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Robert Pattinson Wore 80-Year-Old Underpants in 'Water For Elephants'

04/27/2011 at 12:30 PM ET

Costumes in Water for ElephantsDavid James/FOX

When Reese Witherspoon began preparing for her role as a Depression-era circus performer in Water for Elephants (which made a strong debut at the box office last weekend), she discovered she had a head start. “She has the perfect figure for 1930s clothes,” costume designer Jacqueline West tells PEOPLE. “She is built the way women were built then.” And prior to suiting up for the circus, Witherspoon did her homework. Says West, “She did a study of the way women carried themselves. The body language was different; posture was different. They moved in different ways.” West kept the costumes on Elephants authentic and era-appropriate, draping Witherspoon’s size 0 frame and size 6 1/2 feet in “glamorous” gowns, shoes and accessories. “She loved the vintage bracelets her character wears,” says West. “She never took them off — they became part of every scene.” For his part, costar Robert Pattinson sported genuine articles from the era, including World War I combat boots and yes, even authentic 1930s socks and underwear. “He loved that,” says West. Added Pattinson: “They help, if you wear them every day!” –Aili Nahas

SEE MORE ON-SET STYLE IN ‘LIGHTS! CAMERA! FASHION!’

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