Fashion Style

"Once" is Full of Classic Styles

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Lana Parrilla is the face of "Once Upon a Time"

From time to time, we will highlight characters who are communicating a compelling style, both the big stars and some of the bit players. Naturally, these fashions are archaic, but that's beside the point. The questions are, how well are the clothes worn and how appealing are they in a fantasy setting? There are quite positive answers to both of those questions for all the styles below.

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Each of the characters in Once Upon a Time has a distinctive fashion sense that helps to define the character in very subtle ways. This page takes a brief look at what is going on in the wardrobe department. It is not just archaic outfits that define each character, but also the little things all the way down to the trim on their outfits.

Oh, and let's just note that these folks don't have to look too hard to find awesome Halloween costumes!


First, here is a video that looks at the costume department. It gets a bit technical once they start talking about Italian leather, so you need to bear down to get through it. Very nice inside baseball stuff, though. An awful lot of thought goes into the costumes.



Ok, first up (this is in no particular order):

Hook (Colin O'Donoghue):



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Nobody crinkles a brow like Colin.

Ok, I know what you're probably thinking - 'It's a pirate outfit for goodness sakes, so what!' - but it's the minor details that make this stand out: the high collar, which gives Hook an air of nobility; the bling on his ear and around his neck; the plunging neckline; the eyeliner, etc. They have tricked this costume up to make Colin look as close to a male gigolo as they can.

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Colin engaging in some swordplay with a young fan

Now, they could have gone a different route and made Hook more of a Bruce Campbell kind of wiseguy jokey character as with Autolycus in 'Hercules' and 'Xena,' which would have probably involved less bling and also a bit less emphasis on the heavy leather look (which is appropriate just this side of a gay bar). Instead, they went the heartthrob route because that is the thrust of this particular show, so we get lots of deep man-cleavage, gold chains, a very subtle pirate's earring (one pirate characteristic that probably made the stylists squeal with delight) and all that. That's their choice, and they did a good job. It's nice, when considering fashion, to understand the objective and the means taken to achieve that look.

No, none of my comments are made to denigrate Colin, who is doing a fab job with a career part and is turning this into a breakout role for himself. He is working with what he is given and is likely amused by the whole thing himself.

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Once Upon a Time ABC onceuponatimeabc.filminspector.com

Once Upon a Time ABC onceuponatimeabc.filminspector.com


Maleficent (Kristin Bauer van Straten):



Maleficent did not make her debut until Season 4 (these are promo shots from 4x14 'Enter the Dragon'), but I am not going in any kind of seniority order. I adore the '20s style that they give Kristin, that is a style you don't see too often on network television. It gives a crisp visual aura of competence and business-like demeanor without sacrificing femininity - or a touch of lingering menace. One could imagine her as a school-mistress about to give a naughty student a bit of discipline. The bright lipstick gives that essential dash of color that emphasizes the character's mouth, like a lurking bird of prey, and reminds that she is indeed a lovely woman. Aside from Lana Parrilla, the supporting characters get the most stylish outfits, as their characters need to be established quickly and visually.

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Once Upon a Time ABC onceuponatimeabc.filminspector.com

Once Upon a Time ABC onceuponatimeabc.filminspector.com

Once Upon a Time ABC onceuponatimeabc.filminspector.com

Once Upon a Time ABC onceuponatimeabc.filminspector.com


Mr. Gold/Rumpelstiltskin (Robert Carlyle):


It is hard to put this politely, but at least early in the show's run, Rumple/Gold has the classic pimp style down pat.

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Robert Carlyle would make an awesome model

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Once Upon a Time ABC onceuponatimeabc.filminspector.com

Once Upon a Time ABC onceuponatimeabc.filminspector.com

Once Upon a Time ABC onceuponatimeabc.filminspector.com

Once Upon a Time ABC onceuponatimeabc.filminspector.com
Robert Carlyle as Rumpelstiltskin, comfortable in earth tones

Regina Mills/Evil Queen (Lana Parrilla):


I have an entire page devoted to the black leather look of Lana Parrilla as the Evil Queen here. She gets lots of gaudy velvet and black leather in her fantasy scenes and rather dry but classy outfits in her Storybrooke appearances. I'm sure she prefers the fanciful witch outfits - I sure would. Lana's witch outfits tend to be extremely severe, but invariably with an intriguing window of vulnerability somewhere or other.

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A very classic look in a vintage dress
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Red is a constant accent color for Lana's character because of the significance of the apple

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Once Upon a Time ABC onceuponatimeabc.filminspector.com
Lana Parrilla just looks too fabulous to be a villain!
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Hansel Gretel onceuponatimeabc.filminspector.com

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Lana with Ginnifer Goodwin as Snow White. Here, the only red is the apple itself, to emphasize it. It's all very subtle and thought out so that nobody even realizes the visual cues directing you to items of significance. Also, um, I will simply say 'hair!' and leave it at that.

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Evil Queen onceuponatimeabc.filminspector.com


Mary Margaret/Snow White (Ginnifer Goodwin):


The Snow White character has evolved considerably over the course of the series. At first, Snow White was an innocent, and her costumes reflected that, with hoop dresses and the like. However, Snow White's alter ego Mary Margaret gradually became less of a victim and more of a decisive actor, and her costumes reflected the change.

