Fictionally Fashionable: Mattie Ross from True Grit

Mattie Ross Hailee Steinfeld

I mentioned this in my review for True Grit, but if I’d read that book, Mattie would have been my ultimate hero.  Sorry, Nancy Drew!

But no matter how old you are, fourteen-year-old Mattie Ross is pretty amazing.  She negotiates deals with cotton barons, hires mercenaries, and tries to straight up murder her father’s killer.  When I was fourteen, the most rebellious thing I ever did was draw on my Trapper Keeper™ with White-Out™ and gel pens.

You know what?  No matter how old we are, we could all use a little of Mattie’s boldness.  So I decided to put together an outfit inspired by Mattie so that, next time I need it, I can borrow a little of her grit.  Here it is!

Mattie Ross


wanted to put together an outfit that embodied Mattie’s fierceness while still being practical, just like her.  But no one wants to look Little House on the Prairie, nor do you want to look like you’re wearing your dead dad’s clothes (ew, Mattie. Ew.)

So to that end, I started off with an olive green skinny jean with military accents and a safari-esque cream shirt. I loved the long tail and cuffed sleeves of on the top, which add just the right amount of “frontier chic” to the outfit.  To bring it together, I paired them with a brown riding boot.  Now, Mattie’s a cowgirl, but not everyone can pull of these.  Besides, leather and canvas were the two dominant textiles on the Western frontier, so the boots are on-trend while being historically on-point.

The rest of the accessories symbolize different parts of the story.  The khaki trenchcoat/duster and hat mimic the ones Mattie wore in the book, which were hand-me-downs from her father.  The belt is the perfect gun-toting accessory, and the leather satchel looks a lot like the saddle bags that Mattie straps onto Little Blackie.  The gold bracelet mimics the California gold pieces stolen off of Mattie’s father’s body by his murderer, and it also symbolizes Mattie’s fiscal awareness.

The most clever piece of this outfit (I think, at least) is the cream scarf.  In the book, Mattie totes around her giant gun in a white sack since it’s too big to fit in her pocket.  The linen scarf symbolizes Mattie’s bag and her gun, especially since…well, accessorizing with guns is a little strange. Instead, I added some fabulous earrings, which don’t symbolize a dang thing!  They’re gorgeous though, right?

The finishing touch to Mattie’s outfit are, of course, braids.  Though the book never says she wears her hair this way, the adorable Hailee Steinfeld parades around in pigtails in the film adaptation.  Now, unless you are fourteen, pigtails probably aren’t your best look.  These are super cute, though!

Mattie Ross Braids

If your hair is long enough, a loose herringbone braid is face-flattering and chic.  The up-do in in the middle is as romantic as it is practical, and could work on medium length hair.  J.Law’s goddess braids are juuuust this side of Heidi, but its a great way to dress up Mattie’s hairstyle.  (Real talk: I tried the goddess braids, and I looked…pretty silly.  I’m so jealous of girls who can pull them off.)

And that’s it!  If you want to see more book-inspired outfits, let me know in the comments. Otherwise, you follow me on Polyvore!

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