I Heart Pop Culture Tuesdays V. 1
{My Style Icons Through the Years}

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Welcome to just a small town girl’s first volume of I Heart Pop Culture Tuesdays (although you're probably reading it on Wednesday). So glad you’re here. Can I get you anything? Coffee? Water? A Mai Tai? I know it’s only Tuesday afternoon, but – hey – I think you deserve it. Okay, make yourself at home and let me know if you need anything. The bathroom's around the corner to the left.

For this first installment of the new series, I wanted to look at my style icons through the years. If you're in the vicinity of my age, these early styles probably inspired you back in the day too and if you're not, you will likely see yourself in some of the later looks. Most of them are pretty cheesy, but that’s the great thing about style. You can never really see the look for what it is until the style (and the era) has passed. Hammer pants, for example. Scrunchies. Banana clips. See where I'm going with this?

Let's start a little list. Feel free to hop around.

Madonna. My entire childhood was spent trying to emulate this woman (not to mention the rest of my life). I remember walking in class in the second grade and hearing my (10ish) bangle bracelets loudly clinking together. The bff and I would fight over who was the bigger Madonna fan, but Carina had the lace fingerless gloves. So, even though I was more persuasive, I think that pretty much makes her the winner. At least in the eighties style department. As a little girl, I wanted to grow up to be a school teacher, marry Huey Lewis and wear this jacket - you know, the one from Desperately Seeking Susan. Yep, I wanted to be Mrs. Lewis and wear this outfit in the classroom. Oh, and those crucifixes? I think it's fair to say they freaked out my Agnostic mother.

Andie Walsh. Pretty in Pink. Enough said. Aside from (oh, how I love him) Duckie Dale, Andie's style was the main character in this movie. I believed this dress she made for the prom was the coolest, most beautiful thing in the whole world. The fact that she made it on her living-on-the-wrong-side-of-the-tracks budget only made it all the better. Looking back, I have to shake my head at that dress, but Andie Walsh was cool. No two ways about it.

Julia Roberts. When I saw Steel Magnolias, it pretty much changed my life. The moment I saw her and all that hair, I was in love. When Pretty Woman came out, I was a changed (12 year old) woman. You see, my mother is a redhead and it always kind of embarrassed me. (Sorry, Mom. I love you.) Then that street walker with a heart of gold waltzed onto the big screen with that wild red hair and it was all over. From that moment to this, I've had a redheaded soul.

Kate Moss. When this ad came out in 1992, I immediately taped it to my wall. I'm sure a lot of that had to do with Marky Mark (you may not like the name, Mark, but you'll always be that to me), but Kate entranced me. You see, I was a tiny little thing until around age 23. Skinny in a way that people would regularly stop me on the street and beg me to eat. It got pretty old. Let's just say it, I had a little boy body. No breasts, no curves. It's kind of hard to imagine now, but back then it was my reality and I hated it. In the early nineties, I wanted the hair, the chest, the mole, but it wasn't in my cards. In the supermodel age of Cindy Crawford and Co., Kate Moss - for the first time ever - made me wonder if my body could be beautiful. For the next ten years, I enjoyed my waifish figure and can't help but think that had something to do with a pre-cocaine and Pete Doherty scandal Kate.

Alicia Silverstone. In 1993, Alicia Silverstone starred in Aerosmith's video Cryin. Oh, man. Every girl I know wanted to be her in that video. My friend Jennae even pierced her own bellybutton to emulate the video vixen. And don't even get me started on the flannels. Then in 1995, Clueless came out and Carina, Danny and I were in the theater opening night. If Cher wasn't the most stylish character of the nineties, I'll eat my shoe. Really, I will. Those thigh-high tights and white Mary Janes. You better believe I rocked that look.

Tori Amos. When my sister introduced me to Tori Amos in 1994, my life literally changed. (I know, I know - I've already said that in this post, but you're just going to have to forgive me.) I mean it this time. Considering the deepest music I listened to prior to Tori was Mariah Carey and Janet Jackson, her lyrics touched the deepest part of my sixteen year old self. Oh, and her look? The red curly hair, the quirky hippie girl style. I was all over it. Next to Madonna, I have never been as obsessed with anyone as I was Tori. Yep, obsessed.

Jenny McCarthy. Singled Out was stupid. Awesomely stupid. I tried to look like Jenny on my first day of senior year. Black satin pants. Mohair sweater. Big hair. Loud mouth. I had it down.

