The Bold Type's Final Season Is a Tribute to the Power of Personal Style

If I were to create a Venn diagram of all things New York City, fashion, and media, then the intersection would look a lot like The Bold Type. The series, a much-hyped fictionalization of working at Cosmopolitan under former Editor in Chief Joanna Coles, premiered on Freeform in 2017 and is currently in its fifth and final season. 

While the particular fantasy of working in publishing in Manhattan has been depicted on-screen time and again (looking at you, The Devil Wears Prada, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, and 13 Going on 30), The Bold Type’s portrayal of 20-somethings figuring it out at Scarlet magazine in sky-high stilettos and even higher skyscrapers offers a more uplifting perspective on the trials and tribulations of making it in the big city. With the main characters Jane Sloan, Kat Edison, and Sutton Brady evolving from temps and assistants to top editors, activists, and stylists over the past four seasons, it’s safe to assume that the series will conclude on a positive note for the women of The Bold Type and their fans, too. 

With that in mind, we connected with costume designer Mandi Line, who conceptualized the looks for the entire cast in the six-episode final season. Line, whose previous work includes Pretty Little Liars, Shameless, and Faking It, was excited to give this beloved ensemble cast—including Editor in Chief Jacqueline Carlyle (played by Melora Hardin) and Scarlet Fashion Director Oliver Grayson (played by Stephen Conrad Moore)—a stylish send-off. 

In case you’re not already up-to-date on all things Scarlet, don’t worry: The Bold Type series finale airs on June 30, and all previous episodes are available to stream on Hulu.


(Image credit: Courtesy of Freeform)

I’ve been catching up on The Bold Type and really love the entire cast and their distinct senses of style. You took on the role of costume director for season five, which is the final season. 

The funny story is that when I was on Pretty Little Liars, I got called for the pilot of The Bold Type, which was filming in Toronto. I have known Katie Stevens since she was 17 from the TV show Faking It. I was so bummed because I wanted to work with her again. But this opportunity came around at the perfect time, so it was nice to say "yes” and go back to my Freeform family and see Katie again. It was such a gift.


(Image credit: Courtesy of Freeform)


(Image credit: Courtesy of Freeform)

What was it like stepping into The Bold Type universe toward the conclusion of the series?

I knew that my job was to bring the best of four seasons. They had four amazing costume designers, but each had a different vibe each season. To prepare, I dug into all the seasons and screenshot my favorite looks. I was really in love with season one, so when I presented my vision, I said I think this is really about showing each character’s journey. Sutton is now a stylist. She’s not trying too hard anymore. Jane has gone through her sexual awakening. Kat is finally discovering who she is. So I took the strong individuals that they are and portrayed that through their wardrobes. 

Of course, if you’re going to hire Mandi Line, then you’re going to get a little over-the-top. When it came to Oliver, Andrew, and Jacqueline, I couldn’t go bigger. I told my crew to go bold or go home—that’s what we did.


(Image credit: Courtesy of Freeform)


(Image credit: Courtesy of Freeform)

What were the unique challenges you faced with filming during COVID-19? 

We filmed in Montreal from December to April, and every single store was closed. I got there and had to do a 14-day quarantine, and then I’m preparing to do one of the biggest fashion shows on TV, and nothing is open, there’s a 7 p.m. curfew, and it’s also -23°. But it forced me to try something new. My team and I did this 99% online—it turned into who can get it to us the fastest because we were in a different country. I really wanted to focus on how these people would shop and where they would shop. It was hard to get brands to understand "we need it yesterday,” but a lot of designers really came through for us.

The Bold Type takes place not only in the telegenic world of NYC but also within the bubble of fashion. Are there any real-life editors, stylists, designers, etc. that you referenced for inspiration?

I create my boards as the inspiration for my shoppers. My friend Alexandra Mandelkorn is a huge stylist, and she dresses Jurnee Smollett. If you look at Jurnee, she’s so freaking dope. They have her dressing in sexy tank tops with all this gold jewelry and a man’s gold watch and tropical shirts with these drop-crotch pants. I wanted to put a little of a masculine touch on Kat because she’s becoming so much more comfortable with her sexuality at the same time, so Jurnee’s personal style was a huge inspiration for Kat. 

