I just finished reading Rainbow Rowell’s 2013 young adult novel, Eleanor & Park, and I have to say that I enjoyed it very much. Did I enjoy the second half as much as I did the first? No, but that’s okay. It really felt like real life- you see someone, and you judge them, then you get to know them, and then afterwards you see them totally differently from the way you first did.
I knew before I began reading that DreamWorks had acquired the rights to the book for a film (which the author is penning a script for), and naturally, imagined certain people in these roles. I originally thought Jennifer Stone, of Wizards of Waverly Place, would be a really great choice, but I didn’t find her moody teenager convincing in the Mean Girls 2 flick. I had a certain face and look in my mind that I couldn’t figure out, and then suddenly: Bates Motel! After about 20 pages, British actress Olivia Cooke was my Eleanor. Yeah, yeah, she’s too thin, whatever, but she’s a great actress and I bet she wouldn’t mind putting on a few to portray the real-girl-next-door Eleanor. Either lady would suit me fine as Eleanor, or some “unknown” would be great as long as she can act.
After choosing my Eleanor, I could then fully imagine her wardrobe. Eleanor is from a poor family, the oldest of 5, and scared of her alcoholic stepdad. Her mother is beautifully plain, but she is not; Eleanor dresses loud and obnoxious, which I take as her being afraid to be like everyone else. Who she is was accepted at her old school, but the minute she steps onto the bus of her new high school, she is the target of bullying. Being a “bigger” girl with fiery red hair doesn’t help her case when she already wears ill-fitting clothes and ridiculous costume jewelry. One of the things Park, her future I-don’t-want-to-spoil-it, notices about her are the weird ribbons and ties she puts in her hair. Eleanor doesn’t wear makeup–partly because she doesn’t care, and partly because her stepdad would never let her, and partly because she doesn’t want to be pretty– and seriously, has no toothbrush or shower (she bathes in a doorless bathroom).
One time in the book, it is mentioned that her mom shops at the Goodwill and buys Eleanor clothes when she finds extra change in her drunken husband’s pockets. These clothes are not the best, or in style, but Eleanor makes the most of them, clearly.
I’ve decided to put together a wardrobe concept of Eleanor’s character that includes all sorts of mismatched pieces that she tries make work. I don’t think she cares about “fashion” or “trends,” but Eleanor certainly cares about how she expresses herself and is unafraid to do so (her quiet bravery really resonated with me).
She only has two pairs of worn shoes and one good jacket, which she wears with everything. All of her clothing were bought separately, with no outfit in mind, so she tries to tie them together by matching a color, a pattern, or a theme. She doesn’t own any dresses, maybe a few frumpy skirts, but feels most comfortable in jeans. She loves to accessorize with costume jewelry because it makes her feel unique, and because if her wardrobe is distracting, people might not notice her as much. Because of her size, she isn’t able to wear cute little gear like the other girls wear, so she opts for men’s shirts or oversized sweaters to hide what she believes her momma should not have given her. Her outfit choices, unlike other female characters who fall in love, does not change much from pre-love to in-love; she stays true to herself, minus a few loud accessories because she doesn’t feel the need to be so off-putting when she’s with Park.
Check out my concept for Eleanor’s costume below, and stay tuned for a Park post soon!
Have you read Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor & Park? What are your thoughts on the book? Do you think an E & P movie would translate well to screen? Let me know in the comments below!