Tag Archives: women

Beauty in the Movies: 9 to 5

The transition from freelancing at home to commuting and working full-time has been a major contributing factor to my recent lack of blog posts. So it’s only appropriate that the return of ‘Beauty in the Movies’ features the charmingly adorable 1980s work place comedy 9 to 5.

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9 to 5 is a female buddy comedy in which three female co-workers accidentally kidnap their sexist, terrible boss and then, with him safely under house arrest, work together to make the office a much better place for everyone.

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There are an abundance of great scenes between the leading ladies (Dolly Parton, Lily Tomlin, and Jane Fonda) but one of the best moments comes after the three women have each had a hellish day at the office and decide to get high on a joint given to Lily Tomlin’s character by her son.

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“Is that one of those marijuana cigarettes?”

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While stoned, they each indulge in a workplace fantasy and live out a take-down of their evil superior. Lily Tomlin’s fantasy of herself as a Disney-like princess is by far the best, cartoon animals and all. Adorable.

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One of the sillier parts of the movie is the S+M like contraption the women rig up to keep their boss (Dabney Coleman) from escaping while they make changes back at the office.

Dabney Coleman 9 to 5

This film deals with some workplace issues that are still very relevant more than 30 years later. Workplace sexism is the most obvious obstacle the women face, but girl-on-girl crimes and workplace dissatisfaction lie beneath the sometimes slapstick plot of the film. Dolly Parton’s character, Doralee, is sexually harassed by her boss on a daily basis, but it is equally upsetting when the other women in the office assume she’s sleeping with him and then ostracize her for it.

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(Doesn’t sad Dolly just break your little heart?)

It seems the other women’s assumptions are due in part to Dolly’s clothing, makeup, and overall Parton-ish style (epic bosom included). Sadly, women judging other women based on their appearance and forming false opinions about their sex-lives, intellect, morality, etc., is something I’ve seen happen in every office I’ve ever worked in. It’s pretty sad to think those two ladies almost missed out on being friends with Doralee because of their own misconceptions.

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There are other aspects of office life that haven’t changed since 1980, example #1:

Copiers are devil-monsters sent from Hades to make your life miserable. I’m pretty sure the one at my office has an angry spirit living inside, it chews paper instead of printing it, always has a jam in a mystery tray, and has also burned me twice. I’m right there with Jane Fonda in this scene.

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As Dolly says, working 9 to 5 can sure drive you crazy if you let it, but there is really nothing better than some sassy, smart, supportive friends to help make your office a fun place to be.

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…and happy hour never hurts either — cheers!

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Beauty in the Movies: Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead

Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitters Dead is one of the best movies ever, please don’t be misled by the title. Sure, if you like super serious movies where you get knocked over the head by meaning and intense emotion and all that, then fine, you might not agree, but if you were a girl who was growing up in the 90s, you probably love this film—and there’s no shame in that, only pride!

DTMTBD is like Working Girl for the 90s teen set, only kind of better because the fashion is way more fun. When Sue Ellen (or “Swell” for short) Crandell’s mom decides to jet off to Australia with her new boyfriend leaving her five children alone for the summer, at first they think they’re going to have the time of their lives. So it comes as quite a surprise when an old woman shows up at the door proclaiming to be their babysitter. It’s even more of a surprise when she drops dead leaving the kids with no money.

Sue Ellen soon realizes that, being the oldest, she’s in charge of her ramshackle gang of siblings for the rest of the summer. She and her burn-out brother Kenny (Keith Coogan) toss a frozen pizza to decide who will get a job and who will stay home with the kids. Sue Ellen loses the pizza toss, and soon finds herself cleaning fat vats at fast food joint Clown Dog. She quits pretty quickly, but not before meeting Brian (Josh Charles), a cute delivery-guy.

As a result of copying her resume straight from a book, Sue Ellen lands a coveted position as Executive Administrative Assistant at General Apparel West, making an enemy of the original candidate for the position, bitchy receptionist Carolyn (Jayne Brook).

Swell’s killer interview outfit and fake resume may have won her the job, but now Carolyn and her boyfriend (a greasy pre-X-Files David Duchovny) are determined to take her down.

