In Age of Adaline—her first film since 2012’s Savages—Blake Lively plays a woman who stops aging after a cataclysmic car accident. Adaline is a perennially fresh-faced 29-year-old, but her style evolves with each decade that passes, from the ’20s into the present day. “The clothes in this movie are really used to support the story of Adaline,” says costume designer Angus Strathie, an Oscar winner for Moulin Rouge. And Lively—whose love of clothing has made her a fashion favorite—was certainly up to the task of donning period clothing ranging from ’50s-inspired sweater sets to ’60s-style miniskirts. “I had a vision from the beginning of what I thought Adaline would look like through the decades,” Lively says. Read on for Strathie and Lively’s take on the title character’s spectacular style.
Strathie combed through “racks and racks of clothes,” including contemporary, period, and custom-made designs, during the costuming process. “All of that just to go on this journey to find what we think is going to describe this character the most effectively,” says the costumer.
“Blake loves a tight waist—she loves that silhouette,” Strathie says of the ’50s-style fashion worn in the film. Though Lively dons several formal gowns for the film, most of the pieces worn reflect “a woman who moved towns, moved countries all throughout her life in order not to raise suspicion,” Strathie explains. “So that [was] key for us—that no matter where Adaline was living, she couldn’t be too extravagant or too amazing.”
As Adaline, Lively wore this form-fitting dress for New Year’s Eve celebrations both in 1945 and in 2014. “So we had to find a dress that served us in both time periods,” Strathie explains. This custom Gucci gown fit the bill. Says Strathie: “We do have contemporary clothes that remind us of older styles for sure, but you had to believe it in both situations.”
Lively, a former brand ambassador for Chanel, says the burnished burgundy velvet gown was originally conceived as a long-sleeved cocktail dress. “It was more casual,” Lively explains. “But we thought, ‘No, this is a woman who lived when glamour was still alive. On New Year’s Eve, you would wear a gown. So she should doggone wear a gown!”
“Believe it or not, cutouts were kind of a thing in the ’40s,” says Strathie. “I thought it was a great look.”
A vintage coat from the early ’70s, a contemporary skirt and a turtleneck from “a couple seasons ago,” were combined to create this present-day look worn by Lively. “It’s that eclectic gathering of pieces together to make a style that’s very much her own,” Strathie says of Adaline’s sartorial sense. “But it was still kept in a quite conservative way. Simply because it’s not like she was a 20-year-old dressing up in old clothes—she’s a 90-year-old dressing up in old clothes.”
A date with a special man (Michiel Huisman) requires a special outfit, like this sweet, ladylike look. “It had these intricate, little twinkly beads sewn in really delicately. It was subtle, but really elegant,” Lively says of the vintage two-piece suit. ”You don’t see pieces like that nowadays.”
Creating vintage-inspired hairdos like the ’60s-style blunt bangs seen here required a bit of movie magic. “There were many, many wigs used to make that happen on Blake,” says Strathie. “It’s a testament to the skill of the [hair stylists], who made her look so beautiful.”
No go-go boots here: Adaline’s scenes in the ’60s take place in the countryside, which required “utilitarian and sort of functional clothes,” explains Strathie.
Lively has graced major fashion campaigns for Gucci. She worked with the brand to create this gold, Grecian-inspired gown worn in a pivotal final scene. Though this outfit is among the film’s most glamorous, Strathie says Lively didn’t discriminate among her on-camera costumes. “She’s very cognizant of the fact that these are tools that you use to create a performance in a character,” he says. “It’s very much about choosing the clothes—not necessarily the most amazing, or the most expensive, or the most glamorous, but what’s actually going to serve a scene and serve her character the best.”