Welcome back for another look at the costumes from our favorite show and what they might reveal about the characters. Remember our premise that the clothing a person wears may reflect how they view society and their role in it. “ Dress is primarily founded in the world of emotions” says Ernest Harms in the American Journal of Sociology. So lets see what we can learn about Amanda, Lee, Billy and Francine through what they wear in this next episode.
After watching the gun runners get sabotaged in the opening seen the next thing we see is Lee and Billy taking a leisurely stroll through the white marble halls of the Agency. Billy is holding a tray with the remains of someone and he sounds remorseful and tired. Billy reminds me of Mr. Rogers here in his cardigan. Mr. Rogers would come in to his “house” in a suit and take off the jacket, hang it up and exchange it for a cardigan. In this way he would make himself comfortable for us little children to relate to. It feels like Billy does this with his cardigan, when he is wearing it he reveals “normal” to us, even in the midst of the cold white marble walls of the agency.
In contrast to a comfortable, warm, tired, normal Billy we have Lee wearing a double breasted pin striped suit. He is looking very put together, professional and business like. And he is wondering why everyone is feeling so much anxiety. Could it be that “normal people” in a suburban neighborhood are being threatened?
We next meet Francine. She is a challenge to me here. Still in stripes. But this get up looks like something bought in a boutique. Its not very sleek, but more “artsy.” One thing I must say about Francine and her clothing is that although she works in a man’s world she does not dress like a man. Some women would feel the need to wear suits and not play up their femininity (think Sandra Bullock in Miss Congeniality). No, Francine is all woman and she dresses as one. I like that about her.
Next we have Amanda. Is this what everyone is calling her Maria von Trapp outfit? She seems to wear this during important interviews or discussions. Maybe this is the Amanda King version of a “power suit?” It is a suit but it has soft, homespun lines to it in a natural color and fiber. The blue shirt is a stronger color, speaking of peace and integrity. “Mr Honeycut Typewriters” obviously didn’t pick up on the conservative and frigid vibes that the color blue may also convey, huh?
I find it interesting that to begin this episode we see both Amanda and Francine is softly structured outfits made out of loosely woven neutrally colored fabrics, but they convey very different ideas about the woman. Francine looks eclectic and expensive, Amanda seems clean and neat, but not very high powered. I think this is used to highlight the one against the other, is it a study in femininity?
Do you see that thing that Lee is holding in his hand? I think that is a visitor’s pass, the kind that Amanda is usually wearing. He is fumbling with it and then quietly puts it into his pocket. He pops out of the costume elevator and decides not to take her down to the Agency with him. I think it is interesting that she pushes him back into the costume elevator at the end of this scene. And then the next time we see Lee and Amanda together, Lee is popping in through another door. He is now wearing the disguise of “Mr. King” barging into Amanda’s normal life, or her attempt to get her life going again by interviewing for a job. This episode doesn’t take Amanda into the world of the Agency, it takes Lee into Amanda’s world instead. And so in the next scene we have Lee in casual dress, this is Scarecrow playing the role of “Suburban Husband.” Let’s see how he does with that one? I like the fact that Lee appears to be wearing the same blue sweater that he had on when he was rescued by Amanda in the First Time. And Amanda is wearing another cardigan style sweater vest. I have noticed that she has many pieces of clothing that are the same style but different colors. I have a family member that does this, maybe others do this as well. She finds something that she likes and feels good about and then buys it in many different colors. Amanda wore a bluish gray sweater like this to that costume party in The First Time, now she has on a purple one. We would never see Francine wearing the same item of clothing in many different colors, would we? But as far as how suburban women dress I don’t think Amanda looks frumpy or out of style. She seems to fit in quite well. But I wonder if this repetition of a style is frugality or maybe an insecurity about trying new things? Stick with what is comfortable and what works?
The next costume change is the late night explore of the Bodine house. ( I know I should mention Lee’s lack of attire before this, but I think it speaks for itself ) Lee has on the same jacket he wore to search the post office ( I guess at this point he has only one jacket?) But Amanda where is your trench coat?
