90s, aesthetic, AHS, americanhorrorstory, americanhorrorstorycoven, androgyny, boho, dynasty, fashion, girls, jessajohansson, lisaturtle, MSCL, myrtlesnow, mysocalledlife, queer, savedbythebell, style, vintage, zackmorris
Hello again! As I said at the end of my last post, I’m focusing this entry on my fashion influences from various TV shows. As self-involved as it feels to be doing so, I can’t say I’ve ever made an attempt to fully articulate the aesthetic I’ve developed from being someone who watches a little too much television. The fashion choices of some of my favorite characters have definitely manifested themselves in my own style, so this is a fun opportunity for me to explore some of my influences and make some sense of my clothing options. I have to begin first with two iconic characters from Saved by the Bell: Zack Morris and Lisa Turtle. I watched re-runs of the show all the time in middle and high school.
Saved by the Bell in general featured a lot of whacky fashion choices that I love (like matching separates and denim on denim), but Zack and Lisa in particular really do it for me for different reasons. Zack’s sweater collection is amazing; he ran with the ugly sweater trend and made it work TOO well. He also taught me that layering a button-up under a ridiculous sweater is almost always a good idea. He’s the poster boy for taking loud, thrifty clothes and turning out effortlessly cool and polished looks.
Lisa Turtle was the queen of fashion at Bayside High, and for good reason. What I love about her is that she was fearless when it came to her look. Anything you could think of that sounds like a regrettable idea, Lisa did, and she did it successfully. She taught me that playing it safe with clothing is boring, and that you can pretty much pull off anything with the right attitude. You go, Turtle!
Continuing my 90s fashion fixation, another personal hero of mine is Rickie Vasquez from My So-Called Life. Most people point out Angela or Rayanne as MSCL‘s big style icon, but I’ve always found Rickie more fascinating. MSCL started and ended before I was born, so I really only discovered it a few years ago while I was still in high school. I was immediately obsessed with the show’s angst and sincerity, and with its depiction of Rickie, a queer Latino boy in high school, since I’d never seen a character with a background quite so similar to mine before. While his storyline definitely merits analysis, his personal style was killer. I loved how he’d sometimes mix masculine cuts and feminine patterns in his wardrobe, and he’s a big part of why I find gender-bending in fashion so interesting. Challenging gender norms raises enough question marks in the present day, so I can hardly imagine how difficult it would have been for a character like Rickie to thrive in all of his hipness and flamboyance in the middle of the 90s. He inspires me to think outside the box in terms of what is acceptable for boys and girls to wear.
Moving on to more contemporary fashion influences, we have Jessa Johansson of HBO’s highly polarizing Girls. Say what you will about Lena Dunham and the merits of Girls as a program, but watching even one episode will show you that Jessa does her own thing when it comes to how she dresses. Her dialogue and attitude characterize her with general indifference towards how others feel about her, which she reflects via outfits that scream, “I really don’t care what you think of this because I know I look awesome.” A lot of what she wears is very flowy and comfortable-looking, which I believe good fashion really ought to strive for. Why can’t you look good and be luxuriously comfy at the same time? Oh wait, you can. Just ask Jessa. I like to incorporate bohemian-style clothes like hers into my wardrobe on occasion to offset the louder, more vintage statement pieces that I live off of in much the same way that most other humans live off of food and water.
The last influence I’m going to profile is the incredibly stylish coven of witches from American Horror Story: Coven. All of the characters I mentioned beforehand dress pretty colorfully, but the AHS witches adhere to a strict black-only dress code that managed to stay exciting despite its literal monotony. Zoe Benson was not one of my favorites during the show’s run, but I was crazy about her outfits. She got me interested in hats, which I’d always thought weren’t really for me. I also loved both Madison Montgomery’s sleeker, flashier take on the witch look and Nan’s sweet, Puritanical ensembles. The true star for me was Myrtle Snow, who frequently deviated from the dark look in favor of loud, yet still witch-inspired fashion. I could say more about how rich and wonderful the show’s styling was, but my main point in mentioning it is that I’ve embraced black as stylish and versatile where I might have seen it before as drab or unstimulating. An all-black outfit can be a lot of fun to put together and can make just about anyone look hip and mysterious.
Hopefully all of this provides a little insight into my aesthetic, though I wouldn’t attribute everything I wear to these sources. Not only was this not an exhaustive list of my TV influences, but I also draw inspiration from all sorts of places that aren’t necessarily as cut and dry as a character’s wardrobe in a visual medium like film or television. I’ll probably get into more of that at some other time. On a side note, I tried to think of other male fashion influences and couldn’t really come up with many I identify with (other than Will from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and sometimes Marco from Degrassi, though I don’t agree with all of his fashion choices). I guess I just find men’s fashion on TV more boring as a whole.
Honorable mentions go to Blair Waldorf from Gossip Girl, Don Draper from Mad Men, and Margaery Tyrell from Game of Thrones. While these three have fantastic senses of style, they aren’t characters that I specifically relate to in terms of the look I go for. Hopefully I’ll look as stylish and classy as Don Draper when I’m a grown-up professional, but for now, I like to keep things a bit more fun and experimental. I’d describe my personal style as a mix of kooky and spooky, which is how I came up with the name for this blog. Thanks for the read.