What to wear if you’re trapped in a trunk with George Clooney

Published February 5, 2018

IMAGE COURTESY OF UNIVERSAL PICTURES.

Clothes on Film is a series in which we explore iconic looks from film and television that have stayed in our minds years after they first hit the silver screen.

Based on the novel by Elmore Leonard, Steven Soderbergh’s Out of Sight [1998] tells the story of a female bounty hunter [Jennifer Lopez] who gets derailed during one of her missions by handsome bank robber Jack Foley [George Clooney] and finds herself catching feelings instead of catching the bad guy.

Out of Sight wouldn’t be much without its strong female lead, Karen Sisco. However, it would be even less without her bootylicious outfits. In a pivotal scene that establishes the pair’s relationship, Sisco gets stuck in the trunk of a car with Foley and, under the red hot lights that inexplicably illuminate the cramped space, Sisco sizzles in a bodycon spaghetti strap, skirt and cardigan combo. It’s a memorable form-fitting outfit, driving the duo’s flirtation even further into claustrophobic territory. Costume designer Betsy Heimann made the outfit from scratch to mirror the sexy brand name du jour, Missoni.

BETSY HEIMANN: I’ve done two Elmore Leonard film adaptations, Get Shorty [1995] and Out of Sight. And Elmore was around for both of those jobs and Scott Frank wrote both screenplays. So that was kind of a killer combination. We were on the set of Get Shorty, and I was asking Elmore, “What’s next?” And he said he was going to write a book about this female bounty hunter.

As a designer, I’m only as good as the character—and Karen Sisco sprung from the page into my imagination fully-formed. It’s so cool: her father has money, she’s daddy’s little girl. But as you read the script, she’s incredibly sexy. And then you’re thinking, “Oh my god, she’s going to be trapped in a car with George Clooney.” Jennifer has an amazing body and everything I made for her—which was most of the clothes except for a couple of real Chanel pieces—I cut curved seams that hugged that booty, that body.

So she’s out for dinner with her daddy and she’s dressed up in the gold. She had a skirt and a tank top with a matching cardigan, almost like the classic Missoni style. And then she gets thrown in the trunk with this tight, stretchy skirt that you know is going to ride up. It was a light enough gold color so that you could still see her in the trunk with the red tail lights. If you put her in a black dress in the trunk, nobody would see her. There you go. I don’t know, I put all of this stuff in my blender and I press blend, and it comes out.