Luckily Sue Ellen has the best boss ever, Rose (Joanna Cassidy) who not only can’t stand Carolyn but also gives us viewers the delightful phrase “I’m right on top of that Rose”, which to this day I still hear in my head when given an important task at work. Unfortunately 17-year-old Sue Ellen is in a bit over her head and things soon unravel, but not before an amazing work montage, beach romance, and some truly amazing 90s fashion.

DTMTBD has stuck around and remained in our hearts because it’s atypical for a teen movie. I love that Sue Ellen has a power-suit wearing female boss who is awesome and supportive instead of evil. It’s also great that while she gives herself her own “business” makeover, her younger brother is really the one who ends up going through a typical physical transformation—haircut, clean clothes, etc.

Swell was a fashion icon for me in my formative years, I still marvel at how she made harem pants and over-sized blazers look so effortlessly hip. Her awesome early 90s friends are also an inspiration, they remind me of the babysitters I had as a kid who I though were just the coolest. girls. ever. Side ponytails, teased hair, chunky jewelry, as far as I’m concerned they still look damn amazing.

Don’t be betrayed by the name, if for some reason you’ve never had the delight of watching DTMTBD, give it a try. It’s great this time of year if you’re working your butt off in business wear and feeling bitter about the tourists and day-trippers that surround you on your commute (I speak from very strong personal experience). It’s worth it alone to watch for the fashion show at the end, but really, whether she is wearing doc martens or shoulder-pads, Christina Applegate is just so damn wonderful. So crank up the AC, microwave some popcorn, and revisit a teen movie with style and charm that far exceed its title.

Beauty in the Movies: Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter's Dead

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Diane von Furstenberg sheer blouse
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Off the shoulder shirt
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Viktor Rolf slim fit blazer
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Freda blue jacket
144 – matchesfashion.com

River Island long jacket
50 – riverisland.com

French Connection harem pants
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Forzieri black leather briefcase
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Dannijo silver cuff bracelet
238 – net-a-porter.com

Black earrings
$7.99 – amazon.com

NERIDA FRAIMAN vintage hat
259 – harrods.com

Ray-Ban ray ban sunglasses
€71 – my-wardrobe.com

Calvin Klein wide leather belt
$38 – zappos.com

Cuteberry floral scarve
$16 – yesstyle.com

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Beauty in the Movies: Mahanagar

Ok, so with my new job I’ve been pretty busy and have to squeeze blog-time in before bed (which usually doesn’t happen). As a result, Beauty in the Movies is going to be a little paired down for a while, I’m still going to feature great movies, just with fewer details depending on how hectic things are.

Today I am featuring a fantastic film that a lot of people might not be familiar with—Satyajit Ray’s Mahanagar (its English title is The Big City).

Arati Mazumder is a typical Indian housewife, living in early 1960s Calcutta, and taking care of not only her husband and child but her young sister-in-law and her husband’s parents as well. When her husband unexpectedly loses his job, she attempts to save the family by taking a position as a sewing machine sales woman.

Having a career quickly leads to a sense of liberation for Arati, especially when she meets an Anglo-Indian woman at work who introduces her to cat eye sunglasses, lipstick and the realities of discrimination.

Like all of Ray’s films, this one has excellent characters that are endearing, relatable and multidimensional. He had a talent for taking simple stories and making them incredibly meaningful without depending on drama or sentimentality.

For Arati, lipstick becomes symbolic of her empowerment, she applies it before attempting to ask for a raise or make a sales pitch. It is not a form of vanity for her, but a source of courage and change.


I highly recommend this film, it’s entertaining, moving, and uplifting too.  It’s a film with a strong feminist theme, but it doesn’t hit you over the head with its message, or sacrifice entertainment for the sake of it. Mahanagar is a familiar, deceptively simple story, but in its own way it’s timeless and still incredibly relevant today.

Beauty in the Movies: Mahanagar


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Beauty in the Movies: Party Girl

The past few films I’ve featured have been naturalistic, English, and decidedly rural, so this week I thought it would be fun to swing in the opposite direction and highlight an indie classic set in ’90s Manhattan—Party Girl.

