How to Create Rhett Butler Costume


The popular image of Rhett Butler from "Gone with the Wind" was created as much by Clark Gable in the 1939 movie as it was by Margaret Mitchell's novel. Walter Plunkett designed Gable's costumes based on historic illustrations from Victorian-era fashion drawings. While Rhett wore a few notable outfits in the movie, including a red satin bathrobe on his honeymoon and a tuxedo out to dinner, he may be best known for the gray suit with the black jacket he wore while courting Scarlett, which is a good choice for a costume.

Things You'll Need

  • Black suit jacket with a long coat or tail
  • Gray vest
  • Matching gray or black dress pants
  • White dress shirt with ruffles and black buttons
  • Black ascot or Western bow tie
  • Pocket watch with chain
  • Pomade or hair gel
  • Mustache wax or fake mustache with spirit glue
  • Iron

Step 1

Research Rhett Butler's outfit by watching the movie "Gone with the Wind;" looking at movie stills, which can be found online, and reading Margaret Mitchell's novel. For extensive background, track down a copy of the behind-the-scenes book "The Making of Gone with the Wind."

Step 2

Buy the clothing for the costume, including a jacket, vest, creased dress pants, bow tie and accessories such as a pocket watch. You'll have to decide how accurate you want the outfit to be. A vintage Victorian-era men's coat will likely be expensive and delicate. Several companies make retro "gentleman's coats," which will do just fine as long as the coloring and cut are accurate. Those who want to be reverent to the book also may want to include a waistcoat made of "white watered-silk" with tiny pink rosebuds, but few partygoers will probably recall the detail.

Step 3

Dress in the clothing. Many people won't remember exactly what Gable wore in "Gone with the Wind," but they'll recall he was a natty dresser. If possible, iron the shirt, vest and topcoat before wearing.

Step 4

Trim your hair. Gable's closely trimmed, greased-back hair and thin mustache are both signature elements of the Rhett Butler image. If you can't grow and trim a mustache to the right style, buy one and adhere it to your top lip with spirit glue or a similar epoxy.

Step 5

Act like Rhett Butler. Most "Gone with the Wind" fans will expect you to recite Rhett Butler lines, so you may want to memorize a couple. Consider these: "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn" and "No, I don't think I will kiss you, although you need kissing, badly. That's what's wrong with you. You should be kissed and often, and by someone who knows how." Reciting them with the proper cadence helps.

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