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.
She’s All That  is a classic Shakespearean story of two people from different worlds who fall in love. When Zach Siler [Freddie Prinze Jr.] gets dumped by his popular girlfriend Taylor [Jodi Lyn O’Keefe], his chance at prom king are in jeopardy. His friends set him a bet: get another girlfriend by the time prom comes around—but a girl of their choosing. They challenge Zach to transform outcast and quasi-poet Laney Boggs [Rachael Leigh Cook] from super-shy art nerd into their high school’s next prom queen.
The unlikely pair starts hanging out and—well, you probably can guess the rest. But what makes this film so fun to watch is Laney’s inspiring transformation story, which is also reflected in her character’s wardrobe, as explained to us by costume designer Denise Wingate.
DENISE WINGATE: Laney Boggs is such a great character. As a costume designer, it’s so helpful if you have an actress or actor who is really game to explore a character—and Rachael Leigh Cook was. We were like, “Okay, let’s use vintage, let’s do overalls, let’s do aprons.” And the falafel hat that we made while she was working at the restaurant was last minute. We went to Michael’s craft store and bought whatever we could that looked like a pita. She was really open to making herself nerdy and she got the character—so when the transformation happened it really worked. Up until that point her palette was very drab. That’s why when she comes down the stairs to meet Zach that moment was more about the color than the dress itself. It was this bold statement of her dressing in a color that was so different than anything we’d seen her in before.
I never studied fashion, I was a psychology major, so a lot of what I do is about “why would a character wear something?” We talked a lot about the death of her mother, so that explains why she carries all of this armor and she doesn’t trust people but she’s also fiercely independent and an artist. We tried to incorporate different quirky things into her character too like the Mexican Lotería card t-shirt, and she was so game. I just loved her, the whole cast was fantastic. We had no budget so we had to be really creative—everything in that prom scene was white, black, and gold, and we got it all from the Salvation Army and just completely reworked it.