Jennifer Garner’s costumes in 13 Going On 30 (2004) are some of the most fun for a romantic comedy of recent years. In a plot which sees gawky teenager Jenna Rink (Garner) flash thirteen years into the future to find herself editor of Poise fashion magazine, it is unsurprising if the clothes she wears are somewhat…ahem….‘colourful’.
At the start of the film, when Jenna is indeed 13, there is an array of 1980s fashions on show, including pale dyed denims, bejewelled off-the-shoulder tops and colours so bright they are practically luminous. Costume designer Susie DeSanto (Miss Congeniality, 2000) really went to town. When time jumps forward, however, and Jenna is “thirty, flirty and thriving”, she has to learn to adjust to not only her adult figure, but also the fashions of 2004.
With an impressive wardrobe of designer clothes and strappy shoes, it is hard to imagine she can go far wrong. Yet the remainder of the story shows Jenna in 14 distinctively quirky and sometimes bizarre outfits, beginning with a nightdress.
The pink nightdress, which she actually wears by accident to work (after getting flustered upon discovering that she has aged 17 years overnight!), is teamed with a white and brown spotted single breasted coat. Ironically considering her situation, the outfit projects a vintage look. It is constructed from a silk material and features a brown lace collar.
Her next ensemble is worn for the big party held by Poise, consisting of a two-part dress with a lime green upper section and diagonal pink, purple, light blue, lime green, brown and turquoise stripes, accessorised by hot pink handbag and gaudy (though potentially symbolic) butterfly necklace; an outfit that her boss describes as “Barbie meets Britney”.
Jenna begins to get it right in the subsequent scene in which she wears cute and more grown up feminine clothes, such as a polka dot dress and spotted blouse with flowing yellow shirt, that have an elegant, contemporary and summery feel to them. Becoming adjusted to her new figure, Jenna is increasingly daring, joining her friend for cocktails in a low-cut little black dress (LBD). She completes this sexier look with a shaped leather jacket, bringing her fashion sense more up-to-date and statement making.
Yet just as she is getting back to ‘normal’, Jenna again reveals her own unique style by, quite childishly, wearing her hair in two buns with two porcupine quills pushed diagonally through each. Her outfit consists of casual grey trousers with a relatively formal beige jacket.
This accompanying jacket is quite a modern item with diagonal side zip and a zip on each side of the collar. After a while the top she is wearing underneath is revealed; a camisole-style brown piece that clashes with the shade of her trousers.
Costume number seven comes in the form of a light blue vest and trouser pyjama-set, which she continues to wear when taking a late-night stroll through New York, adding just a two-toned orange and pink cardigan with tasseled fringe. This again is a very childish look, blatantly disclosing her inner 13 year old.
Interestingly the next scene shows Jenna in a more subdued ensemble; mid-blue bootcut jeans and a long plum brown cardigan with tie at the waist. Although subsequent to this she wears floral and polka-dot pink blouses and jackets and bright flowing skirts (in this instance pink and pastel colours), more similar to those seen earlier in the film – even flannel pyjamas.
In the final moments, Jenna chooses a bright outfit consisting of pink top (again with butterfly appliqué – a blossoming touch?), knee length skirt, cardigan and even pink shoes, bestowing that innocent, girlish likeability that ultimately helps her to deliver the winning redesign speech at Poise.
Two more floral print outfits, a green summer dress which she teams with a pink ribbon and a red floral top worn with jeans follow, reinforcing her blatantly feminine charm…and then Jenna is transported back to her closet and 13 year old self in the 1980s, right back where she started the story.
The penultimate scene shows Jenna in a classic strapless wedding gown with plain bodice, flowing skirt and train; a simple yet classy piece. This time round Jenna has become the elegant and thriving woman she truly wanted to be.
© 2010 – 2013, Christopher Laverty.