Gwen Stefani. Let's cut to the chase, I wore a bindi jewel. Out. In public. Gwen has been inspiring all of our looks since 1996, but nothing quite caught my (third) eye like that damned bindi. I don't know what else I can say to defend myself, so let's just move on.

Christina Aguilera. Now, Christina has never done it for me style-wise, but those pink strands called my name. I was mostly inspired by a magazine cover that featured Sarah Michelle Gellar sporting similar locks, but - for the life of me - I could not find a photo to document that. So, Christina circa Come on Over will have to do. I went out and bought myself some Manic Panic and did it myself. Just to the ends. Let's just say it wasn't pretty. I had an eyebrow piercing and hot pink hair. Well, you can't say I didn't try.

Madonna. Again. When Ray of Light came out, I might as well have been a six year old girl writhing around on my bedroom floor "dancing" to Lucky Star. I was intoxicated by the Ray of Light years and if I'm going to be completely honest here, I should add that I still am. Madonna had been so overtly sexual throughout my childhood with an almost masculine image. After the birth of her daughter, something seemed to change. By the time this album came out, she seemed to be going through her own rebirth. I went with this look and ran. The flowing waves of hair. The henna tattoos on my hands. Hell, I started practicing yoga and wore a red hairband around my wrist before I even knew what Kaballah meant.

Carrie Bradshaw. No, not Sarah Jessica Parker. Carrie. The name plate necklaces. The giant flower pinned to my shirt, jacket, dress. Hell, I had that flower pinned to everything. The horseshoe necklace. She changed the rules for everybody. All of a sudden, it didn't matter if your outfit matched or if your bra strap was showing. If Carrie could pull it off, I thought I could, too. Even when I couldn't.

Sienna Miller. I've never been a huge fan of the Olson twins, (Now, Michelle Tanner, that's a whole different story) but I loved the boho look. Especially on Sienna Miller. The loose fitting wardrobe. The floppy hats. The casual femininity. The hair. Oh, the hair. Ms. Miller in Alfie? To me, that is perfection. The bangs. The eyeliner. Mod-sixties Sienna is my style crush. The end.

Priscilla Presley. I don't want to beat a dead horse, but I have to repeat a few key words here. Hair. Eyeliner. Eyebrows. If Priscilla isn't a good reason to go out and buy yourself a bumpit, what the heck is? If it was good enough for Elvis, then it's definitely up my alley.

Ashlee Simpson. This one embarrasses me. I'm sorry if you like her, but I don't think Ms. Simpson-Wentz in especially talented in any of her many endeavors. Oh, and I like a girl who can rock a big nose and not surgically alter her face, but... Whatever Ashlee has been doing in the last few years is working. That red hair is pretty much making my dreams come true and has caused me to rip out many a magazine photo and take it to the salon.

Nicole Richie. Once sister put on a (very) few pounds post-Harlow, she has been killing it. She has done to headbands what Carrie did to those fake flowers. I'm not even sure Nicole can go wrong anymore, if for no other reason than because she seems so comfortable and fearless in her fashion choices. Maybe that's the thing about style that changes as we get older. It used to be about looking like someone else and now it's about looking more like ourselves.

There you have it. A very uncomfortable (sometimes flat out cringe-inducing) trip down memory lane. (One that may or may not have made me realize I'm, historically speaking, a little too vulnerable to trends.)

* Honorable mentions: Stacy Q. (That long permed hair.) Debbie Gibson. (I can still smell her Electric Youth perfume.) Mariah Carey. (The braids in her Dreamlover video? Oh, yeah). Jessie Spano. (You know it.) Jacinda Barret in the London Real World. (I wore jeans under dresses solely because of her.) Ani DiFranco. (I will not discuss what I did to my hair because of Ani. I will not.) Kate Winslet. (I saw Titanic six times in the theater. That's 18 hours of my life I'll never get back.) Kate Hudson. (I ripped a Kate H. photo out of a magazine for my future bridal hair and makeup years ago. Shhh, don't tell.) Reese Witherspoon as June Carter Cash. (Why? Check this out.)

Happy I Heart Pop Culture Tuesday! Maybe next week, I'll have this posted before the end of Tuesday. You never know. :) Before you go, please tell me, who were your style icons through the years?


  1. I am screaming at this post because I LOVE IT SO MUCH. I think we would have been friends growing up, as many of my style icons are on this very list. I was obsessed with "Clueless" and still find myself quoting every single word. From Jenny McCarthy to Jacinda, I had a lot of the same names on my list.

