COSTUME: About A Gingham History

A test pinafore of all-blue with gingham trim and off-white blouse

Ever wonder what happens to a costume after a story has been told or a movie has been made or decades have gone by? What makes people so fascinated that they want to dress like characters from movies? A movies history, careful costume development or it may simply be the imagination developed while watching.

For decades, the world believed Dorthy Gale embodied what dreams were made of and imaginations should aspire to; the Wizard of Oz is a story that will forever be told over and over – even in the spirit of Halloween.

A little history on the costume we all love…

 Based on the classic children’s book by L. Frank Baum, it tells the story of Dorothy Gale, a Kansas farm girl transported to the magical Land of Oz. With its dazzling special effects, costumes, and sets rendered in vibrant Technicolor, The Wizard of Oz represents one of the greatest achievements in movie magic.

Dorothy’s Ruby Slippers, 1938

Sixteen-year-old Judy Garland wore these sequined shoes as Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz.

In the original book by L. Frank Baum, Dorothy’s magic slippers are silver; for the Technicolor movie, they were changed to ruby red to show up more vividly against the yellow-brick road. One of several pairs used during filming, these size-five shoes are well-worn, suggesting they were Garland’s primary pair for dancing scenes.


Pair #2

The stolen pair of Ruby Slippers

These were the pair in the best condition and the most likely to have been the pair used in the close up shot, where Judy Garland taps her heels three times and wishes she could go back home. The pair of Ruby Slippers went up for auction on December 15, 2011 with a reserve price of $2 million dollars.


Pair #3

Wizard of Oz Ruby slippers Profiles 2011

These most famous of Ruby Slippers and the most treasured Hollywood icon did not sell. After the auction Leonardo DiCaprio and Steven Spielberg purchased the slippers for donation to the future Museum of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. How fitting an end that they should not only stay in the U.S but stay very near to Hollywood. Bravo to Mr. DiCaprio and Mr. Spielberg.


Pair #4

The "Arabian test pair" of Ruby Slippers

The “Arabian test pair” of Ruby Slippers;  the “Arabian” slippers” went for$510,000, reportedly destined for the Middle-East.



Dorthy’s Dress

A test pinafore of all-blue with gingham trim and off-white blouse

This was one of the test dresses not used in the film. Amazingly, it was auctioned off for $920,000.


Dress #2

Judy Garland's movie-worn Dorothy dress

Judy Garland’s movie-worn Dorothy dress



Dress #3

The test pinafore sold at Profiles in History in 2013

The test pinafore sold at Profiles in History in 2013

This dress had been loaned as part of the Smithsonian’s “Freedom Train” celebrating the American Bicentennial. This dress is shown below. It sold at Profiles in History on July 28, 2013 for $300,000.


The Cowardly Lion

Wizard of Oz AMPAS Lion wig

The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences Herrick Library owns the Cowardly Lion mane and ears to the 1939 Wizard of Oz production.

The Scarecrow 

Wizard of Oz Scarecrow

Ray Bolger saved his costume, including the raffia that served as hay, after production wrapped. His wife Gwendolyn donated the costume to the Smithsonian in 1987, along with a bag of raffia. Designed by Adrian, MGM’s premier costume artist, the straw-stuffed clothing fit loosely enough so that Bolger could perform his comedic dance number, “If I Only Had a Brain.”


Script for The Wizard of Oz, 1938

The challenge of adapting L. Frank Baum’s book to film began with the screenplay. From March 1938 to March 1939, more than a dozen people, most uncredited, worked on writing and revising the script.

This page, from an early version of the script by lead screenwriter Noel Langley, notes the change from black and white to color. In this famous scene, Dorothy steps out of her farmhouse into Oz and says to her dog Toto, “I’ve got a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.”


Technicolor Camera, around 1938

In The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy’s journey from Kansas to Oz is symbolized by a shift from black and white to Technicolor. This camera was one of several used to film the Oz scenes.

Invented in 1932, the Technicolor camera recorded on three separate negatives—red, blue, and green—which were then combined to develop a full-color positive print. The box encasing the camera, a “blimp,” muffled the machine’s sound during filming.

The Wizard of Oz poster (reprint of 1939 original)



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"...I have one of those VERY LOUD, stupid laughs. If I ever sat behind myself in a movie I'd probably lean over and tell myself to please shut up." - Author, JD Salinger

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