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Fashion in film: Lady Bird

October 29, 2020

Costume design is a very important part of film and movie production. Costumes are used to convey many different characteristics like the time period, the season, the emotional state, the personality of characters, and more throughout a movie.  


The 2018 movie, Lady Bird, directed and written by Greta Gerwig, stars Saoirse Ronan as the main character who goes by the name Lady Bird. Lady Bird herself is a very opinionated and outspoken teenage girl and this personality is shown quite well through the costume design of her character.  


The first line of the entire movie is Lady Bird asking her mother, “Do I look like I’m from Sacramento?” Her automatic concern about her appearance lets the audience know that how Lady Bird dresses will be a fairly important part of the film.  


One of the first outfits Lady Bird is seen in that isn’t her school uniform is the outfit she wears to audition for her school play. Her outfit is a knee length sweater dress with three acorns on the chest and stripes from the waist down. The dress stands out from the school uniforms and more casual clothes of other characters and ends up being a thing she is remembered by later in the movie. Using this dress in this scene was a great way to show how Lady Bird likes to stand out from the crowd and really make a statement with what she wears.  


At Lady Bird’s cowboy themed school dance, she stands out from the other students with her bright blue western shirt with bedazzled flowers. The choice of shirt was a great way to make Lady Bird stand out from the rest of the more plain and neutral colored outfits of the other students at the dance while also continuing to represent her unique style. 


My favorite example of costume design in Lady Bird to showcase her uniqueness is when she goes to her boyfriend’s family’s Thanksgiving party. Lady Bird’s thrifted, light pink floral dress clearly contrasts the other more neutral colors and sophisticated patterns that the rest of Danny’s family is wearing. Her pink dress, pink cast, and faded pink hair are not very pleasing to the eye when mixed with the more earthy browns and mustard yellow colors of the rest of the people there. This is a great way that the costume design is used to show how Danny’s family and Lady Bird don’t mix well without having to say it in words. 


Another amazing example of Lady Bird’s costume design is when her dad loses his job and Lady Bird’s mom criticizes her for not keeping her uniform clean and wrinkle free. Lady Bird’s mom explains that Lady Bird goes to school with a lot of kids whose parents could employ her father and that she is responsible for making sure that she leaves a good impression with those classmates. I think this scene is very telling of the way that the family is living and how they are trying to hide behind a façade represented by Lady Bird’s clean, wrinkle free clothes. 


When Lady Bird moves to New York, we see her wearing more mature outfits compared to the more unique ones earlier in the film. I think that these outfits really helped to show the audience a more grown up version of Lady Bird and to help them see a difference between her in her high school years versus in college 


Overall, I really liked the costume design in Lady Bird. I thought that it did a great job of really showcasing who Lady Bird was as a character through her outgoing outfit choices when she wasn’t in her school uniform. I thought that the stylish and vintage outfits were charming and added a nice touch to the design. 

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