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Girls Costume Designer Jenn Rogien On Plastic Dresses, Beet Stains and What We Can Expect In Season 3

Screen Shot 2014-01-09 at 12.46.35 PM.pngWhen we're not making predictions about what rockers might make cameos on Girls or writing fan fiction about all the hotties we'd like to see woo Hannah & Co. during Season 3, our thoughts turn to what cuckoo crazy outfits -- or hairdos -- we might get to see next season. (One-upping Hannah's sleeping bag dress or Shoshanna's Whoville hair is no small feat, after all.) Ahead of the show's third season premiere on Sunday, we chat with the series' costume designer, Jenn Rogien, about how the characters' styles have evolved, what we can expect to see on Season 3, and why she's always having to remove beet juice stains from costumes.

What have been some of your favorite looks on the show?

There's so many, starting with the Bushwick warehouse party because the girls were so specifically themselves in those costumes. I also loved Hannah's glowworm sleeping bag, Marnie's plastic dress, and everything Elijah [wears] because he's just crazy and ridiculous and very fun to dress.

What was it like constructing Marnie's plastic dress?

It was unusual because there wasn't a lot of sewing and the materials are so foreign to Marnie that the shape needed to be something that she would recognize. I went over that a couple of times before the silhouette made sense for her so that was really challenging to figure out.

It that episode, Marnie is so clearly trying to be someone else.

Yes, she's trying so hard to impress [Booth Jonathan] so we had to build it or make something outside of the norm that could reflect so deeply (and so obviously) her mental state.

Tell me about how each of the characters' styles have evolved over the three seasons.

They've all evolved a little. Hannah started out as lovingly disheveled in Season 1, and then she was fairly disheveled throughout Season 2. Marnie started very polished and very put together -- she had the dream job and the dream date and all of those things, and then Season 2, we saw her struggle and she was trying really hard to stay polished and to cling to a style and an identity. With Shoshonna, who is our most feminine, girliest character on the show, she dresses very self-aware. And Jessa is weirdly the most consistently-styled largely because she is so eclectic and all over the place to start with so she's strangely the most stable.

Where do you find things for Jessa?

It's a treasure hunt. We go thrifting all over...and also to Century 21 and Loehmann's. I know a Jessa piece when I see it and, often times, I don't find it in the same place or in the same store twice.

What can we expect from the wardrobe in Season 3?

Their looks in season 3 reflect the decisions that the characters made in Season 2 and that evolution and those consequences. We wrapped a couple of months ago so I'm starting to feel impatient to see it on screen. I almost have to have a countdown clock.

What twentysomething fashion trend would you most like to see go away?

Leggings are not pants. I'd love to see that go away. People have been wearing them like that for 4-5 years so I don't think it counts as a trend anymore. There are so many places where they're appropriate, but they're not pants.

Describe your aesthetic in your 20s. Can you relate to the characters on the show?

(Laughs.) Man, I was a mess, which is probably why I resonate so deeply with the show. I started working in corporate America and so I made an effort toward being polished, but I still wore deeply inappropriate things to work. I get it. I've been there.

Who gives who fashion tips on set?

Good question. You'd think it would be happening, but I don't know that fashion is a huge topic of conversation [for the girls]. Everyone's got a million things they're doing. In the fittings we're really focused on getting the looks. I'm sure that the fashion tips are happening, but I usually get asked about stain removal before fashion.

What kind of stains?

Beet juice is the number one stain. We have a juicer and people inevitably stain whatever light-colored items they wore to work that day. That and chocolate. When people say, "Hey Jenn" it has nothing to do with style. It's more 'Well, I have this thing that I need to be dry cleaned or this leather I need to get restored."

Based on the trailer for Season 3, it looks like Hannah will finally have to put some clothes on but what was the story behind the t-shirt she spent the Season 2 finale in?

That's from the Salvation Army. I don't remember if I had been out shopping for her t-shirt and pajamas or if it was something I had hanging around or if we set out to go shopping for this very sad, very beat-up piece of clothing. Hannah might have owned it from a family vacation years before because it looks sort of long-loved. The graphic is faded, and you can't really read it. It says something like "life's a beach." That phrase was so perfect because she's just a mess and the color was so unbelievably sad. It was the right choice for the right moment.

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