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How to Dress Like Alana Haim in Licorice Pizza

Photo: Courtesy of Metro Goldwyn Mayer

In Licorice Pizza, Alana Haim plays Alana Kane, a Valley-dwelling firecracker who’s not a girl, not yet a woman, and not quite sure which one she wants people to think she is. Alana — who self-identifies as 25, then 28, but who could also be 22 — suffers from a case of Peter Pan syndrome so unchecked that she can’t stop hanging out with charismatic 15-year-olds, but she’s also desperate to move out of her parents’ house and date aspiring local politicians. She has no real sense of direction — she is at turns a yearbook photographer’s assistant, a waterbed salesman, a political volunteer, an actress willing to do stunts and full nudity, and a purveyor of costume jewelry — but she has a very strong sense of fashion. Sure, Alana might be falling off the backs of celebrities’ motorcycles, driving U-Hauls backward down steep hills, and engaging in doomed flirtations with a high-school student named Gary Valentine (Cooper Hoffman), but more importantly, she looks damn good doing it.

Throughout Licorice Pizza, which is set over the course of a sweaty summer in 1973, Alana Kane sports a series of miniskirts, halter tops, knee-high boots, strappy wedges, and pull-over dresses that feel both authentic to her time period and aspirational for ours. Immediately after seeing Licorice Pizza, I decided I needed to revamp my entire wardrobe in Alana Kane’s image — much like Alana Haim herself, who recently bemoaned the fact that she did not keep her “dream wardrobe” from Licorice Pizza. So I called up the man who dressed her: Mark Bridges, the costume designer behind Licorice Pizza and many of Paul Thomas Anderson’s other films, including Boogie Nights, Inherent Vice, and Phantom Thread. Bridges told me the stories behind some of the film’s best looks — how he dreamed them up, where he found them or how he made them — and gave me tips on how I could re-create them in advance of my own future existential-crisis summer.

Photo: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

The scene: This outfit marks our very first introduction to Alana, who’s stomping irritatedly around a local high school, working her (very temporary) job as a photographer’s assistant, when she’s suddenly approached by the instantly enamored Gary. Gary chats her up with his signature combination of oddball charm and utter ridiculousness, then asks her on a date within the first few minutes of meeting her. “I’m not going on a date with you,” she hisses. “You’re 12.”

The concept: Bridges found initial inspiration for Alana’s outfits in the pages of 1970s magazines like Cosmo and Seventeen, as well as Sears and Montgomery Ward catalogues, and period-specific movies and TV shows starring young, fashionable women, a la The Brady Bunch. Then he imagined what Alana, who comes from a middle-class family with three sisters and a weekly Shabbat habit to support, might be realistically able to afford. “She doesn’t have a lot of money. We might see something on her and then we’d see it on her sister — I wanted to show that they kind of shared clothes,” says Bridges, who also had Alana repeat outfits across scenes for the same reason. “I think she’s the kind of girl who whatever her sisters like, and what’s available or on sale at the mall, that would be her style.”

Because Alana’s identity is in constant, chaotic flux, Bridges also had to imagine how she might tweak her sense of style for each specific moment and its accompanying persona. “Her fashion sense is a little chameleonlike. She’ll dress for the occasion, what she thinks she should be wearing,” he says. “When she’s hanging out with the teen group, she’s more shorts and jeans and simple tops; when she has her big volunteer job and goes to work for Joel Wachs, she dresses up with the same outfit that she wears when she’s Gary’s guardian in New York. Her look kind of straddles adulthood and teenagehood, because she’s not exactly sure who she is and is trying out a lot of different things in her life.”

For her first scene, Bridges wanted her in something “short, but not overtly sexual,” which led him to the skort, an item that’s now rarely glimpsed in the wild but was more acceptable to wear in public in the ’70s. “It was really a moment in time where skorts really were popular,” he says. “This way you get a real leggy look, but she’s still kind of covered up in the back with the shorts.” The shirt, which exudes fatally-bored photography assistant, was modeled after a classic vintage nylon polo with a large collar to “really nail that moment in time,” says Bridges.

Photo: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

The execution: Bridges and his cutter, Margarita Kalend, put together the film’s costumes using a combination of strategies: They’d find authentic period items at costume rental houses or on sites like Etsy or Poshmark or pull them from vintage dealers everywhere from L.A. to Thailand. Then they’d either alter them or, if the quality had degraded too much, re-create them. “Sometimes I just used them as a prototype, because we can’t find, say, jeans from 1973 that don’t look like they’re almost 50 years old. We’ll use them, we’ll do a prototype shape, and then we’ll remake them,” Bridges says.

