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Ingrid Goes West might just be the most millennial movie ever made. Essentially Single White Female for the smartphone generation, the Sundance breakout tells the story of a sad cyberstalker (the titular Ingrid, played perfectly by Aubrey Plaza) with a certifiable Instagram addiction and few real-life friends. After falling hard for Taylor Sloane’s (Elizabeth Olsen) photo feed — all flawlessly filtered avocado toasts, sunset beach selfies, and Joan Didion-quoting captions — she packs up and moves to LA with the goal of becoming Taylor’s BFFAE. And, without spoiling anything, it works — until it doesn’t.
Part of Ingrid’s grand plan, of course, also involves remaking herself in Taylor’s image — from the pricey blond highlights and boho peasant tops down to the leopard-print Clare V. clutch — so clothing plays a crucial role in the story (in fact, when the two finally meet face-to-face, it’s at the stylish Venice Beach boutique General Store). And since Ingrid Goes West is a movie about social media, it’s fitting that costume designer Natalie O’Brien mined Instagram for inspiration. Below, O’Brien discusses fashion as foreshadowing, Ingrid’s “sad and alone” style, and the influencers who influenced Ingrid Goes West. #blessed
What inspired the looks for the movie’s two central characters, Ingrid and Taylor?
When I first met with Matt Spicer, our director, he had a very vivid visual for what he wanted for each of the girls. In fact, he had been stalking some people on Instagram and basing the girls’ characters on them! Hannah Henderson, who owns General Store, was one of the references for Elizabeth Olsen’s character. Matt sent me all these photos of her and I loved them. I was like, “Great, now I want to go stalk her too!” [Laughs] It was just like the movie.
I was also looking at Aimee Song and Chiara [Ferragni], and Tavi Gevinson was the inspiration for Harley Chung [Taylor’s ultra-famous influencer pal, played by Pom Klementieff]. I kind of went crazy with Instagram when I started working on this movie, because I also wanted to include Instagram fashion. So we used a lot of Stone Cold Fox, Matisse, Crap Eyewear, For Love & Lemons, Staud, and Lack of Color, which is an Australian hat brand — they’re all very heavy Instagrammers, and they actually sent us a lot of stuff so we could tag it. [The wardrobe] was all very interconnected with social media.
There’s also a scene where all the girls are out together, and Harley is wearing a shirt that says “stalker” on it; that’s by Stickybaby, and it’s so sad. It’s a sad reflection of Ingrid, the role she’ll never surpass. It’s such a stab in the heart for her, really.
Let’s talk about Ingrid’s look for a moment. Where did you start with her wardrobe?
Aubrey and I had worked together before, and she’s a friend, so while I was breaking down the script, I basically sent her a novel of how I thought Ingrid should be. She called me back, and we talked for about an hour about her evolution and all the quirks in her wardrobe, and how she’s stalking this girl and stealing her style, but always slightly missing the mark.
Like, in the beginning of the movie — I don’t even think a lot of people will catch this — we see her spraying Charlotte in the face with pepper spray, and she’s actually wearing the same bridesmaid dress [as all the other girls], because she’s such a creep that she saw what everyone else was wearing at the wedding [on Instagram]! I also gave her half of a Claire’s “Best Friends” necklace, just because she’s so sad and alone. She’s wearing it in the early scenes where her mother’s gone and she’s trying to figure out her life.
I also noticed that even before Ingrid moves to LA, she wears a few T-shirts printed with palm trees and these bright, happy colors.
Absolutely. You dress yourself for the world you want to live in, and the things you want to have. It was a little bit of foreshadowing that we wanted to pop in there.
There’s even a moment where she’s [in a mental hospital] playing ping pong with one of the other girls, and she’s matching her, wearing the same flannel, because she desperately wants to be with somebody. She doesn’t have her own self or her own style, so she’s looking at other people and trying to be them.
We see Ingrid kind of shed her skin and shed her layers when she meets Taylor. She sees what hair salon she goes to, and she copies her same hairstyle; she sees what outfits she wears, and she copies those same outfits. But she still never looks as good as Taylor does in those clothes. And when she’s at home, she’s not Taylor — she’s eating In-N-Out in her sweatpants! Because she’s not that person. She’s trying so hard, though...
Down to that leopard clutch that matches Taylor’s.
That was written into the script! It literally read, “Ingrid walks out of the hair salon wearing a linen sack dress and a Clare V. clutch.” I was like, okay, we can get this!
Taylor’s clothes seem tailor-made — pun intended — for Instagram. Where’d you find them?
We had some Lykke Wullf — in fact, she did the burnt orange jumpsuit Ingrid wears when they go to Joshua Tree, and a couple pairs of overalls for Lizzie. I also pulled some really good vintage T-shirts and jeans for her, which was fun because in real life, Lizzie doesn’t normally wear that kind of stuff — she wears mostly designer. I bought some vintage online, and we also did a lot of American Vintage and Jet Rag. She wore a lot of Bonheur jewelry, too.
I wanted Taylor to be the kind of person who you look at and you’re like, “Shoot, I wish I could’ve put that together!”
Was there anything the girls wanted to keep from the movie’s wardrobe?
There’s this rasta-style hooded sweater Aubrey wears in three or four scenes — it’s by Unif, and our story was that she would’ve picked it up somewhere in Venice Beach — and she definitely asked to keep it at the end. Lizzie wanted to keep all of her shoes and jeans, and also the mustard-yellow top she wears to Joshua Tree, which was a vintage piece from my own stock. And she did! I loved gifting things to the girls.
Let’s talk about O’Shea Jackson Jr.’s character, Dan Pinto. How did you put his closet together?
Dan’s a huge Batman fan, so we kept his color wheel mostly black and yellow — with some green, since he’s such a weed fan. He’s very 4/20-friendly!
O’Shea has really good personal style, though, so I told him, “Let’s lead with what you can bring in, and we’ll layer the cake, add the icing.” He’s so fun and playful and easy to dress. He just steps into anything and makes it work.
Yes! I feel like he could’ve just rolled onto the set wearing his own stuff. He looks so comfortable.
But then in the scene where they go to the party in Malibu, he’s just completely out of his realm. Ingrid even tells him that he can’t wear his baseball cap! And he’s like, “I’m wearing everything else you told me to wear — let me have this one thing.”
It was actually fun to make him feel out of his element for that scene. I was like, “Come on, you gotta roll those cuffs, O’Shea!” And he was like, “Alright, alright — but can I please wear a tank top and not a T-shirt underneath?” And I was like, “You can wear a tank top, I’ll allow it.” [Laughs]
What sort of style message do you hope audiences take away from the movie?
At the end of the day, it becomes less of a fashion statement when you copy other influencers. I mean, influencers are wonderful, they’re great — but you’ve got to find your own path and your own style.
Ingrid Goes West hits theaters on August 11th.