When I did Sutton, I had to show Freeform what stylists actually look like. I referenced Samantha McMillan and Karla Welch. Do you know what they wear? They wear blazers, tanks, and jeans. But they’re all high-end and fit. They’re not flashy. When you’re a stylist at a photo shoot, you don’t want to be the center of attention. You want to be cool, collected. You’ve got your shit together, and your stuff fits. Sutton is telling you what to wear now, so you have to believe the source. I love Sutton.

Jane’s was my toughest because her evolution has been proper and uptight to super sexual. You don’t really know who you’re going to get with Jane’s character, but Katie is so involved in who Jane is, and she knows Jane so well. We talked a lot about what does it look like to be a professional in the office today. There’s no more structure. You don’t have to be Jacqueline to be a boss. The first "Mandi” moment is when Jane walks into Jacqueline’s office in this blazer with this crisscross Isabel Marant belt, Aritzia leggings, and Paris Texas boots, making her strong and feminine and considering what a possible new Jacqueline looks like. What does Jane’s version of Jacqueline look like?


(Image credit: Courtesy of Freeform)

What about Scarlet’s editor in chief, Jacqueline Carlyle? We know she’s loosely based on former Cosmopolitan EIC Joanna Coles. 

I can go on for days about Jacqueline’s clothes. I just made her if I was EIC, but a bit more edgy this season. It’s me, just me as a boss. That’s the direction I went: if I was Jacqueline.

Given that the show is so fashion-centric, who were some current designers you were excited to feature?

I was excited to personally design a lot of the finale looks. The head-to-toe Oliver outfits and head-to-toe Kat. None of these outfits are a big surprise because they are on the trailer. Sutton’s final look is over 280 Swarovski crystals glued on every single polka dot. Kat’s was made from fabric that we shipped in from Africa, and every single piece on Kat’s outfit comes off. She’s got this jumpsuit, but it looks like a tuxedo. The top is masculine, but the bottom is feminine. It’s so versatile, so I was really excited to be able to design that. 

My friend Jonny Cota was the winner of Making the Cut, and Oliver wears a lot of Jonny Cota. Also, Vitaly is an amazing jewelry designer from Toronto, and their accessories are in every single episode. 

It made it only a couple of scenes, but this Black designer named Alexandria Alli does luxury leather handbags. She goes by @FWStyle—I just found her on Instagram. She was smaller during the pandemic and had great bags, so we were so excited to work with her.

There is this impeccably tailored yet forward-thinking with their fabrics, Montreal-based brand called Atelier Unttld. They are so badass. They were a key element to Jacqueline’s look this year.


(Image credit: Courtesy of Freeform)

A lot goes into achieving the perfect look for a character. In addition to the fashion, I love the makeup and accessories on The Bold Type. What is the process for putting together a whole cohesive look? 

I remember Joan Rivers came into my trailer once, and she was like, "Honey what the fuck is all that? I’ve never seen more jewelry—that’s more shit than I’ve got.” I always have the accessories pre-done for every single outfit I put together—the shoes, belts, accessories. At the end of the season, the accountants will always be like, "You realize that half the budget was just spent on belts?" And we’re like, "Yep, that’s what makes an outfit.” 

When I spoke to Katie this season, she was like, "I barely do accessories.” It got to a point where she was like, "I need more.” In the next episode, Jane wears this dope magenta blazer and the sweater tie-dye dress. We were looking at each other while on set. I had my Balenciaga safety pin necklace, which is my everything, and I always wear it. So I take it off, and I put it on her. It just tops off an outfit.

For makeup and hair, I was really grateful that they were also new. They were really imaginative and helped showcase the wardrobe. It’s a whole process from head to toe.

It’s funny that you say a belt makes the outfit because I hate belts. I don’t own a single belt. 

Oh, I won’t wear a belt. I’ll barf. If I put a belt on my body, I will throw up. I do not wear belts. 

But for some reason, the confidence of a belt on-camera works. In one scene, Sutton is wearing a $9 shirt from H&M, a vintage blazer, and an eagle-head yellow belt, and she looks like Steven Tyler. It’s everything.

Over the series, Sutton Brady has gone from temp to assistant to stylist. She also got married along the way. How do you think her style has evolved in tandem with both her professional and personal life? 

