13 Times Nancy Drew Wore Ridiculously Inappropriate Sleuthing Outfits
Most of us have never known a world without Nancy Drew. The first Nancy Drew mystery was published in 1930, and she's been chasing bad guys around River Heights in her blue convertible ever since. There are 56 original Nancy Drew Mystery Stories and about a million spinoffs, including The Nancy Drew Files, Nancy Drew and the Clue Crew, and a 2007 film starring Emma Roberts.
Nancy's longtime presence on our bookshelves has made her so synonymous with "teen detective" that she's constantly referenced in pop culture. In the new YA mystery Buzzkill by Beth Fantaskey, high school senior Millie Ostermeyer investigates the shocking murder of Honeywell High’s bad-tempered football coach. Motivated to discover the truth after her own father becomes a possible suspect, Millie enlists help from her best friend Laura and the attractive but aloof star quarterback Chase Albright. She also heads to the library and checks out as many Nancy Drew books as she can, for research. Millie remembers reading the series with her mom years ago before she died, and she figures she needs all the inspiration she can get.
That inspiration, however, does not extend to fashion:
Laura would not be dissuaded. “Well, it never hurts to look good.” She stopped ransacking my wardrobe long enough to point to my desk, where The Hidden Staircase was on top of the pile of Nancy Drew books. “Look at Nancy, climbing around a filthy old house in a pencil skirt. You could at least wear something that isn’t stained.”
The book did, indeed, feature Nancy in an outfit that I would’ve considered too fancy for a job interview, let alone exploring what looked like a dirty dungeon. Meanwhile, my T-shirt might’ve had a tiny mark, courtesy of a Fudgsicle.
It’s been a while since I read Nancy Drew myself, so I checked out some cover art online — and found that Millie and Laura were not exaggerating. Let's take a look at all the times Nancy indeed wore something fancier to chase suspects through the woods than what I wear to an office every day:
1. The Hidden Staircase
The second book in the series and the cover Laura and Millie are referring to. All women know pencil skirts need constant adjusting even when you aren't creeping up dark, spiderweb-covered staircases, so Nancy is probably dying to change into a pair of yoga pants.
2. The Secret of the Old Clock
Just chilling with a dusty clock in an overgrown field wearing a sheath dress and a perfectly set bob, as you do.
3. The Bungalow Mystery
Bright blue dress suit, jaunty hat and scarf — totally inconspicuous.
4. The Secret of Red Gate Farm
Here Nancy crouches in an overgrown field again, this time with a stylish blazer over a white dress, which will definitely get grass stains. Jeez, Nancy, just make more work for your poor housekeeper, Hannah Gruen, without a care in the world. Also... KKK?
5. The Haunted Bridge
Didn’t realize there was a book in which Nancy became a middle-aged working mom from the '90s.
6. The Mystery at the Moss-Covered Mansion
Wait, you DON’T wear your new Modcloth dress with a Peter Pan collar to go dig some holes beneath the moonlight?
7. The Clue in the Crumbling Wall
...OR to spy on some masons in a hiding spot probably covered with poison ivy? Plus, I have to point out how disturbing it is that the girl in yellow is Bess, Nancy's friend who is often described as "pleasantly plump" and obsessed with desserts. I think her waist is smaller than my thigh.
8. The Clue of the Tapping Heels
I’ll give Nancy some props here for giving off a Carmen Sandiego vibe with that hat. Just hope it doesn’t get blown away as she climbs the ladder, leaving evidence that she just broke into this dude’s house.
9. The Mystery of the Tolling Bell
How does the best — and only — teen detective in River Heights (a small town that is apparently a hub for killers, swindlers, and kidnappers) have time to get her hair in such elaborate, perfect curls? And how does one climb over cave rocks while wearing a skirt in a ladylike manner and manage to hold on to a little handbag? I can barely get out of a car in a dress without flashing someone.
10. The Clue in the Old Album
Of course, you can never forget the clutch that perfectly matches your dress when creeping in the bushes (Nancy really loves her shrubbery, it seems).
11. The Ghost of Blackwood Hall
Another tiny purse — might I suggest a sports bra, where she can just shove whatever she carries around and ditch the purse; plus, it’s practical for running after bad guys.
12. The Clue of the Leaning Chimney
Skirts and spotless white blouses are perfect tree-climbing attire... said no one ever. This is probably why Bess is looking up at her in distress.
13. The Hidden Window Mystery
I don’t even know what’s happening here. The one time Nancy isn’t dressed to the nines, and it’s because she comes outside in her bathrobe to investigate a peacock roaming the yard? But of course, her hair still looks perfectly curled. If Nancy had an Instagram, this picture would be tagged #IWokeUpLikeThis.
Luckily, Millie from Buzzkill has the right idea. When you’re catching a murderer, who cares if your T-shirt has a little bit of Fudgsicle on it? It’ll probably be covered up with blood at some point, anyway. Nancy Drew was a great detective and all, but thank God we finally live in a world in which women can actually, you know, wear pants while solving crimes.