As a substantial number of our readers are in high school themselves (hi, guys!), we asked Emma, blogger of The Emma Edition and a connoisseur of all things teenager-y (she’s 16!), to educate us on fashion as relevant to high-schoolers and beyond.
With some exceptions, very few TV shows within the past couple of decades accurately depict the lives of high-school students (the characters on Gossip Girl must outspend the budget of any high-school student I know). However, there have been some shows that have done us high-schoolers justice, at least in terms of depicting what students would really wear. Presenting: The best TV high-school fashion!
My So-Called Life (1994-1995)—MSCL was avant garde for network television at that time, both in the topics it dealt with and the individualistic style of each of its characters. Out of all the shows, this one in particular really hits home with high-school style today. Throughout the series, protagonist Angela Chase is struggling to find herself. At the start of the series, Angela had mousy blonde hair, was more girly, and wore things like floral skirts and crocheted vests. Later in that first episode, she dyes her hair Manic Panic Crimson Glow Red, because, “When Rayanne Graff told me my hair was holding me back, I had to listen. 'Cause she wasn’t just talking about my hair; she was talking about my life.” As the season progresses, Angela’s style gets an injection of '90s grunge; she often wore pajama-y clothing, lots of layered plaids, and oversized, muted floral, button-front dresses with chunky boots or loafers. Oh, and take note, everyone on this show LOVES overalls.
Above, from left: Uniqlo Crocheted Vest, $16.12, available at Uniqlo; Nastygal Schooled Denim Backpack, $48, available at Nastygal; Otis and Maclain ¾ Sleeve Babydoll Dress, $158, available at Madison Los Angeles; Dr. Martens Boots, $120, available at Zappos.
Beverly Hills, 90210 (1990-2000)—In Beverly Hills, 90210 is the zip code of the West Coast. They like to make a clear point of that fact on the show. The students at Beverly Hills High aren’t your average students, either: They’re all obscenely rich. While it was evident that Beverly Hills High had a lenient dress code, many of the outfits worn on the show have trickled their way back into their lives of teenagers today. The crop-tops, high-waisted denim shorts, ‘90s floral prints, and the bodycon dresses—whether or not you were a fan of these looks the first time around, it seems that this reprise is here to stay.
Above, from left: Melissa Jelly Shoes, $119, available at Karmaloop; Forever21 Floral Print dress, $11.50 via Forever 21; Topshop Yellow Sunflower Print Bralet, $40, available at Topshop; Urban Renewal Cutoff Denim Shorts, $44, available at Urban Outfitters.
Freaks and Geeks (1999-2000)—There were some serious style moments in the one season that Freaks and Geeks lasted. The episode where Sam wore that blue jumpsuit to school, all of Millie’s barrettes, and Daniel’s badass leather jacket look, included... But starting with the first episode, it's hard not to fall for Lindsay Weir. Set during the early 1980's in the suburbs of Chippewa, Michigan, the series featured a girl who felt most comfortable in her Converse. She even wears her dad’s military jacket to the school dance as a statement against her conformist peers (her brother’s friends immediately diagnose this as weird behavior). Lindsay is truly an emblem of the high-school style I admire the most.
Glee (2009-Present)—My guilty pleasure is Glee. During the first season, Rachel Berry’s overly prim-and-proper wardrobe made her more of a caricature of herself than being an actual high-school student. But ever since she got bangs, I've totally been watching the show to see what she wears. I love her repeated use of polka-dots and dresses that work as throwbacks to Audrey Hepburn. And remember that candy-striped coat and white beret she wore in this season’s finale? Our girl Rachel has certainly come a long way from her fussy Catholic schoolgirl look. Nowadays, her preppy plaid skirts are mixed with fun graphic sweaters, and with a few tweaks, it could border on Clueless status…maybe.
Above, from left: Topshop White Lace Peter Pan Collar Top, $60, available at Topshop; Bass Enfield Brogues, $69, available at Piperlime; American Apparel Plaid Chiffon Skirt, $42, available at American Apparel; Falke Knee Socks, $36 via Saks.