Film Fashion Friday 15. Margaret Sullavan’s First Dress in “The Shop Around the Corner” from 1940; Fashion for Job-Hunting for “The Unemployment Blogathon”

Text placeholder (2)

Today is Friday, so it’s time for another Film Fashion Fridays article. The purpose of this series is to explore one of the most appealing aspects of the Golden Era of Hollywood, the glamorous fashion. Alternating between men’s and women’s clothing, I describe a different outfit or style which would have been worn during the Breen Era (1934-1954), using pictures of outfits from one or more Code films as examples. Then, I choose products from Amazon and provide links to them through the Amazon Affiliate program so that my readers can purchase these items and recreate these outfits for themselves. If you purchase an item after following one of the links on our website, we will get a small commission from the Amazon Affiliate. Please help us stay in the Amazon Affiliate by making purchases soon.

I decided to make today’s article an entry in a blogathon. This weekend, Steve of Movie Movie Blog Blog The Sequel is hosting The Unemployment Blogathon. This unique blogathon is dedicated to films which depict characters who are unemployed, lose their jobs, or look for jobs. I decided to make my topic for today’s Film Fashion Friday an outfit which a young lady wears when looking for a job. This ensemble is the first costume which Margaret Sullavan as Klara Novak wears in The Shop Around the Corner from 1940. She wears this smart ensemble when she goes to Matuschek and Company, looking for a job. Not only is this a very pretty dress, it is a perfect outfit to wear when jobhunting. 

Image result for the shop around the corner 1940 margaret sullavan

Margaret Sullavan, Frank Morgan, and James Stewart.

This outfit is simple but feminine. Most of the female outfits I have described in this series so far have been blouse and skirt combinations, since it is often very difficult to find modern dresses which resemble specific vintage dress styles. Flapper dresses and swing dresses are the only vintage dress styles which are readily available on Amazon and elsewhere. However, I was glad to see that this dress didn’t look unlike many modern dresses I have seen. Thus, I am pleased to offer you this charming outfit, just the sort of thing a 1940 shop girl in Budapest, or any other major city, for that matter, would want to wear when trying to impress a potential employer.

Related image

Grace Hayle and Margaret Sullavan.

Klara’s garment is a cap-sleeve pencil dress. It is dark, but it is not black. It looks burgundy to me, so that it is the color which I have chosen for my recommended dresses. However, most of them come in other colors, as well, so you could choose whichever color you think it might be. It could easily be dark green, maroon, purple, deep blue, or very dark gray. The dress is quite fitted through the torso. Although there is no belt, there is a line at the waist, which gives the figure definition. It has a square neckline. None of the pictures I found show the bottom of her skirt. To see how long it is, I watched the opening scene of this movie. For a few brief moments, you can see her hemline. It reaches to her knees. The dress is fairly straight, hence its classification as a pencil dress. However, it does not cling to her body, since clothes were not made that way in Code films. Let’s consider some dresses from Amazon which could fit in this outfit.


The two above dresses from Amazon are listed on the same product page. They are from the same company, which is offering four styles of similar vintage dresses on one page. I think both of these styles could work in this outfit. The first style, on the left, has a high neckline with a slight part at the center. It has longer cap sleeves, similar to Miss Sullavan’s. It is quite fitted and has a line at the waist. The second design has a sweetheart neckline. It has shorter cap sleeves, which just cover the shoulders. It has more pleats on the bodice to give definition to the figure. Both dresses are 60% rayon, 35% polyester, and 5% spandex. The first design comes in burgundy, black, and white. The second design comes in burgundy, green, orange, yellow, black, sapphire, navy blue, white, light grey, and red. The two other styles come in various colors, as well. This dress costs $15.99-$23.99, depending on which design, color, and size you order.

The above dress from Amazon is another excellent option for this outfit. It has a very vintage look. It is a pencil dress with a knee-length skirt. It has cap sleeves. The neckline is square with an angled cut on the sides. It has two lines at the waist which make a built-in belt that defines the figure. The material is rayon, nylon, and spandex. This dress comes in wine red, black, dark grey, green, white, yellow, blue, navy blue, red, olive green, black with white polka dots, blue with white polka dots, black with white polka dots and red roses, white with black polka dots and red roses, red with black polka dots, white with black polka dots, and red with white snowmen. It also comes in nine floral patterns of various colors, which are made of cotton and spandex. This dress costs $22.99-$27.99, depending on which pattern and size you order.

Image result for the shop around the corner 1940

A very important aspect of this dress which none of my suggestions possesses is the white collar insert. I am describing it as a separate element because we must address it as such. Above the dark material of most of the dress, Klara has a white insert. It appears to be thinner white material, which is gathered in pleats over her upper chest. It ends in a thin strip of material at her neck which is the same color as the solid part of her dress. This addition gives the dress a pinafore look. It is very charming and a good style for keeping a sensitive part of your body warm in cooler temperatures. Since I couldn’t find any dresses which come with this charming feature, let’s consider some separate products we could use to recreate this look.