Mary (Parker Posey) makes a living throwing wild parties (or what in the ’90s we called “raves”), unfortunately she always forgets to obtain a liquor license. When her unorthodox profession finally lands her in jail, she looks to her godmother Judy (Sasha von Scherler) to bail her out. Judy is a librarian who makes a habit of reminding Mary she’s just like her mother who was “a woman with no common sense”. In order to prove Judy wrong, and avoid eviction, Mary takes a position as a library clerk and finds she might have a surprise talent for the job.

While Mary is in the midst of starting a new career she finds herself infatuated with Mustafa, (Omar Townsend) the hunky, Lebanese, proprietor of a street falafel cart. Unfortunately Mary’s self-centeredness is a big obstacle in the way of her happiness in every aspect of her life, especially where romance is concerned. Mustafa introduces Mary to the myth of Sisyphus which parallels Mary’s own struggle and is made reference to in many different ways throughout the film—like a guy who always seems to be carrying a box up the stairs.

There are a bunch of great secondary characters like Mary’s flamboyant friend Derrick (Anthony DeSando), who has one of the most lovely Jersey accents ever, Liev Schreiber as her cockney jerk of an ex-boyfriend, and her roommate aspiring DJ, Leo (Guillermo Díaz). Really though, this is Parker Posey’s movie. She is so charmingly obnoxious and straight-up weird that you can’t take your eyes off her, not to mention her outfits. Colored tights and shorts are all over the place at the moment and I like to think it all started right here.

Party Girl is from the era where an “indie” film actually meant it was independently funded rather than just a label to acknowledge it was somewhat outside the mainstream or quirky. According to IMDB.com this film was made for $150,000 dollars which seems totally insane by today’s standards. I mean, I know, inflation and all that but still, wow, that’s really cheap for a movie. Consider that “independent”  films of the last few years like 500 days of Summer or Little Miss Sunshine were both made for around $8 million—which is still super cheap by Hollywood standards.

The editing and music in Party Girl are sort of strange (the music really sounds like a made-for-ABC-family movie at times). You get the feeling a lot of the costumes and set decorations were thrown together from what people had on hand or could acquire with a meager budget. These things make the film so much more interesting though. It feels unique, it feels like New York, and it captures the feeling of a specific moment in the 1990s.

Figuring out what you want to do with your life is a huge decision, and so often in movies everyone already seems to have that worked out, especially in films for women. “Chick-flicks” or romantic comedies always seem to feature ladies with perfect careers who are just trying to find the right guy. As most of us know, finding the perfect career can be much more of a struggle. While I’m pretty confident most women could get along just fine without a guy, the same can’t be said for a job—we all need one of those (unless you have a trust fund or a wealthy spouse or something).

This movie is a cult classic because it gets funnier the more you watch it and the clothes and style are still appealing over 15 years later. In a way Party Girl is a coming-of-age story, at 24 Mary doesn’t know how to be a grown-up mostly because she has no idea what she wants to do. She keeps screwing everything up, and the boulder rolls back down the hill on top of her over and over again. It isn’t until she embraces what she actually likes doing, despite its lack of glamour, that she finds fulfillment. Party Girl also teaches us the important lesson that librarians can be hot and fashionable—you really can’t judge a book by its cover.

Miu Miu leopard print coat
2,170 GBP – net-a-porter.com

Fur jacket
79 GBP – aubinandwills.com

Clemens en August slim fit blazer
177 GBP – theoutnet.com

TopShop opaque tight
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MondayMarch red short
60 EUR – welikefashion.com

Jane Norman short short
18 GBP – janenorman.co.uk

Padded bra
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High heels
67 EUR – modekungen.se

Pierre Hardy stiletto high heels
$1,020 – net-a-porter.com

Diana Warner cocktail ring
$95 – maxandchloe.com

Cross jewelry
625 EUR – stylebop.com

D G heart chain necklace
$93 – zappos.com

Red glove
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LESCA Round framed glasses
$249 – farfetch.com

Miss Grant Junior Girls Navy Blue Sequin Shorts
73 GBP – childsplayclothing.co.uk

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Beauty in the Movies: Sense and Sensibility

A few weeks ago I featured the film Clueless an update of Jane Austen’s Emma, only to realize that I’ve never featured a direct adaptation of an Austen novel into film. So this week I feature Ang Lee’s beautiful Sense and Sensibility which may not be as true to the novel as some Austen fans would like, but no doubt makes up for it with stunning visuals and amazing acting.

