When InStyle did a "Get the Look" feature inspired by "American Hustle," it wasn't a parody.
But it was an unlikely achievement for a movie set in the late '70s, widely regarded as one of the tackiest periods in fashion history. (Even as a grade-schooler, I knew the burnt sienna Toughskins my mom bought me at Sears, with a coordinated country floral shirt, weren't flattering. I wore them anyway.)
"American Hustle" manages to not just capture the look and feel of the era, but also to influence the trends of our time. Plunging necklines like the ones Amy Adams routinely wore in the film rolled onto red carpets at the Golden Globes, along with luxe velvet tuxes reminiscent of the velour burgundy jacket Christian Bale wore in the movie.
"American Hustle" costume designer Michael Wilkinson told me in a phone interview that he avoided "obvious, lazy decisions."
"It's very easy to be cliche with this period because the colors are exaggerated, the flared pants are exaggerated," he said.
But the exuberance of the period conferred advantages too.
"There was a new freedom for women. The clothes were much less structured and relied less on underpinnings. The fabrics were softer. It really allowed me to create these very provocative and strong female characters," he said. Viewers may have winced — or pretended to wince — at the pinkie rings and perms, said Diane Pernet, who writes about fashion in film on her blog A Shaded View on Fashion.
"But even as you cringe," she said, "there's a tiny part of you that's dying to slip on at least one of those outfits."
George Kotsiopoulos on Oscar fashion
Don't expect a lot of risk-taking at the Oscars, said George Kotsiopoulos, a celebrity stylist and E! commentator who accurately predicted the Valentino gown that Katy Perry wore to the Grammys.
We asked him to turn his powers of prescience to the Oscars.
"While the Golden Globes red carpet is a major fashion event with starlets making bold choices, the Oscars is all about conventional elegance," he said. "If you are a nominee, this is not the night to take a major fashion risk. As a presenter, you have a little bit of leeway, but you don't want to push it too far."
Any trend forecast?
"I usually go by what has been happening on the runways, so I think we'll be seeing loads of liquid metallics and bold colors but also pale neutrals like white, nude and blush," he said.
Expect megawatt jewelry, which viewers at home can emulate with chandelier earrings, statement necklaces or bold cocktail rings from costume jewelry outlets such as Swarovski. The week after the Oscars, Kotsiopoulos is scheduled to appear at Swarovski boutiques in Chicago and Miami to promote his new book "Glamorous by George" (Harry N. Abrams, $19.95).
"Most importantly, be yourself. Having a sense of style is different than being fashionable."