All I Want to Do Is Dress Like Cate Blanchett in ‘Where’d You Go, Bernadette’
As someone who writes about books for a living, I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I’ve never read Where’d You Go, Bernadette, Maria Semple’s smash-hit 2012 novel about an eccentric mother and architect who mysteriously disappears. So, I had no idea what to expect when I went to a screening of Richard Linklater’s film adaptation of the novel a few weeks ago.
The acting was award-worthy, the settings were dreamy (think: a big, old house set against a gray and rainy Seattle backdrop and the expansive beauty of Antarctica) and the plot was, for anyone unfamiliar with the book, absolutely fabulous. But the thing that stuck with me most? The film’s costuming. Specifically, just about everything Cate Blanchett wears as the lead, Bernadette Fox.
Bernadette’s wardrobe is truly a minimalist’s dream. She envelopes herself in a wardrobe of neutrals, selecting classic silhouettes that are at once super flattering and ultra-comfortable. Bernadette is a brilliant, if idiosyncratic, mind, who would be perfectly happy never speaking to anyone aside from her husband and daughter. Her wardrobe suggests a woman who is unbothered by trends or status items or fashion in general. You can imagine her opening her closet and grabbing a few items with her eyes closed.
Since I can’t steal Blanchett’s cheekbones, I can try to mimic her chic, understated style in this movie.
The film’s costume designer, Kari Perkins, is best known for another Linklater film, 2014’s Boyhood. Unfortunately, I don’t have a costumer for my daily life, so I had to take it upon myself to figure out where Bernadette would shop.
A few stores instantly came to mind: Bernadette’s slim-fit, slightly cropped black pants are clearly Theory, while her loose-cut button-downs are textbook Equipment (or J.Crew and Everlane, respectively, for the budget-minded shopper). The trench coat she wears while out and about could be Burberry, but it could also be Halogen.
The olive green utility vest she buys for a family trip to Antarctica screams Barbour, while her overall favored color palette is something out of an Eileen Fisher fever dream. Shades of black, white and navy are smartly combined to offer a subtle-but-stylish effect. Bernadette’s wardrobe, it seems, is set up so that getting dressed requires zero thought. When all of your tops and pants can be worn interchangeably, the idea of matching is rendered obsolete.
Then, there were the sunglasses.
Nestled within her bob were giant, black sunnies that are like if Rachel Zoe and Miranda Priestly had a baby. I found a few pairs I think would be Bernadette-approved from Quay Australia, Karen Walker and Gucci. Basically, the look you’re going for is “please don’t talk to me, I’m much to chic to discuss the mundane.”
My biggest takeaways, regarding Bernadette’s wardrobe? Neutral colors work in every situation; classic pieces are classic for a reason; uniform dressing isn’t boring (it’s efficient); and there’s almost nothing a pair of giant, face-covering sunglasses can’t do—even if they’re just perched on top of your head.