As Mr. Dashwood passes away, his last request is that his only son, John, will promise to take care of his step-mother and sisters who will inherit virtually nothing due to England’s Primogeniture laws which stipulate that land is passed down to only male heirs. Unfortunately, John’s greedy wife Fanny convinces him his sisters will do perfectly fine on their own. As a result Mrs. Dashwood (Gemma Jones) and her three daughters, Elinor (Emma Thompson), Marianne (Kate Winslet), and Margaret (Emilie François) become strangers in their own home and must seek a new place to live.

Fanny’s brother Edward comes to visit while the Dashwoods prepare to abandon their home. Edward is nothing like his shallow, cruel sister and soon he and Elinor form a close friendship. Fanny, or course, disapproves and fearing the friendship will blossom into love makes sure Edward leaves before any such thing can happen. When Mrs. Dashwood’s wealthy cousin, Sir John Middleton, offers the women a cottage on his estate they are finally out of danger. Like most Austen, there are way to many characters and way too many plot twists to cover any more of the plot here, you’ll just have to check it out yourself, it’s worth it.

Sense and Sensibility was Jane Austen’s first published novel, in 1811, and was written under the pseudonym of “A Lady”. She was just 19 when she began what would become her first full length work, and some believe it is partially based on her relationship with her own sister Cassandra. While Elinor represents “sense” or a restrained and courteous disposition, Marianne’s character is representative of “sensibility” what we today would think of as sensitivity, or an overly emotional personality.

Both sister’s traits have their positive and negative aspects, but it does seem that Elinor’s restraint and patience win out while Marianne’s impulsive, sometimes inappropriate, behavior results in heartbreak and distress. Many Austen Biographers have argued over which of the two traits Austen saw as superior, or if she was ever sure of that answer herself. It is generally believed that Austen saw herself as free-spirited Marianne, and her sister as the more practical Elinor whom she looked up to greatly.

During this period in history, as well as many others, a woman’s search for a husband wasn’t what we think of it as today, it was an essential part of life. A woman being a spinster wasn’t awful because it meant she would be sad and lonely, but because she would be poor and most likely spend the rest of her life living off her relation’s generosity. Austen’s novels, though they deal heavily in romance, are also about the struggle to persevere.

If you were a woman born into the middle or upper classes you couldn’t simply go out and get a job, you had no options. The bechdel test fails in Austen, and in other places too, because the need for a husband was so much more than simply romance, it was in many ways a woman’s only hope and therefore a major part of the conversation among women at the time.

To think Austen reveled in the predicament women were in during her time is to completely miss the point, her characters are often in complete turmoil over their own fate, and Emma Thompson does a wonderful job of highlighting this aspect of female life in her adaptation (and in her performance as well). No one could read the novel, or watch the film, and believe that Elinor wouldn’t choose to go out and support her family if she could, but she is utterly repressed by the futility of her position.

Ang Lee’s naturalistic scenery, Jenny Beavan’s gorgeous costumes, and Emma Thompson’s insightful, funny, writing make this adaptation standout from others. There may be few of Jane Austen’s original words in the script, but the spirit of her characters and the cleverness of her storytelling are unmistakable and charming as ever.

