Secret Style Icon: Scout Finch

Tree-climbing, marble-shooting clothes for the discerning tomboy.

“I was born good but had grown progressively worse every year.”

I hadn’t thought much about Scout Finch, the six-year-old heroine of To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee’s 1960 novel about racial prejudice in small-town Alabama, since I read the book on the very last day of summer vacation and turned in my hurried, typo-laden book report on the first day of ninth grade. But a few weeks ago in my internet wanderings I came across the photo above, and my love for Scout came flooding back to me. Played by Mary Badham in the 1962 movie adaptation of the novel, Scout was all overalls and adorably crooked grin, a strong-headed, mischievous girl who’d make an awesome best friend and a pretty scary worst enemy.

A rough-and-tumble tomboy with scraped knees and mussed hair, Scout is a fearless girl who’s always willing to fight for what’s right, standing up to playground bullies and people who attack her father, Atticus, or her brother, Jem. OK, she may have also regularly beat up her friend (and secret crush) Dill for not paying enough attention to her, but a girl can’t ALWAYS be righteous, you know?

Clockwise from top left: Turned Out; Tamu McPherson via Glamour; Kelly Kopen on Elle Street Chic; Nast Magazine.

Scout’s style was distinctly tomboy, too. Her utilitarian wardrobe of simple shirts, overalls, and Keds was a world apart from the dresses, crinolines, and camisoles her aunt Alexandra and neighbor Mrs. Dubose were always haranguing her to wear. It’s not that she *hated* girls’ clothes exactly; it’s just that she knew that she couldn’t climb trees, shoot marbles, or beat up boys in them. When Scout’s uncle Jack looked disapprovingly at her overalls and asked her, “But don’t you want to grow up to be a lady someday?” she replied, “Not particularly.” Scout wanted to be whatever gave her the most freedom and fun, and in a small town in Alabama in the 1930s, being a girly-girl wasn’t too much fun.

Clockwise from top left: Rachel Sonveeco; photo by William Gedney via Born in Flames; Michele Ouellet on Refinery 29; Made by Kate.

Scout is not your run-of-the-mill troublemaker; she’s a strong girl who understands that her convictions (and YES, the boy she likes who’s too dumb to pay attention to her) are worth fighting for. She is the best, and I’d throw on some overalls and get down in the dirt for a game of Boss Out, or hang from a tire swing, with her any old day.

D&G gingham shirt, $55, My Wardrobe; MIH jeans overalls, $245, Net-a-Porter (similar: $19, Forever 21; $71, ASOS); Keds for Madewell shoes, $50, Madewell; yellow ankle socks, $6, Topshop; cat-eye sunglasses, $19, ASOS; Old Time Sling Shot, $25, General Store.


  • Susann March 7th, 2012 3:06 PM

    Great style ideas – I like those modern versions!

  • Maddy March 7th, 2012 3:09 PM

    Scout is the reason I decided black converse and long shorts and overalls were okay. This (and the amazing weather right now) is making me yearn for summer. I love to go out and “exploooore” nature and stuff. :)

  • missblack March 7th, 2012 3:10 PM

    Oh, HOW I love this. I was just thinking how much I needed a pair of overalls for summer.
    Also, this is hilariously similar to my everyday uniform from ages six to nine, I wore overalls all the time (though usually I was barefoot). Scout is the coolest. She reminds me, also, of Leslie from Bridge to Terabithia.


  • ellaronnie March 7th, 2012 3:12 PM

    Words cannot express how much I loved this girl when I was younger. She was like my ultimate icon. Thanks for the inspiration, and reminding me of my love for her, haha!

  • all-art-is-quite-useless March 7th, 2012 3:14 PM

    We’ve just finished reading To Kill A Mockingbird in English… it’s such a great book. Although I’m a little disappointed there’s no mention of Scout’s ham costume she dressed up in for the halloween pageant! Because, come on, even if this particular scene was pretty serious in the book, in the film version, what could be more funny than a tiny kid dressed up as ham?

  • AnguaMarten March 7th, 2012 3:27 PM

    ahh this is awesome, i’m reading to kill a mockingbird right now. honestly, my own wardrobe preferences bounce between scout finch (simple, easy, comfortable–old cardigans, men’s button downs, diy cutoffs) and rupaul (red lipstick, serious jewelry, heels, feathers, glitter, and clashing patterns.

