‘The Butler’

Oprah’s Costume Evolution in ‘The Butler,’ Sketches by Ruth Carter

Ruth Carter, costume designer for ‘The Butler,’ shares with us sketches for Winfrey’s character.

Anne Marie Fox/The Weinstein Company

Anne Marie Fox/The Weinstein Company

Oprah's costumes in The Butler reflect her position as an observer of history, from the Eisenhower administration until just before Obama is elected. Ruth Carter, the film's costume designer, shares with us sketches for the character. 

"This was always the way I want Gloria to be introduced to the film," Carter says. "A sultry elegance that highlighted youth, style, boldness."

"Every great actress must wear a slip in a movie. Liz Taylor and the like. I thought Oprah should too."

A shot of the research Carter did for one of Oprah's jumpsuits in the movie. "I believe this is from Eleganza magazine of the 1970s," Carter says. "Eleganza held the cornerstone to what was hip and stylish in the urban community. They placed their ads in Ebony magazine as well. Lee saw this and fell over laughing. We changed Forest to match Oprah's per Lee's request [see the picture in September's O Magazine]. "

"We wound up making this into a three-piece set since there is a jumpsuit in black and white that appears in the movie. Gloria wears it in the scene at dinner with Louis. I calmed down the colors as well to fit the color composition of the set."

Carter, at left, with Oprah as Gloria Gaines in her "ugly ‘80s tracksuit."