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Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion came out 20 years ago today (!!!!!). You’d think that the clothes in this iconic film about attending your high school reunion when your life seems lacking would have aged poorly, but quite the opposite. Not only have Romy and Michele’s 1997-era crop tops, chokers, and fruit prints remained relevant and stylish, but their looks from high school have also aged tremendously well, thanks to fashion’s never-ending infatuation with ‘80s style.
The titular subjects of the film, Romy (Mira Sorvino) and Michele (Lisa Kudrow), were total misfits in high school. During their formative years in Tucson, they took fashion cues from “Like a Prayer”-era Madonna, opting for goth-lite shoulder-padded blazers and crimped hair over the pastels and country-club cardigans preferred by the popular “A-Group.” In other words, Romy and Michele kept up with the trends, while the “cool kids” were dressing in their moms’ Ann Taylor hand-me-downs (remember, this was before Loft was kind of cool). Though they were tortured for being different, the two best friends had fabulous style — but no one in their high school was cool enough to realize it (except maybe Sandy Frink).
Cut to Los Angeles 10 years later: After hightailing it to a trendier town, Romy and Michele’s styles became more colorful, fun, and form-fitting. They never met a matching set or lace-up bodysuit they didn’t like. Truly, it’s almost spooky how Romy and Michele’s costumes foreshadowed current trends. The duo embraced athleisure long before Kate Hudson started hawking it. Romy’s prom dress preceded Carrie Bradshaw’s iconic Sex and the City tutu. Michele even wore a waist trainer at one point! If Instagram had been around in 1997, Romy and Michele would probably be influencers promoting teatoxes and vitamin gummies (which, by the way, are a healthy part of any fat-free, all-candy diet).
Despite their awesome beachside apartment, massive closet, and weekly Pretty Woman viewing parties, however, Romy and Michele still aren’t content with their postgrad lives. They don’t have boyfriends, and Michele is unemployed. Still determined to make it to their high school reunion, Romy and Michele come up with a cover story: They invented Post-Its and are now rich and successful entrepreneurs. (By the way, their sharp-shouldered “businesswoman special” outfits couldn’t be more modern; I could see Audrey Gelman wearing them to stump for Liz Warren in 2020.)
After eventually realizing that, duh, their actual lives are pretty awesome, Romy and Michele strut into their reunion wearing self-designed dresses (DIY, so 2017!) that perfectly reflect their style. They’re short, sparkly, and low-cut; Michele’s is millennial pink and trimmed with maribou. Both look like the sort of thing you could find at Reformation today. They’re even wearing chokers!
The A-Group, the members of which are still clinging to their drab pastels and pearls, scoff at Romy and Michele’s dresses. That is, until Lisa Luder, former mean girl-turned-Vogue editor, shows up in a minimalist cream pantsuit and pixie cut. She asserts that yes, Romy and Michele are indeed fabulous, and have always been — so stick it up your tailpipe, Christy Masters!
Romy and Michele aren’t the only characters whose costumes have aged beautifully, though. Take the wise-beyond-her-years Heather Mooney (Janeane Garofalo). Heather’s all-black uniform is as representative of her character in 1997 as it is of the 2017 political climate. Even though Heather wasn’t exactly fashion-conscious, look at the details of her reunion look: the sheer sleeves, the jeweled cufflinks, the defiant stance that says #ImStillWithHer. Heather was, and still is, the epitome of minimalist goth chic.
And while Justin Theroux’s character, Clarence, had a cowboy-casual look isn’t really my thing, there’s no denying that he has aged spectacularly. Those cheekbones? Timeless.
At the end of the film, Romy and Michele open their own clothing store on Rodeo Drive and stock it with their signature peppy prints and adorable mini dresses. Not only do I believe this store would still be in business if it were real, but I’m confident it would be turning a profit like never before, snagging celebrity ambassadors like Charli XCX and any number of Hadids or Jenners. So why doesn’t it exist? Now more than ever, America needs a Romy and Michele pop-up shop. After all, who wouldn’t want to have a Romy and Michele day?