There are so many obscenely stylish characters in Uncle John’s movies that it’s A DIRTY SHAME to narrow them down to a mere eight, but after some intense analysis, I believe these are the chosen few. First, we must give MAJOR props to Van Smith, who was both the costume designer and the makeup artist for a lot of these films. (Some of his tricks included egg whites, potato chips, and dirt!)
In Pink Flamingos (1972), Connie Marble is one half of a criminal, Technicolor-coiffed duo. She will do anything to be the filthiest person alive, including selling babies on the black market and sending dookie as a birthday gift. Yet she always looks ready for a night at the opera! She’s a walking contradiction in classy silks, fur coats, animal prints, sparkling jewels, and those signature diamond-rimmed cat-eye spectacles. When it comes to bird-themed accessories, we’re usually inundated with peacocks and sparrows, so her feathered swan barrettes are extra cool. I found these vintage swan clips on Etsy ($15), but I gots to encourage the magic of DIY! Maybe your parents have some old plastic bird favors left over from a wedding they went to? Just add feathers and glue them to these alligator barrettes to make your own! You can find some cute cat-eye glasses at any costume store, but if you want to be Connie 24/7 (without the murder and mayhem) look for vintage frames (Etsy, $50-$158). Decorate yo’self with this Betsey Johnson statement necklace ($125), a tiger print top (Pinup Girl Clothing, $58) and a bold skirt (Pin Up Girl Clothing, $52). Finally, dye your ’do a bloody, bright crimson color using Manic Panic’s Pillarbox Red ($12), and match your lipstick and nails with Revlon’s Really Red ($6.50) and Milani’s Rapid Cherry ($5).
Drag queen Divine found the perfect combo of glamour and trash required for his roles in the Waters films that made him famous, but 1974’s Female Trouble featured many of his most iconic looks: colored leopard print, black lace slips, a VERY see-through wedding dress, ratted-up hair, chola eyebrows, and of course, those infamous heels! Divine’s character Dawn Davenport runs away from home because her parents didn’t buy her any fancy footwear for Christmas, with her dad delivering the famous line “Nice girls don’t wear cha-cha heels!” I suggest you do the same when December rolls around again. Just kidding, although I did get cha-cha heels for Christmas once from my friend Lenora because of this movie. Consider adding these bedroom slippers to your wish list this year (Pleaser, $50). For the red top with a heart-shaped cutout, you can make your own by following Rookie’s tutorial or check out this polka-dotted number from ModCloth ($85). For a more demure ode to Divine’s animal instincts, there’s this leopard-print dress (ModCloth, $100). In terms of makeup, you’ll need a good eyeshadow, like Revlon’s Venetian Blue ($5). Fill in your lips with Milani’s Shimmer Lipgloss ($7.50) and Lip Flash Pencil ($7), both in Hot Flash.
Hairspray‘s Tracy Turnblad, played by Ricki Lake in the 1988 film, is so cool and confident when she busts a move at an audition for the local Corny Collins dance show that she ends up being the star. In the process, she wins the affections of an Elvis-looking hunk, who just happens to be the mean girl’s popular boyfriend. Oopsie! When the bitter bitch tells everyone that Tracy had roaches in her hair, Tracy responded with an F.U. in the form of a ROACH DRESS, which she debuts at the Miss Auto Show pageant! If you don’t want to work a whole outfit dedicated to a common household pest, these cockroach earrings from Girlprops ($6) are pretty awesome. But I am REALLY feeling Tracy’s fake-flower-covered blouse. I can’t wait to make one for myself. Any craft palace will have fake flowers, but check out a 99-cent store first. This cage dress from Trashy Diva ($163) is Tracy-esque, as is this pencil skirt from Pinup Girl Clothing ($64). And you will definitely need a proper bow collection, so practice making your own or pick up this cute one from Starry Eyed ($6).
Cry-Baby (1990) is probably the most influential film in terms of my personal style thanks to rebel girl Wanda Woodward (played by ex-porn star Traci Lords), who runs away from her square parents and likes “hot boys with roaming hands and rushing fingers!” If my bangs were able to make their own shrine, they would definitely have candles surrounding pictures of Wanda (although I don’t recommend putting your hair that close to an open flame). Use Urban Decay’s 24/7 Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner in Perversion ($19)—check out this tutorial if you need help with the application—and then find a trustworthy red lipstick, like Urban Decay’s Revolution ($22). Her style is basically bad girl pinup, so in terms of dresses, both this one and this one would work (Pinup Girl Clothing, $125 and $88, respectively). Then throw on a leather jacket (Nasty Gal, $88), perfect your snarl-face, and you’re ready to join the Cry-Baby Girls.
Sugar-addicted Little Chrissy is a secret style icon. In Pecker (1998), she wears, HELLO, shirts with classic Universal monsters on them and is a natural genius at mixing colors and prints, pairing a Halloween-orange striped shirt with red, Christmas-y plaid pants. I feel like Little Chrissy would dig Lazy Oaf’s T-shirts, particularly this one ($70), and this awesome Bride of Frankenstein purse ($39.50). Obviously, she’d also covet these sweets, both real (Fred Flare, $12) and fake (Tatty Divine, $47), and I’m particularly fond of these lollipop earrings from ModCloth ($15).
Cecil B. Demented (2000) has such a well-dressed ensemble, I couldn’t pick just one character! Here’s a movie about a group of renegade filmmakers who kidnap an A-list actress and make her shoot an underground movie as a protest against mainstream cinema. With this motley crew, you can expect A LOT of insane fashion. First, you have famous actress Honey Whitlock (Melanie Griffith), who was kidnapped by crazed director Cecil (Stephen Dorff) and forced to wear striped stockings, deconstructed Chanel jackets, and eyeshadow in every color. Next to Little Chrissy, she is my favorite pattern mixer. Pair this floral print jacket from Nasty Gal ($48) with colorful striped tights from We Love Colors ($10-$12.50) and some chunky wedges from ASOS, ($80.50). Try M.A.C.’s Gorgeous Gold ($15) for an amber-hued shadow, Urban Decay’s Goddess ($17) for a glittery blue, and Estee Lauder’s Cyber Silver ($24) for a gunmetal look.
Cherish (Alicia Witt) is the salacious ex-porn star whose wardrobe consists of a cow-print blazer with a huge Misfits patch and a striped bustier with matching stockings. I’M SO INTO IT. Troll thrift stores for a vintage cow-print fur jacket like this one on Etsy ($16). Also, I’m in love with these black and white Motel pants ($86), and these gun earrings from Girlprops ($4) will top the whole thing off!
Raven (Maggie Gyllenhaal) is the resident makeup artist and Satan devotee. Her bejeweled skeleton-bone jumpsuit feels like something Jeremy Scott would make. If you can’t find a full skeleton suit, get a shirt like this one on Etsy and glue your own gemstones to it! For even more evil, get this Devil Tarot Pendant (Goddess Gift, $64) and skull ring from ASOS ($14.50). For her goth makeup, try Make Up For Ever’s Intense Lipstick in Satin Black ($19) and their Pure Pigment Eyeshadow in Bright Red ($19).
If you ever think you’re taking your obsession with your favorite John Waters’s characters too far, just remember Pecker’s toast to Little Chrissy: “Life is nothing if you’re not obsessed.” ♦