The Very Best Fictional Fashion: Things I Want to Wear for Real
Fashion has been something that has interested me from the time I was first able to choose my own clothing. Probably even before, as I’m told I went through a phase of refusing to wear pants for any reason. I remember being a six-year-old first grader and insisting on wearing plaid skirts and sweaters to school because that was what a favorite book character was described as wearing. Even though plaid skirts were decidedly NOT in fashion and had to be found at thrift stores, yard sales, and hand-me-downs. My poor mom, a much more practical dresser than I, was subjected to endless arguments with an indignant elementary school me, where I insisted that I wasn’t cold and wanted to wear a skirt even when it was snowing. When it became clear that it wasn’t worth our collective sanity, she was forced to resort to purchasing some warm, wooly tights and hoping I didn’t hang upside down on the monkey bars and moon the entire playground. I did, but nobody died. We’re cool.
For me, fashion has never meant, “What is currently in style.” Fashion meant and continues to mean, “Things I think are cool and want to wear.” I’d be lying if I said that that is never influenced by current trends, because it is, but the me who wanted to dress like the girls in my books is still in there, wanting to dress like the women in my books, TV, movies, and other media. Some of this manifests in the form of cosplay. I wear a lot of steampunk and renaissance costumes when I go to conventions and faires, and I once did a steampunk, mad-science Princess Bubblegum in a lab coat. That said, I find that now more than ever, ideas I get from fictional characters are making their way into my actual daily-wear wardrobe. A good example is the Katniss sweater from the Hunger Games movies; it was so unique and interesting, and so many people wanted to wear it that if you Google “Katniss sweater,” it pops up images of handmade versions created by fans. Similarly, the new show Outlander has showcased incredible feats of knitting/crocheting that spawned a DIY revolution. Claire’s fingerless gloves, capelets, and other accessories are being duplicated and worn by fans who just can’t find a retail version to purchase. The Katniss sweater? I’d wear that to work. I’d wear it out and about. I feel the same about Claire’s knitted lovelies. In fact, a good friend crocheted me a scarf based on Claire’s Scottish wool delights, and I wore it all winter! (Thank you, Katie!)
The items on this list are not in order of preference. I love all of these items and want them to be real. Not all of them are practical for everyday life and wear, but I have never been accused of being a practical person. If I could have these items, I’d create the opportunity to use them!
1.) The dark blue dress from Anastasia
When I saw Anastasia in the theater, I loved the movie. Dimitri is one of the cutest animated dudes in ever, and I loved the historical information woven into the plot. I remember the impact of that dress – I think I gasped. I remember thinking, “I need that dress to be real! I want to wear that dress!” It was simple, lovely, and sparkled so beautifully. I still want that dress. I’d wear it tomorrow. I’d buy opera tickets just to have a reason to walk around in it. If I win sick millions, I’m having it made. Anastasia came out in 1997, and I have been thinking about that dress for 18 years.
2.) Miss Grace Farrell’s yellow dress from Annie
The roots of my cosplay urges are revealed! When I was really, really little, my mom took me to see Annie, dressed in a red Annie-dress. Apparently, we got some eye-rolls from passers-by, but we didn’t care. Still don’t. Now, I pump gas in full Renaissance garb and don’t give a flip. As I got older, I stopped wanting Annie’s amazing blue Mary Janes, and developed a need for Miss Farrell’s yellow dress. The one she danced all over the garden to the “We Got Annie!” song in? It’s flowy, flouncy, and would look just as good at a garden party today (do people actually have garden parties?) as it did in the 1930s. Keep dancing, Miss Farrell! The dress loves it! (Okay, I do still want those blue Mary Janes!)
3.) Agent Peggy Carter’s gold dress
I have a thing for 1940s clothing. I love retro styles, but that gold dress – it’s classic. It’s gorgeous. It’s perfect. And I wants it, precious, yes I do! (Please read that last bit in your creepiest Gollum voice. Thanks.) There are few things I’ve ever seen Hayley Atwell wear that I don’t also want to wear. I don’t think she’s even capable of looking terrible. I feel like even her lounge pants must be made of the fabric of time itself, rendering her eternally lovely, classic, and just retro enough to make me want to write some horrible fanfiction crossing Agent Carter over with Doctor Who or something. Ahem. Back to the gold dress. I love the dropped shoulders and that it has straps thick enough to wear a real bra with. It has everything, and it shines with the essence of a distant sun. I pine for it.
4.) The Katniss Sweater
I have a thing for asymmetry. In clothing, jewelry, and haircuts. The Katniss sweater appeals to so many pieces of me – the part that loves asymmetrical things, the sweater-loving fall and winter girl, the post-apocalyptic fashion fan, and the under-the-radar-but-somehow-cutting-edge underdog fashionista. I have nearly purchased Etsy-made versions of this sweater about six times, only stopping myself because I’m pretty sure none of them would actually fit me and I’d look like I had one half of a crocheted bikini wrapped around my boob. Why isn’t this in stores? Why can’t I get this easily? The movie makers are missing out on a huge piece of potential market – people who want this sweater. It’s no joke – Google it and see all of the hand-made versions out there!
5.) Isabella’s gorgeous red outfit from Galavant
Remember when Isabella trained Galavant to fight? And she was wearing the most amazing red, corseted sundress thing ever? You don’t? Then go watch Galavant and check it out! It looks like renfaire-wear, but believe me, if I got my hands on that outfit, I’d find a reason to wear it to work. And to the grocery store. I’d make it my new normal. Not only is the show hilarious, but Karen David is flawlessly gorgeous and perfect as the swordfighting, singing princess Isabella. The asymmetrical hemline turns to red lace and looks too cool with her tall boots. I could use a red, lacy, corset-y sundress in my life!
6.) Amanda Rosewater’s jacket from Defiance
The whole show has exactly the kind of fashion aesthetic that I wish was everyday wear. And some of it totally could be! Amanda Rosewater is my favorite character on Defiance. I loved Julie Benz when she was Darla on Angel, and her Defiance character is the kind of darkness and light nuance I’ve come to expect from her. Amanda may look tiny, blonde, and delicate, but she is anything but! I love pretty much everything the character wears, but the most iconic piece is the jacket. It’s two-tone, pocket-y, and somehow futuristic while harkening back to the Old West. In other words, completely perfect for the show and for her character. (And also perfect for me to wear.) Whether she is in office as mayor, running a brothel bar, or snorting whatever that weird drug was, Amanda Rosewater knows what’s best for the town of Defiance better than anyone. And if you push her, you will find yourself sorry.
7.) Inara’s purple sundress from Firefly
Of all of the beautiful things Inara wore, the purple dress is what sticks the most in my mind. It could be at home at an outdoor concert, a formal party, or… on a spaceship. In space. Plus or minus a few accessories, the purple dress can easily go from casual to swanky. I remember it as one of the simpler things she wore throughout the show’s waaay too short run, (No bitterness. None.) and it is the one that I am most drawn to. Not that Morena Baccarin wouldn’t still look perfect in a paper sack decorated with pasta noodles and glue, but I think this dress was my favorite look on her in the show. So much so that I want the purple dress for my own! Elegant, poised, and lovely as ever, Inara!
8.) Carmen Sandiego’s red hat and coat
I was a huge fan of Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego. I still have multiple Rockapella CDs that I actually listen to, and I have committed to memory endless countries, capitals, and landmarks in the name of Carmen Sandiego. I liked the old video games, the cartoon show, and the game show, and I still love Carmen’s red trench coat and red hat. I would wear them, not even as cosplay (and also as cosplay). That red coat is three things I love; fitted, flowy, and red. I think I could rockapella that coat/hat combo. I’d put the Miss in Misdemeaor (and steal the beans from Lima) in that getup!
9.) The wedding dress from Jupiter Ascending
While this one is not something I would consider a daily wear look, I would seriously actually do something this nuts if I got married or did something similarly formal like walk a red carpet or something. I love over-the-top presentation done well, and that was pretty much what Jupiter Ascending was all about for me. The thing I liked least about the movie was that there wasn’t more of it. And, that includes more space flowers for my space hair. Stat!
10.) Irisa from Defiance’s ultra-distressed threads
I need this outfit. Like, yesterday. I know I have two characters from the same show in this list, but I love the show and its aesthetic so much I wanted to show how the muted palette and distressed khaki look can be so different between characters. Irisa and Amanda are very different, and both rock the “New World/Old World” look so very well. Where Amanda’s look is about streamlining and class, even when she’s in her brothel-bar owner attire, Irisa’s look is about wild abandon. The sweater she’s wearing here makes multiple appearances in various stages of worn-out and repurpose. Waste not, want not in the town of Defiance! (And also, the Need/Want.)
Now that we’ve established that I want to run through the forests with my hair streaming out behind me wearing Katniss’ one-shouldered sweater over Inara’s purple sundress, with Amanda’s jacket over it all, and then go home, clean up for a red-carpet event, for which I must choose from Peggy’s gold dress, Jupiter’s space flowers, and Anastasia’s blue sparkle … what about the fashion choices for the men? We don’t often see a lot about men’s fashion, and I’ve heard several gentlemen lament that there aren’t more interesting options for them to choose from in the average store.
The Internet DIY craze is not just for the ladies! Interesting men’s sweaters have been featured lately on The Hunger Games (Finnick) and on Grimm (Monroe), and the trendy creations can be found on Etsy and other crafting sites. The same people who can knit/crochet you a Katniss sweater can get you a Finnick sweater as well. Personally, I would like to see a trend toward space pirate-inspired pieces for the gents – there is nothing about Han Solo’s look that gets old! Or, perhaps we could embrace the Indiana Jones-ish look Chris Pratt has going on in the pics from Jurassic World? In all seriousness, I think we all just need more vests in our lives. Embrace the vests, world. It’s time.
Sara Goodwin has a B.A. in Classical Civilization and an M.A. in Library Science from Indiana University. Once she went on an archaeological dig and found awesome ancient stuff. Sara enjoys a smorgasbord of pan-nerd entertainment such as Renaissance faires, anime conventions, steampunk, and science fiction and fantasy conventions. In her free time, she writes things like fairy tale haiku, fantasy novels, and terrible poetry about being stalked by one-eyed opossums. In her other spare time, she sells nerdware as With a Grain of Salt Designs, Tweets, and Tumbls.
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