IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Why 'Barbie' fans are wearing elaborate costumes to movie theaters

Get ready to start saying, “Hi Barbie! Hi Barbie! Hi Barbie!” as soon as you walk through the theater doors.
/ Source: TODAY

What’s pink, pink and pink all over? "Barbie" — and a good portion of the world, it seems, as hype around the Greta Gerwig movie makes its way off the screen and into our wardrobes.

Back when chatter around “Barbie” began in 2022, Barbiecore took off on runways and red carpets. But what began as hints of hot pink morphed into outright costumes as “Barbie” finally premiered July 21. Now, social media is flooded with examples of what people wore to “Barbie,” ranging from T-shirts to entire squad getups (with the Kens joining in, too).

For fans like Muskan Merani, who wore a baby pink ruffled top to a showing of the film, dressing up is as important as buying a ticket: “It just adds to the excitement!”

Fashion is a major part of the “Barbie” movie, its press tour and the doll’s history. The Barbie doll debuted in 1959 as an alternative to baby dolls, which were the norm. Barbie and her clothes were endlessly customizable, a canvas for girls to project their future selves. Barbara Handler, whose mother Ruth Handler invented Barbie, told the New York Times that “the idea of separate clothes” is what inspired Barbie and helped her be a hit. 

In the movie, star Margot Robbie’s looks include a pastel pink gingham dress, a hot pink Western cowgirl look and a colorful rollerblading ensemble. (Ryan Gosling has his own complimenting Ken outfits, of course.)

Mackenzie, who is behind the @costumekenz TikTok account, has been taking Barbie dress-up a step beyond Barbiecore by re-creating the exact outfits Robbie is wearing in the film.

Mackenzie @costumekenz via TikTok

She told that out of all the Barbie outfits she has reconstructed, her favorite is the pink Western outfit, which features a hot pink vest, flare bell bottoms and a bandana — all topped off with a white cowgirl hat.

“It’s so pink and in-your-face and it just has so many fun details and different textures, so it was really fun to work with,” Mackenzie said. “I custom-dyed the pink denim. I lined it with a pink satin. I used fuchsia leather for the star accent, and metallic vinyl.”

Chazlyn Stunson, or @chazlyn.yvonne on TikTok, told that she tried to bring out Barbie’s signature style using wardrobe pieces she already owns.

“Obviously pink is the color of the summer and the color that’s most associated with Barbie, and I love all shades of pink — mostly the more bubblegum-y kind of shades,” Stunson said. “But I think some elements of her style that I’ve kind of seen going around the internet are really cute shoes with funky platforms and, of course, the feathers.”

Stunson said she has enjoyed dressing up in this style and in the color pink for years, so the Barbie dress-up trend is right up her alley.

She noted that Barbie’s “super fun and whimsical” style has flooded the Internet with “lots of gingham pink dresses, pink flare bell bottoms, lots of bows, lots of sparkle.”

Mackenzie added that Barbie’s style can be encapsulated as a “simple yet hyper-feminine and overly-accessorized look” that is “very put-together.”

She said she was “such a Barbie girl” when she was little and that she used to play with her mother’s old Barbie dolls, making some of the vintage looks from the movie feel special to her.

Both Mackenzie and Stunson said they planned to show up to the theaters in one of their Barbie outfits to see the movie.

“I’ll definitely be putting on one of my outfits and heading to the theaters with my Barbie nails and my Barbie outfit,” Stunson said. “I’m super excited for everybody to be at the theater dressed up.”

For some moviegoers, seeing "Barbie" in costume was a way to get back to the kid who once played with Barbies.

"I feel like it’s reconnecting with my inner child," Ashna Ramaswamy, wearing a hot pink corset top, told minutes before she walked into a "Barbie" showing on Wednesday.

"A lot of women have that stage in their life where they were denied their own femininity for the sake of being different or being an 'other,' basically. For me, I feel like it’s important to reconnect with that and grow from that as an adult. So it’s nice to be part of a community where everyone’s embracing their femininity."