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The TV and film characters that I’ve only just realised are style icons

WORDS BY FRANKIE SCHERIANI

My extended period of isolation binge-watching, I thank you.

Hands up if you’ve finished Netflix.

Same.

This is nothing to be ashamed of though. I’m classing it as more of an educational approach. If there’s anything to take from this sweet life of excessive binge-watching, it’s that I’ve uncovered the 10 best underrated style icons that you never even realised were style icons but now you do. Enjoy. 

Vivienne Kensington, Legally Blonde

There’s a dark horse in Legally Blonde that didn’t receive anywhere near as much appreciation as she deserved. Vivienne Kensington. Ah Vivian, the bitchy villain we all knew and hated from such a young age. But in an incredible turn of events, almost 20 years later, I think I kind of love her.

Vivienne was my introduction to all things preppy – sleeveless vests, cable-knit sweaters, a humble string of pearls. It’s Vivian Kensington that we have to thank for the layering of collared shirts underneath a neat argyle-patterned vest. A cashmere sweater looped over the shoulders paired with a velvet headband, just slightly pushed back. The fashion at Harvard Law was good, and Vivian was its queen.

Elaine Benes, but only in the early seasons of Seinfeld

If you’ve re-watched the whole nine seasons of Seinfeld, I applaud you. If you have not, I suggest you do that now. Actually, you can probably stop halfway through because for those still with me, I’m sure you agree that in the early seasons, Elaine Benes stole your heart. More recently, however, she’s stolen countless hours of my time trying to recreate the perfect ’90s look. From denim on denim to pastel-coloured sets, Elaine Benes was the underappreciated style icon of that show.

What takes the cake, is her above-pictured hoodie and oversized outwear combination. Elaine snuggles herself in while having an emotional breakdown. A look purposed entirely for emotional support for Elaine, a go-to winter staple for Insta hotties Hailey Bieber and Gigi Hadid. Coincident? I think not.

Pat Mullins, We Can Be Heroes

What’s binge-watching without revisiting a few Chris Lilley classics. While deep in the back catalogues of Netflix, I spied We Can Be Heros star Pat Mullins rolling around in a reflective denim boiler suit. Yes, boiler suits and workwear was one of the biggest trends at this year’s Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival (VAMFF), and yes, Pat Mullins wore it first.

Monica Geller, Friends

Some may say that it was Rachel Green, played by Jennifer Aniston, who took the lead as prime ’90s fashion inspiration throughout the 10 seasons of FriendsBut let’s be honest. After re-watching the series, I noticed a shining style-icon, glowing bright from the sidelines. That star was Monica Geller.

Often styled in denim, Monica pairs high-waisted jeans with tie-up shirts, wrap-around blouses, cropped polo fleeces and delicate singlets. Next time you wear jeans with a nice top, be sure to take inspiration from the queen.

Trinity, The Matrix

Beneath the tiny oval frames, a style icon was born. But at the time, no one knew it. Two decades later, The Matrix is sexier than ever. Slicked hair, black floor-length coats and knee-high (vegan) leather boots are very much a thing and I’m applauding sidekick Trinity as the real fashion icon here, nailing each of these trends 20 years before anyone else. Sorry Kendall, you didn’t start the slim shade trend. Trinity did.

Marie Kondo, Tidying up with Marie Kondo

Isolation, the perfect time to declutter and reorganise the imperfections of your life. Yes, I binged a whole season of Tidying up with Marie Kondo and yes, it is on Netflix if you’re wondering.

But hold on a second. This isn’t about cleaning your room. Behind all of those colour-coded baskets and behind the famous rolling technique, a true style icon has emerged. Marie Kondo perfects the less-is-more look, by nailing a neutral-coloured palette and simple silhouettes every. single. time. An ivory A-line skirt paired over a polite black stocking does wonders for Marie, and shortly, for yours truly.

Amber, Clueless

I say Clueless and you think of Cher in the adorable yellow plaid mini skirt and cropped blazer set, right? But, frankly, if I see another Cher and Dionne perfect pair, tartan set costume, I’m scoring it zero points for creativity. My eyes are on Amber. Beneath her opinionated debates and auburn tinted bob, there is a true style icon. