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Movie Inspiration: Fall Fashion Looks Inspired by Rent



So, back in my day I was a bit of a theater geek. I was in 3 or 4 musicals a year, I would be devastated (and subsequently dramatic) if I didn’t get a part I wanted, and was a member of my high school’s show choir far before Glee made it cool. The Thanksgiving break that the movie version of Rent came out, my friends and I went to see the 9:15 am showing (because they didn’t offer a midnight screening). Yeah, I was a dork back then and I still am today.

Get ready, girls, because we’re digging deep and drawing inspiration from the motion picture Rent this week. Yes, you’re about to view ensembles inspired from a videographer, a failed musician, a college professor, a stripper, a cross dresser, a lawyer, and a street performance artist – and they’ll all be real-life-wearable. Don’t think it can be done? Read on!

Seasons of Love


Rent (a movie version of the original musical) is about a group of friends living in New York City in the late ’80s/early ’90s, who face the issues affecting young people at the time. The film touches on everything from unemployment to intravenous drugs, creative blocks, AIDS, and love.

Despite all of their problems, the characters in Rent find a family in each other and help one another through their struggles. If you think that sounds like a strange premise for a film, believe me, it is. But it’s also truly fabulous.

The film takes place over the winter, making it a great film to inspire outfits for the fall. Every ensemble worn by a cast member is layered in an artful way that’s true to their NYC style. Rent characters incorporate many different textures, colors, and patterns into their outfits, and complete their looks with sturdy boots and scarves. The cast’s looks also have a touch of bohemian flair — after all, they all living la vie boheme!

Roger and Collins

Roger and Collins from Rent

Roger and Collins have similar styles in Rent. The film takes place between 1989 and 1990, and Roger and Collins’ outfits reflect the grunge style of the time. They frequently wear denim, corduroy, flannel, and leather.

To get their looks, try layering practical, utilitarian pieces on top of one another. I love the way Roger, a guitarist, rocks a knit scarf with a tough-looking leather jacket in the photograph above. The vest that NYU professor Collins is wearing in the picture above is a little too manly for my liking, but how cute would a puffer vest from the mall look over a plaid shirt and a pair of skinny jeans?

Denim Jacket, Plaid Shirt, Skinny Cargos, Boots, Necklace



Angel, a cross-dressing busker, is oddly the only one in the group that ever has any money — despite the fact that he dates Collins, a college professor, and they’re friends with Joanne, a Harvard-educated lawyer. Besides bankrolling the group’s excursions, Angel enjoys dancing, drumming, and dressing up like Santa Claus.

Steal some of his eccentric style (without looking like a drag queen) by pairing bright colors with animal print, but leave the rest of the outfit really simple. Just add some fierce ankle booties and some small but fun jewelry.

Leopard Cardigan, Dress, Booties, Angel Ring, NY Big Apple Earrings

Mark and Joanne

Mark and Joanne from Rent

Mark and Joanne are the only two members of the group (well, besides Collins) with “real” jobs — this requires them to dress more professionally than their friends. Mark and Joanne both layer blazers, sweaters, and scarves, but unlike the other people in their group, the pieces they wear are tailored and more mainstream in appearance.

To copy their style, combine corduroy blazers, khaki chinos, loafers, and Mark’s signature striped scarf for a New York-edgy (yet still business casual) look.

Coat, Scarf, Pants, Shirt, Loafers, Glasses



Maureen, played by everyone’s favorite Broadway star Idina Menzel, is truly the spitfire of the group. She is a “performance artist,” singing bizarre songs and reciting crazy monologues in protest of things around town.

Her over-the-top personality matches perfectly with her bold fashion choices. Maureen likes tight-fitting outfits, and showing off a little cleavage or midriff. One of her most memorable outfits in the film is the black catsuit she wears on New Year’s Eve (pictured above). 

Copy her style by pairing fancy leggings with a body-con dress or a flashy tunic for a more wearable interpretation of something Maureen would rock. And don’t forget to add plenty of confidence!

Leggings, Body-Con Cut Out Dress, Bangles, Boots, Moon Ring



Ah, Mimi. Homegirl is definitely the hot mess of the group. Mimi spends her days exotic dancing, shooting up heroin, sneaking into her neighbor’s apartments, and singing on tables at the Life Cafe. Despite her obvious shortcomings, Mimi has some seriously inspirational street-urchin style. She is seen layering mini skirts over leggings and boots, rocking fur coats, and has dozens of hat-and-scarf combinations.

Get some of Mimi’s boho-grunge-borderline-homeless look by mixing unexpected pieces together, and rocking it all with a serious dose of attitude. Here, I layered acid wash skinnies with a striped top, burgundy cardigan, and fur coat, tying it all together with a fedora and badass boots.

Jeans, Tank, Cardigan, Coat, Combat Boots, Fedora

What Do You Think?

Have you seen Rent? What are your favorite parts? What do you think of the style seen in the film? How do yo feel about 90’s fashions returning? What other movies inspire you? Leave us a comment and let us know your thoughts!

Posted on on September 15, 2011 / Filed Under: Inspiration / Tags: , ,

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49 Responses to “Movie Inspiration: Fall Fashion Looks Inspired by Rent”

  1. 1
    September 15th, 2011 at 12:29 pm

    I actually had to design the costumes for a production of rent a few summers ago and love what you picked! After working in the professional musical theater world for a bit (just on pause for school now :) ) I totally love getting inspiration from different musicals and such for even my offstage day to day looks!

    Is this going to be a series? like inspired by other musicals? I would very much be interested in your ideas! Thanks! :)

  2. 2
    September 15th, 2011 at 12:36 pm

    Oh wow, I love this so much! I’ve always loved Mimi’s look, though Mark&Joanne are closer to what I actually wear.

  3. 3
    September 15th, 2011 at 12:37 pm

    Hooray for the theatre dorks! Personally, Mimi’s outfit is something I’d wear, but on the whole, I’m not sure this fits in with the rest of the high school movie inspiration set. I’d really like to see this become a spin-off collection of fashion based on musicals, but probably I am the only one. :)

  4. 4
    September 15th, 2011 at 12:39 pm

    This is great–you’ve made these outfits really relate-able to every day life in 2011. The closest to my person style (without the va va voom) is probably Angel’s. I’ll definitely have to watch this now!

  5. 5
    September 15th, 2011 at 12:44 pm

    This is great–you’ve made these outfits really relate-able to every day life in 2011. The closest to my person style (without the va va voom) is probably Angel’s. I’ll definitely have to watch this now!

    Sorry to post again, I posted the wrong link the post above!

  6. 6
    September 15th, 2011 at 12:48 pm

    Eh. This was like a lesson in how-to-look-homeless. Some of those pieces would be great on their own (LOVE mimi’s fur coat), but together. Just a bit too nineties

  7. 7
    September 15th, 2011 at 1:12 pm

    I love this! I’m a huge theatre nerd and Rent is one of my favorites. I love the Mark/Joanne and Angel outfits.
    This would make a great series, fashion inspired by theatre!

  8. 8
    September 15th, 2011 at 1:23 pm

    LOVE THIS! Rent seriously influenced my style when the movie came out, especially the cafe scene. I totally agree that more musical-inspired articles are in order!

  9. 9
    September 15th, 2011 at 1:58 pm

    I really like the idea of this, but for me at least the outfits are not wearable. They seem to be more like costumes for the musical.

  10. 10
    September 15th, 2011 at 2:03 pm

    I have seen both the film and stage version of Rent, and I recommend that anyone who has only seen the film version see the show live. It’s a lot better than the movie.

    I would also like a group of articles inspired by theatre, but everyone should keep in mind that this article is about the MOVIE Rent, not the show. While the character’s fashions overall translated to the screen, in the show Mimi looks a lot trashier. I would like to see articles that focus on plays and musicals rather than films.

  11. 11
    September 15th, 2011 at 2:46 pm

    Absurd: I have had “La Vie Boheme” stuck in my head all week, for no apparent reason, and now you post this? It’s a sign…I must need more Bohemian in my style! LOVE that you did a post inspired by musicals! As an (ex)high-school musical theatre geek, a one-time musical choreographer, and a collegiate choir and ballet girl, this is right up my alley. Do “Phantom,” please. (Probably skip “Cats,” though, haha?!)

  12. 12
    September 15th, 2011 at 3:05 pm

    I am so glad you are writing about how to actually get dressed while going to school! I also go to OU and find myself in the constant rut of wearing the same thing every day. (i.e. nike shorts, tshirt, pearl earrings) While that outfit is great, and super COMFY (i don’t care what other people say about it, it is awesome) It gets old. I love seeing what other people on campus are doing! Go you!

  13. 13
    September 15th, 2011 at 3:18 pm

    Chelsea, your posts are the ones I always look forward to the most! You crack me up and always choose really cool and non-cheesy “get the look” items. My favorite today is the Roger & Collins one. I can’t WAIT for Louisiana to get cooler so I can wear pants!

  14. 14
    September 15th, 2011 at 3:21 pm

    I love all of the shoes you listed. Too bad I can’t have them all. :( I really like the second and third outfits; two looks I would definitely want to try to wear.

  15. 15
    September 15th, 2011 at 4:11 pm

    LOVE THIS. and cara, i totally lol-ed at the cats reference in your comment. as a theatre major, this was such a cool post to see! i’d love to see more musical inspired fashion, since its so hard to bring the vivacious and crazy energy from the costumes into real life. thanks chelsea (:

  16. 16
    September 15th, 2011 at 6:05 pm

    I remember asking for this a while ago (not that anyone would remember, of course haha). I LOVE RENT<3 This post rocks! Do more broadway/musical based fashion inspiration posts please XD

  17. 17
    September 15th, 2011 at 6:39 pm

    I absolutely LOVE Rent, so I was super excited for this post. I love how you took inspiration from each look, but made it more modern.

  18. 18
    September 15th, 2011 at 7:10 pm

    None of these looks are really my style, but Rent is awesome! Love this musical!

  19. 19
    September 15th, 2011 at 8:01 pm

    Cats is my favorite musical, though, guys! :) And there are actually probably ways to make Cats-inspired outfits without actually looking crazy or like a cat (Rumpelteazer’s pearls, Rum Tum Tugger’s studs, etc).

  20. 20
    September 15th, 2011 at 8:08 pm

    Rent is immortal and this only serves to prove my point further…and provide some amazing fashion translation tips :) Rent was the first professional production I saw and will remain in my heart forever. Mark is my favorite because he is so like me. I can’t resist roger though…so many fantastic characters! I would love love love love love to see more articles on fashion inspired by musicals and other theatrical productions!!!! Yay for us theatregeeks! I’m already in stage manager mode for my schools production of alice in wonderland…and the informational meetings arent until next week!

  21. 21
    September 15th, 2011 at 8:56 pm

    I love this! I’m a huge Renthead and this totally made my day. I agree with the posts above me: do more musical-inspired posts please!! :)

  22. 22
    September 15th, 2011 at 9:58 pm

    Most of these looks, besides Mark/Joanne’s, are a bit too nineties for me. However, I’m loving the idea of an “Inspired by…” series based on musicals. I would love to see a post on the Phantom of the Opera (my favorite musical of all time) next, just in time for the 25th anniversary concert in October :)

  23. 23
    September 15th, 2011 at 11:06 pm

    I’m also a fellow theatre geek and love this article so much (I also went to the first possible showing of Rent). Please make this into a series of inspiration from musicals/movie musicals (top marks if you could ever manage to take inspiration from Cats).

  24. 24
    September 15th, 2011 at 11:18 pm

    SWOONED when I saw this. I played Joanne in my community’s rendition of RENT a couple summers ago. It has been one of my favorite musicals since.

    Speaking of which, I would love if you could provide some inspiration for the musical Moulin Rouge. I think all the sparkles would make it spectacular!

  25. 25
    September 15th, 2011 at 11:54 pm

    RENT! I’m going to see it on off-broadway tomorrow! and I love Mimi’s look (hold the fur coat, because I don’t wear fur/eat meat). And I also love the Roger/Collins look (slightly because I’m in love with Roger)

  26. 26
    September 16th, 2011 at 12:44 am

    I would love to see this spin off into a series of “fashion inspired by musicals”. If this happens, I would like to put in a special request for Wicked! My favourite! :D

  27. 27
    September 16th, 2011 at 9:36 am

    THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU for this! Seriously, I nearly died when I saw it. It was perfect and it’s so cool to know that there are other Rentheads out there who also love fashion!

  28. 28
    September 16th, 2011 at 10:14 am

    I really liked this, especially Mimi’s look. I think I’m echoing popular sentiment when I say a whole series based on theatrical productions would be awesome.

    One little thing though – Angel identifies as female and is generally referred to by herself and others as “she,” not “he.”

  29. 29
    September 16th, 2011 at 10:25 am

    I have never seen Rent, although it has been on my to watch list for a very long time now. I definitely enjoyed this post looking at the movie/play in a way I haven’t seen it portrayed before and it I think it will be on my seen list very soon! I especially like that these looks are very translatable for on campus.

  30. 30
    September 16th, 2011 at 12:16 pm

    I’m so happy to hear all of your feedback!! And I LOVE the idea of doing a series based on musicals, especially Wicked, Phantom of the Opera, Chicago, and even Cats! Any other favorites?

  31. 31
    September 16th, 2011 at 6:25 pm

    Aah! I’m so irrationally excited that you featured the Dr. Marten’s Triumph 1914 boots in this post! I just bought a pair and I’m loving them so far! I definitely needed some inspiration on how to wear them because they’re different from my usual clothing style.

  32. 32
    September 16th, 2011 at 9:28 pm

    more suggestions: Hairspray, Guys and Dolls, My Fair Lady, Dreamgirls, Les Miserables, and (not a musical, just a movie) Burlesque with Christina Aguilera and Cher. =]

  33. 33
    September 17th, 2011 at 1:01 pm

    Love this!
    I just watched this movie last night and I needed to catch up on my College Fashion posts. Fantastic! Well done :D
    Our school’s theatre refuses to do RENT though D:

  34. 34
    September 17th, 2011 at 11:50 pm

    I love this, but why are you calling Angel “he”?

  35. 35
    September 18th, 2011 at 12:06 pm

    I LOVE THIS POST. RENT is one of my favorite musicals. I love the raw energy, and the actors were brilliant in the movie. Idina Menzel and Tracie Thoms singing “Take Me or Leave Me” is probably my favorite part, although it’s really hard to pick! Thanks for a great post. I would love to see fashion inspired by other musicals, especially some of the older ones, like Guys and Dolls. :D

  36. 36
    September 18th, 2011 at 4:24 pm

    Chelsea: THAT SOUNDS LIKE A GREAT IDEA! My personal favorites are Book of Mormon, Spring Awakening, Little Shop of Horrors and Billy Elliot. (I’m going to How to Succeed soon too, so I may come back being super excited about that)

  37. 37
    September 18th, 2011 at 10:42 pm

    I absolutely love this! My favorite broadway musical is RENT, so thank you very much! Will be trying these out!

  38. 38
    September 20th, 2011 at 11:30 pm

    There should be a movie inspiration from the movie Girl, Interrupted. It takes place during the 60’s but the main character, Susanna, pulls off a lot of great menswear pieces.

  39. 39
    September 24th, 2011 at 11:04 pm

    YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSS. This is very well be my favorite College Fashion post ever just because it’s inspired by one of my favorite films/plays. (I actually have yet to see Rent on stage– sad I know!). Rent holds lots of sweet memories for me of freshman year when a few girlfriends and I bonded over it. It still always reminds me of them.

    And Mimi and Angel were my favs in terms of style :) I mean come on! That santa suit?! LOL!

  40. 40
    September 25th, 2011 at 11:03 pm

    f Yeah!!! Thanks for doing one of my favorite movies/musicals!! I love Mark and Joanne’s look! Mark is my favorite character!!

  41. 41
    December 11th, 2011 at 5:45 pm this isn’t my blog, but everyone should check it out! it’s hipster-y 2011 fashion based on theatre and musicals!

  42. 42
    March 4th, 2012 at 10:27 pm

    I love this post, but I just watched RENT last night and realized that Mimi never wears pants…only leggings and skirts, so I’m a little disappointed in the outfit you picked for her because it doesn’t capture her signature skirt-leggings-layering combo. The rest are awesome though!

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