Saying Goodbye to Pretty Little Liars

If we've talked before, chances are I've brought up the TV show Pretty Little Liars and the seemingly endless plot to discover who A is. It's the only show I've watched where fashion, mystery, drama, and even some horror play out in the most addicting way. The plot is simple: 5 teenage girls are best friends until their leader, Alison Dilaurentis, goes missing. A year later, the four remaining girls begin to receive ominous messages from an anonymous villain who signs off as A, who also knows their darkest and most incriminating secrets. Over the seasons, several characters take over the antagonist role to keep making the girl's lives hell. The trials these girls endure range from cyberbullying and blackmail, to kidnapping, torture, and murder. All while doing homework and looking fabulous, of course. If you've been watching along all these years like I have, you'll know the the show's days are numbered. As you read the TV show is in it's seventh season and there are three episodes left before the series is gone forever. I love the show, but the end has definitely been a long time coming, as you can only believe so many A's would make it their life mission to wreak havoc  on the protagonists for so long. As I prepare to say goodbye, I can't help but feel as I'm saying farewell to an old friend. It's just a show, right? Well, in my case, it's a lot more than that. Most of you know me as a fashion stylist but the truth of the matter is that I wouldn't have a career if it weren't for the popular show.

I've always been a teenager at heart and after hearing Sara Shepard's young-adult book series Pretty Little Liars was now a TV show, I made a mental note to check it out and I was hooked. Yes, there are juicy storylines and the constant threat of the latest unmasked villain that keeps me interested but the fashion is what's kept me as a loyal viewer who keeps Tuesday nights free in order to not miss an episode. Even when the show has had it's flaws and rough patches, I've put it on to see what new fashion they're going to throw in our direction. MandiLine, the original costume designer, came up with the genius idea to push the show's narrative through wardrobe. In a nutshell, we're not just seeing cool outfits put together, we're seeing awesome and creative clothes that tell you about each character's background and what they're going through. There's Aria Montgomery, the boho, leopard-print-is-a-neutral, stripe-loving fashonista who is the artsy creative writer, Emily Fields, the sporty closeted lesbian who's tomboy aesthetic evolves into rockstar wardrobe as her sexuality flourishes, Spencer Hastings, the preppy-with-a-twist sleuth who's struggling to break free from her parent's nearly-impossible standard of approval, and HannaMarin, the fashion-obsessed it girl who works hard on her polished image after struggling through an eating disorder and her parent's divorce. You see how all the styles I just described have a lot to do with what the character's plotlines? (Can you guess who's who in the photo below from what I just described?)

Every new episode included amazing outfits and the love for fashion in my own life was growing simultaneously. At the time, I was head over heels for Aria's style simply because it was insane, all over the place, and somehow looked really good. Watching Aria's outfits taught me that polka dots, plaid, and stripes in the same outfit was possible. She also taught me that double belts, earrings made out of forks, and skirts made out of ties could look chic. Hanna made me fall in love with blazers, pastels, studded everything, and even ripped tights during her grunge phase. Emily hooked me with her devotion to black boots, distressed denim, and her stylistic blend of masculine and feminine. Spencer enchanted me with her embracement of classic pieces, an opaque color palette, and equestrian obsession with horses. What Mandi Line did is make each character iconic with their style. To this day, I can be walking through a mall and spot a camel trench and think "That's so Spencer" or see a floral blazer and think "Hanna would wear that."

As I continued to watch the show, I fell in love with the idea that it was Mandi Line's kickass job to take the style and theme of each of these characters and make new outfits for them each episode. How was this possible? To literally shop and browse and just constantly create new, edgy outfits. In addition, her methods intrigued me as she wouldn't limit herself to designer brands or high-end clothing, she let her raw creativity take over and it was very apparent on the show. It was then that I fell in love with costumes and styling and I told myself "I'd love to do that." In early 2015 I was constantly working on my own style and would take friends shopping once in a while since I was known as "the fashion dude" by some of them. I'd recommend what would suit their personality and their skin tone and just have fun. However, this was a weekend hobby and pursuing it seriously hadn't even crossed my mind yet. Still, what I loved about the fashion on Pretty Little Liars is that it stood out and it would push the envelope and the desire to pursue something in that direction kept nagging at me. When the moment came that I decided I was going to pursue fashion styling at the end of 2015, I knew I was doing the right thing. Fast forward a year and a half and I'm relentlessly pursuing that passion. Aria, Hanna, Emily, and Spencer still inspire me. There's been occasions where I'm putting together outfits and I'll pick an Aria leather skirt, a Hanna textured jacket, or a Spencer equestrian belt, because I remember that's where my love for styling started.

Pretty Little Liars placed such an important emphasis on fashion that it became a character on the show. Sure, Gossip Girl did that too with the fashion, but who can afford to shop at Bergdorf Goodman's for every outfit? At one point I remember an entire episode that revolved around a red Valentino gown. Beautiful? Yes. Affordable? HELL NO. Back to PLL, I have a love for red and I loved the constant pops of red they showed with the show's second villain: Red Coat. She was creepy and stylish at the same time.

Pretty Little Liars concludes on Tuesday, June 27th. Know that it's a show I will sorely miss. In the meanwhile, place your bets, who do you think the latest villain is?

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