The "Uncool Girl" Characters Always Have The BEST Style

Photo: Courtesy of STX.
Confession: Despite rounding the bend to the big 3-0, I still love a good teenage coming-of-age movie. From Sixteen Candles to Mean Girls and Paper Towns, that particular genre is like a time machine, bringing me back to my own adolescent years — you know, minus the acne and the anxiety about SAT prep. Cliques and cool kids and math team and decorating for the school dance? Sign me up.

But lately, I've noticed a pattern about the requisite "uncool" (but secretly super-cool) girl who tends to wind up at the center of these stories. She might have a rough haircut that's growing out, or be completely invisible to the popular crowd. But that popular crowd tends to dress like a bunch of lame lemmings. The uncool girl, on the other hand, has her own unique style.

A good recent example of this observation comes by way of The Edge of 17, out just before Thanksgiving (and yes, a pretty stellar addition to the teen movie canon). Hailee Steinfeld plays Nadine, a high schooler who is struggling with the social scene — but totally nailing it on the sartorial front. Fishnets and miniskirts and platform sneakers with an ever-present vintage bomber jacket? Nadine has her own distinctive look. And to be honest, it's really good, and not just for her age group.

But she's not the only social outcast with killer style. Check out the other on-screen "geeky" girls who actually have the best fashion sense in school. Now, if only we could only raid their closets go back to our own high school days.

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Nadine Byrd (Hailee Steinfeld), The Edge of Seventeen (2016)
Take a look at this outfit, folks. You have to be pretty confident to pull off that ensemble. Those are fishnets, by the way, and she's also rocking a sweet pair of platform Converse. This might not be a runway look, but it's definitely doing "model off duty" justice.
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Kat Stratford (Julia Stiles), 10 Things I Hate About You (1999)
Kat was rocking modern minimalism with a touch of grunge before anyone else realized how cool it was. And this slip dress? Totally '90s chic. Granted, this movie was made in the actual '90s. But she was very of the moment, trend-wise.
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Tai Frasier (Brittany Murphy), Clueless (1995)
Cher and Dionne think they're doing the new girl a favor when they give her a full-on Beverly Hills makeover. But the truth is that when Tai arrives at school, she is already on fleek for the era: her undershirt, flannel, and baggy jeans are the original normcore look, and her Kurt Cobain-inspired androgyny is really rad. I would also suggest that her lack of concern for clothes is the mark of someone who understands the art of looking fashionably undone. Nailin' it, "uncool" Tai.
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Daria Morgendorffer, Daria (1997-2001)
It's not like Daria aspires to join the Fashion Club and become one of her sister's minions. But she was 100% ahead of her time when it comes to uniform dressing. And those combat boots? Forget about it.
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Andie Walsh (Molly Ringwald), Pretty In Pink (1986)
She may be from the wrong side of the tracks. But there is something decidedly Carrie Bradshaw about Andie, who appeared years before Sex and the City ever came on the air. Plus, she makes a mean makeshift semi-formal dress. We approve, hands down. Now, where can I get a pink felt hat?
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Janis Ian (Lizzy Caplan), Mean Girls (2004)
Okay, hear me out on this one, because yes, we are BOTH seeing the butterfly clips and layered T-shirt look. But here's the thing: Janis definitely isn't in the "cool" crowd. But the coolest thing about her is the fact that she doesn't want to be — there are seriously zero fucks given.

That same attitude applies to her outfits: She is communicating something central about herself, and that's a pretty evolved fashion disposition for a teenage girl. So even though that eyeliner is a touch drastic, and the outfits slightly sack-like, we're honoring Janis Ian in this group because, damn it, she isn't afraid to just be herself. And isn't that the best wardrobe of all?
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