Now We Know Who Wears the Pants: The Philadelphia Story

By Rachel Dean

philadelphia story1How could you go wrong with a cast like Katharine Hepburn, James Stewart, and Cary Grant? You can’t. The Philadelphia story is the perfect romantic comedy of its time. In the 1940s classic, Hepburn’s character divorces Cary’s only to be reunited two years later as she’s planning her second wedding. Cary’s character, Dexter, is determined to give the socialite a taste of hell by exposing her wedding plans to the media. Through some frazzle, confusion, and a few cocktails, Hepburn’s character, Tracy, woke up convinced she’d slept with James Stewart’s character. After telling her new fiancé, they ended their engagement. But the wedding still went on. In a twist of events, Cary becomes Hepburn’s groom once more.

Designed by the American designer, Adrian, Katharine’s wardrobe for the film isn’t one easily forgotten. Besides totally repping feminist women everywhere by pioneering wearing pants on screen in 1940, she looked hot doing it. When a man told her he preferred women in skirts she responded with, “Try it. Try one on. See if you like it.”  Her big belts and even bigger shoulder pads gave her outfits a bold, structured look simply adding on to her bold personality. Of course throwing out words like “pants” and “structured” can make thephiladelphia story 2 clothes seem pretty masculine to the simple minded, thankfully us fashion majors are here to remind you this is hardly the case. Each piece had an extreme elegance and feminine quality to it while still maintaining a bit of an androgynous feel. Can you say power suit? Even in the horseback riding scene she looks like she’s straight out of a Ralph Lauren advertisement. And we can’t forget about her iconic gold and white gown that every girl and their mother envies. It’s the epitome of class and sass, just like Miss Hepburn.

philadelphia story 3Hepburn’s brave decision to wear trousers is one we’re all eternally thankful for. Especially since it was 30 degrees yesterday and someone must be crazy to go out into that while wearing a skirt. Katharine has had such an impact in the fashion industry that in 2012 New York City had an exhibition dedicated only to her style. That’s the American dream. To dress so well that one-day someone puts your clothes on display and people pay money just to look at them. That, and also that Chic-fil-a would be open on Sundays. But these are pipe dreams for people like us. But for the movers and shakers like Katharine Hepburn, it’s just another day.

Her influence is still seen today. Not just in film, but in fashion. With her forward thinking, she led the way for button up shirts, trousers, loafers, and blazers. She dressed like a boss, because she’s a boss. She ran around “recklessly “with no make up and men’s clothing only to be dubbed one of the most gorgeous and stylish women in history. It’s clear who wears the pants in this situation.

philadelphia story 4


Filmsite Movie Review, The Philadelphia Story. Retrieved on February 10, 2014 from

Bette, 2011. Ten Reasons to Love The Philadelphia Story. Retrieved on February 10, 2014 from

The 15 Most Influential Style Icons of All Time. Retrieved on February 10, 2014 from

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