My coming of age was the 1990′s – I turned 13 in 1993 and departed adolescence in 2000. So when I saw a photo of Gwyneth Paltrow kitted out in grass green in Great Expectations on Into The Gloss, I felt a little bit excited. I remember this look so very clearly because as an idealistic and somewhat (make that very) awkward adolescent I kept a style scrapbook. This was in the days before Polyvore and Pinterest so my scrapbook was actually a scrapbook – about $2 from the local supermarket, with a coloured cardboard cover and ivory butcher-paper pages. I scoured my mother’s weekly magazines and cut out anything that took my fancy, eagerly pasting them into the scrapbook. This photo was one of them; in fact Gwyneth Paltrow was a regular feature. I adored her straight blonde locks (these days it would be called a lob or a long bob but back then it was just Gwyneth’s cool hair). I loved her sleek approach to dressing – she was the epitome of 90′s minimalist uptown chic, a style perpetrated by the likes of Calvin Klein and Tom Ford.
This was another photo in my scrapbook. I had a huge thing for slinky, 90′s meets 30′s gowns and I wore a long silver gown to my senior school formal.
There were plenty of things I wore in the 90′s that I would never wear now. I grew up in a small Victorian farming community in Australia and the local style was part grunge, part surfer, so I did the black Lee jeans, the plaid flannel, the Rip Curl tees, even the Clueless tartan mini skirts and knee socks. But what I really wanted to wear, and what I could not access from this tiny community, without mall shopping, internet shopping or the funds to enable either, was something chic, more refined, but also something with character. I had the gangly limbs and light locks of Gwyneth but not the sleek styling, the porcelain skin, the enviable wardrobe. Ardent op-shopping was a lifeline – I still have many of my vintage dresses, lithe slips (true to 90′s style, worn as dresses) and lace-accented camisoles.
Supermodels also featured in my scrapbook, including these photos. I loved 90′s zeitgeist Kate Moss and her undone glamour: the Deco slips, leather jackets and sequins. I was also a fan of Helena Christensen’s eclectic bohemian vibe and her creative interests outside of modelling.
I also had an inclination towards vintage preppy style, a mix of uptown college prep and European retro resort, courtesy of films like 1999′s The Talented Mr. Ripley and Cruel Intentions. The former film not only featured G.P. but another teen (and grown-up) icon, Cate Blanchett.
And how could I forget a film released at the dawn of the 90′s - My Girl. I was barely eleven years old so this coming-of-age film, with its soft-focus sunshine, denim cut-offs and petite floral prints suited me to a pre-teen T. I also loved the sequel and I still have a soft spot for denim in fresh water hues, of liberty prints and breezy cotton blouses.
What is interesting to note is while I have long left behind the plaid and surfer style, I have over the years remained true to the essence of what I loved as a teenager. I still favour the clean tailoring, sumptuous silks and feminine detail that comprises the various styles that inspired me. I still flit between clean and simple, 50′s and 60′s silhouettes, and a low-key version of the glamour of the 1930′s. I have silk shell tops, slip dresses, tailored blazers, jewelled necklaces, antique brooches and watches. I love a crisply buttoned shirt and lean pants, and I love unexpectedly bold prints and gem colours. I am very happy I no longer dress or look like I did as an adolescent, or even in my early twenties, but I do pay respect to my younger self because it is that girl who still inspires what I wear today.