  • Tyknos93 March 7th, 2012 3:28 PM

    Oh Scout is awesome. I love tomboys. If I weren’t petrified around nature or balls I’d be one.
    Have you seen the movie Tomboy? Looks good.

  • mayaautumn March 7th, 2012 3:45 PM

    I think if she was a cartoon she’d be Pippi Longstocking! I know they wear completely different clothes but they’re personalities are really similar (exploring etc..) brill article<3

  • TessAnnesley March 7th, 2012 3:53 PM

    Yes yes yessssssssss!!!!!!! Scout was my costume for like a “Book Character Day” thing at school when I was like 8 – I’d just read TKAM so I went as her…
    I should clearly revisit that! :D

  • youngfridays March 7th, 2012 4:24 PM

    Ugh I’d love to go and ~explore~ and climb trees right now, but as I live in Sydney it is POURING rain and slowly heading into winter, and Mother Nature seems to have skipped summer this year and it’s been cold and raining all though Christmas as well.
    I love rain, but sometimes I feel like going out to walk around and it’s pretty much impossible to do in this weather..

    Ah well, I’ll resign myself to watching older episodes of Doctor Who and that’ll can be my intergalatic advernture :3

    (P.s. I’m hoping for an article on Doctor Who this month, thought unlikley, this would be wonderful for all the Whovians out there like me)

  • ShakespeareRules March 7th, 2012 4:42 PM

    Am just reading this book at the moment actually. So glad to hear that I’m not the only 16 year old who can’t wait to get some denim overalls and a checked shirt this summer :)

  • Annie March 7th, 2012 4:48 PM

    THIS IS SO GREAT!!! My mom looked EXACTLY like Scout when she was a little kid and my parents almost named me after her.

  • caro nation March 7th, 2012 4:49 PM



    My resemblance to her in my formative years was uncanny.

    You’ll have to do Ramona Quimby before you know it.

  • MissKnowItAll March 7th, 2012 4:50 PM

    Gah this is too adorable! Loved this book so much!

  • Lo March 7th, 2012 5:18 PM

    when i read to kill a mockingbird for the first time i didnt realise scout was a girl until i watched the movie a month later

  • starcollector March 7th, 2012 5:42 PM

    Scout is one of the greatest girl names in this universe.

    Also DIY-ing a tied-up shirt as we speak. :)

  • back2thepast March 7th, 2012 5:45 PM

    Weeeeiirrrdddd I’m reading this in English right now!!!!! I love this book so much and want to be best friends with Scout Finch. I want her to come live in our time to show her how much things have changed! Ah i love this

  • Hunter March 7th, 2012 6:05 PM

    Another Scout-like character is Idabel from Other Voice, Other Rooms….which is interesting because Truman Capote based that character off of his childhood friend… Harper Lee!

  • Naomi Morris March 7th, 2012 6:29 PM

    leeann i love EVERYTHING YOU WRITE

  • Marie March 7th, 2012 7:13 PM


  • Vesperstar233 March 7th, 2012 7:27 PM

    I’m reading To Kill a Mockingbird for the second time right now, and of course that came with watching the movie again. This time through, I admired Scout’s care-free outfits, and her tough-girl character, more then ever. It’s always stuck with me, and i’m so glad that Rookie has paid tribute to that!!! Rookie never disappoints! Thanks Rookie!!

  • Auriel March 7th, 2012 7:47 PM

    YES! I just finished TKAM and I played Atticus in our school play. (I’m a girl. long story.) I was so excited to see this. Gotta <3 Scout!!!

  • rhetoric March 7th, 2012 8:06 PM

    Scout is beast.

    ’nuff said.

  • eireann March 7th, 2012 10:27 PM

    Annnnd this is why I love Rookie!

  • Adrienne March 7th, 2012 11:58 PM

    Hahaha I love Scout! Gotta adore the overalls. We read TKAM last year in my Freshman year. I really enjoyed the book! (And Atticus is hot in the movie…)

  • AliceinWonderland March 8th, 2012 12:17 AM

    How coincidental, we just watched TKAM in English today…and I have to say, Scout reminds me strongly of what I used to look like when I was a youngster.

