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Blanche DuBois Costume Tutorial

Recreate this look with our Blanche DuBois costume tutorial.Our take on Tennesee Williams’ tragic Southern Belle.

Before The Office’s Michael Scott, there was an even more cringe-worthy and pitiable character, Blanche DuBois—Tennesee Williams’ tragic and mistreated Southern Belle. We’re talking A Streetcar Named Desire, from Jessica Tandy’s Broadway role to Vivien Leigh’s silver screen adaptation, with our Blanche DuBuis costume tutorial.

1| Jessica Tandy’s Blanche
During her role as Blanche in Broadway’s original production, Tandy was tasked with working opposite an immensely talented and highly volatile Marlon Brando. While other starlets would have faltered and failed, Tandy was able to work against Brando’s unpredictable performances and shine on her own—winning a Tony award in 1948.

No Blanche DuBois costume tutorial would be truly complete without mentioning Tandy, who molded the character Vivien Leigh would step into four years later.

What you'll need: How to do it:
  1. Twist 1/2” sections of your natural hair into pin curls (small loops) and pin to your head with bobby pins. Each curl needs two pins, secured in an “X” shape.
  2. Place your short curly wig and anchor with 4 hair pins, attaching each to a sturdy curl.
  3. Finish with a thrift store gown in the vein of Jessica Tandy’s tattered silk gown. Go for thick straps, silk or satin, and a folded over neckline.

2 | Vivien Leigh’s Blanche
Fun fact: Vivien Leigh’s Oscar-winning turn as Blanche was supported by a careful relationship with wigs. According to Turner Classic Movies, Leigh wore bleached wigs on set to achieve Blanche’s bedraggled look. She didn’t trust the American hairdressers, so Leigh elected to have her wigs mailed back to London to be cleaned and redressed. The centerpiece of our Leigh Blanche is a platinum wig, quite fittingly.

What you'll need: How to do it:
  1. Twist 1/2” sections of your natural hair into loops and pin to your head with bobby pins. Use two pins for each curl, and pin them in an “X” shape.
  2. Place your flipped wig and secure with u-pins. Anchor the wig to four secure curls.
  3. Add a rhinestone tiara and white feather boa for tragic and delusional grandeur.
  4. Add a 1940’s crepe dress with a sweetheart neckline. Unlike Tandy’s distressed sleeveless ball gown, Leigh’s dresses were more youthful and conservative.
  5. Finally, add some age and wear to your dress with a dusting of dirt makeup.

Is your theater staging a production of A Streetcar Named Desire? Your version of Blanche can be either Leigh- or Tandy- esque with the help of our Blanche DuBois costume tutorial. We’re happy to help—after all, haven’t you always depended on the kindness of strangers?

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.