Sometimes they’d make completely new pieces of clothing from vintage online patterns, which was the case with Alana’s skort. “That was a troll-the-internet kind of deal,” he says. “I think I was looking to see if I could get them for the rest of the girls that worked with her, but we just ended up doing a variety of white bottoms. And Margarita made the skort — I found little Simplicity patterns for skorts of the period.” They scoured the internet for the classic polo as well, which they bought and altered for Alana and her photography co-workers. “Things back then were a little squarer, less form-fitting than they are now,” he says. “So we probably added some darts and took it in to make it a little more contemporary, though it still had the large collar and was made out of a period fabric.”

Once Bridges put together a closet for Alana Kane, he met up with Alana Haim — whom he says had been “really working very hard to have a ’70s, slim, rock-and roll-look” to fit the character to try it all on and talk it through before making any final decisions. “Clothes have their own character,” he says. “So I put together things that I feel could work for Alana’s character, then she and I get together and just try things on, see what looks good on her body and what feels right, and then we take it to Paul. At this point for me, there’s a zing of excitement when you see something that really fits or you’re suddenly transported to that period.”

How to re-create it: Because the majority of Alana’s costumes are one-of-a-kind vintage items, industry-specific costumes, or recreations, Bridges warns me that most of them aren’t perfectly reproducible or very easy to find. But he recommends searching a “Charlotte Russe or something”–type store or Poshmark for a white skort. If you can’t find one, find a skort pattern on Simplicity or Etsy, then learn to make clothes, I guess — good luck! The polo is easier: “Search vintage nylon polo shirt on Etsy,” he says. If you’re willing to be patient and sort through racks of clothing for long periods of time, he recommends thrifting as a last resort. “Thrifting isn’t terribly fruitful for that time period,” he says. “I feel like online dealers are probably better.” But if you prefer the hunt, his L.A. favorites include Aardvark’s and Jet Rag.

Photo: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

The scene: Alana and Gary’s “first date,” at the auspiciously named Tail O’ the Cock, begins with Alana begging her would-be suitor, “Don’t be creepy, please.” But soon she’s loosening up, revealing that she hates working at Tiny Toes and is ready for her real life to begin. Later, when she’s still wearing the dress at home, her sisters are suspicious of how chic she looks: “Where were you? Why are you dressed like that? Were you on a date?” Alana wears the outfit again later, when she and Gary have a falling out over the legality of pinball in California.

The concept: “This was an interesting decision she had to make: What does she wear to first meet Gary?” says Bridges. “Because he asks her to go out, and he’s much younger than she is, but that’s besides the point. What does she decide to wear when she doesn’t really want to go, but she ends up going?” Bridges settled on the brown minidress and boots after almost putting Alana in an entirely different outfit, then talking it through with Anderson. “We had a back and forth about what it should be, and he really liked that dress, and I liked that it felt dressed up. And then the questions from her sisters — she just can’t win,” he laughs. The dress shows a little leg, but it’s long-sleeved — as he puts it, “not terribly sexy. It just happens to be what was in style for young women in 1973, that particular length. You see it everywhere: yearbooks, fashion magazines. So I really concentrated on showing the leg in that way.” The outfit is his favorite in the film. “She just seems like a girl from the Valley who’s of that moment in time. It’s the right shape, the right length, it’s a print. It feels very real,” he says.

Photo: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

The execution: The brown minidress is a real vintage piece tailored by Bridges and Kalend to fit Alana perfectly. Bridges can’t remember where he found it, though he suspects it was one of “half a dozen costume shops” that he frequented. “It was so exciting to find that because those little dresses that would have been purchased at Chess King or whatever, those mall stores, they didn’t last,” he says. “There’s not a lot of examples of that out there. So it was really fun that we got that, and it was such an important part of the scene.” They changed the dress only slightly: “We might have added something like a hook to the front, just so that Alana could wear it for 12 hours at a time and have no problems.”

How to re-create it: This is one of the tougher ones since it’s a real vintage dress. Bridges recommends trawling Etsy and eBay for something similar. “They’ve been quite fruitful for me,” he says. He also recommends looking at some of the higher-end vintage shops for something from the period — even if it doesn’t fit right or doesn’t have the same shape or the right quality. “If you really love it but it’s not going to last or doesn’t fit, try to get it remade,” he says. “Then you’ll have it for a long time, and no one else will have it.”

