“I Might Go For The Daughter Upgrade”: Ella Montgomery’s Style in “Pretty Little Liars”

I haven’t been watching Italian television since 2008 and I have no intention to break this habit: most of programs really suck, so I prefer focusing on American tv series, whose quality has no equals. The range to choose from is extremely wide, but I don’t have much time to spend watching series, so I like focusing on a few only. The 4th season of True Blood is over, so now I’m watching the 5th season of Gossip Girl [1] and I’m looking forward to watching the Halloween episode of Pretty Little Liars.

I’ve started watching the ABC tv series created by Marlene King and based on the novels of Sara Shepard thanks to my friend Tibi: she said I would surely appreciate it. I watched the pilot and it totally got me hooked. You might say the plot is not original (I can see some elements from Gossip Girl and Desperate Housewives, not to mention a certain dark humour which reminds me of Heathers by Michael Lehmann), but nonetheless it’s involving. The cast is definitely a strong point of the series: the four protagonists are played by good actresses, and the supporting characters are good, as well. I must admit my heart lept up when I saw my 80s girl crush Nia Peeples (the lovely Nicole Chapman from Fame) in the role of Pam Fields, Emily’s mother, not to mention a 90s star, Holly Marie Combs (Piper Halliwell in Charmed), who plays Ella Montgomery, Aria’s mother.

As soon as I saw Holly as Ella in the pilot, I realized she was destined to become my new favourite character from a tv series, along with Lily Van der Woodsen. Her laid-back and basic style totally reminds me of Lily’s style in the first season of Gossip Girl. Ok, Lily has never been SO casual, but the relaxed attitude is exactly the same. I don’t think Ella’s style will go through quite a drastic evolution, as we witnessed in the case of Lily; I hope it won’t, because I finally found a style role model in a tv show I love. You may be surprised by my choice to speak about her outfits, but you know I tend not to follow the herd and to focus on minor or awkward characters (Millie Kentner, anyone?).

The “bohemian” vibe of some early outfits seen on Lily is a rule for Ella, as we realize since the first scene where she makes her appearance. Her family has just come back to Rosewood from Iceland and she spends some time with her daughter Aria, before the latter leaves to take Mike (Ella and Byron’s son) to school. Those flared jeans have been enough to turn her into a style icon in my personal book of style: she wears this type of jeans (my favourite) in many episodes of the 1st season, usually pairing them to loose cardigans and t-shirts. In this case, she wears her flared jeans with a plum t-shirt and a grey buttonless cardigan: perfection!

Five years have passed since the last episode of Charmed, but Holly is always beautiful. In Pretty Little Liars she wears very little make-up and always lets her hair loose, with a central parting.

In a scene of the pilot, she sips some wine with her husband Byron. Later we will learn he betrayed her (Aria has known that for a while), but now they spend some quality time alone, surrounded by cardboxes. In this case, she wears her trusty flared jeans with a black top and a gorgeous sheer jacket/shirt, printed with floral and oriental motifs. I particularly like this outfit, because it’s chic but still relaxed.

In the 2nd episode – The Jenna Thing – Ella appears twice: in the first scene, she’s sitting at the kitchen table after all her family has left to school. She wears a simple boucle wool cardigan in a very dark shade of grey, which seems to be her trademark colour. I’ve also spotted a very symbolical accessory, but I will present it later in the post.

The second scene is set at the cinema, where she goes with Aria to see It Happened One Night by Frank Capra. There, they meet Ezra Fitz, Aria’s new English teacher and secret boyfriend. In this case, Ella wears a plain white top and a brown suede jacket, plus a cute printed scarf. I like the bohemian touch of the suede jacket, which has a very simple shape – it’s cut like a blazer.


In the 3rd episode – To Kill a Mocking Girl – things start getting complicated: Byron’s lover – Meredith – meets Ella, who’s still unaware of his affair. Aria tries to do her best to keep Meredith away from her family, but this secret will cause further trouble. In this episode, Ella appears three times (lucky number ;)). In the first scene, she’s having breakfast with Byron and Aria at a bar: she’s wearing flared jeans and a dark blue top with a lace overlay, not an ordinary garment, but she wears it with grace.

The second scene is set at the art gallery where she works (another connection to Lily) and where she meets Meredith. This is one of my favourite outfits, something I could totally wear myself – flared jeans and a lovely white and red checked shirt.

In this screenshot, we get a better view of her dark blue jeans. They’re not as flared as those seen in the pilot, but they’re not skinny jeans either. One of the reasons why I like Ella so much is that she leads an ordinary life: she’s a middle-class mother and woman with an unexciting social life, so she doesn’t have many occasions to dress up, and when she has, she never dresses to impress.

When she attends an exhibition opening at the art gallery, she wears black pants and a black blouse with gold embellishments on the front. The only piece of jewellery she wears is a couple of thin gold chain necklaces.

The 4th episode – Can You Hear Me Now? [2] – is a dramatic moment for her. The mysterious A, who’s tormenting the four protagonists, sends Ella a letter, explaining Byron’s cheating and Aria’s role (she knew about this secret relation, but has never said anything). Aria would like to tell the truth to her mother, but A anticipates her. In the first scene, Ella is cooking and Aria is with her in the kitchen. Her outfit includes flared jeans, a black top and a buttonless blue cardigan; she’s also wearing her trademark accessory.

She wears it all through the series: I’m referring to a gorgeous Hermès Kelly Dog cuff bracelet in black leather with gold hardware. This is the only luxury detail she sports and perfectly complements her laid-back style. This is another element she has in common with Lily: Ella is not a Hermès addicted (she couldn’t even afford all those bags and bracelets), but she probably bought such a classic piece of jewellery because she liked it and not a status symbol. Many sites have identified it as a Collier de Chien but it’s not, because the closure is the same that can be found on Kelly bags.

We meet her again by the end of the episode: she’s in shock because she’s just learnt of her husband’s cheating by an anonymous letter. Here she wears a lovely grey satin top, embellished by a ruffled neckline, plus dark blue jeans and a black, short-sleeved cardigan.

A close-up on her frilly – but still basic – top. The girly detail of the ruffled neckline is echoed by her slightly wavy hair.

In the 5th episode – Reality Bites Me – Ella confronts her husband and daughter about the revelation in A’s letter. She’s  disappointed because everybody seems to know about Byron’s cheating, but her. This moment will bring to a major break-up, when she decides to move out of her house, thus leaving her family alone.

I love this outfit so much! It’s one of my favourite outfits because it perfectly epitomizes her style: she wears flared jeans and a cute off-the-shoulder black blouse, with embroideries and cut-out neckline. We can feel a clear bohemian touch here, which I love. This is a basic outfit, but it’s enough to make her stand out among the mothers of the other girls: Ashley Marin, Hanna’s mother, is all about sexy heels and power dressing; Veronica Hastings, Spencer’s mother, has a laid-back but refined and expensive style; Pam Fields, Emily’s mother, is really into sporty loungewear.

Later in the episode, Ella and Byron have a row, after which she decides to leave. This will strongly influence her family, in particular her son Mike. In this scene, she sports another basic outfit: flared jeans, a dark blue top and a black blazer, made of a shiny/opaque material (could it be raw silk?).

At this point of the story, she seems to have swapped her buttonless cardigans for blazers. This is not a coincidence, because an important change is happening in her life (she will soon start teaching at Rosewood High School).

In the 7th episode – The Homecoming Hangover – she pays a visit to her daughter after the homecoming ball. Here she wears her trademark flared jeans, a v-neck t-shirt and a dark grey buttonless cardigan, which makes its appearance again.

Later in the episode, Ella and Byron meet at Rosewood High School: they have a short but bitter conversation in the corridors. Ella wears something unusual – a printed garment – and looks lovely. She wears a beautiful black jacket with folded lapels, black pants and a silver/grey silk blouse with a peasant string closure on the neckline and some embroideries on the front, a refined take on her bohemian style. We can also see her bag (part of it), which is plain black, a far cry from the designer bags Mrs Humphrey always carries.

I haven’t even started to identify Ella’s clothes because it’s an impossible mission (clothes are so simple and plain that it’s really hard to find where they come from), but I’ll keep on writing about her style, an interesting source of inspiration for my personal style.

[1] I’m also starting The Secret Circle (pretty conventional, it seems, but I want to give it a chance) and 2 Broke Girls.

[2] Sorry: I’ve just realized I’ve written the title of the episode wrong on the screencaps.

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9 comments

  1. Nice post & thanks for the mention. 🙂

    The Hermes cuff is a just the right option to cover Holly’s wrist tattoos! IMO, it’s a better choice for her than the Collier de Chien – since it’s a bit more low key and classic. It blends perfectly with her style.

    Please write more posts about Ella!

    1. You’re welcome! You’re the reason why I started watching Pretty Little Liars, right?

      I agree. The Collier de Chien would have been more predictable. The Kelly Dog is the perfect luxury touch to her laid-back outfits. I love it but I wonder why the producers decided to cover her tattoos up – she’s got lovely wrist tattoos and I can see them as part of Ella, too.

      I will surely write more about her!

      1. It makes me happy to know that you are enjoying Pretty Little Liars so much & that it has provided you with some style inspiration. 🙂

      2. You know how much I love Lily, but my passion for Ella is different. Talking of style, Lily is what I’d like to be (and never will), Ella is a more down-to-earth and plausible source of reference. Now what I need is a Hermès bracelet, the link that connects these two favourite characters of mine.

  2. I think Lily’s look can be done for less, so to speak. Perhaps her gowns cannot be duplicated exactly, but some of her day looks can be found for less than uber designer prices, but I agree that Ella’s look is MUCH more accessible. She always looks comfortable in her clothes, but still pulled together. Agree, the Hermes bracelet is definitely a wish list item. 🙂

    1. Yes, it’s true, but Lily’s outfits always have a chic and poised mood, while Ella’s are much more casual. Besides the outfits themselves, their attitudes are completely different.

      I’m currently lemming two Hermès bracelets, which are not as expensive as I thought: the Kelly Double Tour is 325 euros, while the Kelly Dog is 348 euros. Ok, they’re not exactly cheap, but they’re cheaper than Collier de Chien cuffs.

      1. Not very cheap, but not as expensive as their lacquer or silver bracelets. I think I’ll start saving some money…

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