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Snow White usually doesn't dress like this - but she can when she wants

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Snow White - I bet it took a while to get into that

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This is the older Snow White's more normal look

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Snow White rockin' the bow and quiver look

The childhood flashbacks of Snow White show a bit of imperiousness to underscore her regal background.

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Young Snow White, Bailee Madison

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Bailee Madison as Snow White onceuponatimeabc.filminspector.com
Young Snow White (Bailee Madison) shows a more flamboyant style than the older one

Snow Queen (Elizabeth Mitchell)

Elizabeth Mitchell as the Snow Queen in Season 4 is giving women across the country flashbacks about their wedding gowns (minus the fancy collar).


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Elizabeth Mitchell onceuponatimeabc.filminspector.com

Elizabeth Mitchell onceuponatimeabc.filminspector.com

Elizabeth Mitchell onceuponatimeabc.filminspector.com

Elizabeth Mitchell onceuponatimeabc.filminspector.com


Belle (Emilie de Ravin):

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Belle Emilie de Ravin onceuponatimeabc.filminspector.com

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Emilie de Ravin, as Belle, wears her gown with elegance

Emma Swan (Jennifer Morrison):

Emma isn't really a fashion plate on "Once Upon a Time" like some of the others - after all, she's just a real person, not some Evil Witch from Hell - so her styles are a bit more subtle.

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A lot goes on with Emma Swan's varied hair styles in subtle ways.

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Emma may feel a bit left out in the high-fashion department
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Now that's a scarf
They give Jennifer a street look, while Lana invariably is dressed for work even when at home

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Jennifer Morrison ready to slay dragons, the high heels should help distract them

Ruby/Red Riding Hood (Meghan Ory):

They give Meghan lots of red to wear and even red hair highlights sometimes go figure. Very pretty girl, simple peasant girls outfits are enough for her to steal her scenes.


Meghan Ory Red Riding Hood onceuponatimeabc.filminspector.com

Meghan Ory Red Riding Hood onceuponatimeabc.filminspector.com

Meghan Ory Red Riding Hood onceuponatimeabc.filminspector.com
Meghan Ory really dazzles with her (naturally) red/black tones

Cora/Queen of Hearts (Barbara Hershey):

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This is probably the creepiest combination of clothes/acting in the show
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They give Barbara lots of blood red to wear, but unlike Ruby, who often gets to pair her red with white blouses, Barbara is invariably stuck with red/black.

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When not in royal attire, Cora wears lots of blacks or dark blues, purples and reds

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Barbara Hershey onceuponatimeabc.filminspector.com


Barbara Hershey onceuponatimeabc.filminspector.com
Barbara does get a bit of white in her Queenly guise, but still black accents and trim

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Barbara Hershey onceuponatimeabc.filminspector.com
Nobody wears a regal dress better than Barbara Hershey

Tinkerbell (Rose McIver)


Rose McIver had a thankless job, trying to mirror an iconic pixie figure that nobody was going to mirror to everyone's total satisfaction. However, she pulled it off about as well as possible. It is extremely tough to translate a character with barely any costume at all but a form-fitting sarong and wings to the small screen, but the costume folks and casting people pulled it off magically.

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It's hard to try and live up to an iconic image like Tinkerbell from the original Peter Pan! Rose, though, has The Look.

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Rose McIver has the perfect winsome look for the character

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I'm kind of surprised they gave Tinker sleeves, but they're not trying to copy the original, only represent it

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Rose McIver onceuponatimeabc.filminspector.com


Anna and Elsa (Elizabeth Lail and Georgina Haig):


They stay so slavishly close to the original 'Frozen' depictions with the Anna and Elsa characters that it tough to say there is much original about the characters' attire in 'Once Upon a Time.' However, that is precisely what they were after, and they scored big time: ratings for Season Four, which introduced the Frozen princesses, were up 13% over Season Three. These two ladies probably ensured that the series will run for at least a full seven years.

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Elizabeth Lail and her character from 'Frozen'

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Georgina Haig and Elsa

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Georgina Haig Elizabeth Lail onceuponatimeabc.filminspector.com
Behind the scenes - notice the colorful folks that stand out? That's why it can be nice to portray a character out of animated feature film that is awash with color.

Cruella De Vil (Victoria Smurfit):



Cruella De Vil is another critical Season Four addition to the cast. They stay extremely close to her appearance from '101 Dalmations.' The overall style is '20s-'30s and meshes well with the Maleficent character. Her character also uses the lipstick trick to bring a needed dash of color to an often otherwise monochrome outfit and style that reflects her character's black-or-white character.

Victoria Smurfit Cruella De Vil onceuponatimeabc.filminspector.com

Victoria Smurfit Cruella De Vil onceuponatimeabc.filminspector.com

Victoria Smurfit Cruella De Vil onceuponatimeabc.filminspector.com


Jack (Cassidy Freeman):


A minor character... but a memorable one.

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Cassidy Freeman has a lovely, winning smile that perfectly complements her barmaid outfit. The earrings reinforce her femininity - as if that were necessary. But little touches like that help to distinguish her character from others with somewhat similar attire such as Ruby.

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