Parker Posey, Costume Queen

by Charlotte Shane

Though she’s widely beloved for her film roles and consistent, dry humor, indie queen Parker Posey has never received the same style worship as peer Chloe Sevigny. She’s often written off as “quirky” at best, raked over the coals by fashion blogs at worst. But those of us with a highly evolved aesthetic sensibility recognize the sublime in her fashions. Her off-duty looks are totally cute and fine — a dog tied around one’s waist is the ultimate accessory — but the wardrobes of her film and television characters are where her flair for cohesive style truly shines. Whether she’s playing an obscenely rich local civil servant (Parks and Recreation) or a boutique bookstore owner in the Big Apple (Louie), or a party girl on a personal mission (Party Girl), her costumes are as convincing as her performance.

“Charlotte, movies have costume designers,” you might object, “The credit should go to them.” I know that! But PP has proven herself to be wholly dedicated to every aspect of the characters she plays. Let’s not forget, the woman got actual braces for her part in Best in Show.

Parker Posey makes you believe her character actually picked out her own clothing. Glossy films and television shows prefer to showcase covet-worthy designer duds, and clothing never looks lived in or like it’ll be worn more than once. But Posey’s clothes are always an extension of her character; she inhabits her wardrobe with intuition and intelligence, the very definition of style.

Here are my top five favorite Parker Posey fashion moments. If I’ve left out any crucial ones, leave them in the comments.

5. House of Yes
 One of the more interesting aspects of Parker Posey’s beauty is that she can be dressed down in true rural white trash style (see #2) or dressed up, like in this film, as convincingly WASP-y, the product of high society breeding. In her black sleeveless shift, she’s peak Audrey Hepburn. But then, elegance is automatic when you’re wearing that many pearls.

4. Emmy Speech Master Class feat. Parker Posey
 The gauzy embroidered poncho, ornate choker, and unnecessary walking cane belonging to an acting teacher named Jan are simply divine. The only thing missing is a turban or head wrap, which thankfully completes most of her other professional outfits.

3. Fay Grim
 I don’t remember a thing about Fay Grim except this spectacular coat. If you own a coat like this, you have Made It.

I always swore one day I’d have someone make me this exact frock from scratch, because there’s no way I’m waltzing into a store and pulling it off the rack. It remains my most important unrealized life goal. Please keep an eye out for my Get Me The Fay Grim Coat Kickstarter.

2. Waiting for Guffman
 This was my moment of falling in love with Posey’s genius dressing. Waiting For Guffman’s Libby Mae Brown lives in a town famous for stools and works at the Dairy Queen. Of course she’s going to wear a denim dress over a striped long sleeve t-shirt and a pair of white kitten heels for her big audition.

What really makes this spectacular outfit work are the accessories, a giant black canvas bag featuring an image of feet, and her anklet. As someone who grew up in a tiny town where awkward denim layers were the basis for many a teenager’s outfit, let me assure you, this look never goes out of style. Watch this clip to see the whole glorious ensemble in action.

Extremely close runner up: this brown men’s coat over — you guessed it — denim. A classic look for grilling.

1. Party Girl
 You knew it was coming. It’s so hard to narrow down all these slam dunks from the film that launched a thousand Halloween costumes into one single pick, but I’m awarding the top slot to the leopard print jacket paired with a red miniskirt, cravat, blue heels, and orange gloves. Genius. And look — finally! — proof Posey really does have a hand in most of her characters’ wardrobes.

Charlotte Shane (@CharoShane) is a writer whose work can found at Her TinyLetter is so much more than cool links.