Carey Mulligan plays Cassandra in comedy-thriller Promising Young Woman, which is about a 30-year-old woman who has been deeply affected and broken by her past. The film, which is already garnering Oscars buzz, was written and directed by Emerald Fennell and styled by costume designer Nancy Steiner, who understood immediately how Cassie’s devastating time in medical school has affected the rest of her life and, therefore, what she wears.
“[Cassie’s] clothing that she wears during the daytime is a disguise and a costume . . . because she’s trying to come off as this sweet, girlie, feminine, candy-colored lady, in a way to avoid confrontation.”
“I think the job of a costume designer involves a lot of psychology. With any character that you’re dressing, you want to think about where they get their clothes, how they get their clothes, and how they treat their clothes. Does this person throw their clothes on the floor when they get home, or do they put them in the hamper? Do they hang them up? The thing is, [Cassie’s] clothing that she wears during the daytime is a disguise and a costume, the same as the things in the evening, because she’s trying to come off as this sweet, girlie, feminine, candy-colored lady, in a way to avoid confrontation or anybody asking, ‘What’s wrong?’ Because really, inside, she’s a broken woman. It’s a facade. [Her clothes are] something that she uses to keep the happy look outside,” Steiner told POPSUGAR.
As the film progresses, it becomes clear that Cassie is angry with men for the unforgivable and illegal act her best friend Nina experienced before they both dropped out of school to suffer through the aftermath. In order to paint the picture of someone who is unable to move on from a certain time in her life, Steiner tapped Urban Outfitters and plenty of vintage costume houses for Cassie’s fuzzy sweaters, kitschy romantic dresses, and even club wear – all of which you might find in any 20-something’s closet.
Ahead, get the full breakdown of what Cassie wears and why her outfits carry so much weight in this film.