News Article

Uniformity

We break down the character's uniform from ''Saturday Night Live''

Molly Shannon's Mary Katherine Gallagher

Hail Mary. And how. After just 10 appearances on Saturday Night Live, geeky, gawky Mary Katherine Gallagher has emerged as the show's latest breakout character. Created by Molly Shannon, 32, for her pre-SNL club act and based on her own Catholic school experiences, the parochial-school pariah used to be a lot more sinful. ''In my show, she'd say, 'Sometimes when I get nervous I touch my boobs...,''' explains Shannon. ''She'd pull things out of her underwear.'' Although Mary Katherine's tone has changed, her uniform is almost identical to one that Shannon wore in grade school. Herewith, the anatomy of a misfit.

THE HEADBAND plasters down ''dirty, dirty, dirty hair,'' says Shannon, who loves that the band is vise-grip tight. The accessory has been with Shannon since 1992, so she's superstitious about Mary Katherine not wearing it — she thinks it's her yucky, lucky charm.

THE GLASSES are lens-free and inspired by the freaky frames worn by one of Shannon's childhood pals.

THE BLOUSE AND TIE were bought at Craft Clerical Clothes, a school-uniform store in New York City. The Peter Pan collar lends the outfit a won't-grow-up innocence; the neckwear, a touch of nerdiness. (Note: The shirt is hauled to the dry cleaner's after every show.)

THE VEST is secondhand Banana Republic, purchased at a New York Salvation Army. SNL costume designer Tom Broecker toyed with putting Mary Katherine in a jumper but decided it was ''too cute. With the vest, [the outfit] forms a rectangle from her shoulders to the hem of her skirt,'' he says. The crest — an open book with a crown and the initials T.T.A. — is a retired school emblem, but a Craft spokesman takes a vow of silence when asked which one.

THE SKIRT is also from Craft. It was selected after a red version (''Too sexually suggestive,'' says Broecker) and a gray version (''Too washed-out'') were nixed. The plaid number was hiked to the heavens thanks to SNL executive producer Lorne Michaels, who, during dress rehearsal, noticed that a shorter skirt got larger laughs. ''I was in complete agreement,'' laughs Shannon. ''I could do splits. My legs were free. I was like, 'Let's shorten that sucker up!'''

THE SOCKS are tight-fitting tube jobs that give Shannon's legs a chubby, stuffed-sausage look.

THE SHOES had to be superlight for maximum jumpability. Keds sneakers with the alphabet on them from SNL's wardrobe fit the bill — and Shannon's feet. ''I never wear a heavy shoe,'' she says, ''so I can move it. Shake it. I can fly!''

THE UNDERPANTS are Carter's, the brand Shannon wore growing up. Mary Katherine wears two pairs — one with a teeny cushion sewn in to offer some protection during her body-abusing pratfalls. ''Trust me, it still hurts,'' says Shannon. ''The next day, I'm, like, 'Ouch!'''

Originally posted May 02, 1997 Published in issue #377 May 02, 1997 Order article reprints
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