Deschanel and costume designer Debra McGuire explain how they created quirky heroine's fashion sense

By Nuzhat Naoreen
October 07, 2011 at 04:00 AM EDT
  • TV Show

Even before Zooey Deschanel slipped into the role of the delightfully eccentric Jess on Fox’s New Girl, she already had an idea of what the character’s costumes were going to look like. ”I thought she would wear clothes a 13-year-old would appreciate,” says the actress, who herself is known for her quirky sense of style. She wasn’t the only one who envisioned Jess that way. ”There’s definitely a youthfulness to it,” explains costume designer Debra McGuire. Using mostly vintage pieces, McGuire likes to mix colors and patterns to create a playful look unique to the character. ”I think it’s eclectic,” she says, ”but it’s just Jess.”

Jess’ Closet
To achieve Jess’ vintage style, McGuire pulls from L.A.-area secondhand stores like Wasteland, while also looking for contemporary pieces with a retro feel on the racks of Anthropologie, Zara, and Marc Jacobs.

Iconic Inspiration
Deschanel compares Jess’ look to that of some of TV’s most famous funny girls: ”I think she’s a little bit of an updated version of Mary Tyler Moore or Marlo Thomas.” Translation: Don’t expect to see Jess in cropped tops and tight jeans, but instead retro silhouettes that Deschanel describes as ”unintentionally sexy.”

”I want her to look super-pretty when she’s doing goofy things,” explains makeup artist Jorjee Douglass, who uses heavy mascara to highlight Deschanel’s blue eyes. ”I like to call them her moneymakers.” (Rimmel Glam’Eyes Day 2 Night Mascara; $8)

The Dress
This wrap dress by Aqua so suited the character that McGuire also bought it in red for a recent episode. (It has since sold out.) Explains McGuire, ”The fuller pleated skirts really express who she is because they have a lot of movement and they’re fun.”

Bold Palette
Inspired by the bright colors she saw in initial specs for the show, McGuire decided to put Jess in vivid and often contrasting hues. ”She’s not afraid of color,” explains McGuire.

Since Jess is a school-teacher constantly on the move, her footwear consists mainly of flats, like these Cece suede ballet flats by J. Crew. ($128;

Episode Recaps

Zooey Deschanel plays lovable Jess, who is plodding through life with a good group of friends.
  • TV Show
  • 5
  • TV-14
  • 09/20/11
  • In Season
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