Party Girl is an absurd and incredible film. It was made in 1995 — 22 years ago to the day — and feels like it, top to bottom. It stars a young Parker Posey as 23-year-old Mary, a New York party girl who fulfills every stereotype of her character because breaking stereotypes was whatever back then. She loft-, club- and party-hops like the rest of us breathe and feel tired. She’s so fun. I want to live in her pocket (for like a week, and then go to bed). The film follows her as she tumbles into an existential crisis by way of a jaunt in the drunk tank that puts her behind on rent and makes her realize she needs to get her shit together and like, be something. No spoilers, but that something turns out to be a librarian. And I only tell you that because it’s material for the below style retrospective (which, sorry, is rendered in negative a million resolution because this movie was made 150 years ago).
Narrative arc aside, the undisputed hero of Party Girl is Mary’s wardrobe. The first time I saw the movie, I spent the entire length of it gasping. It’s essentially an hour-and-a-half style montage. One straight-up LOOK after another. Sometimes multiple inside a single minute! The costume design was done by Michael Clancy (whose credits include high fashion films such as My Big Fat Greek Wedding and Madeline) but he did such a good job that you all but forget he exists. Mary and her wardrobe are one. And both could teach us a thing or two about dressing entirely for ourselves.
1. I need a favor
Take this outfit she wears approx. five minutes into the movie while on her way to ask her godmother for $100. Is this what you’d wear on your way to ask for a loan? A silky white blouse and black blazer, leopard coat, coifed-as-fuck pony, red gloves, red sequin shorts and — not pictured — red fishnets?
That rainbow clutch alone turned me into an optimist. Mary’s wardrobe is a little all over the map, but she never lacks creativity.
2. Crewneck, no neck
Consider this lounge outfit she wears while dramatically quoting Albert Camus. Wide-leg jeans, a simple black tank and a blue crewneck sweatshirt. But do you see what she did with the sweatshirt? She’s only wearing the sleeves. When she turns around you can see the neck hole on her back. It looks like a cotton bolero. It’s too good.
Mary’s approach to getting dressed is one of pure individuality and unadulterated confidence in rule-breaking. While learning the Dewey Decimal System at her new job, she wears four long-sleeve shirts at once with a scrunchy made of fruit. FOUR AT ONCE. Are you seeing this? So novel.
4. Can I help u
5. 2015 via 1995
6. Lunch-run chic
The best style moments of the movie take place at the falafel street cart she goes to everyday for lunch. The guy who owns it, Mustafa, is her love interest, but I swear they made this his occupation purely so they could do a montage of her waiting for her food looking incredible. Please fetch your magnifying glass and observe:
Note: Adidas-esque heels! Also, a velvet miniskirt, shorts with tights, a bowler hat, a fluffy hoody and a fur coat tugged off the shoulders. The far left look is a Halloween costume waiting to happen. Dibs though.
7. Party girl
I can’t wrap this up without mentioning her eponymous going-out looks, which feature nary an OTS top and range from downtown Audrey Hepburn to borderline offensive (that “Middle Eastern-themed” party does not age well). Is the necklace pictured here not a reimagining of those marbles that knocked together on all corporate desks in 1995?
Mary, or Clancy, or perhaps Posey herself, are genius.