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American Hustle: Plunging Necklines, The New Power Suit

tumblr_n3960kzehd1tvd0kyo1_500When watching the film American Hustle, one would have to be blatantly non-cognizant to not notice the stunning, plunging necklines of the dresses and blouses worn by lead actress, Amy Adams. At once sultry and audacious, but for some, is a crude portrayal of female objectification. Females being objectified has been a particularly contentious issue, being especially politicized and termed morally and ethically deplorable.
tumblr_n2sgv034KU1s9nv81o2_1280But looking at the film itself and Amy Adams’s role, we see another area that has been meticulously ignored to justify political mudslinging and righteous diatribes. Amy Adams uses her attire, and in effect her body, as a symbol of power and confidence. The plunging neckline was as much a skillful manner of distracting and maneuvering, among both males and females, as it was a reflection of the women in the 20th century. Women who revolutionized clothing with their refusal to be subordinate to crass concepts and outside interferences of their body.
tumblr_n1u6xvYhVX1rodz1bo1_500The plunging neckline stood out in two portions of the film. One where she wore such a blouse and pencil skirt combination as they were about to conduct a raid and the bit where she emerged in a dazzling gunmetal sequined dress. The dress was otherworldly and was vital as she became confrontational upon meeting her female counterpart (Jennifer Lawrence) in the same room as her competing lovers (Christian Bale & Bradley Cooper).
tumblr_mxqpp51mT91r4lsbyo1_1280It was a regal attire harkening back to Hellenic times. Like Helena of Troy, she was a source of conflict between the two male leads and yet she fought her own battles – she was a woman without a leash.

Much can be said of the idea of using the body to harness power and influence but I am not referring to the body as a sexual symbol insomuch as the confidence oozed out by using one’s body, something every human being owns. The plunging neckline is particularly intriguing as it works its way right at the center, which in a way displays weak points. But as much as it does that, it could very well be used as a form of strength, the exposed flesh immediately a symbol of latent triumph. There is no doubt that Amy Adams’s role shifted between fragility and iron-will but the strongest effect of the plunging neckline lies in its ability to act as a show of force.

Look at it from another angle. A necktie is a display of symbol or allegiance, questioning what sort of entity, – even a philosophical or metaphorical one – the wearer belongs to. The exposed flesh is one’s own; it shows individuality in ways cloth and neckties can never do.
tumblr_n328qy0D8y1rr1moyo1_500In that regard, the plunging neckline achieved a powerful connotation by Amy Adams. She was a character who worked her way around precarious situations and came out on top. In a recent interview with Vanity Fair, the costume designer of the film, Michael Wilkinson mentioned that one of the rules to wearing a plunging dress is ‘standing tall’*. Physically that might be so, but it can only be achieved if you are able to exude power.

Pavandeep Singh

3 thoughts on “American Hustle: Plunging Necklines, The New Power Suit”

  1. To me, the plunging neckline is cool, but there should be certain places where it is not present. When it comes to people below the age of, let’s say, 17, I view it as not appropriate. I have seen quite young ladies wearing blouses that accent breasts and shorts just shy of Daisy Duke. The young ladies need to be taught they are not bodies on display. Let them be taught to value what their minds can do as compared to whom they visually excite.

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