I love this kitchen scene! Remember how they had their trench coats off at the Jefferson Memorial? It was the first time they really let down their guards. Well here Amanda is barefoot and Lee has his suit jacket off, his top button undone and tie loose, and his feet are up on a chair. That is a pretty high level of comfort with another person. They act as though they have known each other for ages, not for what, 2 weeks?He is learning about her here, not in a place that is a part of the government but in a suburban kitchen. He is learning about Dean, and how normal people do kitchens, and how to fight and listen to one another and how to solve a case together! I love this scene (did I say that already?) And in light of how “delicious” Amanda would look in blue, how do you hear Lee’s comment about “liking blue a lot better?” Funny that the writers would put that idea in this episode twice. Not that they were really thinking about the psychological meaning of colors, but just as a reminder, blue is the color of trust and peace. It can suggest loyalty and integrity. Already Lee is drawn to these things about Amanda.
So we next have Lee at the airport looking very nicely put together in yet another double breasted suit, tie bar and broad gold band on his finger. Married to Amanda looks good on Lee. I suppose he needed to keep the ring on in case the woman he was following noticed him, but he wore it to the office too…
And here in the office is that bratty comment about the generosity and stamina of the American housewife which Lee hasn’t even begun to truly fathom. And here is that belt that Francine has on during that clunky scene with Lee in ALSALS when he makes the comment about her clothes.Maybe subconsciously someone remembered this? ( I know, that is reaching)
Amanda’s next outfit reminds me of Francine’s comment from the tag in The First Time, “I hear she knits or something” Amanda does look very homespun here. And the other thing that sticks out to me is the Connie Beth sign that says, “The Art of Selling.’” It reminds me of Francine’s comment at the beginning of this episode when she shows up at Mr. Bodine’s door and asks if she looks like she sells. Francine doesn’t want to look like she sells, but Amanda needs to learn the art of selling. Does that speak to her naiveté? And yet it is Amanda and her quick thinking and her ability to link ideas together that solves the case and saves them here. I also noticed Lee buttoning up his double breasted suit jacket after he was brought into the office being introduced as someone Amanda cared forIt made me think that he needed to put himself back together, or reinforce the protection around his emotional well being.
And lastly the tag. Doesn’t Amanda look “delicious” in her cozy blue bathrobe? And remember how Lee tucked the visitor pass away in his pocket at the beginning of the episode? Well I thought of that as I watched him tuck the wedding ring into his pocket during the tag.He seemed annoyed with Amanda during that first scene, but here… well, not so much . But Lee sure is very good a tucking things away isn’t he?
I didn’t think I would be able to go into such detail about the costuming in each episode, but so far I have found so much more as I look at them this way. I hope you are finding something new to enjoy in the episodes through these posts as well.
I know I’m coming back to this late, but I’ve been pondering lately–thanks to concentrating on ties/clothing–the dichotomy of Lee…
We have Lee Stetson or, rather, Scarecrow–the fashion plate dressed-to-kill spiffy ladies man. Usually not a hair out of place, seems to frown on disorder. Then, on the other hand, we have Lee Stetson’s apartment which–as we see in Saved by the Bells–is quite a pigsty. 😀
I wrap my poor grey matter around it by thinking of Scarecrow and his spiffiness as the mask–the suit of armour and super hero–and Lee and his messiness as the wounded little boy lost man. But it’s quite the dichotomy, no?
What about when the worlds collide (before Amanda allows the bridging/healing of the mask and the man)? When Scarecrow the ladies man brings women back to his apartment… is he not embarrassed by the mess? (I wonder whether any of them have run away screaming at the penicillin collection on the coffee table–or are they just too deep under Scarecrow’s spell that they don’t notice the disorder?)
As the series progresses, we see Scarecrow’s clothing becoming more relaxed–Lee and Scarecrow are blending/merging more–the edges smoothed off both thanks to Amanda. If I get around to creating a Tie Patrol post, it’ll be along the lines of “the loosening of the tie”…
(Overthinking things again–free time is bad for me! And apologies if anyone’s brought this up before–I still haven’t worked my way through all the episodes.)
Maybe he stuffed things away when he brought someone home. And I bet he was always in control of when he did. He made the plans, he called the girl. If he ever did find himself in a “situation,” ah hem, out of his control I am sure he would not offer his place.
But your observation just unlocked something I was pondering about Magic Bus. Thanks KC! Now I know what to do with the costume post for that episode! Awesome!!!
