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This gauzy photo shows Emily (Shay Mitchell, far right) at the youngest we've ever seen her — in a flashback before we originally met the swim-extraordinaire gal in Pretty Little Liars' June 2010 series debut. Her look in those early days is, in a word, safe. ''Viewers are so funny,'' says PLL costume designer Mandi Line, ''if she's not in bright colors for flashbacks, they'll be like, that's not Old Emily! They get really hooked on what they remember. They love those flashbacks.''
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Another Flashback Look
?This is another example of Emily in the early days via flashbacks — she's wearing nothing flashy, just a simple sporty skirt and tank top with no embellishment. ''The best is when we do Flashback Emily,'' says Line. ''I didn't even have to be there. I was like, 'Pull a Polo and some khaki shorts,' and there's Old Emily.''
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A First Glimpse
This shot is one of the first times we ever saw Emily in Pretty Little Liars' pilot. As you can see here, explains Line, ''She was very 'Mom appropriate.' Light colors. When I think of Emily during this time, I'm so quick to remember that iconic striped V-neck T-shirt, little jean skirt, and tennis shoes.''
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By season 2, Emily had changed up her style to be little bit more risqué — granted, it wasn't as out-there as her fellow Liars, but she was going more daring with black and boots. ''[Executive producer] Marlene King's main thing about Emily was that she couldn't have her look stereotypical,'' explains Line. ''Emily was set to have this journey of coming out'' — which took place in season 1 — ''so the writers wanted to show that she could have freedom through fashion after you accept who you are.''
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Deeper into season 2, Emily was fully morphing, says Line. ''Her arc changed when she became a little more rebellious. You know, she was still confused, but she knew she didn't need to have her mom's approval so much. Slowly but surely, the color tones got a little darker. Then when she got more relaxed, she found her place.''
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Coming Out To Play
?Although this outfit is from season 1, it showcases Emily's desire to have stronger, more playful fashion. ''We did, like, a one-shoulder T-shirt with skinny jeans and tennis shoes,'' remembers Line. ''She was a little more free and a little more sexy.''
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''WeHo Lesbian Style''
?Emily's style just got edgier and edgier. ''I call it the 'WeHo lesbian style,'' says Line, referring to Los Angeles' gay and lesbian neighborhood West Hollywood. ''But she's in Rosewood. And let me tell you: I was in Pennsylvania recently, and people are hip. Don't underestimate that being a reflection of what's really happening — people aspire to be this.''
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Fit To Print
As the show moved into season 3, Emily was exploring printed T-shirts, lots of layering, and pops of darker colors, like the jeans shown here. ''Season 2 Emily would have done off-the-shoulder,'' explains Line of Emily's continued metamorphosis, ''but not necessarily a print.''
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A Fan Favorite
?This look from season 3, Line says, is one that fans talk about most. ''It's a vest of mine that I wear when I go to the Abbey [bar in West Hollywood],'' explains Line. She notes that the shirt is All Saints and is printed with simple Marc Jacobs chains, cargo pants, and buckle boots. ''People ask about it all the time!''
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Emily's Fashion Agenda?
The January 2013 midseason return premiere of Pretty Little Liars' third season showed Emily pushing the envelope sartorially once again. ''She's definitely finding her flair and doing these darker things,'' Line says. ''Now we're to the point where she's got a hot tank on, a little bit of cleavage, a great vest, and she's pumping it up with accessories — she's got bracelets, leather-wrap watches. She looked in her closet and said, 'What can I put on to express myself?' Now she's like, 'Oh, I get who I am!' and 'I need to step it up if I'm gonna get the ladies.' Now she has an agenda.''