‘Only Murders in the Building’: Mabel’s Wardrobe Choices Has a Lot to Do With ‘Armor’ and ‘Mystery’

Mabel Mora’s striking wardrobe on Hulu’s Only Murders in the Building has more meaning than some viewers may realize.

The carefully curated closet was designed to build off of her character’s journey through self-discovery as an onion peeling back the layers of time. Designers were tasked with ensuring Mabel’s style reflected the grittiness, but also the nuanced elegance of New York City. Plus designer Dana Covarrubias had to convince viewers that they weren’t watching actor Selena Gomez. But rather a lost, but also bold young woman in search of the truth.

Mabel’s wardrobe in ‘Only Murders in the Building’ was an armor

Mabel often wore smart overcoats and layered sweaters. Sure, the weather outside was frightful (not to mention the weather inside the Arconia), but there was a reason behind all the layers. Essentially, Mabel’s layered look is all about protection.

Only Murders in the Building costume designer created Mabel's wardrobe with layers like this black cape over a chunky orange turtleneck.
Selena Gomez is seen on the set of ‘Only Murders in the Building’ |James Devaney/GC Images

“Her whole concept was basically that her costumes were a type of armor,” Covarrubias told Elle. “So she’s using these really bright colors in the same way as an animal with a brightly colored coat: ‘Beware. Danger. Leave me alone. Back off.’” Mabel often wore bright colors, offset with the layers and dark pieces so, “the character could be both intriguing and safely anonymous,” according to Elle.

Mabel was also considered to be a cool girl. “We want people to see her and immediately think, This girl is cool,'” Covarrubias told E! News. “This cool comes from her inner power and confidence. and she’s one of those women that can walk into any thrift store and be like, ‘I’m gonna pick that and that, I’m gonna take these, and put this on’—and it’s just going to be amazing.”

‘Only Murders in the Building’ costumes were designed with mystery in mind

Because the Only Murders in the Building characters were solving a murder mystery, Covarrubias wanted the clothing choice to reflect the storyline. “I really wanted to get the costumes involved in the mystery itself,” Covarrubias said. “So for each of the characters, we decided, okay, this is how this character is using their costume. [The costume] is creating its own mystery.”

As a result, Mabel is often seen wearing a lot of trench coats and oversized jackets. Mabel wore an all-black trench in episode 7, but also a different trench coat, the PVC trench, in episode 4.

“That [trench] was really perfect,” Covarrubias remarked. “Because of the PVC and the shine, it has that very current, Y2K, early 2000s vibe. But then, at the same time, the silhouette is very classic trench. It’s bringing in that [sense of the] detective world at the same time that it’s bringing in the fashion world.”

Mabel’s fashion also balances comfort with drama

Mabel is constantly in motion, especially in Only Murders in the Building Season 2. Whether it’s running from the killer or meeting with her crime-busting pals, Charles Haden-Savage (Steve Martin) and Oliver Putman (Martin Short), Mabel leans into comfort but her clothes always make a statement.

For instance, Covarrubias pointed out how Mabel’s pop of color, orange turtleneck partnered with orange Chelsea boots was the perfect match for her black faux-fur cape and black flare pants. “You still want to have her be stylish and cool and young and bring in that hip New York City world,” Covarrubias said.

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Covarrubias noted that Mabel loves a good sweater and there’s a reason. “Her character is a knitter,” Covarrubias said. “So we wanted to find some really wonderful chunky, loose knits that looked like she could have made them.”

Only Murders in the Building Season 1 and 2 are currently streaming on Hulu.