Yeah–you’re right… he probably tidied up beforehand or threw everything into a closet or similar. 😀
Happy to be of help. 🙂
I like your comparison of Francine’s outfit to Amanda’s. The more we get into discussions and comparisons of Amanda and Francine (esp. the one over in LOTP right now) the more I think that a lot was done on purpose by TPTB to compare/contrast these two on the show.
Ahhh, thank you for including the Lee in plaid photo…just gave my morning a boost! And I totally agree – Lee is a good tucker!
I really enjoyed your post, Morley – so many interesting things to think about. I like how you go into such detail. It make me wonder just how much of this is us making connections in hindsight, unconscious choices by the writers or TPTB or even conscious choices by them also. I find this fascinating to consider!
BJo I am sure a lot of it is us in hindsight, but 30 years that is a lot of hindsight, so why not:)
Yes! Why not?
Hi Morley, thanks for the opportunity to revisit early season 1.. I love all of this show.. but.. early smk is for me a real treat!
LOL Billy looks sooooo put upon! 😉 glad he said goodbye to the cardy eventually..
Dress is primarily founded in the world of emotions? hmmm.. I’m not sure! I think our thoughts have alot to do with it tooo.. and sometimes clothes are as much about what we want others to think or feel as what we ourselves do.. but I see what you mean and agree with the idea of clothes being a little window into the interior lives of these characters we love.. so I am looking forward to Morley’s take on TGTN!
LOL.. so no talk about the wardrobe of guest stars? sometimes they are hilarious! I did love those soldiers with their sit under hairdryers! 🙂 Alas.. I guess we can’t cover everything huh!
Billy = Mr Rogers? rofl!!!! no wonder he comes across as such a teddy bear! Except Billy is not home.. he’s at his work.. he needs to take off the cardy and put his work clothes on! 😉
Whooo yes this idea of Francine not dressing like a man is fascinating!!! especially as my brain is in Francine analysis mode as I am in the middle of looking at LOTP!!!
I think the central message of Francine’s wardrobe is Class. She’s high class.. ( by birth probably, rather than IMHO by attitude and values!)
I was super excited by this idea that Lee has a guest pass in his hand.. I’ve had a look..
I could be wrong.. but to me it looks like a swipe card, entry card of somekind – I know we don’t really see them anymore but these early eps are full of one offs.. I could be wrong.. here’s a pic:
I love Lee popping up everywhere surprising Amanda, and all his disguises.. I kind of miss it!
LOL.. what you wonder is maybe an insecurity to try new things Morley, I just put down to her character being portrayed as a dull housewife.. not fashionably glamourous.. In a way, it underlines her Class or Maybe Status?
hooo haaaa… can’t see too many pics of Lee and his bedroom eyes.. me like..
Oh my.. and can’t see too many pics of Lee wearing a wedding ring ( when Amanda is wearing it’s partner!)
That Cardigan Amanda has on as she arrives at Connie Beth inaugration, I think Francine wears one very similar too it.. was it in spiderweb?? I found it strange that she would wear something that looked like early Amanda would wear!
Here it is! found it..
Jenbo.. you don’t have to link to it, but what’s the title of the smk foreshadowing vid on youtube (some don’t like being linked to) I haven’t seen it!
Okay gotta run!!! Lovely lovely post Morley.. I bet you had fun revisiting that ep!!
[tried again to embed images.. this time just a blank space.. so weird!! sorry if others are having troubles.. just post the link! I don’t have time to trouble shoot this now.. though I have noticed I’ve only had this problem since upgrading to windows 8 computer.. Hmmm.. ]
If this is the foreshadowing video Morley is on about here it is
Edited by Iwsod- sorry Jenbo I know Moxie does not want her vids linked to directly… so I’ve removed the link..
If anyone wants to check out this vid that Jenbo is recommending search for ‘SMK foreshadowing’ on youtube 🙂
Hello Jenbo! I’ll check out that vid in the morning.. looks like fun!!! Thanks for finding it for me – I don’t know this one!
I am hesitant to link to someone directly without their permission usually – but I have had Moxie tell me directly that she does not want her vids linked to directly- I am not sure why – and I don’t really need to know why I figure they are her vids and she can do what she likes 🙂
I am sure she would love the recommendation though!