The simplest option is to just wear a thin, decorative blouse underneath one of the dresses. The above blouse would serve this purpose very nicely. It has a slightly ruffled collar area with a tight, ruffled band at the neck. At the level which could be a neckline, there is a ruffled sweetheart neckline shape. It has very short ruffled sleeves. The material looks very light and sleek, so I think it would be very smooth under a dress. It is 100% polyester and only comes in white. It costs $15.99.

The other option for creating this look is to use a fake blouse collar. The four options from Amazon are different styles of this concept. The two items on the left are attached at the front but have no back. They are just a false front, which is convenient because it doesn’t bunch or add bulk under a dress. The two items on the right go all the way around, but they are both short. Although they give the appearance of being full sheer tops, they barely reach past the shoulders. All four of these items would look charming under any of the dresses I suggested. If you purchase one of these, I’m sure you would also enjoy discovering other new outfits you could create by pairing these white collars with other dresses and blouses.

Image result for the shop around the corner 1940

The only noteworthy accessory which Klara wears with this outfit is her hat. It really sets the outfit apart and gives her whole ensemble character. She is wearing a straw hat with a roll-up brim. It has a high dome. It is adorned with a black ribbon tied in a bowknot. The choice of this hat tells us a lot about Miss Novak’s personality. Rather than wearing a plainer black hat, she chose to wear a straw hat. As such a hat is associated with the outdoors, it gives her whole ensemble a playful look. It looks like the sort of bonnet a schoolgirl might wear, so it makes her look very youthful and girlish. The below hat from Amazon is a perfect match to Margaret Sullvan’s hat in the film. It is made from a durable soft straw blend, and it is beige. It has a black ribbon band. At $9.49, I would call this adorable hat quite a bargain.

Image result for the shop around the corner 1940 margaret sullavan

Klara is carrying a handbag in this scene. It is a clutch. It appears to be black leather. I recommend the below handbag from Amazon, although any black leather purse would be appropriate. This purse is black cowhide leather. It comes with a shoulder chain. It is only $16.29.

Image result for the shop around the corner 1940

I searched the opening scene of this film to see if Klara’s shoes are ever visible. Unfortunately, they are not. Thus, I decided to guess what sort of shoes this character might wear. I think that she would wear black leather pumps, to match her handbag. I think they would not have a strap, but they would have heavier heels. I recommend the below shoes from Amazon. It is a nice black pump with a heavy heel. This shoe is made of natural pig leather. It comes in three styles, two black and one coffee. It costs $71.20.

 Image result for the shop around the corner 1940 margaret sullavan

That concludes my description of this outfit! It is quite simple, but it is lovely for work as well as for leisure. There is a timeless elegance about this outfit, yet it also seems youthful and uncomplicated. There is a charm because of its girlishness. The next time you are looking for a job, remember Klara’s style. She shows as much confidence and persistence with the way she dresses as with the way she sells a musical cigarette box as a weight-watcher’s candy box to an unsuspecting customer. Even if you don’t feel comfortable wearing this outfit when going to an interview, it can be a motivation for you. You will try especially hard to get the job so that you can afford to buy this adorable ensemble for your day off!

If you want to observe Miss Sullavan’s style for yourself, I suggest that you purchase the movie and study his outfit firsthand! Click the above image to purchase The Shop Around the Corner on DVD at Amazon.

Remember, take pictures of yourself in vintage style and send them to me to be featured in a future Film Fashion Fridays article! I will gladly republish your pictures, advice, and experiences in vintage clothing for others to see and read. Let’s make Friday a day for film fashion!

Casablanca Fashion

To every Glamour Girl and Dapper Dan, “Here’s looking at you, kid!”

Add a heading (3)

Please join the third year of our annual Code celebration, The Third Annual Breening Blogathon! It is running from October 11-14 in honor of Joseph I. Breen’s 131st birthday. Whether you want to breen a film, review a new Code movie, or analyze some aspect of the years when Hollywood was governed by the Code, this is your chance to write about the topics which we always cover. What are your thoughts on the Code? This is your chance to play PCA-member or pretend that you are a member of PEPS. Let’s make this our most successful blogathon yet!

Follow us to bring back the Code and save the arts in America!

We are lifting our voices in classical song to help the sun rise on a new day of pure entertainment!

Only the Code can make the sun rise on a new day of pure entertainment!


4 thoughts on “Film Fashion Friday 15. Margaret Sullavan’s First Dress in “The Shop Around the Corner” from 1940; Fashion for Job-Hunting for “The Unemployment Blogathon”

  1. Pingback: Announcing THE UNEMPLOYMENT BLOGATHON! – MovieMovieBlogBlog II

  2. Pingback: THE UNEMPLOYMENT BLOGATHON is here! – MovieMovieBlogBlog II

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s