Before women chatted over brunch about whether they had an adventurous wardrobe like Carrie or a classically confidently stylish one like Samantha (pro tip: If you're asking your friend to label you, you're definitely not a Samantha), many teen girls divided themselves into two style camps: the boho chic of Lizzie McGuire (played by Hilary Duff) or the bold, colorful look of Amanda Bynes.
Amanda's style was intense. She often paired pants that look like they were made from Austin Powers' curtains with a hairstyle that would make all the boy moose go waaaaah. Her clothes were bold because she was bold, and girls who were willing to rock a similarly neon color palette in seventh grade were confident beyond their years.
When Amanda was going for a dressier look, she stuck to one simple fashion rule: No matter how dressy the outfit, everything looks better with a stonewashed jean jacket. Often, her tops didn't look like they really went with the bottoms, but it was a style statement that we've carried with us through the years. By wearing them together, she was saying that all that she needed to connect an outfit was her affection for the individual pieces.
On the other side of the tween fashion spectrum was Lizzie McGuire, who was all about the peasant tops. Printed peasant tops, fluttery cap-sleeve peasant tops, anything that made her look like she could be swept off her feet by someone from the European countryside at any moment. And then there were the chokers, sometimes bejeweled, sometimes studded, always making her look at least a semester older — the number-one fashion goal of any middle schooler.
Those who coveted Lizzie's closet were a little more fluid with their sense of style. Like Lizzie, they probably flirted with extreme looks, then abandoned them altogether. To these girls, style was a journey, never fully completed until your crush or the school's resident fashion guru complimented their look. And, of course, part of that journey was gaining the confidence to pull off a look not even they themselves were sure of.
Of course, there are always going to be outliers. Maybe you were more of a Ren Stevens, put together and slightly preppy, or a Raven, high fashion most days but with absolutely no trouble rocking a track suit for comfort. But it's nice to remember your earliest style icons, who made the clearance rack at Delia's seem a little less daunting.