Freaks and Geeks costume designer talks Lindsay Weir’s iconic army jacket

Published May 14, 2018

IMAGE COURTESY OF NBC

Clothes on Film is a series in which we explore iconic looks from film and television that have stayed in our minds years after they first hit the silver screen. 

You may know Freaks and Geeks [1999-2000] as the brilliant late ‘90s show that juxtaposed high school burnouts with super-nerds, and which absolutely deserved more than it’s 18 episode single-season run. You may have enjoyed watching the early antics of Nick Andropolis (Jason Segel) and Ken Miller (Seth Rogen) or the always fiery, never stable romance between Daniel Desario (James Franco) and Kim Kelly (Busy Philipps). And chances are, you also admired the understated yet iconic army jacket frequently worn by the show’s protagonist Lindsay Weir (Linda Cardellini).  

Costume designer Debra McGuire shared the very personal inspiration behind Lindsay’s iconic look, along with the surprising trends that the young actors on the show loved, which she couldn’t stand. 

DEBRA McGUIRE: I remember when we were pulling clothes together, they looked so vintage to all the kids who had never seen clothes like this before. I went to college in the ‘70s so this was a world that was so familiar to me. And yet it was so…yuck. We would put these racks together and for me it was all nostalgia. I just pulled pieces that they sort of had an emotional connection to. The kids would think those little puffy jackets were really cute and the things that I thought were the ugliest things in the world, they absolutely loved them!

For Lindsay’s army jacket—I’m from the Vietnam era so it was a big part of what we wore as rebellious teens. We were very anti-Vietnam but denim and army stuff were still sort of iconic and symbolic in terms of Hell’s Angels and rebellion. All of these things that appeared in the show had a context for young people in this era and a sense of anti-establishment. Weir is the good girl who really wants to be a bad girl but she doesn’t know how. By wearing this jacket she has an identity in this world—even though she’s hiding the good girl that we all know she is—but on the surface level she’s rebellious and that’s why that crowd is attracted to her and they wonder “why does this super smart, nice girl want to hang out with us?” If she dressed like Millie it wouldn’t have been the same thing. The army jacket has become the most iconic look for young people, I think, when they’re trying to establish a character or look aside from a jean jacket or a motorcycle jacket. Fashion is all so cyclical and right now, we’re completely in a ‘90s world.