Great Expectations

The arrival of the spring equinox a few days ago sparked us to ruminate on how this season brings with it so many great expectations. Not surprisingly, many of ours are of the sartorial variety, and what better movie to inspire us than the 1998 flick Great Expectations starring Gwyneth Paltrow and Ethan Hawke? Not only is this modern retelling of Charles Dickens' novel brimming with fashion galore (case in point: Donna Karan designed Paltrow's wardrobe for the entire film, while director Alfonso Cuarón has an affinity for making movies infused with the colour green), it also explores the expectations we set for ourselves and for other people, and what happens when they aren't met.

In the movie, loosely based on the classic book, a young boy named Finn (a brooding Hawke) meets and becomes enchanted by Estella (Paltrow at her iciest), who will eventually grow into the ravishing and ever-unattainable object of his desire. Over the years, knowing Finn is hopelessly in love with her, Estella coolly taunts him with her aloof beauty and allure. Eventually, Finn discovers that her eccentric aunt, Ms. Dinsmoor, once jilted at the altar, has trained her niece to break Finn's heart--and those of all men! The story, swelling with unrequited love and passion, is set against the gorgeous landscapes of lush Florida and glittering New York, and offers the perfect setting for gorgeous costume design. The entire flick is a procession of rich emeralds, olives, and khakis that appear in nearly every scene. Several designers surely had Great Expectations on the mind this season, as we spotted the colour palette emerging in a number of S/S 12 runways, from Akris' Leaf Silk Shantung Sleeveless Tunic ($1580, 212.872.2526) and Leaf Silk Shantung Wide-Leg Pants ($1460, 212.872.2526) to Valentino's wispy embroidered dress. In order to satisfy our own sartorial expectations, we curated a selection of must-have pieces that speak to the romantic, nostalgic feel of the film!

Zara Lace Tulip Dress ($100)
Deep emerald green lace swathes this supremely feminine frock from Zara, which reminds us of the dress a young Estella wears, but all grown up! Its demure tulip silhouette--a scoop neck, babydoll waistline, and flared skirt--appears refined yet youthful, normally a fairly tricky combo to achieve, and references the untamed garden at Ms. Dinsmoor's home too.

By Malene Birger Hazima Printed Silk-Crepe Wide-Leg Pants ($355)
These silk pajama-inspired pants come in a rich green and cream colour palette. The floral-print slacks are ideal for lazy lounging on the weekends, but teamed with the right pieces (we envision a skintight top and bold jewellery), they transform into cocktail hour-worthy attire.

Madewell Soft Silk Boyshirt ($110) in Lime Rickey
In the movie, one of Paltrow's most iconic outfits is a clingy shirt-and-skirt set in a vibrant verdant hue. With just a single button secured, it's a casual outfit that's also slightly provocative. We chose this silky, lime green button-down from Madewell to evoke Paltrow's subtly suggestive look.

J. Crew Sunflower Necklace ($68)
Ms. Dinsmoor's layered strands of pearls are lovely, but we think J. Crew's pretty necklace is a chic alternative appropriate for everyday wear! Acrylic pearls set in vintage gold-plated zinc look like a chain of mini jeweled sunflowers. This eye-catching trinket instantly lends a glamorous vibe to a t-shirt or button-down.

ASOS Oval Sunglasses With Metal Bridge Detail ($21) in Nude
Not only do these tinted sunnies come with a totally affordable price tag, they're perfectly on-trend, considering that retro sunglasses are in again! Slipping these cool round shades on will add a quirky touch to your outfit.

Deena & Ozzy Leather Mules ($89) in Black
Balance out all the shades of green with a pair of black shoes, like these sleek leather mules by Deena & Ozzy. With a 3.5-inch wooden heel, these kicks afford you a little height but remain comfortable enough for chasing your true love down a rainy street (a la Hawke and Paltrow's characters in the movie).

Clinique Almost Lipstick ($15) in Black Honey
Though Ms. Dinsmoor's caked-on makeup is the one beauty look we won't be channeling from the movie, we thought this glossy Clinique lipstick was very Estella-esque. Paint your pucker with this shade as alluring and mysterious as her character; it's really quite sheer and super wearable!

Cheap Monday Zip Clutch ($45) in Mellow Beige
What we love most about this petite clutch is its many convenient pockets (one on the outside, and another inside). It's just the right size for toting around all your essentials, but an adjustable shoulder strap makes it easy to wear when you're on the go.

Alexis Bittar Pearl Grey Emerald Earrings ($350)
Crafted with emerald stones surrounded by crystals and metal fringe, these decadent drop earrings are a nod to the film's elegant aesthetic. These stunning baubles are suitable for any evening soiree, whether it's a dinner party or gallery opening.--Tiffany Tse

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