  • stellar March 8th, 2012 1:05 AM

    i love how u help us remember what isn’t *obviously* great to the mainstream media …no wonder i never quite adopt what is supposed to “look good”–because i can’t relate to it, and can’t really feel like myself in it.
    Ramona Quimby; yes!!

  • ivoire March 8th, 2012 2:33 AM

    im doing To Kill a Mockingbird next term for English!

  • Mila March 8th, 2012 11:34 AM

    wooah, this jeans overall is just AMAZING! <33333

  • RockHatesMiriam March 8th, 2012 1:23 PM

    We watched this film in english lit class! Scouts awesome but her voice is not annoying, exactly but gets a bit grating after about 2 hours…
    Example: “Ceeecill jaaacobs saays I caant reeaaad!!”

  • Sarah_Colee March 8th, 2012 2:27 PM

    I remember watching this in English and the whole time I couldn’t stop admiring her style and tomboy coolness. I’d definitely try her look out. Thanks for the tips!

  • Bebe March 8th, 2012 3:21 PM

    I’ve always thought Scout was ahead of her time. Speaking of which…. I may dress her at some point on my blog.


  • 3LL3NH March 8th, 2012 7:22 PM

    I JUST bought/ thrifted a pair of overalls last week, thinking I needed to branch out a bit. I’m not at all girly, but my style has always swayed towards flouncy femme stuff….UNTIL NOW. So yeah, I’m gonna read “To Kill A Mockingbird” and fetch myself some hip and quirky non-feminine stuff. Thanks Rookie and Leeann!!

    • 3LL3NH March 8th, 2012 7:24 PM

      I’d also like to mention that I had this haircut for a good many of my early years and I looked very much like a boy. As in, no one could tell that I wasn’t. This problem could resurface, but I’d probably feel good about it now…..

  • shelley March 9th, 2012 1:32 PM

    Loved this so much

  • saltwater March 10th, 2012 6:09 AM

    Oh, i love To Kill A Mockingbird so much, and I’ve always had a huge affection for Scout because she looks exactly like my mother did as a child. Aww this article.

  • lorobird March 10th, 2012 1:02 PM

    Whoo! After reading this I grabbed my old overalls and cut them. Now I have new, short overalls! And I’m wearing them out tonight.

    Thank you rookie <3

  • fishintheC March 11th, 2012 3:00 AM

    This is so beautifully written! This gives me so much hope that to be a fashionable teenage girl doesn’t necessarily translate to narcissism or complete fixation on appearance, but it can actually reflect a deeper understanding of the world and culture and be a genuine form of self expression. While you point out these really cute clothes (especially the Topshop sunglasses), you discuss how Scout used her style to become the person that she wanted to , and live her life the way that she wanted to. So chill, as usual. Praise be to Rookiemag.

  • Lucy March 12th, 2012 4:23 AM

    I’ve just read and watched Mockingbird for school and loved it. Scout is such a great character!! Not only are her clothes great, but she has the cutest nose and hair.

  • loonylizzy March 12th, 2012 9:00 PM

    Totally ironic, we just finished reading/watching to kill a mockingbird in class O.o

  • lavendersparrow March 26th, 2012 11:22 PM

    Wow I never thought of her as a fashion icon till now! I love the overalls <3

  • eliselbv April 25th, 2012 2:07 PM

    I just finished the book yesterday for the first time and even if I haven’t read many English books yet (I’m French) it is the most amazing book! It’s like seeing the world with six year-old eyes’!
    I wish i could watch the movie soon but I’m living in Africa and the internet is REALLY slow so I guess I’ll have to wait
    I’m a Scout fan anyway

  • moonchild June 9th, 2012 1:19 PM

    I know this is a really late response, but for some reason I didn’t see this article. I loved this except… Why did you call Dill “the boy she likes who’s too dumb to pay attention to her”? In the book at least, Dill likes Scout back. In fact, he even proposes to her! Scout also says, “summer was the swiftness with which Dill would reach up and kiss me when Jem was not looking” Hmmmm. May have gotten confused there, Leeann? Otherwise, I love the article, though!


  • LookingGlass July 2nd, 2012 8:48 PM

    Scout Finch was my FIRST style icon! This is awesome. I started wearing overalls in second grade after I saw the movie for the first time. Love TKAM.