Unlike other movies that feature a major evolution for a young female character—think The Princess Diaries or She’s All That—costume designer Jessica Flaherty stressed how “important” it was to her and author Jenny Han to “not allow the clothes to get ahead of her transformation.”
“I always picture what did Belly pack to bring to Cousins from her wardrobe,” Flaherty continued. “So, the first few episodes, we kept her in her shorts and her big t-shirts she might have slept in.”
As the season progressed and the character’s world starting opening up, she would have “pops of her fish-of-water moments,” as Flaherty described them. Belly was trying to figure out what she liked sartorially while her mother figure Susannah (Rachel Blanchard) and her best friend Taylor (Rain Spencer) were also picking items out for her.
“It was her finding her way within all these new pieces and influences in her life,” Flaherty said. “So it wasn’t like, ‘Oh, Taylor got me that pink dress, I’m going to go there.’ She’s like, “That’s not quite it, but I could try a dress,’ and then we land on a gingham one.”
Not wanting to “rush that evolution,” Flaherty said she used relatable and subtle shifts in Belly’s style, like choosing a two-piece bathing suit over a one-piece, “because those beats are really important in a girl’s life when you are also trying to find yourself.”
“It’s Belly opening up a little bit more and taking chances,” she added. “And it was so nice to do that in a gentle, organic way that we got her to the coming out at the debutante ball.”