The Baby-Sitters Club is well-known by every ‘90s kid through-and-through. But, thanks to Netflix, the timeless series is becoming a mainstay in the lives of teen and 20-somethings today. Costume designer, Cynthia Summers, is aiding the process, crafting a covetable, retro wardrobe for all five main characters and beyond.
Kristy, Claudia, Mary Anne, Stacey, and Dawn are all best friends but have such unique and different styles from one another that Summers says it was a costume design dream. “Each character is so different from one another,” she tells Bustle. “Like all of us, we bring our own uniqueness to the world, and try and assimilate into current fashion. So much of that also is relevant due to our families, our ethnicity and self-expression. How lucky am I that the characters are so well written in the books. It makes my job of bringing book to film so much easier and also enables me to present a real rich diversity in looks.”
For much of the wardrobe, Summers sourced places “girls would actually shop in real life.” She names brands like Zara, H&M, and Aritzia — and says “almost all of Claudia’s [wardrobe] was purchased at La Maison Simons in Vancouver.” And as you can guess, there was “lots and lots of vintage shopping and up-cycling” involved with all the looks.
Bustle sat down with the designer to hear all thingsThe Baby-Sitters Club fashion, from secret costume additions to Claudia’s go-to accessories brands.
“Most of the characters were purchases from places these girls would shop in real life: Zara, H&M, American Eagle, Gap, Urban Outfitters, Aritzia, Topshop, Kate Spade, alice + olivia, Anthropologie, Nordstrom, and —because we shoot in Canada — 80% of everyone’s fashion was purchased at La Maison Simons in Vancouver, almost all of Claudia’s was purchased here. Also, lots and lots of vintage shopping and up-cycling.“
“Kristy: Her look is tomboy/athletic meets comfort meets ‘I borrow from my brothers closet’!”
“Claudia: Art house inspired all the way! Claudia’s style is whatever inspires her in the moment. If she can’t purchase or repurpose it, she creates it.”
“Mary Anne: She is stuck in a pre-pubescent nightmare when it comes to fashion. Luckily, she has a makeover which evokes New England prep with pops of color and print.”
“Stacey: Hip, chic New York/French Girl fashion. As a recent transplant to Stoneybrook from NYC, she stands out in her standard black/white/blush pink palette of figure flattering fashions always on trend. Lots of accessories and her fashion says ‘money.’”
“Dawn: Cali boho meets street-skate chic, all day every day.”
“The wedding looks are a stand-out for me. It was a moment that the girls really got to show their inner strength and individuality of style. They wore what spoke to their characters in a big way. They really got to shine.”
“One stand-out [behind-the-scenes secret] is a golden knit headband worn by Claudia in the episode when she and Stacey arrive at Mary Ann’s house to convince her dad they should do a makeover of Mary Ann and her room. As you know, Claudia always wears something on her head.”
“At the last minute, a request came in to dress the girls up in heavy coats and hats to explain the time of season, colder weather. One of my amazing costumers, Courtney, ran home and grabbed this knit headband that her sister made for her daughter so we could keep Claudia true to her character’s look, and not just throw a beanie on. It arrived on set at the last minute and was a huge success. I also love these Konplott skull and jet clip-on earrings.”
“It was easiest for me to reflect the ’90s fashion influence into Kristy and Mary Ann’s closets. For Kristy, it was her oversized sweatshirts, turtlenecks, rolled hemmed jeans, and athletic socks. For Mary Anne, it was more of the prep school look that was able to translate over time. Oh, and hair scrunchies — can you believe they are still in fashion?”
“Lots of accessories helped to make the looks more relatable. We used a lot of jewelry from jeweler Konplott for Claudia and Stacey. [Claudia’s popular watermelon earrings are from La Maison Simons.] Their unique collections inspire individuality which really helped me portray Claudia’s eclectic character and Stacey’s monied look. Dawn’s signature ‘D’ necklace and beaded bracelets from Anthropologie really helped evoke her inner Cali skater-girl vibe. After that, we shopped where any 12-14 year old would for accessories…places like Claire’s, Urban Outfitters, and masses of vintage.”
“Kristy and Mary Anne, for character reasons, did not wear much or any jewelry, but Kristy and Dawn had amazing sneaker collections and after Mary Anne’s makeover, she started sporting hair accessories. Claudia always had headbands, scrunchies, and hair clips to match every outfit.”