Mona May & Stitch Fix Are Here To Help Bring Your Fashionable Main Character To Life
Mona May. Courtesy of Stitch Fix
Fall is one of the best seasons for fashion. From playing around with layers to the neverending accessories selection, this time of year is optimal for any style lover. For those who are seeking to improve or redefine their look, Stitch Fix has the solution.
The online personal shopping company partnered with Mona May, the powerhouse costume designer behind some of the biggest pop culture films from the ‘90s and ‘00s, including Clueless, Never Been Kissed and Romy & Michele’s High School Reunion. The pair hare launching "Main Character Closets", five trends inspired by the wardrobes of TV and film’s most recognizable leading ladies. With the expertise and direction of both May and Stitch Fix's team of stylists, folks can embrace the trends while also remaining modern.
The Main Character Closets include:
- ‘90s It Girl: Casual and cozy is her motto. Knits, cargos, cotton t-shirts, perfectly worn-in jeans and sneakers are all staples in her closet and captures the nostalgic spirit of the ‘90s.
- Collegiate Chic: Embraces more classic fashion pieces like Mary Janes, sweater vests and plaid skirts. Her look effortless blends the sophistication of academia with a modern, stylish twist.
- Top Boss: The head woman in charge. She leans into sleek suiting and neutral tones and leaves makes a statement with her accessories - such as an eye-catching bag or bold jewelry.
- Maximalista: Loves to experiment with patterns, textures and colors -and inspires those around her with her bold style.
- City Glam: The woman out on the town, embracing her inner sparkle. She is always on the move, trying the latest trends, it-pieces, and isn’t afraid to be adventurous with her fashion.
"I was immediately super excited about it because I think anything that we can bring like Clueless to everyday people and bridge that creativity with consumers is incredible," she tells EDITION about partnering with Stitch Fix. "People love movies and see themselves in the characters and want to be like them. What better way than to bring that main character's closets to customers at Stitch Fix? They can be their own leading ladies."
Mona May. Courtesy of Stitch Fix
“At Stitch Fix, we have always been in the business of helping our clients discover their personal style,” Alicia Lloyd, Stylist at Stitch Fix, shared in a press release. “After learning that many people draw inspiration from their favorite TV and film characters, we wanted to create a unique experience that helps people identify their style goals and turn them into a reality with the support of our expert stylists. Mona has inspired our stylists with her vast experience, and together we’re making it possible for our clients to easily discover their main character energy.”
Below, Mona May speaks to EDITION about the impact of Clueless on fashion and pop culture, the return of '9s trends and unleashing that main character energy.
Which character from the films you worked on do you relate to the most?
Oh, what a good question. Well, I think I'm part of each one of them because I put myself in when I read a script. I put myself into the characters' journeys to how I experienced it myself. As artists, everybody doing music or film or painting is an expression of their own life experience. It’s their soul, in a way. So I think if someone else would do a Clueless, it would be a different film. So it's my energy, my experience of life and who I am. I think that I'm very exuberant, lively, happy and colorful. I think that's what I infuse in all the characters in my films.
I think I'm a very spiritual person, so making the journey of the inner person in each of the characters is really important to me. I can tell the story of the clothes they wear. I become [the characters] in some way. I want to understand your journey and who they are. Clueless was really very special to me and forever will be. I'm a fashion designer by trade; it’s what I studied. I think bringing fashion and film and clothes together was really an incredible experience. So this is an interesting continuation with Stitch Fix to bring my two lives together in kind of the opposite way now, bringing the film into the fashion world, which is so exciting to me.
The early 90s was a time with grunge, baggier clothes and a darker color palette. You went the complete opposite way and made your characters so girly. From the signature plaid outfit in Clueless to Drew Barrymore's feathered robe in Never Been Kissed. Was that your intention?
Great question, and you’re right on. Creating worlds is just the best part of my job. When I got the script from Amy Heckerling, who is a brilliant writer and director, the story was already telling us these are just rich girls in Beverly Hills who have all the money in the world to shop in Paris. , the runway shows and stuff, but nothing like that exists in our reality. We went and scouted in high schools in Van Nuys and exactly like you said, it was all grunge. Everybody was looking like a boy and a girl the same way with the baggy pants. So we really had an incredible opportunity to bring something completely new to this world. Something exciting and colorful and fun.
When you make movies, people may think that we already knew Clueless was going to be such a hit. Like we planned it all. Yeah, it doesn't happen that way. You really are working on a work of art in the sense of my eyes and film, and creating the best possible scenarios. You hire the best actors, you have the best director, you have the best script. I mean, we had an incredible director of photography, who shot the film kind of like a commercial. There's a wide shot and close-ups of you looking at the details with the eye of the camera. My contribution was bringing something completely fresh and feminine.
The script is your Bible. So we can say, “I'm going to go to Paris fashion shows and I'm going to look at what's happening.” This is before computers, you can't just look it up. You have to buy the big collection books or travel there. You look at film and Vogue magazines about what's happening six months from now, but then how do you bring that into the world of Clueless and teenage girls? You want to make sure that is authentic to them. We don't want to put them in just high heels like models, they wouldn't be relatable.
