In this column’s history, we’ve featured some great films that any film freak would be proud to drop the knowledge on (Annie Hall, Breathless, Do the Right Thing). This week, however, we’re doing things a little different with our selection, the seminal teen chick flick of ’91, Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead. While definitely no Oscar Gold-Getter, we here at M.I.S.S can look beyond the campiness to bring you the film’s true genius, the fashion!
A veritable goldmine of late 80s-early 90s fashion, Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead is the story of what happens to five siblings, left alone for the summer, after their babysitter dies. Oldest sister Sue-Ellen (Christina Applegate) goes to some insane lengths to scam her way into a fashion job in LA, despite having no experience other than a love of the mall. Of course (since this is a teen dramedy) things end up going horribly awry and Sue Ellen learns plenty of lessons about being an adult.
Set in the summer when shoulderpads were (finally) dying and grunge was taking off with the youth, we follow Sue Ellen’s fashion transition from mall rat to working woman. At the film’s start, when she’s just another high school grad looking forward to a summer of partying, her style is markedly more fun and grunge-inspired. Staples such as beat-up cut-offs, layered hippie dresses, ripped black tights, and Docs were all a part of her wardrobe. And she never lacked accessories to take her look to the next level either, peep her awesome vintage sunnies!
But when she steps into the working woman world we see her steeze slowly begin to mirror the “Power Women” of the 80s that were runnin’ the professional show. Think skirted power suits, turtlenecks, and attache cases – definitely differently from her weekend grunge appeal!
But being the 18 year old she is, Sue Ellen couldn’t help but incorporate a bit of the funk in her drab work gear. Her layered watches, bold earrings, and paisley printed blouses added a sense of fun and youthfulness to her look. Soon, our heroine learns that mixing and matching your work suits with louder pieces can do wonders– she moves up from assistant, to actual designer at the fashion company!
Eventually, all good things come to an end and Sue Ellen’s web of lies begins to unravel… but not before an awesome fashion show! Peep the clip below for some examples of 80s and 90s fashion at its neon best. We’re especially diggin’ the bright Converse, the oversized striped referee shirts, and fuschia bandage dress. As far as we’re concered, these broads are killin’ it and could be featured in any streetwear inspired editorial today!
Campy–yes, but fashion gold! Make sure you rent Dont’ Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead for some good laughs and a whole lotta fashion inspiration!
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