Two decades ago, everyone’s favorite teen drama, My So-Called Life, aired for the very first time. The ultimate coming-of-age TV show premiered to vast critical acclaim and achieved something its peers have largely failed to do: It resonated with both angst-ridden teens and their despairing parents. But, despite an ardent audience campaign to save it, the cult series was cancelled after 19 episodes and an ambiguous finale.
Still, the show has not left our popular consciousness and culture; it's persistently referenced on TV, in film, and, perhaps most prominently, in fashion. For some of us, ‘90s style will forever be associated with Claire "Chase Face" Danes and Jared "I Love The Way He Leans" Leto, roaming the halls of Liberty High School in his-and-hers plaid. The costumes on My So-Called Life were one of the many, many reasons we were riveted as Angela and her cohorts navigated awkward, pre-millenium adolescence — clad in flannel, loose layers, mismatched accessories, and sporting what my grandmother might call “interesting” hairstyles.
The man responsible for the show’s iconic wardrobe is Emmy Award winner Patrick R. Norris, a TV director who spent 20 years designing costumes before making his directing debut in the My So-Called Life episode, “Resolutions.” Norris thinks “plaids are soft and peaceful." He punctuates his sentences with “like” and says “dude” a lot. In other words, he’s exactly as you might imagine.
We took a Doc Marten-shod trip down memory lane with Norris and found out the secrets behind the 1994 classic: which character was inspired by a Beatles album cover; the practical reason behind all those layers; how not to direct a 15-year-old Claire Danes; and why, try as he might, Jared Leto can’t help being “just a hot dude.” Go ahead and cancel your plans for tonight, because we’re pretty sure that after reading this, you’ll want to have an MSCL marathon instead (go now, go).