Mandi Line is now behind the wardrobes of two of your favorite teen TV shows. As the stylist for Pretty Little Liars, she’s been inspiring women of all ages to embrace and enhance their own fashions, including a line of PLL wear for Aeropostale. But now she’s also dressing the stars of MTV’s Faking It, who have distinctly different looks from the people of Rosewood, PA as they live in Austin, Texas.
“I take the Austin vibe a little bit but I’m bad. I just do what I like,” Mandi said with a laugh. “They always try to approach me when they hire me “OK, remember where it’s set!” I always say, ‘Got it, I got it,’ but I never listen.”
Mandi (left) with “Pretty Little Liars” star Troian Bellisario
Truly Mandi does embrace the Austin aesthetic, though, with Amy (Rita Volk) in her effortless sexy and Karma’s (Katie Stevens) pre-planned boho chic. It’s a little more relaxed than the girls of PLL, who are much fashion-centric and likely to check out labels.
“Austin’s cool,” Mandi said, noting that she puts Liam in more of the local denim-on-denim type wear. “They’ve got South by Southwest and all those rock shows—places like this now have stepped it up. So it’s not like hick, if that’s what you’d call it.”
What really drives the way she dresses the leads, though, is the way the characters see themselves. Amy, for instance, is coming into her own with her shifting idea of who she is sexually attracted to, and that doesn’t necessarily change her closet as much as it makes her alter how she wears things.
“[Amy] pulls stuff out of the closet and, for example, there’s that sweatshirt and jean look with the overalls, and a sweater with jeans and suspenders that come down. It’s funny because in lesbian world, I always say, if you’re a little skinny lesbian [in] G-Star [jeans], that works. Now me, that’s all I want to dress in—shorts, skinny little lesbian fashion. But I can’t because I’m curvy so I thought this is the perfect time to do the skinny boyfriend because every girl thinks that is so cool—but a lesbian just goes, ‘Yeah, man, this is like tough and I can rock it.'”
Amy prefers T-shirts and jeans, but she never looks unkempt. Karma, though, is a little more feminine in flowy blouses and colorful dresses and accessories.
“I think Amy is in this world where slowly—I don’t know if Amy necessarily does it through her clothes, I think it’s just about how she keeps her coolness and that’s appealing to women. She doesn’t have to think about it as opposed to Karma, who everything she puts on—from her shoes to her earrings to a belt—is what would Liam like. And at the same time her parents are super boho and hippie and the story was that her closet was full of things that her mother got her. Like the last episode, where her shoulder shows and it was worn like a dress with a belt on it. In my mind, it was something in her closet that she cut the shoulders out and she used to not wear it with a belt but now she does. These two girls are now coming into ‘Wow, this is what I like sexually, how can I take my closet and make it appealing to the person that I want?'”
A recent episode had Amy venturing into a lesbian bar where she was introduced to all kinds of different gay women, each with distinct looks. Mandi said she based the styling choices on her visits to Los Angeles lesbian mainstays The Abbey and Here Lounge.
“It’s so funny because Carter, the writer, knows that I hang at the Abbey and he’ll come and be in ‘Tell me all the different kinds of lesbians,'” Mandi said. “I go “You got your visor lesbians … She probably played volleyball in high school. She’s the kind of girl who is OK with a little bit of love handle and khakis. And then you’ve got the artsy Tegan and Sara type.’ He’s like ‘Oh my god, there are totally all these different types.’ So all these kinds of characters—you’ve got the butchy kind of harder ones and the artistic one and I think it’s cool to go into — whether it’s a straight bar or a gay bar and see all the different types. I think that happened when Liam and Shane, too. They both have a different idea of what they like and the clothes help fit that character. So I definitely do it a little bit on the nose with those scenes.”
Which isn’t to say that the lesbian characters aren’t completely archetypes as much as they are inspired by real life people Mandi knows.
“I went to Vegas Dinah Shore and my best friend who couldn’t be more butch lesbian took longer than I to get ready,” she siad. “All she was was doing was matching her fucking Nikes to her baseball cap! ‘What T-shirt goes with this?’ Oh my god! So if anyone has questions on who to hire on something like this, it’s definitely me.”
This week’s episode of Faking It proved to be an interesting challenge when Amy and Karma were donning lingerie for their threesome with Liam.
