Friday, April 11, 2008

Style heroes: fictional teens of the 1990s

On December 31, 1999, I rang in the new millennium at a babysitting job after ushering the children to bed several hours earlier (after midnight in, say, Greenland?) I was 13, and my fashion consciousness was not acutely developed. I favoured peace sign shirts, overalls and Doc Martens. Still, I regarded several figments of pop culture as fashion authorities and assumed I'd be clad like them come high school. Here were a few on my list.

Clarissa Darling, the heroine of Nickelodeon's TV series Clarissa Explains it All, had an enchanting fantasy life - her male best friend was allowed to enter her home by climbing a ladder to her bedroom window (at which point a suitably dorky sound effect would play,) and she could create intricate computer programs which animated the behaviors of her friends and families. I accepted these notions without question - of course my parents would be fine with males entering my bedroom window by ladder. Of course high schoolers can crack off sophisticated computer animation modules without formal training. High school is going to rock! And of course, every time Clarissa wrote words on the screen using her fingertips or spoke to the camera, she was decked out in something colorful and clashy.

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Claudia Kishi of The Baby-sitters Club is actually depicted in a number of ways - book cover illustrations, the TV series and the feature film. Claudia, albeit a brilliant artist, was always just about to fail math or science and get kicked out of the baby-sitters club. Actually, in the film, she is forced to go to summer school and the BSC wrote her a song to help her remember the parts of the human body. Claudia scored a B on the test because she remembered the lyric "the brain, the brain, the center of the chain," which really makes one wonder what impression she was under before. Still, Claudia used her creative faculties when creating fashion magic. For a more detailed analysis, the delightful What Claudia Wore is a blog that chronicles the many faces of Claudia.

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The ladies of the film Cruel Intentions rank high on the list of teenage characters who were never remotely believeable as teenagers. Granted, they weren't too believable as human beings either. The film is a delicious guilty pleasure though, and the rich schemers have quite covetable wardrobes.

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Taking the cake is Ms. Cher Horowitz of Clueless. Who didn't dream of a mechanized closet that allowed a girl to choose her outfits via computer? I can't help but be mildly disappointed that the most popular girls at my high school wore Northface jackets and body conscious polo shirts instead of one of these succulent numbers.

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Who were your fictional teenage fashion icons of the 1990s?

21 comments:

Kristina Marie said...

If I had been really cool in the 90s and caught on to My So Called Life instead of me watching it now, it definetly wouldve been Rayanne Graff.

I think I was a fan of Clarissa too and maybe the girls of Saved by the Bell.

Kimberly said...

The girls from 90210 - I remember thinking they were so cool and even wore Doc Martens with a dress to a school dance (just like Brenda and Donna did). Now when I see reruns of the show I am embarrassed for myself!
Also, I had a fabulous flannel babydoll dress straight out of My So Called Life.

Pretty Pirate said...

I got called blossom all the time in high school by these guys, after I wore a blossom hat to school with a long billowy dress. I guess I brought that upon myself by taking fashion risks. I wouldn't of changed it, I still take risks and love to dress funky. I remember loving the ladies from beverly hills 90210. Thinking back i guess they were pretty mainstream but they always seemed to look good.

Kim said...

So, you were thirteen in 1999 and I got married in 1999. Yikes. The late 80's and the early 90's were my "influential TV teenage years". I watch 90210 and Saved by the Bell (but lied and said I didn't). I loved Tiffani Amber-Theissan. Loved the Breakfast Club and really, really loved Clueless.

puf! said...

style of times was so funny, it reminds me serials like beverly hills

s.

bronwyn said...

Nothing wrong with a good old pair of doc martens;) Seeing that I was a teenager in late eighties South Africa, we didn't have the greatest TV in those years, it never got better than bad adventure stuff like the A-Team and MacGuyver. We aspired to dress like eighties new wave pop stars, madonna etc rather embarressing to admit now.

Nadine said...

I always loved the clueless girls. I liked the red haired freak with the curls - she was so clumsy but still so cute!

Hailey @ stylesymmetry.com said...

the only look I didn't like on Cher was the florescent yellow top and plaid skirt - yikes! :-) I have been thinking about doing a Clueless post - best fashio movie of the 90's (for me) ever.

Isa said...

haha, divine post!
I was actually striked by the cruel intentions ladies as well and then by buffy for her oh-so-cool black outfits, her hair and for the vampire boyfriend.

the iron chic said...

Brenda! Brenda! Brenda!
Never Kelly. Especially not Donna.

The Clothes Horse said...

My sister used to LOVE Clarissa. I wasn't into much tv/movies in the 90s, my style inspiration came from Japanese anime and managa. Yes, I was a geek...
And no, I didn't know about the Great Gatsby tv show, very interesting.

stefanija said...

i agree with your statements regarding the characters in 'cruel intentions'. i never knew any high school girls who wore/could afford silk lingerie-like dresses and black bondage-like corsets. i would have loved to sport the knee high white stockings like cher, but i dont think i was tall enough then to get away with it.
i did think i was harriet the spy for a while, though.

princessmillatwoshoes said...

I loved my so called life and before that blossom, she had the greatest hats ever!
Having said that though, before we got a tv when I was 12, a lot of my notions about American pre-teen life came from the babysitters club series. Claudia was totally my favorite. giggle. Oh and thanks for sharing that blog it's hilarious!

Stararah said...

I was still only 8 by the time the 2000's hit, but I remember loving Clarissa!

Murial Mercurial said...

When I was a kid in the 90's I always copied Claudia and Clarissa - sort of (big shirts and leggings). But thanks to you I just realized my clothes are very Janine Kishi these days: loafers, cords and sweaters. This was a really awesome post!

Marnie said...

Claudia's science test actually recieved a B minus. The minus sort of underscored the assumption that she's only capable in the realm of fashion.

Isabel said...

I watched Clueless religiously before I was old enough to really 'get' it. Also, What Claudia Wore is a great blog. I always thought Claudia was a numbskull artist, but now I realize how creative she actually was!

franz-josev said...

I love love love CLARISSA. She had the craziest outfits ever! Unfortunately the DVD is nowhere to be found in Germany ... Sad.

estrella said...

I really LOVED Clarissa Darling when I was a child! I recorded the whole series to watch it over and over again and once I got a pair of shoes very alike ones of hers :) It's been so nice to remeber.

Kieya said...

omg, i loved claudia!

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