced something that totally upended your life, you can relate.  In 1950s Manhattan, the perfect world of Miriam “Midge” Maisel (played by Rachel Brosnahan, who won a Golden Globe for her performance) falls apart when her husband whom she has been helping pursue his stand-up comedy dreams announces he’s leaving her for his secretary.

Days after her husband leaves, her parents hold a rapprochement dinner. Midge looks stunning, seductive (and defiant) in this vivid red dress. / Photo courtesy of Amazon.

Midge goes from the girl who got the life she set her sights on (marriage to a successful guy; a spacious, light-filled Upper West Side apartment, two kids) to losing much of what she thought she had and then to finding her own, ironically, comic voice.

Says costume designer Donna Zakowska in an e-mail, “Midge’s clothes reflect where she is in terms of New York uptown or downtown. All her clothes attempt to capture her spirit to communicate her identity as a woman who will not be easily broken. For example, seeing her husband just after the breakup is a perfect time to express her bold defiance. Or the courtroom dress is is a moment to be strong and individual.  The dress was a bit like a romantic Monet—the sort of thing only Midge could imagine being effective in front of a judge. She operates in world where being strong and not fading into the background is very important.”

What to wear when going through an identity crisis: A Jacques Fath magenta coat with a green-and-purple printed dress. “I always dress for meetings,” says Midge. And also to look her best at a court hearing. / Photo courtesy of Amazon.

Midge fits in in a gray shirtwaist with a fussy bow on the subway enroute to her B. Altman’s job telling fancy customers how to put on eyeshadow. / Photo courtesy of Amazon.

Did we mention how gorgeous those clothes are? Graceful swing coats that defy a date, jewel-tone dresses with wasp waists and full crinoline-lined skirts (underneath, uncomfortable corsets define, squeeze and flatten), skirt suits, velvet hats and suede evening gloves. That’s Midge’s uptown look; for downtown comedy clubs she changes into cropped, high-waisted black pants, mock black turtlenecks, flats and a trench coat.

In front of the mike at the Gaslight, Midge has a newfound confidence and more serious clothing, like this timeless-looking plaid dress. / Photo courtesy of Amazon.

When Midge begins to figure out her life and pursue a career in comedy, her clothes start to look more serious and professional. The silhouette is narrower, the colors darker and the fabric is wool, rather than silk. Learning lessons from watching other comedians, her confidence improves as does her timing. Her freshly honest takes on marriage, the wisdom of having children, gender inequality and hypocrisy hit home with audiences. As for us, we’re looking forward to see where Midge’s life goes next season—and to the new clothes in that marvelous closet of hers.

—Janet Kelly

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