There are some films with iconic style that you want to emulate, and then there are some films where the clothing just makes you want to cry.
One of these films (for me at least) is Todd Solondz's film Welcome To The Dollhouse, which is about nerdy Dawn Wiener and her trials and tribulations as she navigates the perils of being the biggest loser in middle school.
It sounds like a cliche, but this is a Todd Solondz film. There is no happy ending. Dawn doesn't fall down a well, or discover the redemptive power of being herself, or uncover pirate gold in a hidden cavern under the school. It's bleak and black, and like most bleak and black moments in life, is almost too unbearably funny to handle. If you ever, ever had a tough time in school, watch this film, re-evaluate just how shitty it really was and possibly thank your lucky stars that all you got was Ribena poured into your schoolbag and not rape threats.
The clothes in this film really serve to highlight just what a terrible time Dawn has. Her tees, earrings and backpacks are plastered with fluorescent yellow smiley faces and her many jumpsuits are floral-patterned and cloyingly cute. She wears pink and trainers and ankle socks and all the kids in school hate her because she has no social skills whatsoever and gets good grades (sniff sniff violins etc).
Dawn is backed into a toliet cubicle and told to shit (nice) with the door open. The ties on her frilled floral dress and her childish figure inside it makes us see that she's just a pre-adolescent, which makes the command even more shocking. Her aggressor's name is Lolita, nice aside, eh?
There are no words for this outfit. This is possibly Dawn's first crack at dressing like an adult, or at least like the kids versions of adults that float around her school.
Poor Dawn's problem is that she's still a little girl being herself in a world of little girls who were becoming sexualised and going into adolescence. The other girls at her school wear cheerleader outfits, lipstick, shorts, tights and crop tops while Dawn stays staid in her cotton sprigged little-girl-lost suits. She has a clubhouse while all the other kids in her grade are going to pool parties.
Weirdly enough, some of this stuff is not too far off the faux-naif look that a lot of adult women sport and a million miles away from the frankly disturbing outfits I see on some girls in the city whenever a teenage club night rolls around.