Kirkland Blog > Posts > Costume Design for Brighton Beach Memoirs

By the 1930s money was scarce because of the depression, so people did what they could to make their lives happy.  In Brighton Beach Memoirs, we hear many references to the diversions of the time- movies, radio shows, books, etc.  This golden age of the mystery novel included escapist stories by Agatha Christie, Dashielle Hammett and Raymond Chandler.  Soon after the time period of Brighton Beach Memoirs, America would see the release of movies like The Wizard of Oz and Gone with the Wind.  This confluence of events is certainly expressed in the clothing of the period.  When the stock market came crashing down in 1929, so did women's hemlines.  The short, tomboy silhouette of the 1920s was replaced by a long, feminine line with a defined waist.  The 1930s also brought a new interest in color and pattern in fabrics, which were much more affordable than the beadwork and delicate trims of the 1920s.  This is certainly reflected in the costume design for Brighton Beach Memoirs.  Other fashion trends of the time that are present in the show include:


- Plus fours (knickers) for men.  Edward VIII made the shortened pants fashionable.

-Lana Turner's 1937 film They Won't Forget made her the first sweater girl, a look for young women accentuating large breasts.

-A trend in men's fashions to replace the traditional matching vest of a three-piece-suit with a sweater vest.


The fashions of the 1930s are unique and represent the uncertainly in the world between the World Wars.  Soon, as the inevitably of another war looms, women's fashions will lose their feminine shape and begin to take on masculine shapes and military details.


- Jana Henry Funderburk, Costume Designer


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