Dressing Mom & Dad in ‘Legally Blonde’

Elle’s Mom & Dad at first appear to be quite small almost walk-on caliber parts.  However,  small though the parts may be, they have the opportunity to make a lasting impression on the audience.

Elle’s Mom & Dad appear very briefly in the first act during the “What You Want” song.  They also appear at the end during “Legally Blonde Remix”, and then typically are staged to stay to watch the end of the trial.  Through clues in the lyrics and dialogue we know some things about Mom & Dad.  First, we know they are rich.  We find out they live in Malibu next to Richard Simmons.  We learn that  Dad plays golf.  We also learn that spending money is not an issue:  Elle is one of the best clients of the Dress Shop; Elle’s mom suggests retail therapy (in the way of a Birkin bag) instead of attending Harvard Law; Dad can pay for Harvard, and  Elle formed the charity “Shop for a Cause”.  We also know that they love Elle an awful lot and will support her in her goals, even if they don’t quite see the point.

Most productions play them in a slightly playful, eccentric manner.  Mom often carries a drink, and perhaps acts a bit tipsy.  I do think, though, that you could also play them very stuffed-shirt & high brow and that could be equally as entertaining.  We opted to go for the comical twist.

This post is more about where and how I found their costumes more than anything I did to them.

Mom & Dad at their first appearance:

legally blonde thursday rehearsal 139

legally blonde thursday rehearsal 146

The Golf Outfits.

Plaid pants:  I found the plaid pants at a thrift store and I was THRILLED.  They were exactly what I was hoping for.  The plaid is big enough and with enough contrast that you can clearly see it from any place in the auditorium.  The day I bought the pants I was carrying them around the store and all of a sudden a gentleman approached me and said “Are you going to buy those pants?”.   A brief moment of panic struck me, because I really DID want them, but, if someone else really wanted them too,  .. well . . . I wasn’t going to fight for them, and so I slowly answered “Well . . .  I was planning on it”.  At that, he grinned broadly and declared “Good!  I told those women back there that someone would want to buy them, and they told me I was crazy and they weren’t worth putting out.  I am going to march right back there and tell them that I was RIGHT”.

Mom’s hats:  The cast member naturally has waist length brown hair, and so a wig was in order (old dance team cast off), and I like the blond curls, but it needed something “more”.  I had found a flopping sun hat, but I wasn’t totally happy with it.  Then, I happened to be in a local consignment store, and was asking a friend about a different potential costume piece and the owner looked at me and said “You wouldn’t be able to use some HATS would you?”  And, of course, I said “Yes!”.  At the time I wasn’t really thinking of this production .. but . . once I had them back at school, the blue one just begged to be put with that blue dress.  And I began to wonder, what if Mom was a Queen Elizabeth fan?  What if they were “new” money, and this was her oddball way of channeling “old money” (East Coast vs. West Coat?).  As it turned out, the store owner also gave me a cream colored hat . ..

Chanel-look suit:   . . . and it happened that a different friend had called me this past summer when her church was having a garage sale and said “I think you need to come”.  Among some smaller men’s suits, an egg yolk colored 3 piece doubleknit dress ensemble and some funky skirts, I found a Chanel-look vintage suit.  Add that to the hat . . and an outfit was born, and suddenly Mom had a “personality” (and a Royalty fetish).

Plaid suit:  We continued the theme of plaid with  Dad in his plaid jacket & matching vest.  He also continues to wear his brown hat.  And that jacket . . the ladies who work at a local church-sponsored thrift store know when I am costuming a show.  When I walk in the door they bombard me with queries “What are you looking for today?”  If I have a specific need they will start digging through boxes in the back store room, especially for off-season items.  I think this outfit sort of gives Dad a cliche “movie producer” look, which just adds to the humor of the moment.

The point of this post:  If you are into costuming, it pays to spread the word and make friends with your local thrift store resources!

The best thing about these two was their constant interaction with each other, and obvious enjoyment of the whole situation.

legally blonde thursday rehearsal 1134

legally blonde thursday rehearsal 142

I really like the blue hat with the blue dress.  The outfit just seems “off”, which gives it a lot of visual interest.  With the shorter skirt and wedge heels, Mom is giving of “trophy wife” vibes, but then she has that crazy hat on her head.  The cast member was also just a bit awkward in her heels, but, that was OK (and I knew that when I had her wear them).  It helped add that “trying too hard” vibe.

Cost:  all hats & shoes were donated, pants $3, shirt $3, dress $5, plaid sports jacket/vest donated, Chanel-look suit $2

Mom & Dad can certainly wear one outfit throughout the show, or they could mix & match accessories to change their look.

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