Dressing for Adventure

I notice what literary characters and movie characters are wearing. Fashion, I believe, is the most interesting part of fiction. I’m intrigued by the costuming decisions of action/adventure books and movies, especially movies. Adventure heroines are perpetually overdressed, underdressed, but never dressed for the occasion. Then again, how does one prepare to dress for adventure?

I’ve always been fascinated by Karen Allen’s white dress in Raiders of the Lost Ark. I thought it was so stylish, yet I couldn’t help feeling sorry for her: it must have been immensely uncomfortable to don couture in the middle of the desert. It must have been more uncomfortable still when the Nazis threw her into the snake pit. Quite personally, it was devastating to see that pristine white dress defiled by snakes, Nazis, and Indiana Jones (remember when he ripped off the hem?). No one respected the dress! Of course, she could have been wearing a more practical outfit when running for her life, but she wouldn’t be running in style…

Another stylish “get-away” outfit that has always resonated in my mind is Kate Winslet’s lavender tea-gown in Titanic. Once again, not the warmest of outfits to be wearing on board a sinking ocean liner in the middle of the frigid North Atlantic, but I couldn’t imagine it any other way. It must have been twice as difficult for her because she had to run for her life inadequately dressed and in heels.

An adventure fashion segment is not complete without mentioning Romancing the Stone. In the movie, Kathleen Turner wore a beige dress-suit in the middle of the Colombian jungle. I can’t say I was inspired by her outfit (she spent most of the movie covered in mud), but I did notice that the dress-suit was perpetually falling apart at the seams. It must have been poorly made. Her heels, however, were Italian.

I have a theory that outfits contribute to the conflict. Were I to be hunted down by Nazis or targeted for termination in an evening gown, I would be more stressed on account of my outfit’s preservation. I would worry about how I’m going to maneuver my escape in heels, or if I should lose the heels and run barefoot, but I’m not going to lose my mind and toss the heels, so I’ll have to run with them in my hands or use them as a weapon if I had to, even though I prefer not to because that would scratch the leather… Yes, I need to get my priorities in order, but ladies, admit it: wouldn’t you consider the same thing too?

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