If there's a lesson to be learned from Rachel Bilson's CW series about a New York City surgeon who moves to Bluebell, Ala., to run her father's practice, it's that location doesn't dictate style. ''She's not trying to fit in,'' explains Bilson. ''She dresses how she likes to dress.'' For her character, Zoe Hart, that means keeping a distinctly city look in the country. ''She likes to kind of push the limits, test the boundaries with her wardrobe,'' says costume designer Meredith Markworth-Pollack, who uses modern cuts and muted colors to make Zoe stand out from her whimsical Southern surroundings. ''She's from New York. She's not afraid to look good.''
Though Markworth-Pollack often makes pricey purchases, she says the key to achieving Zoe's look (and staying within the show's budget) is mixing high-end designer wear with more affordable pieces from stores like Zara, Madewell, and J. Crew. ''We're consistently looking for bargains,'' she says. ''It's more about the look of it, the style of it, and what it symbolizes rather than how much it costs.'' (Top: $198, revolveclothing.com; similar jacket: $238, bcbg.com)
To match Zoe's sophisticated style, head of makeup Joni Powell relies on rich earth tones. ''I rarely use colors on her,'' explains Powell. Instead, she opts for berry-tinted lip glosses and smoky shadows. (Clark's Botanicals lip gloss in Rachel Red: $19; Chanel Quadra Eye Shadow: $57)
Markworth-Pollack chooses understated pieces from jewelry lines like Low Luv, Pamela Love, and Gemma Redux to complete Zoe's ensembles. Zoe also carries an array of purses, including one favorite neutral bag by Chloé. ''It just goes with everything,'' says Bilson. (Purse: $1,252, bluefly.com)
While Zoe usually sports an urban palette of darker shades and strong prints, Bilson says that over time it will likely soften to reflect the influence of her quaint new environment. ''I wouldn't say she's going to walk around dressing like Scarlett O'Hara, but I think there might be some color added at some point.''
The Shorts Story
''Shorts have become a signature Zoe Hart look,'' says Markworth-Pollack. One high-waisted leather pair by Chloé (which sold out after airing on the show) is just another way to set Zoe apart from the belles of Bluebell. ''She definitely throws people when she's walking down the streets in her heels and miniature shorts.''
Heels may not be the most practical footwear for a physician, but they show that Zoe isn't bound by the stereotypes of her profession. ''Who's to say doctors can't be stylish?'' says Bilson. ($409, mytheresa.com)