The Trends From Clueless That Are Still, Like, Totally Important


Since its 1995 debut, cult comedy Clueless has been responsible for many things. Chief among them: launching the careers of Alicia Silverstone, Brittany Murphy, and Paul Rudd and spawning some of the most oft-quoted lines from the ‘90s (“As if!", “You’re a virgin who can’t drive,” etc.). Very loosely based on Jane Austen’s novel Emma, the Amy Heckerling-directed film follows Cher Horowitz (Silverstone), a rich and popular Beverly Hills high-schooler, as she befriends a clumsy new student Tai (Murphy), conducts makeovers, and plays matchmaker with varying degrees of success — all before realizing her love for her ex-stepbrother Josh (Rudd).

But perhaps Clueless’ biggest legacy is its fashion. The looks, created by costume designer Mona May, have inspired more than two generations to don plaid yellow skirt suits, numerous fashion collections paying homage to the film’s stylish protagonist, and trends that are still having a moment almost 25 years later.

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Of course, fashion is cyclical, so it’s no surprise that a quintessentially ‘90s trend like plaid — popularized by the grunge subculture’s thrift-shop aesthetic before turning mainstream  — has made a comeback in recent years. Nor that slip dresses, a timeless wardrobe staple, never went out of style to begin with.

Still, when upon my most recent Clueless viewing last month, I spotted Cher’s tiny bag in a mall scene for the first time, I couldn’t help but note how on-trend it appeared. Looking barely big enough for a credit card — let alone a flip phone from that era — it may as well have been the crochet-savvy grandmother of one of Jacquemus’ popular Le Chiquito bags. As for the sheer trench that Cher layers over her Calvin Klein strapless dress, the one her father famously refers to as “underwear,” that was the same style I was waiting to come back in stock for most of last fall. I was totally buggin’!

After watching the movie with an eye for the trends that are still popular today, ahead, the six styles that prove that Cher was always a trendsetter.

Photo: CBS via Getty Images.

Organza Tops

A master in layering, Cher gives her basic tanks and slip dresses a flair by throwing sheer button-downs and trenches over them. Organza blouses and trenches had a huge moment at the end of last year and, if we are to trust most recent collections, aren’t slowing down anytime soon.
Nasty Gal Sheer Heart Attack Balloon Organza Blouse, $56.00 $22.40 Buy
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Cinq à Sept Erin Puff-Sleeve Organza Top, $295.00 $177.00 Buy
Dolls Kill Dark Legit Blurred Lines Organza Blouse, $28.00 $19.60 Buy
Zara PRINTED ORGANZA BLOUSE, $39.90 Buy
Photo: CBS via Getty Images.

Hair Accessories

Even before the pandemic reignited everyone’s love for hair accessories, scrunchies, padded headbands, and barrettes have made a strong comeback on their own. But it was Cher who unabashedly — some might even say iconically — paired a youthful version of the latter with a sexy red mini dress for her “date” with Christian.
RAINBOW UNICORN BIRTHDAY SURPRISE Betty Barrette, $10.00 Buy
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BaubleBar Amber Hair Barrette Set, $18.00 Buy
Lele Sadoughi AQUA BOUCLE SLIM PADDED HEADBAND, $65.00 Buy
DANNIJO Dionne Plaid Wool Headband, $115.00 $46.00 Buy
Photo: CBS via Getty Images.

Tiny Bags

Cher’s teeny-tiny bag doesn’t get a lot of time on screen — and that’s a shame. Sage-colored and featuring a top handle that Cher casually holds it by, it’s a style that’s perfectly in line with her cutesy aesthetic and fashion’s frequent affinity for style over function. Despite the very many essays questioning the micro bag’s purpose in the last year, designers have sent down versions of the style as recently as the February runways — and we’re still fans.
Jacquemus Pink Check 'Le Chiquito' Clutch, $520.00 $390.00 Buy
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By Far Mini Bag, $510.00 Buy
Mlouye Mini Woven Bag - Cranberry, $295.00 Buy
Boyy Brown Karl Charm Bag, $295.00 $233.00 Buy
Photo: CBS via Getty Images.

Floral Babydoll Dresses

Created in the ‘40s, in response to wartime fabric shortages, the babydoll was originally intended as nightwear. But as we’ve seen most recently with the nightgown trend, a lot of sleepwear eventually becomes suitable (and fashionable) to wear outside the house. By the ‘90s, babydoll dresses shed their nighttime history and transformed into casual dresses, often in floral patterns as depicted on Cher. Two decades later, there are whole brands dedicated to the aesthetic.
Sleeper Brigitte Linen Mini Dress, $260.00 Buy
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Reformation Jo Dress Es, $218.00 $152.60 Buy
Faithfull the Brand Ira Mini Dress, $169.00 $111.00 Buy
BB Dakota Scattered Daisy Dress, $99.00 $69.30 Buy
Photo: CBS via Getty Images.

Feather Sleeves

In what might be fashion’s most iconic film quote, Cher tells a robber who wants her feather-adorned Azzedine Alaia jacket, “You don't understand this is an Alaia… It's like a totally important designer.” But this isn’t the only important piece that features fluffy sleeves. In another scene, Cher showcases a knit cardigan with feather cuffs. Fast-forward to today, and you can find this sleeve detailing on pieces ranging from pajamas (Sleeper has made a name for themselves thanks to its popular styles) to button-downs.
ASOS CURVE Square neck cami with feather straps, $40.00 $12.50 Buy
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Sleeper Party Pajama Set with Feathers in Pink, $320.00 $224.00 Buy
Styland Long sleeve feather cuff silk shirt, $556.00 Buy
Eliza J. Chiffon Capelet with Feather Trim, $138.00 $55.20 Buy
Photo: CBS via Getty Images.

Matching Sets

While Cher’s most iconic look is a plaid yellow suit, she wears other matching skirt sets throughout the film. With co-ords on the rise again, retro patterns like plaid, argyle, and houndstooth have particularly been trending, as well as two-pieces in knit materials.
Maje Short jacquard cardigan, $340.00 $238.00 Buy
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Eloquii Buffalo Plaid Sweater Column Skirt, $79.95 $29.99 Buy
Ronny Kobo Ashley Cable Knit Tube Skirt, $338.00 $209.00 Buy
For Love & Lemons For Love & Lemons Cher Houndstooth Mini Skirt in Toffee, $132.00 $56.00 Buy
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