A lot of writers don’t get it. They think that when they are falling apart or when they’re in limbo, they fall apart in their clothing. I actually disagree. I think women fake it. We go into the office, we put some lipstick on, we put on that outfit, and we’re like, "Yeah, I don’t want to get out of bed, but I’m going to look like I’m okay.”

And it’s not a spoiler—you see it in the trailer. Somehow, Sutton and Richard end up meeting again. That was a big moment for me. If you go to see an ex, someone that broke your heart or you broke their heart, even if it was your choice, you want to leave them wondering, How the hell could I leave that woman? How could I let her go?

I really turned on the pretty for Sutton because that’s what Richard would love. Whenever she encounters Richard, she will always look elegant and mature. She doesn’t look like she’s falling apart. I took away almost all the patterns, and I wanted her to look like "I’m okay. I’m good. I’m totally good, and don’t forget about me when I walk away because I’m so beautiful.” That’s what we think. That’s what women do. We’re not going to just go home and cry.


(Image credit: Courtesy of Freeform)


(Image credit: Courtesy of Mandi Line)

Sutton says that at the bowling alley party, which is funny because it’s a super-casual look for her, but she’s speaking her truth. 

The bowling alley looks! If there’s some kind of homage we can do to a movie, I’ll do it. Costume designers do this all the time. For the bowling alley, Grease 2 is one of my favorite movies in the world, and Michelle Pfeiffer plays this character named Stephanie Zinone. The girls’ bowling shirts are based on her character. 

And then Sage—no one even noticed—was in a purple head-to-toe tracksuit just like John Turturro in The Big Lebowski. I put her in a hairnet, and no one even realized. She knew, though, and we were dying of laughter. Timothy was in this cardigan that looks just like The Dude’s from The Big Lebowski. We were laughing so hard. Every now and then, someone would text me during the episode and get the reference.


(Image credit: Courtesy of Mandi Line)


(Image credit: Courtesy of Freeform)

Kat Edison is an outspoken activist and tends to be more experimental in her fashion choices. What were some designers you looked to for her wardrobe? Did you pull particularly from any Black-owned brands or unisex designs? 

For Kat, I pulled from the Black Designer Database. We purposely worked with Black designers to put money in their pockets and give them exposure. Kat is in Black designers probably 50% of the time, easily.

Jane Sloan has the most "traditional” style but struggles with body issues: her petite stature and her preventative double mastectomy. How did those elements of her character play into your costume design? 

When I began, I got notes that sometimes Jane’s clothes are too sexy for the office, and I totally agreed. Then, I start designing, I submit pictures, and they’re like, "Why is that skirt so short?” Her stuff is so sexy that suddenly I put her in "Hanna” clothes from PLL. Even though she got the double mastectomy, Jane is empowered by her sexuality. It got too cool for the office sometimes, but we toned it down. I was like, "Jane is super confident,” and they were like, "Yeah, but she still has to meet with investors.” By the time we got out of the fitting, I was like, "Katie, you have definitely mesmerized with your confidence and sexuality,” so we had to scale her back on set. 


(Image credit: Courtesy of Freeform)


(Image credit: Courtesy of Freeform)

In media, whether print or digital, there is a lot of emphases placed on appearance. Do you have any advice for young women or aspiring editors looking to build their professional wardrobes? What pieces do you recommend investing in if pursuing a career in fashion? 

I actually work with Warner Brothers every year and tell new actors what to invest in and what to and what no to wear. I always tell them to pull back and take a minute. My advice is that the shoes can say everything.


(Image credit: Courtesy of Mandi Line)

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Drew Elovitz
Director of Content Strategy

Drew Elovitz is originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, but has spent the last decade living and working in New York City. She earned a master's degree in media and popular culture from New York University, then began her career on the internet as the Twitter voice of Barbie. She worked previously at Who What Wear as the director of content strategy and also spent several years leading the social media teams at Teen Vogue and Entertainment Weekly. You'll find her byline on the site around topics such as celebrity fashion, must-have basics, beauty favorites (particularly nail polish), and wellness tips and tricks. Her personal style tends to favor the classics: She loves crisp white button-downs, sneakers, and skinny jeans—and no look is complete without a great pair of oversize sunglasses and a trusty leather jacket. After she finishes reading the entire internet every day, she can be found dining out at her favorite restaurants, trying new beauty treatments, or indulging her historical-fiction habit.