Taylor Schilling's 'OITNB' Costume Makes Her Feel Free But They're Not as Simple As You Think
I'd feel pretty free if I got to wear scrubs-like jumpsuits all day, too, which is why I relate to Taylor Schilling when she said in the July 2014 issue of Allure of the minimal costuming and makeup on Orange is the New Black : "It’s totally liberating. There’s freedom in not having to make it about how my jeans fit or what my boobs look like in a top. All I have to do now is play." Let me clarify that, of course, while I agree with Schilling that the costume seems freeing; the on-screen inmates wear prison uniforms, that, IRL, of course, are absolutely the opposite of liberating. So what makes for great TV, we've gotta remind ourselves, is a bleakness in the actual prison system.
Though the uniforming on Orange is the New Black seems pretty straightforward across the board, there's actually quite a calculated process in outfitting the different characters on the show. The show's costume designer, Jennifer Rogien, notes that while the uniforms of the inmates and guards alike are standard, there are certain subtleties she incorporates to reflect the different characters' personalities and emotional journeys: "Is this character a rule breaker? Not just that one big rule that landed them in prison, but are they just generally trying to push back against authority? If so, what are the small ways that we can reflect that in their uniform? Are they rolling their pant cuffs when they’re not supposed to? Are they rolling their uniform at the waist when they’re not supposed to?"
Rogien had a lot to consider especially in Season 2, which was full of flashbacks to life on the "outside" for these characters, many times going back to their youth. (Baby Taystee was dead on). Little details there help construct the emotional dialogue that connects back to the inmates in prison—"Young Crazy Eyes, for example, wore bright pink fairy wings, something she might not necessarily wear now but is very much in line with her still childlike sense of wonder." It's these subtleties that give the inmates dimension and life.
So while Taylor Schilling may be a better actress for the fact that she can wear a simple uniform on set all day, she probably doesn't know just how much is conveyed through her lack of bra and fitted jeans. But—curse her—Schilling said that generally, she doesn't pay much mind to her appearance anyway: "In her day-to-day life, the actress doesn't stress much about her appearance either. "I don’t feel bound by my face or my body. I don’t feel like that’s the biggest gift I have to offer the world. I feel like there are more parts of me to offer than that." Yes, like her extreme facial expressions when she eats waffles or donuts; that's a Schilling offering I especially appreciate. And I've gotta give it up to Rogien and the makeup and costume team on OITNB, because they really know how to make some gorgeous ladies look really, really rough.