Rip-Away Pants and Crystals: What to Expect in 'Pitch Perfect 2'

Richard Cartwright/Courtesy of Universal Pictures
'Pitch Perfect 2'

Costume designer Sal Perez spills on what we'll see on Beca, Fat Amy and the rest of the Barden Bellas. Get a ca-excited.

The pitches are back — and by pitches, we mean the leading ladies from Pitch Perfect 2. The sequel to the 2012 hit film Pitch Perfect brings the Barden Bellas back to the big screen this Friday with more singing, fine-tuning, dancing and, if we're lucky, horizontal running. And with all that comes the need for outfits to show off what the Bellas have to offer a second time around, which is where costume designer Sal Perez comes in, developing each character's personality through their wardrobe.

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"The first time we saw these girls they were college freshmen. They were young. They were awkward. They were not secure with themselves," recalls Perez, who dressed the cast in the first film. "And now they’re rock stars. They're now college seniors. They’re much more confident." In keeping in mind how they've matured, Perez focused on giving them "a little more sophistication," starting with Beca Mitchell (played by Anna Kendrick).

"Beca was sort of withdrawn, dark and to herself. And now she has friends and she's confident, so I added more color to her look. She’s much more polished," says Perez, calling Kendrick's character "totally an All Saints girl."

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But when it comes to having a colorful, spunky wardrobe in the film, Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson), uh, takes the cake. "Rebel loves color. She loves solid blocks of color, so Rebel's look was a little more basic, but she also wanted to have fun with things," says the costume designer. Among those basic yet fun fashion moments was an updated version of Fat Amy's workout outfit from the first film (a tie-dyed shirt and stretchy headband), and a Southern girl's gloves-and-pearls combo (interpreted with an Australian flair) when she visits the dean's office with the Bellas ("You could tell she put effort into it, but it was just off," says Perez.)

Perez says Elizabeth Banks, who made her debut as director with Pitch Perfect 2, didn't hold him back when it came to the costumes. "Elizabeth just let me go to town. Every performance number has crystals, one way or the other," he says, adding, "I am a big crystal fan so if I can put crystals on everything then I am a happy man." But Banks did have one style request. "Just make them look more sophisticated," Perez says of the note that he received from the director, whom he describes as being "so organized and never once was too flustered to answer a question" on set.

The Bellas' grown-up look is clearly seen in their performance uniforms, which the costume designer notes are all custom-made. Jettisoning their clean-cut, innocent-looking onstage image from the first film, Perez designed pieces that were much more bold this time around, including an over-the-top patriotic look (think sequined tail coats, corsets, tuxedo pants and crystal-embellished shoes), and an old-school Missy Elliott-inspired gold metallic track suit that rips away. He says of the latter look, "We did that one because they were trying to be somebody else and it didn’t work. … It was so anti-Bella." For their final number, Perez did stick with what he describes as a "sort-of stripped down, back-to-basics Bella" ensemble of vests with T-shirts, pants and high-top kicks.

One group we won't be seeing as much of in the second film? The all-boys a cappella group the Treblemakers, who do make an appearance in the opening number with their velvet blazers, which Brooks Brothers had made for both movies. 

"Before it was the girls competing against the boys, and now it’s the girls competing against the world," Perez explains. "If they were still competing against the boys, it would’ve been boring. They brought it to a new level." Because who run the world? Girls.

Illustrations courtesy of Gina DeDomenico Flanagan.