Here’s how pop culture’s favourite goth from The Addams Family has changed from the comics to Netflix’s new series, Wednesday
In the pantheon of gothic style icons, there are few characters that are as universally recognisable as Wednesday Addams. Her name alone conjures an image: the pale face with a sullen expression, framed by dark, pigtail braids and a white collar that contrasts her black dress.
Wednesday is just one member of The Addams Family, an ensemble of odd and delightfully dark characters created by American cartoon artist Charles Addams in 1938. As the dour daughter of Gomez and Morticia Addams, Wednesday is not like other girls: she raises spiders, tortures people for fun, and has a fascination with all things macabre.
Since first being adapted from the comics for the screen in 1964, Wednesday spoke to scores of young girls who, like her, feel like outsiders with their unconventional interests and edgy style. She remains one of mainstream’s favourite misfits thanks to the numerous portrayals of her character over the last 58 years, but perhaps none are as fleshed-out as the latest version played by Jenna Ortega, the star of Tim Burton’s Wednesday. Along with adding dimensions to her character, the Netflix series also shows Wednesday sporting a variety of stylish outfits that suit modern times while staying true to her gothic sensibilities. For a dose of spooky style inspiration, we take a closer look at Wednesday’s fashion evolution below.
At the age of six, Lisa Loring was the first actress to bring Wednesday Addams to life on screen in the 1964 television series, The Addams Family. Appearance-wise, Loring’s Wednesday was a faithful recreation of the comic character, sporting a black, buttoned dress with distinctive white collars and cuffs. Her dress featured an A-line silhouette that was the defining style of the swinging sixties, while her black stockings and black boots offered a dark twist to the schoolgirl uniform.
When creating looks for the 1991 film The Addams Family, and its sequel Addams Family Values, costume designer Ruth Myers wanted Christina Ricci’s Wednesday Addams to stand apart from the rest of her black-clad clan. She achieved that by crafting Ricci’s dresses out of vintage fabrics, with notable patterns like scribbles and even florals.
The pointed white collar remained a constant, although Myers did embellish the one on Wednesday’s Halloween costume with black lace edging, all the better to emphasise that the character did not care to dress according to contemporary tastes. Ricci also wore what Myers called a “mini Morticia dress”, complete with flared sleeves, that mirrored Anjelica Huston’s vampy look in the films.
In case you missed it: Hollywood Halloween Enthusiasts: 5 Celebrities Who Go All Out for Their Costumes
For her theatrical turn as Wednesday Addams in the 2010 Broadway musical, The Addams Family, actress Krysta Rodriques took to the stage in the character’s signature collared dress—in blue. The colour choice may sound surprising, but not for those who have seen Charles Addams’s original cartoons, which sometimes depicted Wednesday’s frock in that gloomy hue.
While Melissa Hunter’s viral web series, Adult Wednesday Addams, had a short run due to copyright issues, it nonetheless offered us a glimpse of what the goth icon would look like all grown up. For one, the silhouette of her dress is updated to be more form-fitting, resembling the corseted gowns worn by Morticia Addams on screen. But there’s still that masculine touch in her choice of shoes. Instead of high-cut boots, Hunter’s Wednesday favours black derby shoes—perhaps because they are more practical to run around in as she figures out adulting.
In Tim Burton’s spin-off series, Jenna Ortega’s Wednesday is given an expanded wardrobe courtesy of costume designer Colleen Atwood. Sure, Wednesday still wears her favourite dress, but now it comes with an even more pointed collar, padded shoulders, a floral pattern and a tea-length hemline—almost as if she had fished it out of a vintage thrift store like a modern-day 16-year-old. Oh, and did we mention that Wednesday now wears platform boots too?
What’s also new is Wednesday’s school uniform. As a student of Nevermore Academy, she is made to wear a striped blazer jacket with a long matching skirt, layered over other a knitted vest, a white collared shirt and a black tie. In short, she pretty much nails the trendy dark academia look.
We even see a more feminine side to Wednesday when she attends the school dance in a romantic Alaïa dress (vintage, of course) adorned with sheer ruffled layers. That party dress is easily one of Wednesday Addams’ best on-screen ensembles ever—and telling of her enduring good taste in fashion, 84 years after her character was created.