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Proenza Schouler short sleeve dress
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See by Chloe pleated dress
334 GBP – farfetch.com

TopShop cotton tank
$45 – topshop.com

DAY Birger et Mikkelsen cropped jacket
149 GBP – my-wardrobe.com

Lace jacket
23 GBP – republic.co.uk

Thierry Colson robe
400 EUR – colette.fr

Alaïa flat shoes
$283 – theoutnet.com

All Black flat shoes
$66 – endless.com

LK Designs metal necklace
101 EUR – pret-a-beaute.com

Fedora hat
$195 – barneys.com

Modstrom blue scarve
30 EUR – welikefashion.com

Gold hair accessory
$28 – nordstrom.com

John Lewis Women satin glove
15 GBP – johnlewis.com

Pashmina wrap shawl
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Beauty in the Movies: The Secret Garden

Most kids have a book (or series of books) that opens up such a world of wonder it becomes a near obsession. For some it might be Little Women, or Harry Potter, but for me that book was Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden. Maybe it’s because growing up in an apartment gardens were foreign and fascinating, or maybe it’s because I’m a Capricorn,  but whatever the reason, I found the story pure magic, and I still do.

The Secret Garden is the story of Mary Lennox (Kate Maberly), a 10-year-old girl, born and raised in colonial India by neglectful parents. As a result, Mary has never had friends and grows up incredibly spoiled and bitter. When her parents die suddenly in an earthquake (in the book it’s a cholera outbreak), Mary finds herself shipped back to England to live with a tortured and often absent uncle (John Lynch) whom she has never met on his sprawling country estate, Misselthwaite Manor.

Not only is the house mysterious, it has an air of melancholy, as though “a spell has been cast upon it”. The housekeeper, Mrs. Medlock (Maggie Smith) keeps Mary locked in her room and refuses to coddle her. The sole kindness Mary encounters is from Martha (Laura Crossley), one of Medlock’s servants who is able to calm her violent temper. It’s only when Mary discovers a secret passage in her room, that she begins to unlock the secrets of the house.


Mary stumbles on a key in the room of her deceased aunt, and learns that it opens the door to a beloved garden left neglected after her aunt’s death. As Mary, and Martha’s animal-charmer brother Dickon (Andrew Knott), set about restoring the garden to its former beauty, Mary finds there are more mysteries to be discovered at Misselthwaite.

Early spring always makes me think of The Secret Garden, the world slowly thawing and coming back to life after a harsh winter. There’s magic in the budding of trees and the blooming of the first daffodils—it’s hope, it’s renewal, not just for the earth, but for ourselves as well. The Secret Garden is a metaphorical story with a heavy dose of magical realism. As the garden blossoms so does Mary, and the effect it has on her is contagious, setting off an awakening throughout Misselthwaite.

Not to sound like an old biddy, but I worry that with all the technology available to kids today they’re missing out on the freedom and enchantment of the outdoors. The Secret Garden highlights such an important part of childhood, not just bonding with friends, but the liberation of being outside and making your own discoveries, even if it’s in your own backyard.

While there are a few small deviations from the original novel in this adaptation by Polish director Agnieszka Holland, it’s by far the most visually beautiful and emotionally effective of the many attempts to bring this story to the screen.

The Secret Garden is a gothic tale, almost Jane Eyre-like with the desolate moors and the ghostly wailing in the night. Holland really captures the darkness in the story and pushes the symbolism as well, Mary’s Aunt’s room is not only vacant, but overgrown in vines like a scene out of Sleeping Beauty.

Frances Hodgson Burnett never saw the success of The Secret Garden during her life, her other novels enjoyed much greater popularity in their time. Over the years the novel began to emerge as her most beloved story, it has a deep resonance, it doesn’t feel like a story for children, but for everyone.

Burnett suffered the loss of her 18 year old son and never really recovered from it, The Secret Garden in many ways was a very personal story for her. It’s about the triumph of hope, of life after loss. It reminds us that even when all the world seems dead, if you’re willing to love, just beneath the surface there is new life waiting to grow.

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Isaac Mizrahi turtleneck top
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Lace top
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One Vintage vintage top
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Paul Joe wool blend coat
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Karen Walker pleated skirt
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French Connection full mini skirt
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Ribbed socks
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Cydwoq lace up ankle booty
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Hunter shoes
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Just Female necklace
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Rag Bone wide brim hat
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Ribbon hair accessory
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Pinafore Dress (22”)
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Vintage Moss Be a Secret Box
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Beauty in the Movies: Clueless

This week for Beauty in the Movies I’m featuring the best ’90s teen film ever, Clueless, which in many ways defined a generation and proved that not all teen movies are created equal.

