My Absolute Favourite Clueless Outfits Details Decoded

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Clueless Outfits of Cher Horowitz, Dionne Davenport and Tai

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Last Updated on June 24, 2021

Have you already recognized this iconic image? Chances are you watched this movie a couple of times during your teens to get a good look at Cher Horowitz’s closet, maybe even paused your VHS to get some stills… And even tried to recreate some of those Clueless outfits that you so admired?

The fact is…

Clueless was an instant pop culture hit when it came out in 1995 due to its amazing apparel and cast. Yet that iconic yellow plaid skirt and blazer set that made it famous still feels modern.

Here’s a trailer if you’ve never watched Clueless (or you want that dose of nostalgia!)

You can also accompany your reading with a little Clueless soundtrack:

Read ahead for the key characteristics of the wardrobe that made this movie one of my all-time favorites. 

Preppy Uniform – The Clueless Look

Credit: Paramount

Key Items

Accessories

  • Wide headbands
  • Bow hair-ties
  • Butterfly clips
  • Over-the-top bucket hats
  • Berets
  • Chain chokers
  • Beaded flower necklaces
  • Vintage Victorian earrings
  • Pearl, hearts and stars earring studs
  • Oversized hoop earrings
  • 1920’s over-the-knee stockings
  • Plaid stockings
  • Fur accessories (backpacks, pencils, cuffs, headbands)

Tops

  • Classic cropped sweaters and vests
  • Cardigans (brushed, furry, and with nordic designs)
  • Shirts with big collars and cuffs
  • Cap sleeve’s t-shirts 

Bottoms

  • Mini skirts (pleated, tartan, or front buttoned)
  • Denim straight jeans

Footwear

  • Mary Janes

Core Characteristics

Let’s be real, Clueless is filled to the brim with amazing fashion choices and great looks that epitomize each character and make them shine throughout the movie.

That being said, the popular clique of Beverly Hills teens had a very distinct preppy uniform that was a fashionable and rad alternative to the Catholic schoolgirl uniform of those times.  

Credit: Paramount

The Clueless wardrobe comprised a unique mixture of proper school uniform items that on a second look were anything but (cropped sweaters and vests, a ton of original red plaids, and innocent-looking see-through shirts).

It created a feminine, curated, and put-together look that was innocent and cheeky at the same time. Girls everywhere were tired of grunge and welcomed it the preppy look open arms and just like that, the Clueless attire, all sweetness and sassiness, was an instant hit. 

Credit: Paramount

Mona May, the movie’s costume designer, achieved this unique look by swapping opaque tights for tartan or over-the-knee socks, knee-length pleated skirts for varied mini skirts, and your usual black flat Mary Janes for trendy alternative versions.

They were either high-heeled, silvery, or had thin delicate ankle straps (or all of the above at the same time!). The movie’s wardrobe was so memorable, that it is still cited as one of the most fashion-famous movies to this day. 

Read: 24 Legendary Preppy Clothing Brands that Ooze Sophistication

Plaid Matching Sets

Credit: Paramount
Credit: Paramount

Key Items

  • Matching blazer and skirt sets
  • Going for novel plaids and colors
  • Matching/contrasting cropped cardigans
  • White basic t-shirts
  • Over-the-knee socks

Core Characteristics

The plaid yellow matching skirt and blazer set by Dolce & Gabbana is perhaps the most famous and instantly recognizable Clueless outfit of all. According to Mona May, it was one of the few designer outfits she could afford for the movie’s wardrobe and they tried a bunch of different plaids in red and blue before picking it.

However, when she saw the yellow one, it was love at first sight. Dionne’s matching set in black and white was altered with a few striking details to really set it apart from Cher’s. Mainly, the pins that appear to hold Dionne’s skirt together and the vinyl lapels that match the Kokin hat.

Credit: Paramount
Credit: Paramount

Despite not having achieved the same amount of fame, the yellow matching set was not the only one Cher used over the length of the film. In fact, her red plaid outfit and mini skirt, topped with a black beret and black over-the-knee socks was one of my favorites and her yellow, black, and orange tartan matching set came close behind. What I love about these outfits is how instantly chick and luxe the effect of the matching prints is!

Hat Game

Credit: Paramount

Key Items

  • Bucket hats
  • Berets
  • Rasta-inspired beanies
  • Gonzo top-hats
  • Crocheted caps

Core Characteristics

Cher’s wardrobe really showcased how she was a very sweet and innocent girl. Dionne (Cher’s best friend) on the other hand, was more sophisticated and worldly. Her outfits mixed prints, textures, and colors in outlandish ways that screamed to the world how secure and self-assured she was.  

Credit: Paramount
Credit: Paramount

Dionne’s opening scene hat, the vinyl Kokin that matched the black and white plaid set, was absolutely high fashion! In fact, I can positively say that Dionne had the best headwear of the whole movie even if her white crochet cap was not one of my favorites.

Credit: Paramount
Credit: Paramount

She managed to pull off the most outlandish styles, like the red and yellow Dr. Seuss Gonzo top-hat (with a red plaid mini-skirt) and the Rasta-inspired beanie, by letting the hats be the main focus of her stylish attires. This doesn’t mean that the rest of her wardrobe was subdued, quite the contrary.

Her cropped furry striped sweater in yellow and orange, or her see-through black long sleeve t-shirt, were quite out there compared to some of Cher’s clothing items.

