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Movies are great because escapism is great. I like to replay films in my head for hours or even days after the credits have rolled, transposing that world onto my reality until the everyday drudgery of waiting for the subway and remembering to pay my internet bill wears it away.
Because I’m highly suggestible, I am also in the habit of vowing to start dressing exactly like the characters I’m most drawn to, no matter how far their style is removed from the actual contents of my wardrobe.
Do I like halter dresses? God, no, but after watching La La Land, I was like, “This could be a good idea.” Do I really want to cop Thomasin’s Puritan girl style in The Witch? To be honest, I might.
On the eve of awards season, here is an incomplete list of all the movie characters whose style I swore and failed to replicate at various points during the last year.
Mia’s movie star LBD in La La Land
Let it be said that I haven’t worn a skirt in about a year. However, I spent most of La La Land wondering if I shouldn’t start getting back into super-feminine twirly skirts à la Emma Stone’s Mia. The answer, largely, was no. These dresses were way too colorful for me, way too cute... UNTIL THE END, when she goes out in a ’90s-leaning little black dress looking like a very elegant, very grown woman. I decided I would start dressing exactly like this as I pulled on my North Face puffer and walked out into the greater Boston area drizzle amid a crowd of older people talking about how “wonderful!” the dancing was.
Mia’s shower hair in La La Land
I realize that La La Land is about elevated reality, because Hollywood is about elevating reality, but I also felt a little attacked by the graceful swoopy side bun that Mia reveals when stepping out of the shower. We’ll call it French Girl shower hair, because it has that quality of batting its lashes at you while claiming that it just sort naturally arranged itself like this. Bullshit, Stone. I decided I would try to recreate it for the office.
Keith’s mustard turtleneck in La La Land
In some scenes, the singer Keith, played by John Legend, wears a henley. In some, he wears a fedora. Ignore these. The only thing you need to pay attention is the mustard turtleneck he’s wearing when he shows up at a jazz club offering Ryan Gosling’s Sebastian a job. When this sweater came on camera, I forgot everything I’d been thinking about Emma Stone’s dresses and committed myself to a life spent swaddled in hard-to-pull-off shades of yellow. Until the aforementioned little black dress showed up, and then I had a crisis of identity.
Thomasin’s Puritan take on makeup in The Witch
Being terrorized by both your Puritan parents and a vvitch in the vvoods delivers a nice flush, we learn from Thomasin (Anya Taylor-Joy) in this “New-England Folktale.” As I, too, come from English potato person stock, I decided this was an excellent case for not wearing makeup, and also for bonnets.
Katherine Johnson’s glasses in Hidden Figures
I should really start wearing my glasses more, I thought, while admiring NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson’s cat-eye glasses and essentially perfect red lip. Then I remembered I stepped on my glasses getting out of bed one morning because I left them on the floor like an imbecile, thus popping one lens out of its frame, and hadn’t gotten them fixed yet.
Nadine’s ‘70s vibe in The Edge of Seventeen
There’s nothing like a movie about universally attractive high school kids — even the weird ones are hot! — to make me regret everything about my gangly high school experience. Nadine (played by Hailee Steinfeld) wears a lot of tights and sneakers and skirts that are definitely too short, with one recurring ‘70s-ish jacket, pictured above. It’s fun and a little inappropriate, which is the embodiment of everything that is good about how teenagers dress.
Zaja’s insouciant feral child layering in Captain Fantastic
Ah, a classic case of wanting to dress like a Noam Chomsky-reading eight-year-old who has been raised in the woods by Viggo Mortensen. Look at this layering situation. Look at that bobcat pelt.
I could rock this nubby sweater, I said to myself. I could rock this skater boy male model haircut.
A gas mask to a funeral!!!
Star’s face, basically, in American Honey
This is less a case of styling and more a case of wanting to take an actor’s face and put it on my own face. Not in a creepy way! Everyone is obsessed with Sasha Lane, the breakout star of American Honey (who just landed a Louis Vuitton campaign), and I am everyone.
Marianne Lane’s Raf Simons wardrobe in A Bigger Splash
Tilda Swinton plays a rock star vacationing on the Italian coast, and her entire wardrobe is designed by Raf Simons. This is completely self-explanatory.
Abbie’s Bowie hair in 20th Century Women
The costuming in 20th Century Women is great first and foremost because it is set in 1979, and as everyone knows, the late ’70s were way better than 2016 or 2017 will ever be. Every time Greta Gerwig’s Abbie came onscreen, I spent the entire time scrutinizing her short, David Bowie-inspired haircut to figure out if I could pull it off. The jury is still out.
William’s low-key grooming in 20th Century Women
William (Billy Crudup) makes his own shampoo, which I found very inspiring.