Clueless catapulted Alicia Silverstone to fame overnight (she was previously referred to as simply “Aerosmith girl”) in the role of Cher Horowitz, the wealthiest, most popular and prettiest airhead in her Beverly Hills high school. Cher is based on the title character in Jane Austen’s novel Emma, and while you can definitely enjoy Clueless without knowing the plot of Emma, it’s pretty fun to draw comparisons.

Cher, like Emma is well-intentioned but completely oblivious to the feelings of those around her—even her own. With the help of her best friend Dionne (Stacey Dash), Cher plays matchmaker to a pair of lonely teachers and then sets about making over new-girl Tai (Brittany Murphy), who is the equivalent of ugly duckling Harriet Smith in Emma.

It takes a while for Cher to realize you can’t force people to be something they’re not, and that in trying to help Tai, she has actually created a monster of sorts. The adaptation was pretty brilliant of Amy Heckerling since Emma really is a clueless teenage girl (ok, she’s 20, but still). Clueless proves the versatility and timelessness of Austen, but also that teen movies don’t all have to be about sex and stupid antics, they can be smart, funny and enjoyed by all ages. Clueless paved the way for films like Mean Girls and (another update of a literary classic) 10 Things I Hate About You.

I saw this film in theaters when it was released in the summer of 1995. I was 11 years old and not yet a teen myself, but the impact it had on all the girls my age (whether you were a popular girl or an outcast) was massive. I remember going back to school that September and suddenly all the girls were wearing knee socks and mini-skirts. Clueless changed fashion almost instantly.

It was the age of grunge, Nirvana, My-So-Called-Life and doc martens, but Clueless brought an infusion of color, of girlishness that was in total opposition to the style that was dominant. I myself, maintained Angela Chase as my role model, but secretly loved the ’60s revival that took hold in the mid ’90s—though at the time I wouldn’t have been caught dead in a pair of knee socks.

The amazing thing about Heckerling’s writing is that she takes the stereotype of the rich, spoiled, popular girl and instead of making her a bitch (like we expect) she makes her endearing and likable, even if she’s shallow at times.

As much as costume designer Mona May deserves credit for changing the face of ’90s fashion, Heckerling has to be praised for the effect she had on ’90s language—specifically slang. “Whatever”, “as if”, “not even”, “I’m Audi”, Heckerling didn’t come up with these phrases (she hung out with teens at Beverly High to get an idea of the language they used) but featuring them in Clueless made them part of American teenage (and general) vernacular.

Hidden among the snappy dialogue and the colorful outfits, Clueless has a pretty important message about acceptance, self-awareness and peer pressure. Not pressure in relation to sex or drugs, but the pressure to be a certain way, to hang out with the right people (even if they’re jerks) and to wear the right clothes. Clueless is as relevant today as ever, the kids who were born the year it came out are exactly the age of these characters now, which makes me feel really old, but I hope they’ve all seen this movie, it’s a modern classic that remains as funny and honest today as it did 16 years ago.

Also, RIP Brittany Murphy, and may you forever be rollin’ with the homies.

Clueless

Clueless by justinez featuring cotton blouses

Dolce Gabbana white cut out dress
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Calvin Klein spaghetti strap dress
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Clemens en August cotton blouse
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Sheer top
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H by Henry Holland yellow cardigan
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Petite Collection cotton cardigan
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Mini skirt
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Over the knee socks
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Delighter
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Ernesto Esposito mary jane pumps
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Biviel t strap pumps
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Christian Dior fur handbag
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Aspinal of London vintage handbag
495 GBP – johnlewis.com

Leatherbay leather bag
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Tarina Tarantino lucite necklace
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Forever21 flower necklace
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Jewelry
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John Lewis Women black hat
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Gucci Classic Logo Rucksack
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Ivy & Moon Long Camisole (Big Girls)
$12 – nordstrom.com

Hair Scrunchie (optional)
3.95 GBP – harrods.com

MARLENA GREY+SILVER -ARMOR LAMPER
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