“It was interesting because we have to make sure to keep any wardrobe overall is supposed to be effortless sexy, [Amy] is supposed to not know how sexy she is. Ad then this whole thing she pretends she’s going to be in a wife beater and boxers and then she actually takes the time to get sexy,” Mandi said. “And so the creator, Carter Covington, and I are like, ‘It can’t be slutty but it has to be edgy and it’s gotta be hot and it’s gotta be covered enough because it’s MTV.'”
Mandi said Karma is wearing what she thinks Liam will find sexy. (“Fantasy—corset and red.”) Amy, meanwhile, is more concerned with impressing Karma.
“I wanted to make sure her bottoms were a little masculine and not too oversexed at the top, “Mandi said. “So I thought a plain black bra and then, oh my god, Marlies Dekkers. I’m obsessed with her so [I said], ‘Let’s try to find that bra!’ So and it was cool because it didn’t show too much but it too made a statement. And it’s a fine line between what a girl thinks is sexy and what a guy does.”
Amy’s slight masculine edge is someone similar to Pretty Little Liars‘s Paige (Lindsey Shaw), although Mandi laments she isn’t able to put the latter in the outfits she’d like. With Season 5 kicking off on ABC Family June 10, we’ll see only a little bit of Emily’s love interest, and still no real promise they will be together.
“Lindsey, god love her, she’s into yoga now so she weighs like two pounds—she’s so thin,” Mandi said. “And I, my dream, is to cut Lindsey’s hair and make her super butchy because she actually has this body with strong shoulders, flat stomach and I want to go super butch on her but it’s still ABC Family. Someone had mentioned recently they wanted to make Paige a little more femme and I’m like, ‘Oh God.’ That might be where we’re going with her. We see her a couple of times this season but it’s typical Paige. Emily is contemplating if she’s going to be with her not, and if not, if she made a mistake—and I think the writers want to see like hey maybe Emily screwed up and has to deal with her choices and Paige has gone really really hot and I think they definitely want to make a point with that.”
If Mandi had her way, Paige would be wearing “skinny jeans that are twisted and cool,” but she also feels like she can’t really get a handle on the characters that don’t frequent the show as much as the major players.
“As we all know these [side] characters really have no identity because Toby goes from a motorcycle jacket to a preppy button up and Paige goes from a sweater and a jean skirt to, you know, a cut-off army vest,” Mandi said. “So if someone comes into shop for me they say ‘OK who is Paige?’ And I say ‘I don’t know who Paige is.’ The hardest thing is you’ll see her in a scene where she looks all tough and then her hair is curled. I’m like “Ugh. That girl would never put a curling iron in her hair unless she’s femme and she’s not femme.” I have to teach these people. She’s the kind of person that wears these jeans, she would not even own a curling iron. Welcome to television!”
As for the PLLs, we’ll see them trying some new things, but not losing their individualities.
“Hanna is my dream character now – she’s all rocker and leather,” Mandi said. “It’s bad ass. She’s going — she and Caleb are going down this really, really dark road. Spencer is Spencer, she kind of steps it up a little bit. Emily—we’ve got Emily in Hawaiian basketball jerseys that she wears as dresses. She no longer does the Nike wedges. She’s back to the old school Air Maxes. Emily’s getting a little more style. Spencer’s getting a little more sophisticated. Aria is Aria, but it’s funny because the older these girl get and the more sophisticated they get in their lives… it’s harder to put the huge earrings on Lucy [Hale] now. Her jewelry’s getting a little lighter because they’re hurting her ears.”
But what is really going to affect everyone on the show, of course, is the return of Allison.
“She’s the ‘it’ girl and that’s kind of where Hanna loses her identity because she’ been the ‘it’ girl for so long and and she doesn’t know what to do now that Alison’s back,” Mandi said. “The queen bee is back.”
Mandi calls the season “edgy and dark,” which is the exact opposite of Faking It. Still, she manages to balance both shows and give each character their own definitive statements by dressing them exactly as a real person might. Whether that’s with a lot of forethought and matching a pair of heels with a purse or throwing on a donut T-shirt and a pair of unwrinkled pants, Mandi knows what we’re wearing, and why.
Faking It airs Tuesday nights on MTV. Pretty Little Liars returns to ABC Family on June 10.