3 Aug 2010
Top 5 | Nice Frock, Love
Nice Frock, Love: Music Video Outfits to Covet – The 90s Edition
5. Lauren Laverne in I Would Fix You by Kenickie, 1998
I had a whirlwind romance with Kenickie when I was a teenage whippersnapper, in the days when Lauren Laverne was still the epitome of indie cool, and not just a mouthpiece for designer labels and vacuous small talk on The Culture Show.
For all my lustful fangirling over American riot grrl rockstars, I was still an awkward teen living on a council estate in Britain; trying to make Mama’s retro cast-offs and a wardrobe mostly amassed from jumble sales and charity shops look like suitable attire for a glamorous social schedule of drinking White Lightning on the playground swings and attempting to wangle my way into the local indie disco.
Kenickie were the perfect indie pin-ups because they too looked like they’d held up an old folk’s home and ransacked every thrift shop within walking distance to put together their outfits; PVC raincoats, ratty leopard-print cardigans, lacy skirts, cheap make-up, tacky high heels or chunky biker boots. This was a look we could replicate without too much effort or expense, and I adored them for it.
4. Shirley Manson in I Think I’m Paranoid by Garbage, 1998
This was the year I started going to gigs, clubs and anywhere else where I could sigh, sing along and dance badly to music by my favourite bands. It was the same year that Garbage‘s second album, Version 2.0, was released and I Think I’m Paranoid was everywhere.
Shirley Manson, in her monkey boots and polka-dot mini-dress, quickly became a poster girl for Kerrang, NME and Melody Maker. She was all over MTV (which my family got that year and immediately regretted because I spent every spare second glued to The Box, praying for Placebo or the Backyard Babies. I was all about the androgyny and glammed-up cock rock back then), and everyone fancied the pants off her. At my all-girls school, almost any young lady with ripped tights and too much make-up would be guaranteed to have a Shirley poster blu-tacked up in her locker.
I swooned over Shirley because although she was undeniably sexy, she was strong and mouthy with it, and at a time when The Spice Girls were still going strong (along with the likes of Atomic Kitten and other similarly airbrushed and sanitised representations of female sexuality in British music), that was a revelation to me.
3. Gwen Stefani in Just a Girl by No Doubt, 1995
I may have been influenced by the fact that this song features in two films that I watched over and over back in the day; Romy and Michelle’s High School Reunion, and Clueless. But even today, I can’t hear this song without wanting to dance. Even as I type this, I’ve got the volume cranked up and interrupted writing for a three-minute bedroom disco.
Now, in terms of outfits alone, I’ve always loved Gwen’s thrift-store polka-dot dress and bare feet look that she rocks in Don’t Speak, but this one wins for two reasons. Firstly, I’ve already got Shirley working the polka-dots (and flashing her knickers as a saucy bonus), and secondly because Gwen always seemed most at home in her trademark skater-girl ensembles.
She proved that you don’t have to be dressed up like a Barbie doll to exude confidence and sex appeal. You don’t need high heels and bosom-cantilevering brassieres to be feminine. You can look hot whilst writhing around the floor of a public toilet in tracksuit bottoms (although it probably helps if you have Gwen’s killer body and quiff, but even so…). In a video which cheekily pokes fun at gender stereotypes (the boys are playing their instruments in a grubby gents loo whilst Gwen is in a far more pleasant ladies bathroom, surrounded by women checking their make-up), she looks and sounds amazing, without a boob job or Botox injection in sight.
2. Carrie and Jacqui in Viva La Megababes by Shampoo, 1994
So, you know how I mentioned that unhealthy obsession with Romy & Michelle’s High School Reunion? To me, Jacqui and Carrrie from Shampoo look just like Romy and Michelle in this video (except younger, cleverer, and British, which only made me love them all the more). Knee boots, short skirts, comic-style t-shirts and a selection of accessories from loveheart sunglasses to lollipops. They couldn’t have been more nineties if they tried, but at the same they were still miles cooler than anything else around at the time, like a lovechild of Cyndi Lauper and Transvision Vamp‘s Wendy James. Like Kenickie, this was a fashion statement I could get on board with and even attempt my own spin on.
Of course, considering my Manic Street Preachers mania at the time, Carrie and Jacqui could never have been anything but insanely cool in my naïve adolescent eyes. They’d been in the video for Little Baby Nothing, they wrote a Manics fanzine called Last Exit, they had a song called I Love Little Pussy and they were in a wave of bubblegum power-pop with the likes of Bis and Helen Love. More than enough to capture my love and attention until their untimely demise in 2000.
1. Courtney Love in Miss World by Hole, 1994
I know, I know. Predictable and obvious, much? But there was no way I could write a round-up of nineties girl crushes without including Courtney Love. Now, I was nowhere near cool (or old) enough to be into Hole when this song came out. But by the time someone from school lent me Live Through This when I was fifteen, I was already a bit besotted by the infamous Hole frontwoman.
For someone resembling a muppet made up to look like Nancy Spungen, it seemed like Courtney had the entire music biz wrapped round her little finger. She was in Kerrang every week, she was a world-famous rock-star, she could sing and play guitar. Even without the potty mouth and bad behaviour, I was already in love. But that she could do all that in a selection of prim grandma-style frocks with peter pan collars and see-through lace nighties? It was enough to have me ransacking the grim underwear bargain bins of charity shops across the land, adding my grubby nylon finds to torn seamed stockings, red lipstick and a plastic tiara, and thinking I was the best dressed drama queen in suburbia. That it was probably me who looked a proper muppet never even crossed my mind…