PCS Blog

Fashion Through the Ages: 1960 and 1995

Posted by Lindsay Pfeifer | 14 May 2015


The decade of culottes, miniskirts and pattern play. Mods and rockers were setting the trends with very short skirts, go-go boots and tight-fitted tunic dresses. Jacqueline Kennedy was a style icon to many, and started multiple trends such as the pillbox hat, short boxy jackets and over-sized buttons. Simple shift dresses with geometric patterns were a popular item as well. For men, their once pale, toned suits were now bright and colorful with frills and wide, patterned ties. Plaid button down shirts were often worn as casual wear with slacks.

The 1960s were defined as a decade of change. Early on the styles were deemed more conservative, but as the decade went on the more exuberant things were. The year that Three Days of Rain takes place, 1960, was defined by wide shoulders, flared hems, shorter hemlines, and stylish evening dresses. Think elegance and Mad Men.


Inspiring illustrations by Costume Designer Alison Heryer


Fast forward 30+ years to 1990s day New York where fashion is starting to recycle on itself. Looks from the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s began to emerge and mix in with the current trends. Tailored skirts and trouser suits were not unusual for women, and the slip dress was a popular evening wear item. Due to pop-culture, the "sexy schoolgirl" look was also popular among younger women. For women over 50, the clean silhouettes of the 1950s were most popular. For this decade think Clueless

For men, their looks were mostly inspired by the 1970s. Coats with faux fur trim, jackets with wide shoulders and boot-cut slacks were among the most popular trends. Additionally, the preppy look was popular for men.


Illustrations by Alison Heryer

Although the cast may only be comprised of three members, a lot of effort went into planning the costumes for Three Days of Rain. We talked with Costume Designer Alison Heryer to learn about the creative process behind the designs.

Three Days of Rain

Here we talked with Costume Designer Alison Heryer about creating accurate period looks for the play.


What was the research and design process like for the show?

For me the process always starts with the script.  The director, Chris Coleman, is always great about assembling the entire design team early on and we have great conversations about the characters, the story, and identify important themes.  I also do a pretty extensive read just for logistical things that will affect costumes  - for this show there are some quick changes, actors dressing/undressing on stage, and a couple of costume items that need to get significantly wet.  Once I know what is important, I start doing lots of research.  For this show I used a combination of photographs, magazines and catalogs from the 1960s and 1990s, and vintage patterns.  Catalogs and patterns are great for getting a sense of the details of the clothes, the colors and fabrics of a particular period,  and understanding how the clothes were constructed.  I like looking at period photographs to get a sense of how "real" people wore the clothing pictured in the magazines and catalogs.  I love researching for period shows and often times amass hundreds of images on Pinterest and on the walls of my studio before I even begin to put pen to paper.  Then I usually do a couple of rounds of sketching and painting before nailing down a design that I want to show a director.     


What were you aiming to portray to the audience?

On a show like Three Days of Rain, the storytelling is the most important role of the costumes.  The goal is to create costumes that seamlessly weave the actors into the world of the play.  Throughout the design process, I'm always looking for styling details that will help lend authenticity to the back story and motivations of each character.  Once rehearsals begin, I try to talk to the actor a lot during fittings to make sure the costumes make them feel like the characters they will be playing on stage. 


Where have you been purchasing both the 60s and 90s items?

Heaven for me is shopping mid-century clothing so this show has been a dream to work on.  Portland has great vintage stores - Ray's Ragtime, Magpie Vintage and Living Threads are always my first stops downtown.  Then it's across the river to Pink, House of Vintage and all the amazing Goodwills.  Several items we rented from the costume stock at Portland State University.  We are also fortunate that styles from the 1990s are back in fashion, so some of the mall stores have also had good options.  


What were some challenges you faced?

Rain plays a pretty important role in the show and there are some 1960s era costumes that end up getting pretty soaked.  Because vintage items tend to be more delicate and one of a kind, we like to build these items.  Sometimes it can be tricky to find contemporary fabrics and prints that will replicate those of the period.  You also have to combat the distorted notion of stage time.  For example, in one of the major rain scenes two of the actors enter the apartment drenched.  In the scene that follows they need to be in dry versions of their clothes.  The way we solve this is by having duplicates of their costumes.  


How many different looks are there?

In this show there are only ten complete changes.  There are a couple of scenes where we create variation by changing out a single element, like a coat or sweater.  


What is your favorite costume?

They are all pretty great, but the one I covet is Lina's raincoat - I want one for myself to wear on rainy Portland days!


Three Days of Rain 
May 17 - June 22

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