So it's really important to take these cues from fashion but then really translate them into the script and into the characters. I think why people love Clueless so much is just this understanding who these girls are. With these main character closets with Stitch Fix, you'll be able to take the test and figure out who you are. As a costume designer, what I bring to this equation with Stitch Fix and to all my films is I create the world. I create the authentic characters. I allow women—sometimes men but mostly women—to find the “It Girl” inside. Would it be the 90s It Girl? Or would it be Collegiate Chic, like Clueless? Would it be our City Glam girl? All of that is so emotionally connected to who we are. That’s the beauty of film, how you can tell stories that really can change people's lives or help them feel better.
The ‘90s It Girl closet. Courtesy of Stitch Fix
There's so many iconic moments from Clueless, but I've always wanted Cher’s closet. You would think that 28 years later, we would have the technology for that now. Was that your idea for the film? Or did you collaborate with Amy for it?
I collaborated with Amy. I mean, Amy is brilliant. It was always us sitting together and trying to figure out, “What would be the most fun here? What would this girl have?” We were super innovative at that time, because we didn't use computers. We didn't even have cell phones, we had beepers. So it was the ancient times as Gen Z would say. (laughs) But that was something that we came up with and had some tech geniuses help us figure it out. It was revolutionary.
Speaking of Gen Z. They always love to poke fun at millennials but I think it's so fun to see the trends come back. Now they're looking at Clueless and Romy and Michele and integrating those styles into Gen Z fashion. What's your thoughts on this full-circle moment?
I love it. I mean, my work is not easy. It takes you away from your home, you’re waking up at 5am, you're constantly under stress because you're under or over budget, there’s timelines and actors’ requests. Creating in film is a very hard, intense profession. Not many people understand how much it takes to really produce something like this. So, that effort and love for what I do with costume design and bringing the stories from the page of the script to the screen, to have that kind of effect is amazing.
I get constant emails and DMs from people who thanked me for inspiring them to be costume designers and now their daughters can be these characters. It's quite incredible to have this effect on so many generations as well. We’re talking about the girls who are now my age who were just teens or very young when they saw the movie in the ‘90s. Now their kids are watching the film and loving it as well.
To me, the exuberance, the timelessness, the fun, the beauty of simpler things always give us some kind of comfort or joy. With the ‘90s it girl, it's always the cardigan sweater, the cool cargo and the comfy boots. I love that the kids are still playing with the proportions: the bigger pants, the smaller tank top and T-shirt. When you really look at Clueless, the timelessness of a pea coat, an argyle vest, and a loafer…the preppy kind of look never goes out of style because it's so cute and fun. Every time you wear it, you just feel good. Who doesn't like a plaid skirt? Who doesn't like a little knee-high boot?
The Collegiate Chic closet. Courtesy of Stitch Fix
What are some other items that you consider closet must-haves for any season?
Well, I think it depends on which girl you are. The main character closet represents who you are and what your mood is. In the case of City Glam, I think you should always have a little faux fur or now the cowboy boots are really in. What if they are silver? I think the girls really love dressing for occasions. It was such a 90s thing to have a little sequined top or a silk slip dress that you go out in.
Red is the color for fall this year too.
I know. It's amazing. I love red, it's my signature color and it’s very collegiate. IT also can be applied to the Maximalista; she loves patterns. She loves mixing the plaids and the flowers. What's so cool about the trends now is that you can be more bold. There's so much black and gray, but I think embracing the color is wonderful. I'm so happy that color is back. Also, dad baseball hats and cargo pants are back now. It's so cool again.
What's so great is there are different cargo pants. You have the giant baggy ones, which are super ‘90s. But there's also the higher-end stuff with cool pockets, but they feel more sleek. Right now you can take all the trends and depending where you are, you can wear them in a way within your environment. The 90s girl is going to be different in California, because we have different climates. So the layers will change.
I'm just so excited about this collaboration because I feel like this is gonna just blow up. Because women need some kind of guidance to find your inner self. I'm an expert, but not everybody is an expert. Sometimes, they have duties at home and kids and everything else. You don't even have time for things like fashion. With Stitch Fix, you’re able to embrace that character. The best part of my job is that I can bring what I do to with Nicole Kidman, Jennifer Aniston, Drew Barrymore and [my experience] over the 30 years that I've done movies and television, I can bring that now to Stitch Fix customers. Now they can feel like they leading ladies in their own show.
The City Glam closet. Courtesy of Stitch Fix
What are some key guidelines you would give people or just advice on how to really become their own fashionista?
I think the most important thing is to find the confidence in who you are. You have to embrace your shape and body. We cannot all be a size zero. I think that we have to look in the mirror and go, “Nobody's perfect, but I am perfect in my own way.” Look at things that are positive, like I have great cleavage, or I have long legs, I have beautiful hair. If you if you can enhance that and work with what you have, that will shine and bring something out.
Feeling best is the success in life. This is what I do for my leading ladies: when they come into costume on set, they feel 100% their character. That means I did my job. They can play the part. they can say their lines and the director gets what he wanted. Here it’s the same way: find your inner person and explore that. I also approach it as, how do I feel in the morning? Today, I could be the tomboy and tomorrow, I could be the glam model.
But it's really finding that and working with what you have. The most important thing is feeling good about yourself and who you are. As women, we really need to embrace appreciating everything about ourselves. To me, that is the key. It's not just style. It's everything. It's how you feel and express yourself to the world. That's the beauty. I'm very lucky that in my career with the movies that delighted people over so many years that when you watch one of my movies, I think you come out feeling that way. That's what I want to bring to Stitch Fix. I wanted their customer to come out and be like, “Oh my god, this is so much fun. I feel great.” That’s really my philosophy.