Read:

What Everyone Ought to Know When Styling a Bucket Hat

A Tribute to All Those 90s Hats We’ll Never Forget

25 Photos of ’90s Hairstyles You Secretly Still Love

See-Through Pieces

Credit: Paramount
Credit: Paramount

Key Items

  • See-through shirts
  • Translucent shirt-dresses

Core Characteristics

Alicia Silverstone had 63 costume changes as Cher. Some of the most notable clothing items made it to the dry cleaner’s style closet at the beginning of the film, but there were other not-so-distinct ones that were key to the DNA of her style.

The black see-through shirt she wears when Josh stays for dinner is one of those (note those swoon-worthy ruffled cuffs!). 

Credit: Paramount
Credit: Paramount

Cher’s see-through dress under the shiny metallic grey vest (and over an argyle mini skirt) was also in fact very similar to the sheer dress jacket she wore to the dance, the main difference being the different collars (the one under the vest had a bunch of ruffles down the front). However, both achieved the delicate yet sexy signature vibe of the character.

Argyle Style

Credit: Paramount
Credit: Paramount

Key Items

  • Argyle print sweaters
  • Argyle print mini skirts
  • Nordic print vests

Core Characteristics

One of the things that I love the most about the Clueless wardrobe is the fact that it is a mix and match of thrifted items and high fashion designer pieces. So, the next time you visit a second-hand store, you might want to consider checking out those Nordic and argyle grandpa cardigans. Be it a golfer sweater or a tight mini-skirt, argyle prints are a classic that never falls out of style.

It’s a little surprising at first to see Cher Horowitz wearing an argyle skirt (twice!) during the movie, since this print tends to be associated with grandparents or out-of-style clothing, but she certainly makes it look good! And you can do it too!

Read: We Binge Watched all 10 Seasons of Friends, Here’s Our Favourite Outfits for Each Character

Fluffy and Feathery Details

Credit: Paramount
Credit: Paramount

Key Items

  • Fluffy/Feathery cuffs
  • Furry backpacks
  • Furry sweaters
  • Fluffy accessories like pens

Core Characteristics

One of the most outlandish details of Cher’s wardrobe is her use of either feather or fluffy pompons that are quickly copied by Amber in her fashion victim attires. In my opinion, they look their best when used in moderation.

Even for Cher, her use of the feathery neckline and cuffs jacket marks quite the low point, before she is mugged and dragged even further down. So, make a point of adding a little texture to your ensemble but do not go overboard!

Credit: Paramount
Credit: Paramount

Read: 9 Top Preppy Movies with Classic Fashion Sense

Biker Shorts 

Credit: Paramount
Credit: Paramount

Key Items

  • Biker shorts
  • Leotards in fancy designs
  • Striped biker shorts

Core Characteristics

Combining a white corset bustier over a black long-sleeved shirt and biker shorts? Totally visionary. Athleisure was not even a word way back when Clueless was released, which makes the gym class scene all the more extraordinary in its vision.

Cher’s black outfit with a layered white t-shirt was not as revolutionary, but still, a winning attire that you can totally copy today. Adding a white tee underneath a dress or t-shirt is perhaps the easiest trick to turn a regular outfit into a 90s ensemble, after all.

And if you’re feeling daring, you can go a step further and add a nice print to the mix, like Cher’s fancy plaid leotard.

Read: 90s Workout Clothes: 8 Ways to Get That Retro Fitness Look

Slip Dresses

Credit: Paramount
Credit: Paramount

Key Items

  • Slip dresses
  • Satin dresses
  • Ribbed dresses
  • Bodycon dresses
  • Sheath dresses

Core Characteristics

Slip dresses were a must-have item during the 90s and the Clueless wardrobe had to have its fair share. The core of the trend was that it had to look like underwear, and that is precisely what Cher’s dad thought when he saw her go down the stairs ready to go to a party wearing her skimpy white slip dress!

It was, also understandably, the chosen sexy style Cher went for when she mistakenly decided it was going to be the night she stopped being a virgin. 

Credit: Paramount

Her pink ribbed slip dress also looked kind of like a pajama, but paired with a white t-shirt underneath, it was casual enough to pass the time at home and proved how versatile the style is. Luckily for us, layering a t-shirt underneath a slip dress is all the rage again! 

Credit: Paramount

However, it was the iconic red Cher outfit by Alaïa that would make it to the top of the list of favorite clothing pieces for me. The sheath dress fit Cher like a glove! Alicia Silverstone got to keep most of the clothes she used as Cher…Wonder if she still has this amazing red number forgotten in a corner of her closet?!

Read: Your Favourite 90s Dresses – Plus Some Mistakes We’d Rather Forget

Bibliography

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Lorena Lombardo is a fashion designer specialized in trend forecasting and fashion journalism. She studied at the UAL (University of London), ORT (Universidad ORT Uruguay), and taken various courses about traditional craftsmanship while living in Tokyo. Some of her favorite memories during the 90s include wearing bucket hats and trying to copy Rachel’s hairstyle. Her absolute favorite show was Buffy: the Vampire Slayer but she was also a huge fan of Clueless because of its amazing fashion choices. Her top track of the decade is currently disputed between How soon is Now? by the Smiths and Here with me by Dido. Both also happen to be the opening songs for two great 90s shows: Charmed and Roswell. Coincidence? I think not!