You know that feeling when you’re young and your small, impressionable mind sees something that stands out as the epitome of cool? You’re watching a movie and before you know it, the female lead has metamorphosed into your newest role model, shifting your entire perspective on the type of woman you want to be.
We all have that one moment. And, often, (whether we want to admit it or not…) it’s influenced by what the person is wearing.
Here’s mine: That summer camp scene in The Parent Trap remake where Lindsay Lohan’s character is dominating at poker. The camera zooms in on her hands, revealing her winning hand, and also revealing her bright blue nail polish. In that moment, I remember thinking, “that is exactly who I want to be.” Ever since, I’ve been a dedicated blue nail polish wearer.
In fact, as I type this, the sparkly flash of ultramarine dancing across my keyboard serves as a reminder of my younger self… and the ways in which she’s grown.
Below, I’ve asked a few of our friends to share their own adolescent style inspirations…
Gemma Burgess | Author & Screenwriter
Sometimes I think I’ve been playing bingo with various favorite items from influential movies over the years, and when I collect all of them, I’ll die of happiness. Cher’s white dress in Clueless. Liv Tyler’s skirt in Empire Records. Janeane Garofalo’s dresses in Reality Bites. The white coat that Elisabeth Shue wears in The Saint. Meg Ryan’s French braid in Sleepless In Seattle. Geena Davis’s eye make-up in Long Kiss Goodnight. Anna’s fur coat in This Life (amazing British TV series, if you haven’t, watch it immediatement). Gwyneth’s everything in Royal Tenenbaums (I mean, obviously, I know that’s a basic one to choose but it’s still very real). Okay, final choice:
DAZED AND CONFUSED. All I wanted, when I first saw this movie, was to be as swaggeringly confident as Parker Posey’s Darla. But it’s yearning-for-more Randall ‘Pink’ Floyd of whom I think, year after year, as I search for the perfect pair of worn-but-not-broken mildly flared blue jeans, and a grey t-shirt that hangs off your shoulders just right.
Incidentally, this year, I think I’ve found them: a pair of Zara Oversized jeans (in S, you can still find them on eBay for $20, I have stockpiled five, because #me) and a Hanes Nano Women’s t-shirt.
Christina Holevas | Style Editor, DORÉ
Even as a kid I was really, really obsessed with Sex and the City. My mom had the DVDs (!) and my best friend and I would steal them and watch them at sleepovers. Given the show’s content, I had no idea what they were talking about most of the time (I was 10), but I loved the fashion. I loved Carrie’s style the most. In my mind, she dressed like the quintessential New Yorker and I wanted to be just like her.
Today, I dress absolutely nothing like Carrie Bradshaw, but a lasting lesson that I did learn from Carrie is the high-low mix. Carrie had no qualms about mixing a $7 thrift store dress with a $495 pair of Manolos. I try to channel the same energy into my outfits today by mixing pricier staple items that I hope to have for years, with more budget-friendly thrifted finds.
Jane Larkworthy | Beauty Editor-at-Large, The Cut
I’d have to say Meryl Streep in Kramer vs Kramer. She was just so beautiful in that film, with her gorgeous long hair and translucent complexion, but the fashion! I was in high school when the film came out, and really hadn’t formed any fashion sense (or interest, frankly), but Joanna Kramer was my introduction to the chic New York City woman. The way she wore that long Burberry trench, with the belt tied (not belted) and those slouchy boots, I thought, I want to be her—just without the ugly and awful child custody storyline.
Alyssa Coscarelli | Freelance Writer & Editor
I watched 13 Going on 30 more times than I’d like to admit, and every look still stands out so clearly in my mind. It was one of the first times I remember watching a movie and being so enthralled by the styling, probably because I was around the age of 13, watching someone get thrown into a 30-year-old’s body and dress for what that meant to her (sometimes lace slip dresses, others a polka dot blazer…). To this day, those outfits are ingrained in my memory, somewhat as what life as a 30-something is supposed to look like, with a twist of fantasy and humor, of course.
Veronica McCarthy | Editorial Director, DORÉ
I was raised by a single working mother who, despite being a busy single working mother, was very much a romantic and, like every other woman in the 90s, in love with George Clooney. My mom and George even made lingering eye contact at a restaurant once (we lived in LA) and it was her bragging point for the next five years. So it’s no surprise that One Fine Day was constantly in the rotation of our Saturday night movies (it’s about a single working mother who meets and falls in love with George, a single father).
And honestly, it wasn’t until Linne asked me this brilliant question that I even remembered Michelle Pfeiffer’s wardrobe, which can best be described as “the working woman version of a Nancy Meyers movie.” Complimentary and layered neutrals, with crisp white blouses buttoned to her neck (my favorite look of all time), but then boxers and an oversized grey shirt to sleep in. She clearly used clothes as her armor against the world, much like I do, and she did that by showing very little skin, much like I do (the unknown is always more alluring than the known).
And that last scene where George is waiting for her in her living room while she gets ready, but she can’t find anything to wear that she deems worthy enough for George? Well, a black turtleneck finally rescues her. I own four black turtlenecks. And wear them all in constant rotation come winter.
Janell Hickman | Freelance Writer and Branding Consultant
My favorite fashion memory was watching music videos on MTV, BET or Video Music Box (so throwback). Late 90’s fashion was in it’s peak, and no-one did it better than Aaliyah. I loved EVERYTHING about her—from the dramatic deep part with her eye covered, to her bare midriff, to her edgy feminine take on oversized pieces. She exuded sex appeal, while still being what the kids now call “cozy,” aka comfortable. My wardrobe choices may not always be as bold as hers, but her style is a reminder to be original and the rest of the pack will follow.
Susan Cernek | Marketing Director, David Zwirner
I remember watching Crocodile Dundee—on VHS tape I might add—as a kid, several years after it came out. Linda Kozlowski’s character—a gutsy reporter, out for the scoop—made a lasting impression. Her safari looks—filmy white poet blouse, high waist skirt, black “NYGC” tank and black one-piece swimsuit (cut ever so revealingly for 1986)—are what I turn to in steamy temperatures, hoping for that whiff of 80s adrenaline. (The clothes on display in the SoHo loft party scene are also memorable—all jumbled, blocky graphics on sweaty, angular bodies, like Sottsass come to life. YouTube it.)
But it’s Alfonso Cuarón’s Great Expectations that steers my wardrobe to this day. Against a backdrop of 90s rom-coms—with their daydreaming characters in saccharine hues, pliable women in stretchy minidresses—his steely, aloof Donna Karan-clad Estella (yes, Gwyneth) stood out: The confident woman who held all the cards wore head-to-toe green in clean, long lines—un-accessorized, unencumbered, and uninhibited. Every interview, first date, or negotiation onward usually involved a lot of green and little to no flash.
Bogdana Ferguson | Staff Photographer, DORÉ
Beyonce’s “Diva” music video made me go nuts. The scene where she’s walking in those skinny blue jeans, white tank and a high, sleek ponytail. Nothing ever influenced me as much as that moment. I just remember my 15 year-old heart wanting to look like that so badly. I’d try to recreate it, but c’mon, no one can recreate Beyonce’s level of cool.