How Clueless Taught Me Everything I Know About Fashion

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Photo: © Paramount/Courtesy Everett Collection

Working in the fashion industry, you often hear designers and editors talk about references—the so-called inspiration for say, a collection, a photo shoot, or even the look of the day. Films like Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo, Luis Bunuel’s Belle de Jour, and Michelangelo Antonioni’s Blow-up are often cited and are considered must-sees for anyone who loves fashion, but for a pre-teen growing up in Laredo, Texas there is one movie that tops that list: Clueless.

Prior to the summer of 1995, when the film turned into a sleeper success, I had yet to comprehend the power of clothes (granted I had just turned 11), but I was immediately taken with Cher, Dionne, and Tai—despite her love of grunge. Let’s be honest, who didn’t want a fantastic virtual closet to select your outfits or to makeover your less sartorially-inclined friends at a moment’s notice? I dreamed of a life of yellow plaid skirt suits, knee high socks, white collarless shirts from Fred Segal (the one I sported was from Guess), and two decades later I’m still swooning. Sure, thanks to a career in this world, I know a lot more about Azzedine Alaia, Calvin Klein, and well, the real Cher, but there is something about that chic '90s prep that has forever affected my style. Here, my fashion learnings courtesy of Clueless.

Preppy Can Be Cool

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© Paramount/Courtesy Everett Collection

I never really thought preppy style was particularly fashion-forward (blame it on those boxy '80s polos) until I saw what Cher and Dionne could do with it. The Beverly Hills duo spiced up head-to-toe plaid, and suddenly prep school knee socks seemed the coolest accessory around.

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Minimalism Is Always In

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The most iconic fashion moment had to be when Cher walked down the stairs in that white, Calvin Klein slip dress. It was pretty and sexy all at once, and when I’m in a night-out bind I usually reach for my own versions by Alexander Wang and Nili Lotan.

Know The Power of A White Top

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© Paramount/Courtesy Everett Collection

When I can’t find anything in my closet, I turn to my white tees and blouses. Cher wore them under sweaters, sheer blouses, pullovers, and even, camisoles. They provide endless options and always look chic. Just be sure to have a dry cleaner you love and trust!

Accessories Are Key

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© Paramount/Courtesy Everett Collection

Between Dionne’s Dr. Seuss top hats and nose rings and Cher’s metallic backpacks and fluffy pens, Clueless was a veritable accessory dream. Moreover, the girls knew a statement piece is what really elevates an otherwise basic look.

Play With Color

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While many of us stick to reliable black, Cher and Dionne have color coordination down pat. The bright hues not only made them stand out but made fashion a joy to watch.

Baggy Clothes Don’t Help Anybody

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When Tai first appears on screen, she is seen in an oversize flannel, graphic Troll tee, and ill-fitting brown pants, yes, “she could be a farmer in those clothes.” But post-makeover, her baggy duds are gone in exchange for a fitted cardigan and 1970s-esque, snap front mini. The lesson here? Don’t hide your proverbial assets; flaunt them.

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