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Last Updated on May 20, 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
- Plaid Matching Sets
- Hat Game
- See-Through Pieces
- Argyle Style
- Fluffy and Feathery Details
- Biker Shorts
- Slip Dresses
Preppy Uniform – The Clueless Look
- Wide headbands
- Bow hair-ties
- Butterfly clips
- Over-the-top bucket hats
- 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)
- Classic cropped sweaters and vests
- Cardigans (brushed, furry, and with nordic designs)
- Shirts with big collars and cuffs
- Cap sleeve’s t-shirts
- Mini skirts (pleated, tartan, or front buttoned)
- Denim straight jeans
- Mary Janes
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.
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.
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.
Plaid Matching Sets
- Matching blazer and skirt sets
- Going for novel plaids and colors
- Matching/contrasting cropped cardigans
- White basic t-shirts
- Over-the-knee socks
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.
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!
- Bucket hats
- Rasta-inspired beanies
- Gonzo top-hats
- Crocheted caps
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.
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.
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.
- See-through shirts
- Translucent shirt-dresses
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!).
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 print sweaters
- Argyle print mini skirts
- Nordic print vests
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!
Fluffy and Feathery Details
- Fluffy/Feathery cuffs
- Furry backpacks
- Furry sweaters
- Fluffy accessories like pens
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!
- Biker shorts
- Leotards in fancy designs
- Striped biker shorts
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.
- Slip dresses
- Satin dresses
- Ribbed dresses
- Bodycon dresses
- Sheath dresses
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.
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!
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?!
- Harper’s Bazaar, Clueless’ Costume Designer on Creating a Fashion Phenom https://www.harpersbazaar.com/culture/film-tv/a11462/conversation-with-clueless-costume-designer/
- Time, 20 Things You Never Knew About Clueless https://time.com/3944547/clueless-20th-anniversary/
- IMDB, Clueless: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0112697/
- EOnline, The Stories Behind Clueless’ Iconic Costumes: https://www.eonline.com/news/1171468/the-stories-behind-clueless-iconic-costumes-from-a-red-alaia-to-legendary-yellow-plaid
- EOnline, Secrets About How Clueless Was Made: https://www.eonline.com/news/1170683/were-totally-buggin-over-these-secrets-about-how-clueless-was-made
- Entertainment, Clueless costume designer on Cher’s yellow suit: https://ew.com/article/2015/07/17/clueless-costume-designer-mona-may-chers-yellow-suit/
- Dazed Digital, 7 Things you never knew about the fashion in Clueless: https://www.dazeddigital.com/fashion/article/25403/1/seven-things-you-never-knew-about-the-fashion-in-clueless