Hannah Montana

I wrote this for the LA Times

Clean-cut, wholesome and decidedly demure--look at the ultra-Disneyfied costumes in this month's "Hannah Montana" movie and you'll see the latest reflection of the accelerating shift toward more parent-friendly tween fashions.

Forget Britney-era bling 'n' bras or clingy American Apparel spandex -- 16-year-old "Hannah Montana" star Miley Cyrus wasn't even allowed to wear leggings while the cameras were rolling. Spaghetti straps were verboten, as were bare bellies, micro minis, one-shouldered tanks and anything resembling a camisole.

In part the decision was a pragmatic one aimed at keeping Cyrus connected with "Hannah Montana's" 6- to 14-year-old tween demographic, even as the actress herself moves beyond it. "We wanted her to look as natural, normal and neutral as possible in most of the film -- hair and makeup of course, but especially costumes," says director Peter Chelsom.

Veering away from "Hannah Montana's" garish TV get-ups, as well as Cyrus' increasingly grown-up off-camera style (remember her glittering, somewhat stately, scalloped Zuhair Murad couture gown for this year's Oscars red carpet? Not your average 16-year-old's party dress), he and the film's costume designer, Christopher Lawrence, dialed down their young star's look.

The goal was to clearly differentiate between Miley Stewart, the carefree girl in the "Hannah Montana" franchise (and alter ego of its flashy fictional pop star), and Miley Cyrus, the real-life star whose brand is valued around $1 billion. And they were mindful of the impact of "Hannah's" style, which plays out in a vast array of branded apparel, not to mention body shimmer, guitar picks and even a "Hannah Montana" ceiling fan ($99.95 from Disney's shopping site). "Miley Cyrus is a role model for young girls," Lawrence says. "And that's something we took very seriously."

Read the rest in the LA Times.