The premise of I Feel Pretty — in which an insecure young woman (Amy Schumer) gets a hard hit on the head and suddenly believes she looks like a supermodel, then lives with the conviction that nothing can stop her nor anyone resist her, winning over everyone she meets along the way — may seem farfetched. But for Schumer’s costume designer on the film (and longtime personal stylist) Leesa Evans, the comedy’s positive take on the power of one’s own perception resonated deeply.
“Having worked in fashion and style and in costume design for such a long time now, I’ve learned, working with people in fittings, that when you feel good about yourself and about what you’re wearing, anything is possible,” Evans says. “It creates this mindset. And what I thought was so interesting and amazing about the film, and about this role for Amy, was that it took it a step further and just said, your life can dictate your feelings so strongly, [but] it’s all just a matter of reframing how you see not only yourself, but how you see yourself in the world.”
At the beginning of I Feel Pretty, Schumer’s character, Renee, contextualizes herself in an entirely negative light (despite the fact that she’s doing pretty well, all things considered), and is desperate to change herself in order to live the airbrushed kind of life she’s always dreamed of.
“I think that the clothing needed to show that she was a girl that aspired to be someone else, that she was trying really hard to find the best version of herself,” Evans says. “She was trying different hairstyles, she would try different makeup, she would try to wear happy clothing — and all the while, she couldn’t make the transformation in herself. And that’s so much like all of us, isn’t it? Thinking that there might be some [outward] thing that would make us feel better, more than just ourselves telling ourselves that we feel good?”
The joke that a mild head trauma changes Renee’s self-image for the better in a way that all the hair tutorials on YouTube never could gives the film its ironic thesis, but the suggestion that it’s not a flawless appearance that makes a person confident but rather confidence itself that makes them appear flawless is “very true,” Evans observes. In developing Renee’s look, “Amy and I realized through our conversations that somebody who really feels confident doesn’t need to worry about what they wear as much, and so everything they wear feels good because they feel good.”
With that in mind, Renee’s taste doesn’t improve overnight just because her outlook does. She doesn’t instantly become elegant, hip, or edgy; she dresses like the same person with the same sunshiny personal style — and “she does have style,” Evans notes — just with more joy.
“When we were getting into this character, I was bringing out every floral print, every gingham check, every baby pastel and bright color,” Evans recalls. “There’s all these moments where it’s like, ‘you almost got this right.’ You’re yelling at the screen, ‘you almost got this!’ But it’s a little bit off, because it’s from her perception. And from her perception, bright red and bright blue and bright green and bright yellow and bright everything was going to work. All of the things combined, somehow, felt so charming and so right on her.”
One such look, a mismatched pink gingham skirt and pink blazer paired with a yellow blouse and yellow shoes on Renee’s first day at her dream job, was “one of those outfits that [tells you] everything about this girl, just from what she’s wearing,” Evans says. “There’s sweetness, it’s charming, it’s aspirational, it’s imperfectly perfect. It’s authentic, and I think that’s what we felt about it. When she goes to work that first day, she wants to be the best version of her, and that outfit, she felt, was her best version.”
There’s one signature piece, too, that might strike the movie’s rom-com audience as familiar. While Schumer herself doesn’t care for jewelry, Renee wears a nameplate necklace all throughout I Feel Pretty, her name stamped across her neck in gold cursive in every scene. “That was a bit of a call out to Carrie Bradshaw and Sex and the City,” Evans explains. “The story takes place in New York, and she’s a New York girl, and that was probably her favorite show. There’s something so sweet about it, like, she’s going to own this city, too!”
I Feel Pretty is now playing.