Wardrobe Review: Carol

Sale PSA: An adorable cropped striped sweater from FRAME, now 60% off/$132, a lovely pleated white short sleeved top from DvF, now $136, a classic gray cashmere turtleneck from Equipment, now 60% off/$115, and a pretty embellished mini dress from Needle & Thread, now under $100. 

This week I’m doing a wardrobe review on a movie I recently watched with encouragement from a reader (thanks Jamie!). The movie is Carol – starring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara.


I’d recommended The Price of Salt in an earlier Weekend Update, and Carol is the movie adaptation of the novel, which was written by Patricia Highsmith. Cate Blanchett plays the titular character of Carol – a wealthy housewife in the 1950’s. While Carol herself is a very complicated character, as we soon learn, her wardrobe stays constant – polished, elegant, and expensive. Her wardrobe is exactly what I think someone in her position would have worn in the 1950’s.

The first time we really meet Carol, she’s in a long mink coat. She wears this coat throughout the movie, and it seems almost like a security blanket for her – something soft, cozy and expensive to wrap around yourself.

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There are plenty of faux fur options out there, such as this Eliza J coat, for under $250. If I were to splurge on the real thing, I’d be getting one of these beautiful jackets from Lilly E Violetta. Gorgeous!

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A wardrobe detail that really stands out in Carol are her golden jewelry pieces. You can find a similar necklace from Tiffany here (this looks so amazing layered – but that price tag!), as well as a similar chunky gold bracelet. Or, for a very similar look, you could try out this caged cuff, which is only $42.

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Rooney Mara’s character, Therese, isn’t nearly as moneyed as Carol, and has a much plainer wardrobe. I still liked the little detail of her delicate wristwatch here.

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A detail that I really liked about Carol was that the wardrobe was very believable. You see Carol  wearing a more conservative suit jacket here, with a red scarf tucked in. But later on that evening you realize that suit was part of a set – a silk sheath dress that she wears to perfection (along with some excellent gold bracelets).


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Love the little floral sprinkling of diamonds in the ears here.

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Carol 11

Next up a preppy look – I love the pearls, the collar on the dress, and the cardigan draped over the shoulders. Everything! This cashmere ruffled polo from J.Crew is a perfect cousin to this outfit.

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I love this fabulous long red coat – there’s a very similar one currently from Maje that is also gorgeous, and under $1000.

Next up, some more shots of the fur coat –

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Love the upturned collar here…

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…draped over the shoulders so beautifully…

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And finally paired with a classic red polo and what looks like an Hermes shawl.

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I know this is basically the same photo as the one above but I had to include it because of how excellent Cate Blanchett looks here.

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Next up – Carol back to civilized life, wearing a simple brown tee and her gold jewelry. Doesn’t this look like it could have been taken today (with Carol as a politicians wife)?

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In a cream boucle coat over a dotted silk dress…I love that pillbox hat. You can find a very similar creamy gray boucle coat from IRO.

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And finally, the last outfit we see Carol here. First through the window, with her little hat and silk scarf tied casually as she writes.

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And next, hat and scarf gone that night, her sparkling earrings and jeweled brooches clear on her jacket.

I hope you enjoyed this wardrobe review! Carol didn’t feature the kind of fashions that I myself would necessarily want to buy for myself, but I was still really drawn to the idea of these classic and obviously high quality pieces, worn over and over again. Unlike movies like The Devil Wears Prada, where the wardrobes were closer to fantasy and items were never repeated, Carol seemed much more like a real woman’s style – the fur coat, the jewelry pieces – a real style “signature” if you will, over just a few hours of film.

If you want to read more about the costume design behind Carol (and it’s really quite fascinating), and check out some photos with much better lighting, I’d highly recommend this Vanity Fair piece. Enjoy!

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  • Reply
    Jaime S
    August 15, 2016 at 12:13 pm

    Excellent review and thanks, Katherine! It’s a favorite of mine!

  • Reply
    August 15, 2016 at 4:32 pm

    I loved the vintage Van Cleef & Arpels jewelry Sandy Powell put on Cate. I was hoping Sandy would win another Oscar but they gave it Jenny Beavan for that Mad Max movie (so not for me). I thought the acting, photography, costumes, and music was great, but I didn’t like ‘Carol’ as a whole. Maybe I would like the book better. Patricia Highsmith was a unique writer. Thanks for doing this review.

  • Reply
    August 16, 2016 at 3:58 pm

    I recently watched Age of Adaline and the clothing was beautiful, feminine, and modest. I immediately thought it could be a great future Wardrobe Recap.

    • Reply
      August 17, 2016 at 7:15 pm

      Thank you for the recommendation! I love Neil Gaiman so have been meaning to watch this.

    • Reply
      August 27, 2016 at 11:12 pm

      I second this! The makeup is also beautiful

  • Reply
    August 18, 2016 at 6:48 pm

    Nicely written Katherine. I like how you detail the wardrobe pieces in the movie into real world shopping. Love it.

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