Helen Hunt’s Sex Surrogate Wardrobe – Or, How I Realized I Was in Love with Popover Tunics

In her role as sex surrogate Cheryl Cohen Greene in The Sessions*, Helen Hunt doesn’t wear a whole lot of clothes.  But a few of the tops she does wear caught my eye when I watched the movie a few years ago.  Why?  Two words: popover tunics.

To be fair, Ms. Hunt’s film wardrobe was more 1980s-embroidered-kurta (especially the only one I could find a decent picture of, below) than straight up popover tunics.  And we can get into a whole ‘nother discussion about whether white lady Helen Hunt wearing them is cultural appropriation.


But the silhouette resonated with a true popover tunic hanging in my closet and, in a way, gave me permission to embrace that shape as a wardrobe staple, corporate standards be damned!    I think I knew even then that I was in love.

(Sadly this shirt got so much wear that it has moved on to greater glory, with nary a photo documentation to prove its existence.  But it was well loved whilst here on earth!)

Button-down business shirts have never felt right on me—the fussy buttons parading down the middle; the lines either too stiff or too frumpy; the torso either too short for my body or too long to wear untucked.

The front of the bodice of popover tunics, however, with their solid front from the bust on down, are often cut all-of-a-piece in a way that makes them less prone to wrinkle and frump.  Their supple side lines skim my body without veering so far afield as to become shapeless.  Their button-able necks bring a touch of formality to an otherwise playfully cut upper third; they move from the office to the beach with a simple pop of a few more notches.

Simply put, they’re chic, and I love them.

I still have a couple of fully button-able blouses in my current lineup—they’re both flowy and printed to keep them fun.  But I’ve made a concerted effort this year to populate my spring wardrobe with popovers, and it feels good to be able to clearly define and embrace a style I love.

A photo posted by LeahLW (@thriftshopchic) on

A photo posted by LeahLW (@thriftshopchic) on

A photo posted by LeahLW (@thriftshopchic) on

A photo posted by LeahLW (@thriftshopchic) on


Helen Hunt as Cheryl Cohen Greene: not just a sex surrogate, but a style surrogate, too.  (Cue eye rolls/groans.)


What’s a good term for when you realize you love a certain piece/silhouette/style and it’s going to be part of your lineup** from here on out?  “Style epiphany?”

Have you ever had such an epiphany after watching a movie/co-worker/someone on the street rock an item to which you’ve been subconsciously drawn?  Scroll down to tell us the style and the source of your “aha” moment!


*Alice Wong’s excellent dissection of The Bone Collector on this podcast compels me to note that although The Sessions and other movies highlight the stories of people with disabilities within a cultural narrative that largely ignores/fetishizes them, why can’t an actor with a disability play the main role?   Otherwise we just further marginalize people with disabilities and perpetuate inspiration porn by talking about the courage and depth of the actors without disabilities who do portray those roles.  Seriously, listen to the podcast.  Thanks Sheena for the tip!

**Get ready for a lot more baseball metaphors, people…yesterday was Opening Day!



5 thoughts on “Helen Hunt’s Sex Surrogate Wardrobe – Or, How I Realized I Was in Love with Popover Tunics

  1. I LOVE the phrase “style epiphany” and the site’s new title design!! My style epiphany came when I realized I LOVE anything maxi: maxi dresses, maxi skirts and tunic-length shirts. They make me feel so comfortable and free. I wore a maxi skirt to work one day, marveled at how comfortable I felt, went to JcPenney’s after work and bought 4 more maxi skirts to wear the rest of the week. Right now I’m currently looking for more tunic-length shirts for work. As I was shopping for these shirts at Nordstrom Rack, I thought to myself, “This would probably be the perfect thing to shop for at the thrift store.” You and I both know that’s not gonna happen but I wanted you to know I considered it, which would NEVER have happened if we weren’t friends. That’s something, right?

    1. Evil villain laugh that I am converting you (oh so slowly) to thrifting… **slinks off to thrift store to find tunic-length tops for Sheena**
      Maxi looks great on you so I love hearing that you went for them because they made you feel comfy & free. Best way for clothes to feel–even better if they’re work appropriate so you can wear them all the time!

    1. Right? :) I bet they were either custom made or vintage since I think the movie took place in the 1980s… Good luck thrifting something similar!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *