I have no recollection of how Tim Burton’s Beetlejuice ended up in my family’s rotation of films to be watched while decorating the Christmas tree—Edward Scissorhands was also in the mix—but almost every second Christmas we’d call his name three times and wait for him to appear. Since I moved away from my childhood home and my parents started decorating the tree without me, the film’s plot has begun to fade in my memory. However, the costumes and make-up—from Lydia Deetz’s all-black, “Life Is A Dark Room”-style ensembles, to Beetlejuice’s wide-striped suit and altogether crazier-than-thou appearance—will forever be burned into my mind.
Trying to come up with a list of the five best dressed Winona Ryder characters is more difficult than one would imagine; it poses such challenging questions as, “do I include Mermaids or Little Women? Beetle Juice or Edward Scissorhands?”
Ryder is arguably the quintessential cinematic indie girl of the late 80s and early 90s, and narrowing down the list proved to be almost impossible. In the end, I had to cut some of my favourites (sorry, House of Spirits), to bring you the cream of the crop.
Lydia Deetz in Beetle Juice (1988, Tim Burton)
Before there was The Nightmare before Christmas, before the Johnny Depp collaborations, and long before the existence of any Hot Topic merchandise, Tim Burton was known in the cult film crowd as the director of a little film called Beetle Juice (well, that and Frankenweenie). Ryder was a relatively unknown actress at the time, but managed to hold her own alongside heavy hitters like Alec Baldwin and Micheal Keaton. Her character, Lydia Deetz, was the typical teenage outcast who dyed her hair black, dressed in macabre clothes – and befriended the household ghosts. With a sense of humour as dark as her wardrobe, Lydia was not one to be swayed by things like the paranormal or conventional styling choices.
“I’ve read through that handbook for the recently deceased. It says: ‘live people ignore the strange and unusual. I, myself, am strange and unusual.”