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Keeping Felicity Unsexy Is a Full-Time Job

October 08, 1998|BETTY GOODWIN | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

The Series: "Felicity" (Tuesdays, 9 p.m., WB network)

The Setup: Seventeen-year-old Felicity Porter (Keri Russell) shows the stresses and strains of independence when she crosses the country to follow her high school crush, Ben Covington (Scott Speedman), to the University of New York.

The Look: Felicity's charm is her mix of Army surplus and Neiman Marcus. However, you won't find the frizzy-haired freshman in skintight micro-fibers, Far Eastern prints, black, delicate jewelry, faux fur collars, knee-length pleated skirts or anything else that rates as a trend. You can look and look, but there isn't a cute little rhinestone barrette to be found in her extra-big mane. If that's a problem, her friend Julie (Amy Johnson) has "cute" covered enough for both of them. Not surprisingly, creator J.J. Abrams had visions of Annie Hall in mind for Felicity, although her look is equal parts "Dawson's Creek" tomboy Joey Potter and young-Debbie-Reynolds all-American girl.

The Dilemma: Felicity, a bit of a wallflower, isn't supposed to be too sexy or adorable looking. But Russell looked gorgeous in almost everything costume designer Linda Serijan-Fasmer brought forth. Body-conscious clothes showed off her enviable size 0 figure, so it became apparent that not only her legs, but also her waist would have to be off-limits.

"She's an extra small, so we buy mediums," Serijan-Fasmer says. "Everything is oversized." And flattering colors lit up her face, which meant that colors had to be restrained--navy, rust, olive, burgundy.

The Components: Felicity's closet revolves around pants (Levi's 501s are her favorite, followed by Army surplus or Abercrombie & Fitch khakis and other straight-legged pants), cotton shirts and dozens and dozens of sweaters--textured, nubby cardigans, turtlenecks and crew necks in patterns and earth-colored solids.

"We have every DKNY turtleneck made," Serijan-Fasmer says. Man-style shirts from stores such as the Gap, Banana Republic and Nordstrom are always worn out. Every single one is recut to look somewhere between fitted and baggy, but never with darts--darts are too sexy. Her shoes are strictly utilitarian, either Converse navy sneakers or Birkenstock boots or sandals.

You Should Know: "Keri says they're her favorite clothes of any show she's ever worked on," attests Serijan-Fasmer. Russell is also a stickler for character consistency.

"She won't wear anything with stretch or sheen," Serijan-Fasmer says. "She doesn't like big, groovy collars. She won't wear anything in her hair, and she won't paint her nails. I bought her a stainless steel Swiss Army watch, but she doesn't think it's right. It's, like, too much."

Trivia: Ben and Felicity's resident advisor Noel Crane (Scott Foley) wears Big Star, Lucky and Diesel jeans because they are most flattering to the rear end, says the costume designer.

Future Look: Creator Abrams hints that Felicity's style will not remain constant.

"It won't be a radical shift," he says. "And it probably won't even happen this season, but her hair and clothes will grow as she does."

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