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7 of Mischa Barton’s most iconic outfits

With the help of Rachel Zoe, 'The O.C.' actress and ‘it’ girl defined the aughts’ boho-glam look.

by Zoë Kendall
29 July 2022, 7:00am

Photos courtesy of Getty Images

With The O.C. on her resume and superstylist Rachel Zoe on speed dial, Mischa Barton was a certified Y2K ‘it’ girl. After bit roles in films like Notting Hill and The Sixth Sense, the American-British actress made her breakthrough with teen drama The O.C. The Josh Schwartz-helmed show, alongside Mischa’s troubled character Marissa Cooper, defined the Y2K zeitgeist, driving trends in music, fashion, beauty and beyond. Thanks to Marissa, the era’s millennial teens were pairing singlets with low-rise skirts, wearing bikini tops to the mall and devoting themselves to the little flippy dress (preferably sourced from Galliano’s Dior or BCBG).

Beyond The O.C., Mischa was a fashion plate in her own right. With the help of her stylist, the actress encapsulated the aughts’ boho-glam style, wearing vintage-inspired dresses from Marc Jacobs, floaty gowns from Zac Posen and Oscar de la Renta, and Y2K staples like bootcut jeans, bedazzled ‘going-out’ tops and satin headbands. Here, we look back at some of Mischa’s most iconic outfits of the 00s.

On The O.C., 2003

The O.C. was the teen drama that defined a generation. From its 2003 premiere to its divisive fourth season, the show had millennials in a chokehold, captivating teen viewers with soapy melodrama all while entirely shifting the pop culture compass. The show’s iconic needle drops made Imogen Heap and Death Cab for Cutie household names, while resurrecting acts like Mazzy Star for a new generation of Limewire-using teens. On the sartorial side of things, Marissa Cooper — played by a 16-year-old Mischa Barton — was The O.C.’s style plate. In an interview with The Guardian, Mischa described her character’s style as “preppy [and] privileged.” Over the years, the troubled protagonist put a very Orange County spin on Y2K’s ditsy-glam look pairing singlets with low-rise minis, layering T-shirts with bikini tops and becoming the poster girl for the little flippy dress, like this pink jersey number from BCBG.

mischa barton posing with her hand on her hip in a bright floral dress at the teen choice awards 2004
Photo by Gregg DeGuire/WireImage

At the Teen Choice Awards, 2004

After The O.C.’s first season, Mischa adopted a bit of Marissa’s Cali-cool look, opting for beachy, boho-chic styles on and off the red carpet. For example: this patchworked gown, worn to the 2004 Teen Choice Awards, and paired with Marissa’s requisite surf-tousled waves and flat sandals.

marisa barton posing at the kids choice awards in bootcut jeans and pointed heels 2004
Photo by SGranitz/WireImage

At the Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards, 2004

Beloved by starlets from Lindsay Lohan to Anne Hathaway, the bootcut-jeans-and-pointed-toe-heel is a combo as Y2K as they come. Here’s Mischa donning the notorious sartorial duo on Nickelodeon’s Kids Choice Awards red carpet.

mischa barton posing at a marc jacobs event in a cardigan and headband 2005
Photo by J. Merritt/FilmMagic

At a Marc Jacobs event, 2005

Back in 2005, Mischa was the quintessential Marc Jacobs girl. Long before the days of Heaven and the Kiki, Marc (and Marc by Marc) was the go-to for ditsy-twee fashions for it girls from Paris Hilton to Blair Waldorf. Here, attending an event at Marc’s LA flagship, Mischa’s wearing some of the designer’s signatures including this cute-sy cardigan and headband.

lindsay lohan and mischa barton posing at the vanity fair oscars party 2004
Photo by Jean-Paul Aussenard/WireImage

At the Vanity Fair Oscars party, 2004

Here’s Mischa in another Marc look. This time at Vanity Fair’s infamous Oscars afterparty with bestie and fellow Y2K starlet Lindsay Lohan. Throughout the mid-00s, Mischa adopted the era’s vintage-chic look, donning silhouettes inspired by 1920s and 30s fashions.

mischa barton posing in a baby blue chloe dress at a fox tv event 2005
Photo by Jean-Paul Aussenard/WireImage

At a Fox TV event, 2005

This is the Mischa Barton look: a dress from Chloé’s Phoebe Philo-helmed SS04 collection. At the time, Vogue described the collection as “possessing the ineffable quality of ‘It.’” Nearly two decades later, it tracks: Mischa looks ever the mid-00s it girl dripped in rhinestones and liquid satin.

mischa barton posing in a shiny mini dress and tights at the teen vogue young hollywood party 2006
Photo by Donato Sardella/WireImage for Teen Vogue

At the Teen Vogue Young Hollywood party, 2006

The it girl at the it party. In 2006, Mischa attended Teen Vogue’s infamous Young Hollywood event wearing a glitzy dress alongside the era’s ubiquitous black tights. The jacquard, the patent wedges, the 140 denier of it all! But we wouldn’t expect anything less from a mid-aughts it girl with Rachel Zoe on speed dial.

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