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!
It has been a great end to 2018 for Hailee Steinfeld, as both Bumblebee and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse have been critically lauded. Finding a fresh angle is not an easy task when a number of adaptations of these beloved characters have graced screens over the last 15 years or so — some more successful than others.
Part of the charm of Bumblebee and Into the Spider-Verse is how they tap into the essence of what makes these characters great, while also putting a different spin (no pun intended) on each universe. Spider-Gwen (Hailee Steinfeld) is one of several characters who offer something we have not previously seen in a Spider-Man movie; meanwhile, Bumblebee injects a whole lot of heart into a bloated franchise. Both offer up some serious style goal inspiration for the start of 2019.
The lack of male gaze when Charlie is introduced immediately sets Bumblebee apart from its Michael Bay-helmed Transformers predecessors. Instead of a leering shot, bent over a car in the shortest of short shorts, Charlie’s early morning wake-up is all baggy bed tees and an emphasis on the music she is into. The yellow and black Walkman is a nod to the character she will befriend, while the band posters on her wall feature the likes of The Pretenders, and Elvis Costello & the Attractions is on the shirt she slept in, the same one she will later wear out of the house. The line between bedwear and daytime attire sometimes blurs into one.
Jorts and a denim romper are a major part of Charlie’s wardrobe, but at no point is underbutt the focus. Instead, she sometimes pairs them with cycling shorts peeking through, including fabulous purple zebra-print.
Charlie is a bit of an outsider and her DGAF wardrobe sets her apart from the mean girls that mock her while she works at the amusement park — they also happen to wear the faddiest ‘80 attire.
There is a timelessness to a lot of Charlie’s costumes, which wouldn’t look out of place in 2019. Band T-shirts are a staple in H&M, Topshop and Urban Outfitters; jorts are always in season. The Damned and Elvis Costello aren’t the only bands featuring in Charlie’s rotation of shirts. The Smiths, The Rolling Stones and Motorhead all make an appearance.
Topshop has recently been leaning into garments that look like two different tops sewn together; Charlie’s half-and-half plaid shirt is partaking in this trend. As costume designer Dayna Pink explained, “She’s the girl who’s in her bedroom and taking apart her clothes and putting them back together. She transforms all her stuff.” Accessories also act as a link between Charlie’s mechanic and music interests, as black guitar string bracelets cover her wrist and a bolt necklace hangs around her neck.
During the Bumblebee action climax, Charlie’s ensemble brings these elements together. The teal and black leather jacket she wears has the appearance of two separate garments. The “Nevermind” graphic tee mixes mesh and cotton materials — I spent so long wondering if this was a Sex Pistols shirt or an early nod to Nirvana, but it was actually custom-made by Pink. Nike and Reebok sneakers have been switched for tougher (and more durable) leather boots complete with black and yellow laces.
If Spider-Gwen has me longing for a razor, then Charlie is making a case for heavy bangs and even heavier eyeliner. The clumpy black mascara is a pure ‘80s makeup touch. This is definitely not waterproof, and again Bumblebee endears itself by not pretending that makeup will look perfect after a dramatic water rescue. Smeared eyeliner it is, which also gives the impression that Charlie has been to a sweaty rock gig.