Nuts “Mommy” Dress

Barbra Streisand wore this conservative and quintessentially 80’s dress during a court room scene in “Nuts” (1987). 

In addition to staring as Claudia Draper in the film, Barbra also composed the film’s score and produced the film (under Barwood Films). To prepare for the role of Claudia, Barbra did in person research by visiting schizophrenic patients in psych wards as well as interviewing prostitutes at a Los Angeles brothel. Although she received no screen credit for her work on the screenplay, Warner Bros later publicly acknowledged her contribution. Barbra’s extensive character research came through on screen and in my opinion, this was one of the best acting performances of her career. 

NUTS, Richard Dreyfuss, Barbra Streisand, 1987

“Nuts” ended up grossing $31 million, but got harsh reviews from critics. At the 1988 Golden Globes the film was nominated for Best Motion Picture-Drama but lost to “The Last Emperor”. Barbra and Richard Dreyfuss were also nominated for acting awards, but went home empty handed. 

Costumes for “Nuts” were designed by Joe I. Tompkins, who garnered two Oscar nominations during his career and won two Emmy Awards. Some fans have come to call this the “Mommy dress”, referencing a bit from the script when Aaron Levinsky tells Claudia “You look wonderful.” and she replies “You know what I use this dress for? For the ones who want to sit on Mommy’s lap.”

This ultra-conservative dress was paired with a black sweater vest in the film. It is tea-length, and made from a light-weight wool blend featuring a floral pattern with scattered paisley. The high turtleneck collar was accented with a gold oval brooch, presumably from Barbra’s personal collection. There are exagerated shoulder pads, two side seam pockets, and long sleeves with elastic ruching at the cuffs. The back of the dress has a long zipper closure. This costume sold at auction in 2004 for $875.00.