Posts Tagged ‘fashion’

Manic Pixie Dream Girl style.

December 12, 2009

There’s always been a specific type of girl who I find the most fascinating in film. She’s the whimsical, dreamy sort of girl who probably doesn’t exist fully in real life – maybe only in the form of teenage girls who try their darnedest to recreate that kind of mysterious yet doe-eyed and innocent persona that can be so entrancing. Maybe what makes them so interesting is the fact that they’re walking contradictions. They’re wild yet sweet, somewhat shallow on the surface yet genuinely multi-dimensional, beautiful yet not conventionally so, and they bring out the life in others when they might feel dead inside themselves. I don’t recall ever meeting anyone who quite lived up to that image that you see on the screen. Someone (Nathan Rabin) did, however, coin these enigmatic and quirky cinematic females with their very own title – “Manic Pixie Dream Girls” or MPDGs for short. Some may find characters like this to be vapid or think that they feed into the stereotypical weak, ultra-feminine characters that inadvertently support male dominance in film – but I disagree. If anything, I think the men need them more than the other way around.

While there are a few variations of MPDGs, something they always possess is an effortless and unique style. Even if they dress simple and mundane, their fashion is always different than any of the other girls in their given film, even if that sometimes means being understated and not as typically wow inducing as the rest. MPDGs are leading ladies who are the antithesis of your garden variety heroine.

Since I’m so fascinated with these kind of characters, I thought it might be fun to point out a few favorites with a focus on their varying styles.




Kate Winslet as Clementine Kruczynski in Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind. Kirsten Dunst in Elizabethtown may have been the inspiration for the term, but I think think of a better fit as a MPDG than Clementine. Everything about her is eccentric and quirky – from her constant hair color changes to her mood swings to her famous line, “I’m not a concept. Too many guys think I’m a concept or I complete them or I’m going to make them alive, but I’m just a fucked up girl who is looking for my own peace of mind. Don’t assign me yours.”

Wanna look like Clem? Well, you could dye your hair blue or bright red like Kate’s in the film, but if you’re not up for that much of a plunge, you could opt for less drastic options. Her styling was a diverse mix of sloppily sophisticated and a thirteen year old deeply immersed in her “look at me, I’m a rebel” stage. For the former, you could pair a little black dress with funky jewelry, an eccentric, patterned scarf, or brightly colored Doc Martens. And the latter? Easy, easy, easy. Get some funky or ironic t-shirt, pair it with some camo pants, converses, and a hoodie and ta-da! You’re a Clem lookalike. Not so fashionable, but that’s not what you’re aiming for. The most important aspect of creating this MPDG style is the way you carry yourself and your attitude. It’s what tips the scales from mall rat to point of interest.




Hannah Murray as Cassie Ainsworth on Skins. Cassie is without a doubt, the ultimate television MPDG. I mean, really, downing pills with alcohol in a tiny toy gun? Bouncing around between clinics and institutions? While she’s a slightly darker and more conflicted MPDG, she still possesses the same wonderment. Every MPDG has some sort of defining quote or catch-phrase. For Cassie, it would undoubtedly be her infamous, “Oh, wow… lovely!” with her wide eyes and endearing over-bite. Though Sid is entirely hung up on Michelle, Cassie is still able to entrance him enough to finally realize she’s the girl for him. Only a MPDG can be completely messed up, yet still desirable at the same time.

Cassie’s style simultaneously makes sense, but then… doesn’t. It’s a mix of early 90’s grunge with baby-doll dresses and white Kurt Cobain sunglasses, anime character with eccentric jewelry and patterns, and things that are trendy. Probably the coolest aspect of Cassie’s style is that Hannah Murray was allowed to use things from her own wardrobe for the character. Achieving Cassie’s look requires the right eye for mixing articles of clothing and patterns that don’t necessarily seem like they’d mesh well together, but creates an amazing final product. Cassie wore a lot of really whimsical, pale colored mini-dresses with knee socks and flat oxfords and Mary Jane’s. You could also pair a cute t-shirt with a long pleated skirt and really random jewelry. Cassie also wore a lot of sequin detailed pieces, mixed with less flashy thinks like structured blazers with shoulder pads and flat canvas shoes.




Zooey Deschanel as Harriet (Happy) Lolly. Okay, let me tell ya, it was difficult choosing which of Zooey’s characters as her ultimate MPDG. Summer in 500 Days of Summer would have been the obvious choice, but lots of people have already gone that route. Not only that, I can think of a zillion other roles of hers that fit off the top of my head (The Go Getter, Yes Man, Flakes, Manic, her character on Weeds… etc.). I chose Gigantic despite it being an incredibly dull and unusual (unpleasantly so) film because of Happy’s clothing and the fact that her off-beat personality is about the only interesting part of the movie.

The outfits that Happy wore were slightly more subdued than those of the other MPDGs I’ve mentioned. Nothing is really all that out of left field except maybe the adorable kimono she wore lounging around her father’s house. Throw on a similar one or any silk robe and some heels while hanging around the house and feel like you’re a movie star or model waiting to get your hair and make-up done for some glamorous photoshoot. Happy also wore a lot of dark, rich colors like burgundy and navy blue, so any warm, fall colored articles of clothing will get the vibe going for you. Some of her outfits had a 70’s vibe to them – high-waisted jeans, gold chain belt, soft ruffled tank tops, fur (faux, please! >:|) lined blazers. In Happy’s case, what upped her MPDG status is how aloof she was. There was something to her character’s quirkiness, but the film failed to go into who she really was. She existed merely as an interesting focal point in an otherwise hum-drum story.



Natalie Portman as Sam in Garden State, Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golighty in Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

Mischa Barton as Marissa Cooper on The OC (I’ve been lusting over that dress she wore since 2003), The Lisbon Sisters from The Virgin Suicides, Kate Hudson as Penny Lane in Almost Famous, and Helena Bonham Carter as Marla Singer in Fight Club.