Film Fashion Flashback: Heathers

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Unless you had a brain tumor for breakfast, then you probably already know and love Heathers the cult black comedy full of murder, suicide attempts, teenage cruelty, and eminently quotable dialogue. It pretty much has everything you could want in a flick: Winona Ryder, Christian Slater, and scrunchies.

The storyline revolves around Ryder as Veronica Chambers, a newly inducted member of the Heathers – the prettiest, meanest power clique at Westerberg High. When Veronica hooks up with new kid J.D., (Slater) the adorable-loner-who-turns-out-to-be-a-total-sociopath, she gets sucked into a whirlwind of killing off the popular people, making it look like suicide. I know that sounds really bad, but she’s a good person, you guys, and J.D. is just so damn cute.

Now, most people adore this movie for its superb dialogue and bitingly nihilistic humor, but you know what else is pretty great? THE FASHION. It came out in 1989, so of course the style is all blazers with padded shoulders and zany prints and body-con dresses, but even those fashion tropes have a freshness about them – color combos that are striking, or an interesting mix of silhouettes and fabrics. And even though my prime teen years were more of the mid-90’s grunge ilk (Doc Martens and Manic Panic, holla), I revere the following looks:

Perfect ensemble to subtly show dominance over, well, everyone: Don a Red Scrunchie of Power and match it to your cherry-red Swatch. Not just any size scrunchie, though – this isn’t just a simple way to hold your hair back, but rather a signifier of power and class. MAKE IT BIG.

Heathers-croquet

Appropriate work out wear for those strenuous games of croquet: If you are not wearing cute flats and super-bold tights and leggings, you’re doing it wrong. That’s the only way you’re going to coordinate perfectly with the stripes on the mallets, after all.

Heathers-2

Cutest outfit to wear to the convenience store and later totally vom upon at a lame college party: Duh, go with sleek heather gray and black, accented by a sweet little broach pinned just so. This looks vaguely American Apparel to me, which is normally not my bag, but Veronica is pulling it off here, right? Licorice stick and mega-slushy optional but totally recommended.

Heathers-monocle

How to be adorable and comfy whilst scribbling pure vitriol in your diary to the various Heathers in your life: Obviously, a jewel toned kimono is the only way to go. Just because you’re furious doesn’t mean your evening attire should be sloppy, people. Plus, to really see your burn-book style entries, add a monocle -functional and sweetly pretentious.

Heathers-scrunchie

Reclaiming hero territory after dethroning all the Heathers, taking care of that pesky ex once and for all, saving your entire school, AND rekindling valuable friendships: Here, you really need to show what you’ve just been through; make sure ash and soot is smeared generously on your face, rat out your hair, and definitely go with cobalt as your power color. The crucial ingredient, of course, the thing that makes this outfit, is…yep, the Red Scrunchie of Power. Sure, it’s a little bedraggled at this point, but there’s a new sheriff in town, and this is how new sheriffs accessorize.

Readers – What is your favorite line of Heathers dialogue? (For me, it’s a toss-up between “Bleep me gently with a chainsaw” and “You want to bleep with the eagles, you have to learn to fly.”)

Amity writes and teaches in Central PA. Her obsessions include: Rodarte (she can’t afford any Rodarte, mind you, but a girl can dream), espresso, books, vintage/thrift fashion and fountain pens. She thinks you should dress like a weirdo once in a while, just to shake things up.

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Written by amity

14 Comments

  1. Avatar of turboterp
    turboterp

    When Heathers came out, there was a review in my hometown paper that called it “more repulsive than the carrot scene in Fast Times at Ridgemont High.” Of course, my friends and I were at the very next showing, and we fell in love with everything about it. I think “What’s your damage, Heather?” was our most-repeated line. The fashion, including giant scrunchies, looked like the outfits we bought at Contempo Casuals (anyone remember that treasure trove of teen hoochie glamour?). There is no excuse for not seeing Heathers. Thanks for the memories, @amity !

    1. Avatar of amity
      amity

      Oh yeah, “what’s your damage, Heather?” is a classic–I bust this one out on my husband, even, haha! And the Replacements/Westerberg high connection was awesome, too–did you ever happen to read the memoir “Petal Pushers,” by his wife, Laurie Lindeen? There’s a bunch in there about that whole music scene and when she first started dating Paul–can you imagine? Good stuff!

    1. Avatar of amity
      amity

      I’m glad you and the Heathers at your school weren’t a bunch of crazy-scrunchie-wearing brats. Ironically, all the Heathers I’ve met are always really nice, present company included. And you’re right, would be the BEST group costume.

  2. Avatar of Kellie
    Kellie

    This is for sure one of the greatest movies ever!! I lived for it when I was a young teen. The fashion is killer. I still want a giant red scrunchie. And of course all of Winona Ryder’s looks were the best! It is so hard to pick one line of dialogue. It is all sooooo good! The movie is so quotable. One of my favorites is:
    Vernoica: “Why are you such a b**** Heather?” Heather Duke: “Because I can be!”
    Of course the dead pan delivery is what truly makes the excellent lines work.

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