The Devil Wears Costumes


“Mise-en-scene organizes and directs much of our film experience by putting us in certain places and by arranging the people and objects of those places in specific ways” (Corrigan and White, 2015 : 64).

In “The Devil Wears Prada”, Mise-en-scene, plays a huge role in depicting the social normalities of females through their costumes. It is also used to show the transformation of Andy being taken by the social expectations of who she should be in society as a female. There is a lot of comparison between Andy and Emily (and the other females working in Runway) when it comes to costume shown in the film.

The journey of finding oneself in a world predominantly overtaken by female expectations and social normalities can be a very hard thing to achieve, especially without falling into the ways of surrounding people and materialistic objects. In “The Devil Wears Prada” (Frankel, David, 2006), “Supporting actors and character actors often add to the complexity of a film’s plot-line or emotional impact” (Corrigan and White, 2015 : 75). Emily and the other females, in this case, are seen as the perfect female in comparison to Andrea – or Andy – through the use of elements of mise-en-scene.

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As Corrigan and White suggested, “makeup and costumes function as characters highlights, they draw out or point to important parts of a character’s personality” (2015 : 77). The black clothing of the workers of Runway gives the representation they are all the same kind of person. Using the same color helps symbolize the standardization of females in society and those who conform to the social normalities. Although the colours that Andy initially wears are bright, the clothing itself is quite dull and boring. In comparison to Emily and other workers at Runway, the choice of color and style of clothing is used to create a picture that at the start of the film, Andy is outcast and different from everyone else in regards to personality and style. Black is used to signify formality and professionalism in the  fashion world and it is clear that Andy does not belong in this crowd. Mise-en-scene involves the audience “more thoroughly in the action or serve to highlight a movie’s themes” (Corrigan and White, 2015 : 75). In this case, it is used to highlight the transition of Andy conforming to the expectations in the form of Emily and the other workers. This is shown through the new style and color of Andy’s clothing, as the way that “actors are costumed and made up can play a central part in a film, describing tensions and changes in the character and the story” (Corrigan and White, 2015 : 77). With close inspection of chapter three in Suzanne Ferriss and Mallory Young’s “Chick Flicks: Contemporary Women at the Movies” (2008 : 41-57) located here, it emphasises the need to conform of female expectations with the “objectification of women and the equation of female intelligence with unattractiveness” (Ferriss and Young, 2008 : 41) in society. Andy has been propelled to change her appearance to fit in with the high standards that society presents for women.

Work cited:

Corrigan, Timothy and Patricia White, The Film Experience: An Introduction. 4th Edition, Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2015. Print.

“The Devil Wears Prada” Dir. David Frankel. 2006. Film

Plante, Michelle, “How Society’s Expectations of Females Shape Girls’ Lives”, 2012. Accessed at’s-Expectations-Of-Females-Shape-1227698.html

Williams, Mari, “Fashion industry forces unrealistic expectations on women”, 2014. Accessed at

Ferriss, Suzanne, Mallory Young, “Chick Flicks: Contemporary Women at the Movies”, 2008. Accessed at