The thing about Girls that makes it so darn lovable is that it’s so darn real. We can’t help watching thinking, I know that girl. Or even worse, I am that girl. One element the show uses to achieve that connection is the wardrobe. It takes the work of true professionals—led by costume designer Jenn Rogien—to create the ultra-Brooklyn struggling writer look for Hannah (Lena Dunham), uptight try-and-be-pulled-together Marnie (Allison Williams), free-thinking bohemian Jessa (Jemima Kirke), and college good girl Shoshanna (Zosia Mamet). With season three premiering on Sunday, January 12, we caught up with Rogien after the Girls premiere in New York to get the inside scoop on what you’ll be seeing this season. “You’ll know when a costume designer has done their job,” she explains, “it’s that feeling when your favorite character looks a little different and you can’t put your finger on it. Rather, you should feel something about a character. That’s what I want. Ultimately, you shouldn’t know that I exist.” Read on to find out more.
How did you approach shopping for the characters this season?
I wanted to reflect where their journeys were taking them based on decisions they made in season two. So, we went off of how much of a mess or not a mess they were by the end of last season. Shopping was similar—there was nothing earth shattering that would set us up for a character overhaul. It’s the same girls, only a little different.
Will we see any changes in Hannah Horvath (Lena Dunham)?
We kept her colors the same with lots of avocado, mustard, olive—that 70s palette. Only, we modernized it a smidge with extra saturated hues.
In the first episode, we see Shoshanna in sweatpants. That’s not her! Why the change?
The sweatpants are a direct reflection of where she’s at in the moment. We’re relaxing her a bit, which is a reflection of what’s happening in those first episodes—like when she’s wearing sweats with a cute Shoshanna coat. She still has the pastel, cosmetic thing happening, only slightly more grown up and sexier.
Jessa still nails the cool bohemian look. Are you taking her in a new direction?
Yes—it’s a little less sheer overall this time around. It reflects where she is, which is that we, the audience, are starting to realize she’s a little opaque than we thought, not the free spirited beauty we thought she was. To support that, we thought that her clothing should not be so free. This season, you’ll see her in combat boots, not the vintage cool heels you’re used to.
No sheer for Jessa? We’re shocked!
She’s not going anywhere. You’re going to see her character signature again, what I call the Jessa White Dress. I try and work it in once or twice a season, and you’ll see another variation in season three. A lot of our characters don’t wear white, so it’s consistent with Jessa. Only it’s less sheer to reflect where she is.
Do you have Marnie still dressing like buttoned-up perfection?
Expect her to be messy for the first two episodes. She’s hodgepodge, and not caring that much that now. Her costumes show that she’s not as effortless as she thought. It’s like that feeling when you’re making a weird effort to appear to be pulled together and then when you’re not. For example, you’ll see her wear a white lace dress to a coffee shop, which is the least functional outfit ever. But that’s the illusion—she wants you to think she’s got it together, when she’s not.
Rita Wilson looks fabulous as Marnie’s mom. How did you differentiate her with the wardrobe?
This character is an ode to being a woman, rather than a girl. She knows her desires and taste levels. She knows what looks good on her and her silhouette is consistent—leopard print, a jacket, really nice shoes. And the best part is that she has the money to pay for it all.
Speaking of money, what goes into planning outfits for girls who supposedly have no money to shop?
My team had a lot of discussion on this. The reality is they don’t have money. I wanted to keep that in the wardrobe. We shop like a real girl might. I spend a lot of time in Williamsburg and thrift and vintage shops. I do a huge mix and match. It’s not aspirational. They need to look like themselves. But with Marnie’s mom, I get to go Bergdorf, and it’s gratifying.
In episode seven, Hannah wears a green triangle bikini for what seems like hours. How did you pick such a pivotal outfit?
I had racks and racks and racks of green bikinis! If you need a green bikini, I can tell you every single place to get one and in every shade, from lime to neon to forest. We ended up picking one from American Apparel, which I don’t usually use on the show, but it had the perfect triangle shape we were looking for. It’s an ode to Spring Breakers, which is mentioned briefly in the episode. Of course, Hannah would watch that and unintentionally try to replicate it.
Costume designers sometimes throw in something unexpected—will you do any of that in season three?
Yes, there are is going to be some Where’s Waldos coming up, which are outfits that allude to season one and two and repeats of actual outfits from those seasons. It’s important to represent the realness of the characters. People really have a connection to clothing. We form attachments to specific colors or silhouettes that make us feel good, like we all have a date sweater or a magic dress that no matter how much you weigh it always fits. That’s one of the things I’m keying into when I’m working on the show. So look out for those meaningful looks!
Plus, go inside Girls' season three premiere party!