norma bates blue dress

Ever feel like someone has stolen your fantasy wardrobe?

Occasionally a woman comes along who encapsulates everything you want to convey with your style: class, individuality, a nod to timeless elegance, murderous tendencies..

OK, scrap that last one.

In Bates Motel, currently showing on Universal, Thursdays at 9pm in the UK, we meet Norma, mother to infamous Norman (played by an all growed up Freddie Highmore), in a prequel of sorts. It may be stretching it to call her murderous, although she is indeed a murderess (not technically a spoiler, this has been airing in the UK for over a month-where have you been people?!), at least once over so far.

Not entirely unsympathetically drawn, Norma is a strong woman struggling to open a motel in a town full of slowly unravelling secrets, whilst trying to protect her shy and somewhat charming boy from his inevitable descent into the monster we are more familiar with.

And she does it all whilst looking absolutely fabulous (split lip accessory optional).

blue cardi

The scheduling clash of Peaky Blinders with Bates Motel caused a bit of consternation in our house for a few weeks, but now there is no contest.  Whereas the former combines accurate period detail with a contemporary sound track, the latter is more ambiguous about time and place. Ostensibly set in the modern day, the main characters in particular wear clothes more suited to the 40’s or 50’s, making it odd to see shots of Norman clad in a Fairisle jumper and slacks checking his iPhone. This jarring of the characters against their background provides a strange, unnerving atmosphere; the whole series feels very Twin Peaks to me.

I love it.

But nothing so much as Norma’s wardrobes. The dresses! The blouses! The chicness! Vera Farmiga (looking spookily like Gillian Anderson) puts in a cracking performance as the matriarch with control issues.  I’d only previously seen her as a brunette, but here she is a perfect Nordic blonde, very Hitchcock, and cuts a dash in every outfit. The floral dress and fitted cardigan look is one of my own favourites, but like Norma I don’t always play it demure. I’d love to know where this dress is from for example.


It’s not all flowery frocks. Norma gets down and casual in a while. She has a great range in plaid shirts, and just may be the only woman ever to inspire me to shop for a belted tan leather jacket. But there is one aspect of her style which really has me green with envy. Norma ROCKS a good blouse, and boy has she got some good blouses.

norma blouse

I have always struggled to get shirts to fit, being a somewhat unfortunate combination of shortwaisted and booby. Consequently I am usually flashing my bra through a gap at the front, and the extra material in the length always seems to make its way into a humpback, leaving me looking like a lady Quasimodo. But not our Norma. Not only can she wear a blouse and apron combo with aplomb, she can cook and clean and KILL in that getup!

Us mere mortals can only dream.