Dark Angels and Technicolor Dreams

How to dress like a Tim Burton character.

When I was a teenager, my high school BF made me little collage books, and one of them included these pictures of director Tim Burton and his then-girlfriend Lisa Marie, which I absolutely LOVED. I was a big fan of his movies, and I enjoyed the whimsical world he created, especially in Beetlejuice and Edward Scissorhands. Burton’s characters live inside your head (and heart) forever, so why not let them inside of your closet, too?

Clockwise from top left: Photographic Flashback cape, $58, ModCloth; Beat Brim hat, $36, Vans; lace skirt, $52, Asos; eyeball ring, $45, Me & Zena; iPhone case, $16, Etsy

All of us at Rookie are huge Winona Ryder fans, and her character in Beetlejuice (1988) will always be one of our style icons. Nobody does gothy teen angst quite like Lydia Deetz, who befriends a ghost couple living in the attic of her new home. When not rolling her eyes at her pretentious stepmother or helping her ghost buddies battle the underworld’s favorite bad boy, Beetlejuice, Lydia refuses to dissect a frog and stoically utters famous lines like, “My whole life is a dark room. One big dark room.” I believe everyone and their closet needs to go through a Lydia Deetz phase at least once in life. The black lace, giant hat, ghostly pallor, and individually parted bangs? BEST LEWK EVER. Now, shake, shake, shake, Senora!

Clockwise from top left: Swing dress, $82, Asos; poodle compact, $105, Lulu Guinness; poodle brooch, $6,; sunglasses, $11, Asos; purse, $45, ModCloth

It’s pretty safe to assume that most people’s first fictional crush was the title character from Edward Scissorhands (1990). Yes? Tim Burton’s right-hand man, Johnny Depp, plays the sensitive, puppy-eyed outcast with razor-sharp shears for fingers, the creation of the Inventor (Vincent Price in his final film role). He spends his days living in a dark castle on the hill until a visiting Avon lady introduces him to the outside world, a candy-colored neighborhood whose residents’ clothes match the hues of their homes. Kathy Baker plays Joyce, one of the more meddlesome neighbors, and her wardrobe is my favorite. Some might find her style too tacky, but I welcome the pink poodle tote, the mint green pantsuit, the bold swing dress, and the obnoxiously huge sunglasses! Finding a similar poodle purse might be my new life goal, you guys.

Clockwise from left: fitted black cape, $80, Romwe; heels, $179, Irregular Choice; cameo brooch, $10,; star necklace, $17, Asos; Berkshire tights, $12, Lord & Taylor

Sleepy Hollow (1999) also stars Depp, this time as spooky hunk Ichabod Crane, a weak-hearted police officer investigating murders committed by a headless horseman. Christina Ricci plays his love interest, Katrina Van Tassel, the sole heir of one of the richest families in town. Her look is probably the most romantic of Burton’s heroines. While it would be hard to pull off the embroidered riding gowns and detailed bodices that Katrina wears in the film, we can celebrate her style with this hooded cape from Romwe and these striped tights for Lord & Taylor.

Clockwise from left: Cumulus Laude dress, $60, ModCloth; brooch, $34, Etsy; Here in My Carnival dress, $270, ModCloth; Tea Cup shoe, $168, Irregular Choice; clutch, $145, Irregular Choice

In Big Fish (2003), Edward Bloom (Ewan McGregor) goes through life experiencing unusual enchantments that can only be found in the deepest, most colorful recesses of the imagination. After achieving success as an athlete in high school, Edward runs away and joins the circus, where he sets his gaze upon Sandra Templeton (Alison Lohman). This pivotal moment causes the world around him to literally stand still as he falls in love with her at first sight. Edward makes a deal with the ringmaster to work for free in exchange for learning one new thing about her each month. Three years later, he finally learns her name. THREE YEARS! Can you imagine having an unrequited crush on someone for that long? (I mean, besides Joseph Gordon-Levitt, obvi.) It’s not hard to see why Edward is enamored with Sandra, who always seems to be bathed in sunlight, wearing pretty dresses with full skirts and plenty of polka dots. Pay homage to their special moment under the Big Top with this carnival-striped dress and this circus-themed clutch. And when you find yourself in your own colorful adventure, you’ll certainly be dressed for it. ♦


  • Rainbow Dash October 10th, 2012 3:05 PM

    Oh yes! I’ve waited for this awesomeness to happen. Tim Burton-inspired outfits is just too good to be true.

  • Tabea October 10th, 2012 3:11 PM

    I always wanted to look like one of these characters, because I love love love Tim Burton-movies. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THIS POST!! :)

  • Sparkie October 10th, 2012 3:11 PM

    Oh, Alison Lohman, gosh I love this actress, she’s so gorgeous. I’m dressing as the mad hatter -from the tim burton version of course-, this year I can’t wait ! I want to try beetle juice next year as well !

