Film Costume: The Proposal (2009)

by: Christine Lee


Sandra Bullock's character, Margaret Tate, is extremely strong-willed and powerful in the position as editor-in-chief. Consequently, her wardrobe matches this position. Cate Thomas, the costume designer, dressed Bullock in a power suit but with a twist. Instead of pairing the suit jacket with pants, she paired it with a form fitting skirt that is still conservative and fits within the business sphere. So while the suit still aligns itself with power and respect, it enters the terrain of feminine identity with the skirt. The suit was worn, usually by men, as a symbolic representation of power. That she is a woman wearing a customized suit for women, is extremely powerful. Although, it is quite common to see women in the modern era wearing suits since gender equality is prevalent an d accepted. This costume also helps to emphasize the characteristics that she possesses. She is uptight, contained, and controlled, but for reasons that are disclosed throughout the movie. Conclusively, this costume represents power but also oppression. And we see Margaret Tate being free from this "oppression" at the end of the movie when she decides to forgo the whole suit and instead dons just the skirt part.