In an interview with BTLNews, Costume Designer for The Fabelmans, Mark Bridges discusses the inspirations behind the fashion and wardrobes of the film.
When asked what the design inspiration was for Sammy's Father, Bridges said, "There are a couple of things going on with the father. Of course, I went off of my research on Steven’s father, Arnold, and you see, there’s a throughline with him too. And I think as he went up and up, got promotions, and became more involved in developing computers and other things, I felt in my mind that he would be more like these technicians at NASA. You notice the men wearing short-sleeved dress shirts. It’s also a short-sleeved dress shirt, which is so specific to the ’60s. They do, however, reside in Arizona, [so] it made sense. There’s a balancing act between the Benny character (Seth Rogen) and the father character, like, there are subtle differences in how they dress. The father is a very straight businessman, with a necktie and a dress shirt, whereas I tried to make Benny a little more fun because that’s the dynamic in that family and what drew Mitzi to him. [He’s] just more fun, [more] comedic, and [he had] a joy of life that she found appealing and may have been one of the reasons she left the family. You just try to visually [represent] that. There are some quirky things with Arnold, like his dad’s short-sleeved shirt and bolo tie when they’re spending time in Arizona. I was just trying to be very specific, but I think mostly it was trying to illustrate the combination of his work, the progression of his work, and also the dynamics in the family."
When asked how Spielberg's home movies inspired the wardrobe, Bridges said, "One of the things that were really interesting to me was that I had access to footage of Steven giving out costumes when he made the original war picture that’s [seen] in the film. He’s standing in the back of his dad’s car, like, handing out costumes to all his buddies, and, you know, they’re all getting into their khakis and grays and jeans and stuff, and Steven sort of stands out in this home movie because he is wearing, like, a red plaid shirt and probably white pants. I thought, ‘This is so perfect, I want to use it.’"
When asked what inspired the design for what the grandmother character wore, Bridges said, "You know, there are two grandmothers involved. The grandmother (Hadassah Fabelman) that Jeannie Berlin plays always seemed to have some unusually gaudy jewelry on. I thought that was kind of fun, you know, the Eastern European sense of jewelry and getting yourself together. There were photos. There were a couple of scenes that didn’t make it into the final film. I did this maroon suit, and there’s an actual photo of his grandmother in the maroon suit. Again, I was trying to strike a chord with him or recall a memory or an image of Steven. But that one didn’t make it, but we filmed it.
"There were family photos, and you decide one of them seems more pattern-y and the other one seems a little more sophisticated. One seemed a little more old-country, with the floral prints and things. The other grandmother was a bit more sedate and a little more tasteful. That’s what I discovered from the family photos, and that’s how I tried to differentiate the two grandmothers."
Information originally sourced from BTLNews.