10 Style Truths We Learned from Legally Blonde’s Elle Woods

LEGALLY BLONDE, Reese Witherspoon, Bruiser, 2001, photo: (c) MGM/courtesy Everett Collection
Photo: © MGM/Courtesy Everett Collection

Fifteen years ago today, July 13, Legally Blonde hit theaters and introduced us to Elle Woods, one of Reese Witherspoon's most beloved characters. Woods was a lot of things: a Gemini vegetarian, mom to Bruiser, president of her sorority Delta Nu, and of course, an ace law student-turned lawyer that learned to prosecute in Prada (what, like it's hard?).

Before following her ex-boyfriend Warner (Matthew Davis) to Harvard Law School, setting the plot into motion, you might recall that Elle was also a fashion merchandising major at CULA. Which pretty much explains why she wasn't shy about flaunting her style and beauty savvy all throughout the movie.

Her fearless approach to dressing (read: pink on pink on pink) puts her in the same category as other fictional fashion plates, like Clueless babe Cher Horowitz or Sex and the City's Carrie Bradshaw. And besides the film's awesome girl power message, it's Elle's sense of style that makes it so much fun to re-watch all these years later.

From the power of monochromatic dressing to the ABC's of perm maintenance, here are 10 things Elle Woods taught us, beyond the bend and snap.

Find Your Signature Color

When something works, stick with it. "I don't understand why you are completely disregarding your signature color," said Elle's sorority sister Serena when they went shopping before her big date with Warner. Pink was a part of Elle's identity and though she strayed from time to time, she always went back to it in a monochromatic way for the big moments of the movie. Even her resume was aptly colored (and scented).

Never Pay Full Price if You Don't Have to

When a saleswoman tried to sell Elle a marked down dress at full price, she turned the tables. "Is that low-viscosity rayon? With a half-loop top stitching on the hem?" she asked. "Of course, it's one-of-a-kind," said the clerk. Busted. "It's impossible to use half-loop top stitching on low-viscosity rayon, it would snag the fabric. And you didn't just get it in: I saw it in the June Vogue a year ago. So if you're trying to sell it to me for full price, you picked the wrong girl." And that's how it's done.

Orange Will Never Be the New Pink

We agree the fruity hue is a bit harder to pull off than say, magenta. But Elle takes it to a whole new level. "Last week I saw Cameron Diaz at Fred Segal and I talked her out of buying this truly heinous angora sweater. Whoever said orange was the new pink was seriously disturbed."

A Good Pair of Glasses Can Be Transformative

Whether or not she actually needed them to see, Elle's glasses helped her get into a scholarly mindset for her first day of law school. We appreciate a bold frame too and the way it looks with an equally smart ensemble.

Getting a Regular Manicure Is More Important Than You Think

Many of the movie's pivotal scenes took place in the nail salon while Elle was getting the glossy French mani that ruled the early aughts. She met her new bestie/therapist Paulette (Jennifer Coolidge) there and received life-changing advice from a professor (Holland Taylor). And where would we be without the bend and snap or the UPS guy?

If You're Overdressed or Underdressed, Just Own It

We don't plan on showing up anywhere with a Playboy bunny costume on, but Elle's commitment to a look is inspiring--bunny ears and all.

Dress for the Job You Want

There is no doubt that Elle would rather be in a sequined bikini than a silk button-down ("No more stuffy suits and pantyhose," she says during a weak moment). But she still finds a way to dress appropriately for a law firm, while staying more Marilyn than Jackie. Red lips and a chic side part complement her more conservative side.

Gay Men Know Designers, Straight Men Don't

This is obviously a generalization. But one that comes into play during Elle's first court case. When her client Brooke's (Ali Larter) cabana boy tells Elle not to stomp her "last season Prada shoes" at him, Elle realizes that he is gay and couldn't have been having an affair with Brooke. While there are straight men that love fashion, the majority don't even realize that we're wearing shoes, much less last season's style.

Get Dressed from the Shoes Up

Heels play a big role in Elle's world. They even help her get ahead in her career (see above). So it's no surprise that her footwear was always on point.

The Rules of Hair Care Are Simple and Finite

Most importantly, we learned never, ever wet your hair for 24 hours after getting a perm. And thanks to Tracy Marcinko (and obviously Chutney), we now know the phrase, "ammonium thioglycolate."

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