Photo: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

The scene: Alana is selling jewelry; Gary is selling waterbeds. She strides confidently toward his booth. “Hello, gorgeous,” he says. “Hello, handsome,” she replies. “Is your bottom soggy? Having trouble sleeping?” he asks. “Well, now that you mention it,” she says, smiling. Moments later, Gary is apprehended by the cops, who mistake him for a hardened criminal on the lam. Alana chases him to the police station, waits outside until he’s released, shoves him hard (“What’d you do, Gary?”), then laughs maniacally as the two race home through the smoggy streets.

The concept: “This is one of my faves, too,” says Bridges of the two-piece halter set. “That was yet another, I don’t want to say ‘getup,’ but another phase in her life — selling earrings at the expo. We see her go through different phases in her life or different vibes, whether it’s working for the photographers, working as a volunteer for a politician, selling earrings, delivering waterbeds. So she sort of dresses accordingly, always telling the story and dressing for the occasion.” Because the scene is the most running-heavy in a movie full of such scenes, Bridges had to think about what might be easiest for Alana to wear while tearing down the street. “I wanted her to wear some sandals. And I knew she was going to have to run a lot, so I just ordered up a bunch of different things that looked period, but also would be doable for her, and comfortable, and practical, with traction — not a hard, quirky platform sole or anything. First it was like, ‘Can she run in these?’ And then, ‘Do they look period?’”

Photo: Courtesy of Metro Goldwyn Mayer

The execution: This outfit has the most idiosyncratic origin story: Bridges and Kalend found a paisley maxi dress at a vintage store in Los Angeles, then spent several days recutting it into a two-piece. “The top was already how it is in the movie, but Margarita had all the fabric from the bottom skirt that went to the floor, so she just cut it apart,” says Bridges. “Even though we were only making a miniskirt from a maxi skirt, she barely had enough fabric to be able to match all the patterns for the skirt. It was quite a feat, and Margarita did a great job on that.”

As for the shoes, Alana Haim fortunately possesses what Bridges refers to as “good-size feet for period shoes,” making his job simpler. “People’s feet were just different back then. So many of the shoes from that period are very narrow. So I tried to use real shoes whenever possible, and then if I couldn’t find it, we’d do something that would be believable in the period.” Haim was a “real trooper” about the whole thing and patched up her feet with moleskin before hitting the pavement over and over again. And the shoes were mostly for her own process: “We create a reality for them to live in, so I do head-to-toe outfits so that everyone feels it in the moment,” says Bridges. “But Paul doesn’t shoot a lot of feet.”

How to re-create it: Bridges suggests finding “an incredible shawl, or a tablecloth, or a drape, or even a hippie bedspread that they sell in Little India or Urban Outfitters” with a fabric that you find appealing, then taking it to a tailor and asking to turn it into Alana’s two-piece. “The shapes are very simple,” he says. He also recommends finding a vendor on Etsy who’ll communicate with you directly about the pattern and the measurements. “It’s a bit of a gamble,” he says, but worth it for a two-piece halter set that you can run from the cops in.

Photo: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

The scene: Alana and her Lost Boys lug a waterbed up a set of stairs. (This outfit is also center stage in the movie’s main promo image.)

The concept: “Paul had asked for some T-shirts for Alana that had some writing on them,” says Bridges. “I thought, ‘What seems specific to that moment in time?’ And ‘You’ve come a long way, baby,’ was a slogan for a brand of cigarettes that was geared toward women [Virginia Slims].” Bridges also knew he’d have Alana wear the T-shirts without a bra, as was the style of the ’70s. “She was comfortable with it, and it was very much of the period,” he says.

The execution: The brushed-denim bell-bottoms are an actual vintage item, though Bridges admits those are always difficult to come by. “The problem with using women’s vintage pants and trousers is that the waists, for whatever reason — mutation, change of the human race — were so much smaller back then. And even if you get the right size waist, then the hip proportion is too big.” But the T-shirt was even more logistically complicated. Bridges started by searching for actual “You’ve come a long way, baby” T-shirts. “I did find original sweaters and things online, on Etsy probably, but we were not allowed to use them because of legalities or clearance issues,” he says. “So my costume supervisor and I worked out the lettering, the size, and then the color. And we found a period T-shirt to put it on. We had that approved by legal, and then we had it remade.” He had no idea it would become such a big part of the movie’s promotional images. “Paul was really happy with it. He goes, ‘It’s great because you can’t really read it,’ but then he ends up using it on the teaser poster. Little did I know that Paul would use it the way that he used it, and that it would have some kind of resonance in the story of the film too. I made it for one scene!”