    But, this most embarrassing? Do you remember the whole "skirt with leggings underneath" trend (this must have been when I was in grade school)? Yeah, I think I need to count Stephanie Tanner as one of my style icons:(

  2. Love love LOVE this post!!! I am currently having a Carrie revival rewatching it all and feeling those same thoughts. Alicia Silverstone? LOVED her. Ahh I jsut love this post, so many memories!!!


  3. I definitely also wore a bindi in public. Gwen has always been and continues to be my biggest style icon!

  4. I was definitely influenced by Alicia Silverstone & all the ladies from Friends when I was a young, impressionable adolescent girl. But most of my style inspiration came later when I was more aware of that sort of thing. In college I was totally inspired by the lovely ladies of The O.C., then in my big city days I've been inspired by zooey deschanel and "Chuck," Anna Friel's character on Pushing Daisies. So cute and classy!

  5. Love this post! What a fun (and embarrassing) walk down memory lane. I totally rocked the flannel shirts, the biker shorts under the short skirt (do you remember this awful look?), the thigh high socks and mary janes, the pierced belly button. It's frankly scary to think back on some of the things I wore and how easily influenced I was.

  6. Great post!! and I love Ashlee Simpson hahahaha I especially liked when she had the black hair but I think she looks great no matter what.

    By the way, I cannot picture you having a boy figure at all. lol

  7. RIGHT?! Andie's prom dress was the most gorgeous thing I'd ever seen and now I look back at it with some serious confusion....

    I would have to say Gwen Stefani is the ultimate icon for me. Can I just ...be her?

  8. I read that Jenny McCarthy loved to eat a big lunch and then rip farts while standing in front of all the audiots. There was nothing they could do but bask in the waft. Very funny.


    Your male readership

  9. my 1st grade style icon was jennifer beals ala flashdance days, come to think of it she currently looks pretty amazing in the L word!

    i remember wearing a long-sleeved shirt with three little buttons down the front, i'd unbutton those babies and yank the shirt over my left shoulder. i endured much mocking for that look. wonder if i was rocking my "pumps" during that time? ;)

    we certainly got in some fierce battles over who madonna's true 80's protege was. it still stings to hear your words:

    "i'll be madonna and you can be one of the girls that dances in the background."

    i'm glad you finally realize what a true competitive edge those teal fingerless gloves gave me!

  10. LOVE THIS!! SO many of these style icons would be present in my list, too!
    Flannels?! Still love 'em.
    Mohair sweater?! Owned one.
    Knee and/or thigh highs with maryjane's?! first day of seventh grade!
    Yes, Yes and Yes! I could keep going with our style icon similarities, but I'll stop there.
    Great post! :)

  11. Oh bugggggie. CUTE. Did you read Elvis and Me? I think we all did.

    Love pop culture tuesdays!!

  12. Cher Horowitz was super inspiring to me in grade school! I wore platform baby blue Sketchers and had one of those fluffy pens to write with. I wanted to be just like her, even though at the time, I did not understand what an Alaia was :)
    Madonna has never looked better than her Ray of Light years. That album was my favorite.
    My icons were and still are all over the map. I loved Sailor Moon's uniforms with the bows, Jane Jetson's futuristic wardrobe, any period piece movie you can name (especially Dracula, coveted much of what Mina and Lucy wore). I was convinced I would grow up to wear petticoats and full skirts...it has since changed, but only slightly :)

  13. these are such good style icons!!!
    i love molly as andie! her style for so unique yet girlie!
    i definitely have to go with carrie bradshaw!! i actually have a book all about sex and the city and it has like her 50 best outfits and i just love them all!! and zooey deschanel! i love her style too.
    all of these woman are simply fabulous!

  14. i am so crushing on you! : ) adore this post. molly was the best, especially as andie. i have a photo when my hair looks just like priscilla presley's~ yikes! lmao
    PS: bananarama ruled my world!

  15. love me some carrie bradshaw!!! and to picture you with a bindi :) love it!!!! and love you :) what memories i am trying to remember!

  16. Gwen stefani is a genuis. I love this so much! its so great to read about your style icons, and i love that these are all super impowered and beautiful woman!! Girl power!

  17. Brilliant post! So happy to have stumbled across your blog! Need to think about my icons now... Hmmm...

  18. I wore a bindi jewel. Out. In public.

    I died laughing at this!

    Who are my style icons...a lot of yours. Carrie, Julia on Steel Mag, Pretty in Pink (basically her in any of her movies).

  19. oh god. style icons. um, i need time to think and get back to you on this!!!

  20. at this point, i can say: nicole richie (for sure number one.), olsen twins (or sienna, whichever you prefer), twiggy, blair waldorf...

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