Can Bette Davis and Alicia Silverstone Pull off the Same Outfit? // As If!

Written, styled, and modeled by Nicole Horowitz

Okay, go with me here. There are some pieces of clothing that basically shout from the hilltops that they represent a certain time and place (hello Sabrina dress). And then there are others that flit through closets and lives, chameleon-like, evocative of more than one era, personal style, etc.

Bette & Alicia are ready to find out who should win this shoulder pad showdown!

Why is that? Maybe because fashion is cyclical. Designers in every era are looking into the past to try to riff on old school style in new-school contexts. Or maybe because certain looks just have something timeless about them and there’s no real need to overanalyze the “why” of a look when you can just slip it on and fulfill a hell of a lot of #trendgoals and #classicvibes at the same time.

Either way, when I pulled this (never worn) two piece skirt suit out of my mom’s closet (quote her: “see if there’s anything in there you like”), I was struck by its duality. Not only did this look have the feel of the mid-nineties from whence it originated—with its light shoulder pads, bedazzled front, and flippy, flirty skirt—it also felt, somehow, like something out of the WWII-era 1940s. And so, when I was thinking about which way I should style this look for some pics, I went with both.

First, I found a near-perfect style match with one of Cher Horowitz’s lesser-known outfits from 1995’s teen-classic Clueless (Heckerling, 1995). I mean, minus the puffy sleeves and plus a more dramatic shoulder and it’s like, exactly the same, right? I pulled on my most 90s knee-high socks (this wardrobe staple being a hefty chunk of my disposable income spending when I was in middle school) and some loafers. Then I completed the look with a nude lip and some low-key “I’ve just run my fingers through it” hair and I was ready to roll up to school in my gas guzzling SUV, with an eye roll and an “As If!” 

For the second look, I went a little more Hollywood Canteen (Daves, 1944) than Beverly Hills High. I did up the jacket’s stylish gold, flower-clasped buttons to show off the dramatic shape of the top. Then I slapped on some sensible black heels (great for a waltz at the ol’ canteen), pinned my hair back into sleek curls, and—for a touch of drama—added my favorite most richly-hued, red lip with dark, dramatic undertones.

For what it’s worth, I think the thing that really sticks here is the magical, era-hopping vibes of this two piece suit. It’s truly a special one, a crown jewel for any sartorial time-traveler’s closet.

But what do you think? Do you like one look better? Feel like we’ve committed a fashion crime by calling the 90s the 40s in disguise? Let us know!

Which way will you wear it??

Enjoyed picking your brain with this fashion pickle? Check out these similar sets of cross-decade clothes:

Wearing the Pants

Written, modeled, and styled by Nicole Horowitz What does it mean to wear pants? Well, not just, literally, wear pants. What does it mean to wear THE pants? As in, what does it mean to be a strong or independent or otherwise free-thinking woman, in this day and age? Because we traffic in all thingsContinue reading “Wearing the Pants”

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