May 09, 2011 12:00 PM

>When it came to preparing for her role as a Depression-era circus performer in Water for Elephants, Reese Witherspoon had a head start. “She has the perfect figure for 1930s clothes,” says costume designer Jacqueline West. In one elegant look (left), the actress wears a custom-made silk satin gown with a vintage belt and a stack of 1920s bracelets. Costar Robert Pattinson wore genuine pants, boots and even socks and underwear from the era, which he claims aided him in getting into character. “Authentic period underpants do actually help,” he says, “if you wear them every day.”

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