How to re-create it: There are tons of “You’ve come a long way, baby” T-shirts online (specifically on Etsy), though it might be harder to find a real vintage item. Same goes for the denim, though Poshmark has some fun ’70s-style options.

Photo: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

The scene: Alana has decided what she really wants is to be an actress. Gary takes her to a general meeting with his agent and warns her that she’ll be asked what she feels comfortable doing onscreen, and that she needs to say yes to everything — which turns out to include nudity and basketball. “You have a warm smile and a very Jewish nose, which is becoming very fashionable,” says the agent, played by a psychotically brilliant Harriet Sansom Harris. “I’m getting a lot more requests for Jewish girls.” Later, Alana stops by Gary’s house and asks, “Do you really wanna see my boobs?” He nods, and she unbuttons the dress, flashes him, then storms out.

The concept: For this scene, Bridges wanted something “unlike anything else Alana has worn, because she’s never gone to an audition.” His vision for the outfit was something “a little awkward, a little inappropriate for her age,” something to indicate her lack of experience and comfortability with the whole thing. “It was such a weird babydoll look from that period that’s in all of the yearbooks and things,” he laughs. “That was the style of the moment. So that was really fun.”

The execution: Bridges found a prototype dress in one of his costume houses, but wanted to make some changes to it — specifically to shorten it. Since they didn’t own the dress, he and his cutter remade it, getting textured polyester-knit fabric that he describes as “one of those endless fabrics that are going to be around long after we’re gone” from New York City. “We hijacked the collar and cuffs because they were so that moment in time,” he adds. “And then I think because we knew she was going to have to unzip it on camera, we reset a zipper so that it was easier for her to unzip herself. But that was it.”

How to re-create it: “You know what would be interesting?” muses Bridges. “If you went to a vintage store, a lot of times people don’t go and look in the long dresses, in the prom-dress areas. I know, for an example, a place that I’ve been going to since Boogie Nights in L.A., they have all of these long dresses that are like prom dresses. You could look in there and then take it to your local cleaner and have them make it short. I think the top and the bodice, and that kind of collar, and that kind of sleeve shape, was also made in a full-length dress.” He also recommends, as always, “trawling Etsy.”

Photo: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

The scene: Alana, drunk with power thanks to her fledgling waterbed empire, decides to wear a high-waisted lilac bikini to the opening of her and Gary’s new store. Her confidence is, initially, palpable — she dances around in front of the middle-school band and flirts openly with Gary — until she begins to feel idiotic in the outfit, less sexy than silly. Furious at herself and at Gary for ignoring her in favor of a girl his own age, she stomps home in the bikini, pausing to make out with a random stranger on the street. When she gets home, her family does a double take. “Excuse me,” says her dad from the couch. “What the fuck?”

The concept: “Part of the story here is that the character Kiki wore that bathing suit when they were at the teen fair — there’s a bedspread, and she’s on the waterbed at the teen fair in her bikini,” says Bridges. “There was a contest for ‘Guess how many polka dots are on the bathing suit and the bedspread?’, which was something from real life that went on for the character that this was based on, when he sold waterbeds. So we made that full-figure bikini for Kiki, and when I suggested making one that would fit Alana better, Paul was like, ‘No, she should just use Kiki’s bathing suit, because Gary wouldn’t take time to have another bathing suit made.’ And I thought, ‘Well, that’s hilarious.’”

The execution: Bridges first looked at prototype period bathing suits, studying their construction — learning, for example, that ’70s suits have wider sides than modern suits and aren’t as stretchy. Then Kalend remade them from scratch. They made two sets of bottoms for Alana and Kiki, but put the same top on both women. The top was far too big for Alana, but Paul told Bridges, “Just do what they would have done at the time and stuff it with Kleenex.”

How to re-create it: “Swimwear is really tricky,” says Bridges. “I’ve gotten a couple of bathing suits from a store called Playclothes on Magnolia in the Valley. And once again, I went to Etsy. They wouldn’t put them on there if they weren’t wearable. It does get a little tricky sometimes with how the cup shapes are. But yeah, they are available on the street, so to speak, and then they are still somewhat readily available on Etsy.” As for the Kleenex, feel free to purchase and stuff as desired.

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Lawrence U

A Blogger, Graphic Designer and internet Marketer with full passion to Assist Beginners to Grow in the Internet Marketing Industry.