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A Look Back at the Designer-Filled Wardrobe of The O.C.'s Marissa Cooper

No one encapsulated the beloved, if occasionally cringe-worthy, trends of the early 2000s like The O.C.'s Marissa Cooper. In Marc Jacobs sundresses and Lacoste polos, Marissa was the aughts's icon of timeless teen angst: affluent girl-next-door discovers taste for drugs and alcohol, trouble follows.

Love her or hate her, Mischa Barton's character had one of the most enviable wardrobes on television — at the time. Her hip-hugging denim and pointed flats were the height of laid-back style in 2003 when the series debuted. A few of her signatures still resonate today, like the Chanel 2.55 tote she carried as a schoolbag. Designer clothes were a constant throughout the show, fantastically improbable Calvin Klein bikinis and Dolce & Gabbana halter tops that served much of the teen audience their first glimpse at high fashion (whether they were aware or not).

To commemorate her fashion impact, we're taking it back to Newport Beach with four of Marissa's most memorable outfits.

Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.

Prom '05

Getty Images: Michael Yarish/Warner Bros.

The O.C. debuted in August 2003 on Fox, captivating audiences with the drama-filled lives of Orange County's privileged youth. Instead of outfitting her character in the typical-for-the-time SoCal uniform of Juicy Couture tracksuits, Barton pushed producers for a more upscale wardrobe to sell Marissa's wealth and popularity. In a 2014 interviewBarton told Elle, "[The wardrobe department] would have been happy just dressing us as regular teenagers, to be honest. Not in a bad way, we would have looked adorable, but we would have been just your average Orange County teenagers."

"With my wiling and conniving I was like, 'You know what would be super great is if we could get this Chanel dress for this [prom] episode," she recounts. And so Marissa wore the French luxury label head-to-toe, a strapless, white dress complimented by a layered pearl necklace. Despite the getup, she lost the title of prom queen to her BFF Summer Roberts.

Date Night

Getty Images: Patrick Ecclesine/Warner Bros.

Summer and Marissa were primetime's dynamic besties, predecessors to Blair Waldorf and Serena van der Woodsen. Throughout the show, the two dated Seth Cohen and Ryan Atwood, respectively, on and off. Their male counterparts were best friends in their own right, as well as surrogate brothers.

In season two's "The New Era," Marissa complains about third-wheeling it on Summer's date. They had just broken up with Seth and Ryan, so of course the girls had to run into them that night. The brown slip dress Marissa wears in the episode looks a lot like the ones Salvatore Ferragamo and Prabal Gurung sent down their fall 2015 runways. She wears hers over a pair of blue jeans (because this is still the early 2000s) with a chain shoulder bag.

The Bait Shop

Getty Images: Justin Lubin/Warner Bros.

On one of Marissa and Ryan's many breaks, our heroine became romantically involved with Alex Kelly, played by a blonde, tatted Olivia Wilde (who was almost cast for the role of Marissa by the show's producers). Alex managed The Bait Shop club, a local music venue that hosted popular bands of the moment, from The Killers to Death Cab for Cutie. Marissa mimicked Alex's wardrobe when they hung out, keeping it casual in jeans and tees (including short-sleeve over long-sleeve, like Alex sports here). That CBGB shirt is Alex's, in fact, but accessorizing it with a skinny scarf? That's pure Marissa.

Party Girl

Getty Images: Michael Ansell/Warner Bros.

The only constant in Marissa's love life was her affection for partying and nightlife. In this still from season two, Marissa uses her drug connect to help Ryan's biological brother Trey out of an unwarranted drug arrest. She does so in a flame orange bolero, baby tee, and silk scarf belt.

Despite several near-death experiences, it's neither drugs nor alcohol that kill off Coop. Her death in a car accident on the finale episode of season three came down to the producers who always saw it ending this way for her character. She died in the arms of Ryan, who tried, but ultimately failed, to rescue her from her tragic fate.

Barton wasn't too upset about her the death, telling Newsweek, "I was excited that I get to die, to be honest. I've done pretty much everything else with the character. It was better than one of those lame farewells."


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