Carpe Diem, okay? Fashion lessons from ‘Clueless’

The film is now 20 years old but its advice is timeless

 

Mean Girls may have taught us to only wear pink on Wednesdays and given us a new meaning for “fetch”, but it has nothing on Clueless. On Sunday it will be 20 years since Clueless was first released but it remains a film with a strong cultural identity. In fact, it’s possibly the best fashion film like, ever. It introduced “Whatever!” and “As if!” to a generation but, more than that, Cher Horowitz and her pals taught us some long-lasting fashion lessons we still rely on today. Take note.

You won’t go wrong if your outfit is right “Where is my white collarless shirt by Fred Segal? It’s my most capable-looking outfit!” wails Alicia Silverstone’s Cher when she finds out her shirt is in the dry-cleaners on the day of her driving test. We can’t know there’s a correlation but without the shirt, Cher didn’t get her licence. We’re just saying.

Don’t be a Monet There’s always the odd morning where you rush out the door without ironing out creases on the back of your shirt or changing when you notice small stains on your clothes, but you’re being a Monet. “It’s like a painting, see? From far away, it’s OK, but up close, it’s a big old mess,” Cher says.

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The power of fashion is not to be underestimated “Cher’s main thrill in life is a makeover. It gives her a sense of control in a world full of chaos,” explains Dionne, Cher’s best gal pal. You can’t argue with the power of fashion when Clueless has one of the greatest makeover montages in film’s history. Cher’s happy place is the mall: “I felt impotent and out of control, which I really, really hate. I had to find sanctuary in a place where I could gather my thoughts and regain my strength.”

When it comes to dressing for dates, there are no rules Some people may tell you it’s legs or cleavage, lips or eyes, heels or don’t bother turning up, but Cher reckons she has the whole thing sussed. “Sometimes you need to show a little skin. This makes boys think of being naked and then they think of sex,” she says. Granted, when she finally gets the guy for real, she’s hanging out at home in a very modest t-shirt, but what we’re taking from this is, dress in what feels right.

Layering is key There’s a time and place for showing skin, and during gym class is definitely not it. Layering a spaghetti string top over a white t-shirt is a look we championed after Clueless. More important, though, is the essence of mystery and with that, there’s nothing a sheer blouse can’t solve. If you’ve an inkling your clothes are too revealing, or you dad simply won’t accept Calvin Klein’s definition of a dress, all you need is a sheer blouse to layer over your dress to disguise just how tiny your outfit might be. Like, what-ever.

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There’s no shame in high standards “You see how picky I am about my shoes, and they only go on my feet,” says Cher. She may have been talking about her reasons for remaining a virgin at the time, but the point stands. Cher sticks to her guns when it comes to boys, coffee – she abstains, so she can be “five foot ten, like Cindy Crawford” – and fashion. “A watch doesn’t really go with this outfit, daddy,” is a perfectly legitimate excuse for staying out past curfew in Cher’s world.

What goes around. . . Cher made matching coordinates fashionable long before we ever had questions over the existence of Taylor Swift’s belly button. And Taylor’s not the only one known for her matching coordinates either: Iggy Azalea copied Cher’s iconic yellow plaid combo in her Clueless-inspired Fancy video last year. Cher was lining her lips with a pencil a shade darker than her lipstick before Kylie Jenner was born, because according to her, “anything you can do to draw attention to your mouth is good”. And belly tops, or crop tops as we now call them, have stuck around into this summer. We don’t have to tell you who started that one. Keep everything.

Fashion is supposed to be fun “Carpe diem, okay? You looked hot in it,” Cher tells one-time boyfriend Christian Stovitz as he dithers over a jacket purchase at the mall. For Cher, there’s nothing worse than buyer’s remorse. “God, no! Nothing like that,” she says, when Dionne asks if she’s suffering from a case of it. When it comes to questionable sartorial choices, it’s just a case of owning it. In fact, Cher would give you snaps for courageous fashion efforts.

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