The Sound of Music Film Costumes

By Katrina Casey, guest author

Of all the films produced in the twentieth century, The Sound of Music remains the most popular family classic ever. Its success is worldwide and its legacy has continued to grow since the movie's release in 1965. Documentaries have rhapsodized over its scenery, and musicians over the fabulous musical score. My favorite element, however, is the exquisitely beautiful dresses worn by Maria, the Baroness, and the von Trapp daughters. With their heirloom style and detailing, these dresses speak of the elegance of European styles which aristocratic families would have worn in the “last golden days of the thirties”. But these styles are certainly not only for the upper class of Austria! With today's interest in vintage clothing, coupled with the film's increasing popularity, what could be lovelier than recreating some of these fashions for today?

The Sound of Music was costumed by Dorothy Jeakins, who could already boast a long and successful career by the time Robert Wise commissioned her to take on this project. When interviewed in the early 1960s, she reportedly noted that while she enjoyed costuming both modern and period films, she far preferred the latter. Based on her masterful designs for the film, there can be little wonder about her statement! Dorothy conducted painstaking research on Austrian garb, even down to the designs used on men's buttons of the day. Julie Andrews, the film's “Maria”, related that Miss Jeakins' focus was on making garments as authentic as possible, using lacing and buttons in place of zippers. Julie also revealed that of all the costumes she's worn during her many years on stage and screen, she never felt more beautiful than in the silk wedding dress Dorothy designed for The Sound of Music.

Besides the glorious bridal gown from this film, many fans admire the detailed evening gowns worn by the Baroness and guests for the party scene. Equally deserving of attention are the costumes which the children wore for this scene. The girls' dresses were lovely creations of heirloom laces, shirring, pleating, and bows, constructed of fine cottons and silks in muted hues of ivory and pale yellow. Maria's blue chiffon dress which she wore in the gazebo scene features panels of honeycomb smocking and flutter sleeves. And Brigitta's dinner dress ensemble comprised of mint green dupioni with contrasting pink piping and shell is nothing short of spectacular!

Perhaps one of the best-loved costumes from The Sound of Music is the chiffon dress Liesl wore during her famous “Sixteen Going on Seventeen” sequence. With the gown's billowy sleeves, twirling skirt, and tiny bows on the ruched bodice, it defines feminine clothing at its finest. I have thoroughly enjoyed recreating this dress using the pattern available at Edelweiss Patterns, and hope to have many occasions to wear it! See below for images of the original dress and the reproduction.

Next time your family watches The Sound of Music, pay close attention to the exquisite details of the film's costumes. You just may be inspired to make a dress yourself!

Katrina Casey is the owner of Edelweiss Patterns, a vintage pattern company specializing in The Sound of Music costumes. An avid seamstress, she has studied historical costume in England and has had her work featured by PBS show host Martha Pullen. Katrina resides in Oregon where she sews, designs patterns, and spends time with her family. Visit her website at

Liesl (Charmian Carr) and Rolfe (Daniel Truhitte) dancing in the gazebo in The Sound of Music.A reproduction of one of Liesl's dresses in The Sound of Music.
The image on the left is a screencap showing Liesl (Charmian Carr) and Rolfe (Daniel Truhitte) dancing in the gazebo in The Sound of Music. The image on the right shows Katrina Casey's reproduction of the dress Liesl is wearing in that scene.


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