With the seventh season of PLL right around the corner and the six-year anniversary of the pilot, the time feels right to revisit the four main traumatized women at the center of TV’s most labyrinthine series of conspiracies.
Following our examinations of Emily Fields and Spencer Hastings comes the Little Liar most directly responsible for turning this show into a fashion phenomenon. Looking back through her wardrobe, it’s odd to think that when she wore feathers in one ear we were all like WHAT??? because immediately after that, fly fishing shops were sold out as every woman aged 10-50 was running out to ape the lewk. Sort of like watching The Breakfast Club or Citizen Kane, seeing her outfits is like, “What, these don’t look groundbreaking” but that’s because they’ve been so influential on so many other things that we forget they were the first to do what they did. PLL’s fashion guru Mandi Line basically invented every fashion trend of the past five years through her TV alter ego, and the world is a more fabulously bonkers place for it.
Season one: New girl in town
So as we all know, in season one Aria was unhappily back in Rosewood after spending a year in Iceland with her fam. Like all teens who have lived abroad, she is completely convinced that she is 100% more cosmopolitan than anyone else her age. Her initial looks have a distinctly European flair, instantly distancing herself from her classmates.
Her look is not that of a chic Frenchwoman or a mod Brit, but rather that of someone in their mid-20s on a gap year, studying art by spending all of her time in nightclubs. Here’s the feather that sent shockwaves through the bait and tackle shop industry for like a two year period circa 2010.
Especially in season one, she actually dresses like an actual teenager semi-frequently. Can you imagine her in this low-midriff-baring peplum tee and jean skirt at any point in season three or four?
Much like Spencer has her seasonal fake school uniform appearance, Aria shows up at least once per year looking like a runaway magical girl from anime. This lewk wouldn’t be out of place on Puella Magi Madoka Magica, for all you nerds out there.
She had serious fishnet legging feelings this season, layering them under basically everything she ever wears. This leopard cardi/shorts/tights/boots look would look trendy even today. Hella cute, girlie.
Then there was that time she wore the suspender pants with giant heart applique. At the time, I thought the heart was attached to the pants but now I’m thinking it’s just on her shirt? Either is possible, which is part of the delight of examining her fashion. You almost need to watch each episode once for plot, then again to figure out what exactly she’s wearing.
Season two: Orphan Black, Rosewood style
Starting in this season, Aria begins dressing on the reg in basically full-on costumes. Season two introduces us to Chola Aria:
In disguise as a circus tent poncho Aria:
Punk rock Aria (wearing earrings I’m like 90% sure Mary’s worn on Reign):
Aria as one of the mean shopgirls in Pretty Woman:
Harley Quinn Aria:
Candies model Aria:
Aria starring in Miss Frizzle: The Teen Years of the Magic School Bus teacher:
And finally 1970s rock groupie Aria:
The fringe on her shirt goes past her knees you guys. PAST HER KNEES:
Season three: Not a girl, not yet a woman
While Emily’s got her tees and Spencer’s got her button-downs, Aria lays claim to an entire type of fabric and that is: whimsical prints. She also leans into a girlier style with softer hair and looots of bodycon.
But she still remembers her duties as an anime magical girl because I have no other explanation for this strappy, balloon skirted school style. Doesn’t it look like she’s running off to to fight some sort of Sailor Moon-esque demon?
She also embraced her inner 1960s French starlet with a bouffant straight out of a Brigitte Bardot film. Also I’m really into this printed top. This is like something from a really cool editorial in like Paper magazine or something.
This look is another standout, stepping up a casual punkish look with matching headband and earrings. MATCHING HEADBADN AND EARRINGS. Who thinks of things like that? Mandi Line, you mad genius.
Aaaand then there was the time she tossed a ribcage tank on top of a glittery top, two tons of collar necklace, and embellished white skinnies for a look I like to call: fancy Jack Skellington goes on a date.
What does a stylish gal pair with a pair of pink and gold leopard print skinnies? Perhaps a giant cat face tee and platinum pleather coat? Why not!
Season four: 90s to the max
She slides even further into more womanly, 90s throwback looks this year with barely an episode going by not including at least one bodycon minidress. Her love affair with both peplums and leopard print continues apace:
This sweater is honest to God my favourite thing anyone has ever worn on this show. After being tormented by an omnipotent cyberbully/murderer for three seasons, it’s good to see she still has a good sense of humor about it all.
And then we get her instant classic comic book print dress with puff sleeves. Do I now own a pair of comic print leggings? Maybe. Was this partially inspired by this jaw-dropping fashion statement? No comment.
Season five: Sheerly yours
How is it remotely possible that it took five seasons for this show’s fashion rebel to show up in a hipster hat? She is cute as a freaking button dressed like this, and I would have no problem if the show went on to include more hats moving forward. She’s like a cute little mini Diane Keaton in Annie Hall.
Even Aria is not immune to Emily’s shoulder-baring influence, though she gives it her own Montgomery spin by throwing on I think her same feather earring as season one, now with its matching pair!
This shirt’s pattern reminds me of both Diary of a Wimpy Kid and the packaging of the shu uemura KYE collection. I know she’s still in high school, but I love this take on businesswear. Aria Montgomery: #totesprofesh
Like all the Liars at this point, she embraces a new silhouette this season. Floaty sheer dresses become her new go-to, along with what seems to be a pair of bicycle shorts visible underneath.
I mean, what else does one wear to visit ones back-from-the-dead BFF in jail than a practically see-through skirt, bicycle shorts, and a sort of noose harness suspender necklace? I’ve never been in that position so I really can’t say.
Season six: Short hair, don’t care
Honestly, it’s been sorta odd looking at her mermaid locks from previous seasons because the bob fits her character so well. Season six brought us her final high school looks, including this cutout-jewelled-armed, likely highly itchy, but totally badass looking sweater:
Post #5YearsForward we get to see her professional book publishing company editor lady styles which are… actually not that different from her increasingly workwear-esque teen fashion choices. This jacket is more structured that those she wore in high school, but it’s not crazy to picture her wearing this with like a tiger-print bodycon to go to class in Twelfth Grade.
I’m also a superfan of this sequinned shirt which even has a sequinned COLLAR but somehow on her in this scene it seems almost like a neutral? Lucy Hale has legit fashion magic powers. And perfect eyebrows. Basically: a perfect person.
Can’t let any discussion of Aria’s season six fashion pass without noting this yellow sweater with zebra head. I had sweaters like this with animals with yarn hair when I was in Kindergarten, but she dresses it up with a finer knit and a bodycon fit. Still, a whimsical look that reminds us she may be a young professional, but she’s still our gal.
This final look is practically Mindy Project adjacent with the clashing-yet-matching patterns. Though Mindy would pair this with a Chanel bag and some statement jewellery. Wait, does grown-up Aria wear way more subtle jewellery, or was this scene before she was fully dressed for the day?