Anyone else watch it?? tell us what you think! 🙂
BTW- Jenbo I loved Working Girl..[hey I guess it has a few common threads with smk no?? plucky woman *underdog* aiming to make it in the workforce.. and finding the love of a gorgeous co-worker while she’s at it.. in really big shoulder pads?!] There were a few parts of working girl that I found a little.. err less than charming.. whereas Baby boom is charming all the way! For me it’s the ultimate woman in the workforce 80s movie – Diane Keaton is fabulous.. and of course KJ did have a go at the Baby Boom tv series – I’ve never seen it has anyone else?? do tell!! I guess that didn’t work out for her..
Yes, Jenbo that is the video. You can watch it and a lot of other great ones on Moxie’s You tube channel.
That’s OK IWSOD, I figured you’d do that if need be. Confess I don’t understand why people make vids but don’t like them linked but I shan’t get into that 🙂
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Yes, Iwsod, I think you are right, dress is about what we want to project as well as what we perceive, I guess I like the idea that it can be a subjective thing. The clothes we wear make us feel a certain way sometimes, or they make others perceive us in a light that we are hoping they will. Or we may even feel more confident or the opposite depending on how we have dressed for an occasion.
I did focus my posts on the costume of the 4 main characters. Feel free to add comments about the guest stars. I though that I would have trouble making he posts long enough, but I am having the opposite problem, they get too long. Comment away anyone.
I guess that does look like a swipe pass in Lee’s hand. But still, I like the idea of it being a guest pass especially in light of the elevator scene in Magic Bus. It seemed to me that he had it in his hand in case he needed to bring Amanda down into the Agency and was relieved when he realized he wasn’t going to have to so he put the pass away before she could notice. And then in Magic Bus there they are pinning them on each other. I kind of liked that progression. I may still go with it anyway, why not 🙂
Thanks for linking those pictures. The Cardigan That Francine is wearing looks machine made to me, Amanda’s looks homemade. I do think Amanda must Knit as well as sew. In your recent post of LOTP she has got a pink cardigan on like the gray and purple one. She must have liked that knitting pattern 😉 When would Amanda have time for all of that? If I get a chance to sew it is in the wee hours of the night. Amanda is super woman!
I bet Dotty knits/sews too!! Maybe she made some of them.
Perhaps some were also made by “Aunt Lillian”? Seems to me she knitts, too.
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Jenbo, I will be looking forward to what you think that “thing” was. I never noticed many things until I started to watch the episodes for the costume posts.
Did you ever see the video that somebody made about SMK foreshadowing? There seems to be some of that going on.
And I don’t remember the 80’s very much but I get the impression that a woman not dressing in power suits in a “Mans world” would be a brave thing on Francine’s part. Does anybody else feel that way?
No I have never seen the video about foreshadowing. Is it on YouTube?
I was a child during the 80’s so I can’t comment what workwear was actually like but what I’ve seen in films is power suits. Oh that’s just made me think of the film Working Girl and the scene in the bar where main character Melanie Griffiths attend a work party dressed in a pretty dress and all the other women are dressed in suits etc. Harrison Ford comments on how she hasn’t dressed like a man attending the party LOL
I love how Amanda and Lee look in the kitchen scene, very much like a couple. In some ways sort of mirroring each other, both wearing smart trousers and shirt/blouse. I wish Amanda had worn more of those sorts of trousers as she looks very elegant in them, even in bare feet 😉
Sadly I have no idea who Mr Rogers is BUT thanks to your pic I can see the similarity. Billy dresses comfortable, like a man who’s made his career. Whereas Lee dresses snappy and smart to impress. I do like his urban Lee look, that blue jumper is far nicer than some of the later ones in S1!
I think I have probably done the Lee in plaid to death but thanks so much for putting the pic in 😉
I never noticed Lee fiddling with that “thing” when he comes out of the closet to see Amanda, good call. I am gonna have to go back and watch it on a big screen again to see if I can tell what it is.
I like how you describe Amanda as homespun, very true, she’s not a woman destitute but definitely dressing on a budget. Nothing flash but comfy and practical, very mom-ish 🙂
As for Francine like you I am really glad they didn’t stick her in power suits. I tend to think of Diane Keaton in Baby Boom, all angular lines.
I never made the connection between the slimy bloke at Honeycutt Typewriters saying Amanda would look good in blue and Lee saying he likes blue alot better 😉 foreshadowing? Maybe 😉
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