‘Pretty Little Liars’ Costume Designer Reveals 9 Surprising Secrets About The Wardrobe On The Show (Plus, Scoop About The Christmas Episode!)

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Attention die hard Pretty Little Liars fans! You may think you know everything about the Liars’ wardrobe, but guess again. We caught up with the show’s costume designer Mandi Line who clued us into a few fun facts you may have previously missed.

Here are nine surprising secrets about the costumes on Pretty Little Liars:

1. Red Coat may be gone, but the garment is still within arm’s reach. “Just because ‘Red Coat’ has kinda peaced out doesn’t mean that, all of a sudden, red coat won’t be back,” teased Line. “There is no such thing as ‘retired’ [in the Pretty Little Liars world] because, as we know, just because you die doesn’t mean a damn thing on the show.” The wardrobe department still has four existing red coats on hand… just in case they’re needed back on set.

2. Sure, the PLL crew is taking a break from Halloween this year, but Aria’s custom made black-and-red masquerade dress remains Line’s all-time favorite look in the show’s history. The design was inspired by a dress Pink wore to an awards show. Line saved the image on her computer long before she began work on the show with the hope of one day reimagining it. “Budgets are always tight, but, when we got the masquerade episode, I begged my producer, ‘Please! Can I make this dress?’ We copied it to some extent, but made it proportionally flattering for little Lucy Hale,” she said. “I was thrilled they let me do it. Lucy was like, ‘Is this your dream? Is this exactly what you’ve always wanted to do?’ It was so special. When I entered FIDM, I did sketches to get in and I think I may have even sketched a dress like that. It was incredible to be able to fulfill something I’ve always dreamed of.”

3. As for which Halloween costume took the longest to make? That honor goes to Spencer’s Kate Winslet-inspired gown worn to last year’s Ravenswood WWI-themed soiree. “Without even thinking, I put Spencer in this beautiful red velvet look. When the light hit it, it was so beautiful. Then I realized, ‘Oh my God. Red Coat is in this episode. I can’t do red.’ So it ended up costing an extra $4,000 to rebuild and I got in trouble with my producers. We had to switch the colors. So if you watch the episode, she’s in this beautiful dark purple, but you can’t even tell the color. The red would have popped, but the purple ended up kind of looking black. The construction was flawless, but I wish we could have done red. I was in tears going, ‘I can’t believe I didn’t even think about Red Coat being in the episode.’ But that was my fault. I always need different silhouettes, different fabrics, different colors.”

Still, each of the girls’ Ravenswood/Halloween looks proved fairly time consuming to create. “Each of the girls outfits had to be tripled [for that episode]. And every single thing on them—down to the hats, the shoes, the gloves, the corsets—was custom made. The girls hated me by the end. Number one, they couldn’t breath. Number two, they had to come in for like five fittings.”

4. Meanwhile, get psyched for the show’s upcoming “How the ‘A’ Stole Christmas” special because Line said “it’s the softest, most sophisticated, beautiful episode we’ve done.” She remained mum on plot specifics, but did divulge that they’re headed to an ice ball. “The instructions were, ‘The feeling has to be very icy,’ so [you’ll see] beautiful mint tones and blues and silvers and sparkly… It’s going to be the prettiest you’ve seen these girls—the most soft and special. And they’re growing up too, so it’s also sophisticated.” While Line refused to play favorites when it came to the girls’ gowns, she couldn’t help but gush over actor Tyler Blackburn’s attire. “Caleb looks so amazing in this Christmas episode. You’ve never seen Caleb in such light tones. He takes monochromatic to another level.”

5. This fashion-forward cast may know how to spark a trend, but they’re not beyond recycling. “I like to re-use bottoms,” admitted Line of the jeans, skirts, and pants she often pulls. She said they never reuse tops with the exception of one past episode where Spencer borrows clothes from Hanna’s closet. “Spencer appears in these orange jeans with a Happy Ashley popsicle shirt. People who know the show enough were like, ‘That was Hanna’s! We love that shirt!’ That was a famous recycled piece.”

6. Line has been known to pull inspiration from her own personal wardrobe. “When Ashley Benson’s character came to the dark side, I was dead set on her wearing a jacket that I wear constantly, so we knocked mine off,” Line said of Hanna’s edgy new leather and jean jacket which was custom made by Congregation of Forgotten Saints in Los Angeles. Another example? Lucy Hale will appear in an upcoming episode titled “Fresh Meat” wearing “this awesome full-length flannel dress” from Urban Outfitters that the designer also personally owns. “I’m obsessed with it. I wear it all the time.”

The costume designer has also been known to, quite literally, lend the girls the clothes off her back… and watch off her wrist. “Hanna is wearing my watch in episode five fifteen. It’s a chunky black leather watch. They didn’t want her to wear a leather jacket, but they wanted her to look a little more edgy [for when] she goes to this college campus. I’m addicted to my watch, but I took it off and gave it to her.”

7. All of the actresses are currently having style envy over Hanna’s edgy new look. “Hanna [has recently been wearing] ripped tights with garters and short shorts and messed up rock and roll tee’s and long cardigans and beanies. Everyone was like, ‘What?! Why does she get to look like that?’ Everyone is bitter because it’s so cool and edgy and all the girls in real life are edgy.” (Want to recreate Hanna’s look yourself? Head to vintage mecca Wasteland off Melrose Blvd in Los Angeles. “I’m not able to do too much vintage on the show [because we typically need multiple versions of each look], but Hanna hasn’t dug up any dead bodies recently. Wasteland on Melrose kills it for her look.”)

8. Wardrobe pieces have been known make appearances on and off-camera. “Those girls borrow stuff all the time,” said Line, who also revealed that Ashley Benson borrowed an item for a red carpet appearance in promotion of last year’s Halloween episode. “Ashley was like, ‘I have nothing to wear.’ So we gave her this purple and black faux leather biker jacket and then Aria ended up wearing it in a real episode.”

9. If you look closely, there are occasionally a few hidden surprises beyond the obvious. “There was a locket that we put on Hannah one episode [in season three] and in the locket I put a picture of my face and of my old assistant’s. We chopped our faces in half, so half of it was my face and half of it was my assistant’s face,” she said. And the crafty costume designers struck again this season. “Hanna wore an army t-shirt a couple episodes ago. It was green with cutoff sleeves. We had to disguise something that was printed on the shirt. Sometimes we have to do that if it’s maybe too graphic or is something we aren’t able to use. I [covered it up] with my initials and my assistant’s initials. On one side it says, ML for Mandi Line and the other side NW for Nicole Weiner, my assistant. Some of my friends texted me. They were like, ‘Nice initials.’ But I don’t think anyone spotted the locket.”

 

Line is chock full of fun facts, so Pretty Little Fans who want more insight into how she works should be sure to stop by the upcoming SOURCING AT MAGIC conference where she will be on a panel titled “Costume Designers: Fashion New Experts and Influencers.” Line will be joined on the panel by other notable costume designers including The Good Wife’s Daniel Lawson, Revenge’s Jill Ohanneson, as well as Linda Kearns, the Vice President of Matchbook’s Costume Designer Division, and Damian Soglo of Gandrapp.com.

The sourcing event takes place between August 17-20 at the Las Vegas Convention Center, while the panel featuring Line will take place on August 18.

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