“Are We Going to Prom or to Hell?”: Five Reasons Why I’d Like to Raid Veronica Sawyer’s Closet

Summer is for watching movies I missed during the school year and my favourite movies [1]. Yesterday evening I got the chance to re-watch Heathers by Michael Lehmann. Though released in 1988, I’ve always felt it’s more a 1990s movie, but that’s probably due to the presence of Winona Ryder, who’s definitely a symbol of that decade. Many are the reasons why I like it so much: even if it starts like a classic teen movie (Heather Chandler is a queen bee and has her clique of mean girls), it turns into a very black comedy, whose protagonists (J. D. and Veronica) try to bring down the established social rules at school but end up with destroying each other.

The movie is very interesting from a strictly visual point of view: each of the four members of the Heathers’ clique is identified by a colour (Heather Chandler is red [2], Heather Duke is green, Heather McNamara is yellow and Veronica Sawyer is blue). This trick was used by the costume designer Rudy Dillon to “crystallize” these girls into exampla, to make them immediately recognizable. The style I like the most is Veronica’s because it’s always slightly off-tune if compared to the perfectly monochrome outfits of her friends. hy some of her outfits have a vague 90s vibe (she’s the only one who mixes very different garments). Her style mirrors the fact that she’s different from her clique: she spends most of her time with her but she hates them.

While watching the movie, I put down a list of my five favourite outfits, i.e. the reasons why I’d like to raid her closet. Do you agree with my picks?

bedjacket#1: the Chinese bed jacket. The first time I watched the movie (lots of years ago) I fell in love with it. I’m not sure, but my passion for houmongi kimonos and haori jackets, which I collect, started back then. Veronica wears it at school with a shapeless beige sweater, a blue shirt and a dark skirt. The jacket is spectacular: it’s made of blue satin and has oriental floral embroideries. It’s not a traditional Chinese garment, but it’s clearly inspired to it. As I’ve already explained, this outfit has a 1990s vibe, because it puts together apparently contrasting elements.

shop#2: the dark blue suspender dress and off-shoulder grey top she wears while going to a frat party with Heather Chandler. They stop by at a Snappy Snack Shack convenience store, where Veronica meets J. D. The dress is definitely sexy, but the ensemble is more quirky than seductive. I love how she accessorized the outfit – red lipstick and slightly wavy hairstyle.

shoesMoreover, the grey stockings and black strappy sandals are the perfect way to complete the dress and top. These sandals have been sitting in my wish-list of garments and accessories spotted in movies/tv shows for years and I still love them so much!

locker#3: the dark blue high-waist skater skirt and black scoop-neck top she wears in the ladies’ locker room at school. I love love love this outfit because it beautifully pairs two colours (blue and black) which are said to be unsuitable to go together. The flared skirt is balanced by the tight top.

showerLater in the movie we can see her accessories are royal blue – the tiny chain bag, the socks and t-strap shoes. The wrist strap of the watch she’s wearing is blue, too [3].

kimono#4: one of the recurring scenes in the movie sees Veronica wearing a monocle and writing her thoughts on her journal. In this case, she was wearing bright blue leggings (or are they stockings?) and a printed dressing gown. This gown has a blue and beige print on a dark background; it doesn’t have an oriental vibe, but it’s reminiscent of the bed jacket featured at the beginning of the post. See that other elements in the room (the lights out of the window, the radio on the bedside table, the label on the bottle) are blue, thus reinforcing the presence of the character’s symbolic colour.

funeral#5: Heather Chandler is the first victim of Veronica and J.D.’s anger, but she’s soon followed by Kurt Kelly and Ram Sweeney, two jocks who spread false rumours about the girl [4]. She attends their funeral wearing a black dress with white buttons on the front, shoulder pads and a floral brooch, accessorized with a bowler hat. This is the one of the most stylish outfits seen on her and has a strong 1980s flavour. This is the outfit I prefer the least, but it has such a simple line that it foresees the minimal creations of Junya Watanabe from the 1990s.

In 1988 another famous movie starring Ryder – Beetlejuice by Tim Burton – was released. She was at the beginning of her career but the style she sported in these films contributed to turn her into a role model for a generation of young girls. Has Ryder’s fictional style influenced you?

[1] You can see the movies I watch in my new Tumblr blog, Watching Movies at Night.

[2] Red is the colour of power and popularity: it’s not a case that J. D. gives Heather Duke the red bow scrunchie previously owned by Heather Chandler, which is a symbol of the girl’s bitchiness and appeal. Heather starts wearing red when she claims the queen bee role for herself.

[3] This Swatch is one of Heather Chandler’s belongings. Heather McNamara finds it in her dead friend’s locker and gives it to Veronica. “She’d want you to have it, Veronica,” she says. “She always said you couldn’t accessorize for shit.”

[4] Irony lies in the fact that the two (straight) boys become accidental symbols of homophobia after their death.

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4 comments

    1. Yes, so ahead of its time. Just think of all the teen movies which had it as their primary source of inspiration, even if Jawbreakers was probably the only one who kept the “black” element intact.

    1. If I rationally think about the top five of my favourite 1980s movies, Heathers is not among them, yet there’s something alluring and disturbing in it which makes me love it.

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