Warning: Spoilers for Barbie ahead.
Clothing is often chosen with reason in movies, as color and style shifts can tell a greater story about where a character’s headspace is beyond the script’s words. The wardrobe of Barbie‘s Stereotypical Barbie, played by Margot Robbie, is no exception to that.
While some outfits she wore pay direct homage to past Barbie doll looks, one of Robbie’s simplest outfits in the role, the yellow dress she wore in the film’s final Barbieland scenes, had a much deeper significance to it in addition to being a tribute to modern Barbie dolls. The dress’ draping, the wedge shoes Robbie wore, and the heart necklace were all chosen very deliberately to convey how Robbie’s Barbie had changed by the end of the film, costume designer Jacqueline Durran explained to Variety.
Plot-wise at that point, Robbie’s Barbie had returned from the real world and succeeded in working with Gloria (America Ferrera) her daughter Sasha (Ariana Greenblatt), and the other Barbies to save Barbieland from becoming a permanent patriarchal “Kendom.” But Stereotypical Barbie couldn’t go back to just being the doll she was before her adventure. She wanted to be human—a creator of ideas rather than just an idea.
As Durran put it to Variety, “The Barbies have gone through all of that stuff and they’re now the most fulfilled versions of themselves. And that sets the scene for what’s happening to Margot’s Barbie as she’s becoming human.”
The dress cut tells that story too, as it accentuates the softness of the human body in a way traditional Barbie clothes don’t: “The costume is a bias cut dress which drapes—it’s not Barbie quality,” she said. With it being yellow, “I was keen to track the history of Mattel in the costumes. I asked them what was the most popular costume in the last 5 to 10 years. It turns out it’s a yellow dress. I was going to copy that dress, but it wouldn’t really be recognizable enough.”
Durran made Robbie’s dress herself: “We wanted a soft yellow and wanted it to have less pop,” she said. “So, we printed that yellow onto white silk, and because of the cut, it clings to the body. That’s not really a Barbie characteristic—the Barbie characteristic is to be cut straight and to create a shape that falls away from the body.”
The shoe (a wedge) and jewelry choices (Missoma’s heart locket) also add to the symbols of Stereotypical Barbie’s shift. For the shoes, “we moved from the classic Barbie heeled court shoe into something softer, but at the same time we had to keep the heel,” Durran said.
And with the necklace, “there’s a source of pathos in a locket that Barbie doesn’t necessarily have. So, earlier in the film, she has heart accessories that she wears in the block party, and she has huge heart earrings, but there’s something about that locket and scale that makes it more human.”
Obviously, the exact dress Robbie wore cannot be bought since it was custom-made, but the internet is full of lookalike options. Shop some of the best below:
Senior News and Strategy Editor
Alyssa Bailey is the senior news and strategy editor at ELLE.com, where she oversees coverage of celebrities and royals (particularly Meghan Markle and Kate Middleton). She previously held positions at InStyle and Cosmopolitan. When she’s not working, she loves running around Central Park, making people take #ootd pics of her, and exploring New York City.