  • darksideoftherainbow October 10th, 2012 4:10 PM

    i love ALL OF THIS. i need all five suggestions for the winona beetjuice part especially. i want it all!!!

  • Stephanie October 10th, 2012 4:20 PM

    THANK YOU FOR THIS!!!! I’ve been trying to dress like Lydia since fifth grade!!!! I want ALL OF THE THINGS you showed us here!

  • hatrosalina October 10th, 2012 4:24 PM

    THANK YOU FOR THIS! I’m always being told how much I look like a tim burton character, now I can embrace it even more ;D

  • bookworm123 October 10th, 2012 4:29 PM

    If everyone dressed like they lived in a Tim Burton film, the world would be a better/prettier/much more awesome place.

    • ShakespeareRules October 11th, 2012 10:24 AM

      It so would! Let’s start a revolution together. Black lace and big hats at the ready everyone.

  • Vesperstar233 October 10th, 2012 5:14 PM

    I’ve always especially loved how Sandra (Alison Lohman) dressed!! So glad you paid tribute to it. Is There any way y’all could do a fingerwave hair tutorial like hers? My hair is that color, and close to that length… and i’d love you all forever if you did!!!! <3 (but i love y'all anyways ;)

  • vintagewhimsy October 10th, 2012 5:19 PM

    Yes!! Big Fish and Edward Scissorhands = Best movies ever!!! I hadn’t even thought of looking to them for style though. Thank you!! :)

  • Jemima October 10th, 2012 5:47 PM

    These are some of my favourite films ever!

  • Abby October 10th, 2012 5:49 PM

    I’m pretty sure it’s safe to say that Tim Burton and Johnny Depp are having some kind of love affair…

  • Abby October 10th, 2012 5:50 PM

    Also, I loved the outfits. Lol.

  • TessaTheTeenageWitch October 10th, 2012 5:55 PM

    I need more money. ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

  • ToriLynne October 10th, 2012 6:10 PM

    I’ve been in love with that ModCloth cape for months! That yellow ASOS dress is also amazing! Love this post!
    xo, Tori

  • ghoststakepolaroids October 10th, 2012 6:10 PM

    dat iphone case

  • missblack October 10th, 2012 6:51 PM

    OH MY GOD BEETLEJUICE. My mom pretty much forced our entire family to watch this and now we are all totally, entirely obsessed with it. My 8-year-old sister says “I myself am strange and unusual” at least once a day :D

    Though I was pretty disappointed at the end when Lydia stopped wearing her black clothes and became normal :(


  • raggedyanarchy October 10th, 2012 7:30 PM

    I love Tim Burton! Sleepy Hollow scared the crap out of me when I was little!

  • Feli-city October 10th, 2012 7:37 PM

    Oh gosh, Sleepy Hollow! I loovve that movie so much.
    Also, I’m in love with the outfit for Beetlejuice – So much perfection.

  • reedrunner October 10th, 2012 7:46 PM

    this is awesome! My friends and I are going to be tim burton characters for halloween (I have the honor of portraying corpse bride.. i will most def use these tips!

  • poopface October 10th, 2012 8:05 PM

    I was anticipating a Pewee Herman mention here, but I assume that since he was not included he will later get an entire article dedicated to him. I await this article from the deep depths of my cave.

  • Jessica W October 10th, 2012 8:44 PM


    (I have never heard of Sleepy Hollow or Big Fish. What is my life?! I’ve always wanted to be a cinema buff, but never see movies -dammit!)

    The Lovelorn

  • Josefina October 10th, 2012 9:29 PM

    I love this! Thank you. But before this entry I had forgotten about the comically, ironically colourful characters in Burton’s films… you’d think they’d all dress in black! I love Big Fish above all. It’s so dreamlike and strange!

  • Sonja October 10th, 2012 10:12 PM

    so much magic here!

  • mariaantoniavs October 10th, 2012 11:48 PM

    Love this so much!! and THAT IPHONE CASE IS AMAZING!

  • ivoire October 11th, 2012 4:19 AM

    tim burton films are so wonderful and these outfits totally do them justice <3

  • thewhiteframe October 11th, 2012 4:38 AM

    Luv Lydia’s outfit!tnx to share this!

  • ShakespeareRules October 11th, 2012 10:26 AM

    I love love love Tim Burton, thanks so much for this.

  • limegreensunset October 11th, 2012 11:38 AM



  • takethreestepsback October 12th, 2012 6:51 AM

    how beautiful!

    i am a devoted burton fan and would love to work for him in costume one day, a girl can dream :P

    thank you so much, marie!

  • pinkhairandcats June 24th, 2013 12:56 PM

    Love love love this! I’m huuuuge Tim Burton fan! <3