Clueless Style

Posted on November 20, 2015


Darlings, whether you’re prepared to accept it or not, Clueless is a film twenty years in the past. We’ll take a moment for that to sink in. Way harsh, right?

Now that you’re done crying over your lost youth, go and relive all the fashion moments by heading over to Fusion and reading our totally obsessive take on the eye-popping costumes of Cher, Dionne, Tai, Ambular, Christian and Josh. We spent days on this one, rewatching this movie more in the last week than we did in the entire previous two decades. And you know? It still holds up, both on a fashion level and on a “teenage rom com/coming of age” level. It’s a film that has totally earned its “classic” status.

And because the costumes by Mona May are so ridiculously iconic, memorable, and stylish, we had way too much fun teasing out meaning and motifs from them. Here’s a sample of our musings on the two outfits above:

“How do we know this is an iconic film costume? Because if you mention “Cher’s yellow plaid schoolgirl outfit” to anyone who has ever seen this film, they’ll know exactly what you’re talking about. And because if you Google “Clueless halloween costume” you get a pretty decent version of this look available from Party City.”

“When she gets to class, she sheds the jacket in order to highlight the baby sweater she’s wearing underneath. Undersized layered tops were a trend through the nineties, but it’s a particularly strong motif in a lot of Cher’s costumes, as a way to underscore her naivete and childlike nature. In this scene, in which she plays with her gum while talking about partying with the Hait-ee-ans, it’s a particularly good way of showing her immaturity.”

“In addition, the use of a schoolgirl motif (which will pop up over and over again through the use of plaid skirts, knee-sock or thigh-highs, and baby sweaters) comes off like a fairly deliberate way of calling back to what had been, up until then, Alicia Silverstone’s most famous role: as Aerosmith’s muse in a trio of early ’90s music videos, the most memorable of which was “Crazy,” in which she and Liv Tyler literally strip off their school girl uniforms and go, well…crazy, of course.”

“Dionne’s hat is interesting, because you can tie it to a wide range of music-inspired trends of the day, since people like Perry Farrell of Jane’s Addiction, Flava Flav of Public Enemy, Jay Kay of Jamiroquai and Linda Perry of 4 Non Blondes—among many others of the decade—became synonymous with dramatic, oversized, Dr. Seuss-style hats not dissimilar to this one. But you can also walk a little further out and liken it to the kind of dramatic head finery you see on some black women on Sunday mornings in a lot of African-American churches. That may seem like a stretch, but if you look at it from that perspective, it becomes part of a larger theme in Dionne’s costuming.”

So support your local T Lo and go read the whole thing. We teased out way more meaning from these costumes than we would have thought possible going into this project and we think the results are fun and a little thought-provoking.

Oh, and leave a comment so the nice folks at Fusion know you stopped by. Our kittens are a chatty bunch and we’d be very happy to see a discussion spring up over there. If not, feel free to chat about the film here.

[Still: Tom and Lorenzo]

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