More Than Just Style, The Outfits From Little Women

Over winter break, I had the pleasure of watching Little Women in theaters. The film has an allstar team. Greta Gerwig, of Lady Bird fame, is both the writer and director. Alexander Desplat, who created the soundtrack of The Grand Budapest Hotel and The Shape of Water, is the music composer. The cast is led by the talented Saoirse Ronan and Timothée Chalamet, and includes many other household names such as Meryl Streep, Laura Dern, Emma Watson, and Florence Pugh. 


I really enjoyed the movie. Greta Gerwig did a great job adapting the screenplay and directing the plot. Amongst the beautiful scenery and wonderful acting however, one thing that did catch my eye were the costumes. 


Set in the Victorian Era, the clothing of Little Women were filled with long dresses, skirts, coats, and capes. The film’s lead costume designer Jacqueline Durran told Vogue that in creating the wardrobe she “looked at early photos of female radicals and people living different lives at the same time as Louisa May Alcott.” Although the clothing are roughly period-centric, Jacqueline Durran does admit that she took a few artistic liberties in styling the outfits to better fit the characters. 


The variation in clothing style, while perhaps atypical of the time period, does help set apart each character’s unique personality. 


Jo March: 

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In the film, Jo primarily wears darker tones and thicker textures. She usually wears a long blazer paired with a white collared shirt and tie. Jo’s style is more tomboyish than her sisters. Comparing more broadly to that period’s stylistic trends, Jo’s color palette is more similar to male fashion than female styles. Her style also reflects her work-ethic and independent spirit. It shows that she is not only unafraid to take on risks, but also her inner strength and willingness to work.  



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In contrast to Jo, Laurie on the other hand wears more vibrant and pastel colors. Very much how Jo’s color palette sets her aside from her more traditional sisters, Laurie’s style makes him deviate from the typical “manly” fashions. Jacqueline Durran affirmed to Vogue that “It was important to us to portray him as a true bohemian and a partner to Jo.” Throughout the film, Laurie displays a truly impressive wardrobe fit for every season and occasion. One interesting fact is that apparently, Timothée Chalamet styled himself for the film. 



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Out of the four sisters, Amy has the lightest color palette. Soft pinks, blues, and grays dominate her wardrobe. Amy’s preference for clothing styles that are more befitting of the era compliments her own personality. Amy loves flowers, and painting, and the more “girly” things that Jo doesn’t like. She unapologetically knows what she wants, and isn’t afraid of showing it.  

Little Women is a truly wonderful film about family, love, and feminism. As much as the film was driven by Greta Gerwig’s directing or the actors’ collective efforts, it is undeniable that the costume team played a significant role in the storytelling.