Twilight - Edward and Bella

Look of the Week: 10 years of Twilight and the relatable wardrobe of Bella Swan

Contributed by
Nov 25, 2018

Welcome back to Look of the Week, celebrating the best in TV and film sartorial excellence, past and present across sci-fi, horror, fantasy, and other genre classics!

Vampires don’t stay dead for long in pop culture. Ten years ago, Twilight took the world by storm, demonstrating the power of a YA hit at the box office. Made on a budget of $37 million, it took just under $400 globally and vampires were once again on trend. Love triangle narratives are also nothing new, but Twilight turned the notion of Teams into a phenomenon. For all of the ire aimed at this franchise and its fans, its power and legacy are undeniable.

Twilight Bella
Some teen movies spawn fashion trends that will then come back around twenty years after it was first released — see Clueless and every store selling a yellow plaid skirt this fall. The high-end clothes that fill Cher Horowitz's (Alicia Silverstone) wardrobe match her lavish lifestyle; this is part of the Beverly Hills aesthetic she is cultivating. Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) does not live in Los Angeles, nor is her family particularly wealthy. It would be outlandish if she were to wear head-to-toe designer attire, and one striking aspect of Bella’s clothing is how normal it is.

A rotation of jeans, henleys, tees, and plaid shirts make up a lot of her closet, and costume designer Wendy Chuck did an excellent job of making Bella look like a teenager who doesn’t realize how much her life is about to change. She is the entry point for the audience, so this regular teen wardrobe adds to the relatability factor.

Twilight Bella
At the start of this first movie, Bella makes the move from warm Arizona to Forks, Washington. It's a major adjustment in the middle of the school year, but Bella adapts to the climate quickly in terms of her wardrobe. Moving from a warm location to the Pacific Northwest means becoming an expert at layering.

For her first day at school, Bella pairs a bowling shirt over a long sleeve tee, followed by a variety of hooded knits and long-sleeve shirts. A floral motif is introduced into Bella’s wardrobe during the second half of the movie. 

Twilight
Being awkward is pretty much an adolescent rite-of-passage; the longer the sleeves, the better to shove your hands into, and Bella has this trick down to a fine art in Twilight. Again, her costuming is all about making her relatable while showing she doesn’t quite feel comfortable in her own skin.

Wendy Chuck used Stephenie Meyer’s book as the starting point for all of the costumes — Bella’s costuming is pretty trend-adverse bordering on normcore, sticking to classic pieces that don’t look particularly out of place ten years later. Of course, the cut and silhouette of garments have changed since 2008, but the overall outfit choice is pretty ubiquitous. This doesn’t mean Twilight didn’t spark some trends because an ardent fan base is going to want to snap up items their favorite character is wearing. And it is far easier to recreate when these pieces are staples, which a lot of fans would already have in their wardrobe. 

Twilight
This was the case with the B.B. Dakota jacket, which Bella wears when Edward (Robert Pattinson) takes her out into the forest for her first spider monkey tree climbing ride, as well as during the fight scene climax. The brand used this moment to showcase this garment and promote it to fans of the movie. Summit — the studio behind Twilight — were unhappy with how their product was being used to sell this jacket, with B.B. Dakota stating, "Bella Swann (sic) wears this jacket in Twilight and scores the hottest vampire in high school, and so can you!"

Summit sued, and a judge ruled in favor of the studio because of how the brand had used unlicensed promo images from the movie to sell the garment. This was long before Instagram became a hive of retail activity — including brands noting when their clothes show up in movies and TV shows — and it would be interesting to see how Summit would deal with this situation now that social media is a big part of e-commerce.

Twilight
Legal coat drama aside, this isn’t even Bella’s only piece of outerwear — but it is the one that features on some posters so it is the one that stands out. When I recently rewatched Twilight, what struck me was how practical her coats are throughout the film, with a number of outdoorsy waterproof jackets that are similar to what you might find in Patagonia or The North Face. She is very much dressed for the climate rather than a fashion moment.

However, over the last few years “dad style” has become a thing, taking normcore and adding your dad’s hiking gear into the mix. It would seem Bella is an early adopter of a look that featured in Balenciaga’s fall 2016 collection. It is also notable that her plaid shirts often mirror her dad's. There is a visual bond between them despite the bumps in learning how to live together after years apart. 

Twilight
Meanwhile, Edward's style is also pretty timeless, which makes sense for a guy this old. He sticks in a sartorial lane for a perpetual 17-year-old in jeans, American Apparel tees, button-down shirts from H&M and classic cut sweaters, all in blues and grays. His pea coat is custom made — no need to worry about lawsuits here — and the only high-end garment he wears is a Gucci jacket for prom. If you can’t dress up on this occasion, then when can you? 
Twilight
Bella’s broken leg doesn’t stop her from dressing up, and the borrowed dress from Alice (Ashley Greene) in this scene shows her bond with the Cullen family and looks pretty damn great on her. The real style highlight for me, though, is the Converse sneaker to complement the boot she is wearing for her injury. Again, this is a relatively timeless look that has aged pretty well.

Twilight
The same goes for Kristen Stewart’s red carpet styling that somehow avoids the usual embarrassing trends, which typically feature when doing a red carpet retrospective — I'm sure there are some, but her Twilight premiere looks are all good. The only real indicator of it being 2008 is from an event in Madrid when she is wearing a going out top and jeans, a look that every 18-year old in this decade probably wore.

Kristen Stewart

Getty 

There is a reason she has appeared in Chanel since 2013, as she is often a Best Dressed contender on the red carpet. And while she has certainly got a lot more confident in this part of the movie-promoting posing process, her penchant for shorter styles has always been there.

Part of the reason there is cohesion in Stewart’s styling from Twilight to now is because she has worked with the same stylist since she was 14-years-old. Tara Swennen told W that “Kristen simply happens to not really be a gown person” and this is evident in the mini-dresses she wore throughout the 2008 Twilight promotional tour.

Kristen Stewart

Getty 

The red carpet color palette for the first Twilight was predominantly black and white, with some red sneaking in at the Los Angeles premiere when Stewart wore an asymmetric color block Balenciaga frock. It was a little bit '80s prom in puffball black La Perla for the London premiere, complete with Chanel jewels. Paris followed, where Stewart threw in a blast of pattern in a strapless black and white Camilla & Marc mini-dress. At a press conference in Japan, leather edginess came to play when Stewart wore Paule KA.

Twilight LA Premiere

Getty 

The group shot at the Los Angeles premiere reveals some outdated styles including Taylor Lautner’s very wide collar. But the overall vibe of this press tour is that everyone got the shorter dress memo.

Stylized costume design is a feature of teen stories, including ones we have recently covered on Look of the Week, such as Chilling Adventures of Sabrina and Riverdale. But something like Twilight already has a strong amount of fantasy and wish fulfillment in the 'teen girl meets vampire' story. Part of Bella's appeal in her introduction is in her normalcy, and her clothes are very much part of this narrative. 10 years after Twilight took the world by storm, it is easy to see how Kristen Stewart has become a style icon. 

Make Your Inbox Important

Get our newsletter and you’ll be delivered the most interesting stories, videos and interviews weekly.

Sign-up breaker
Sign out: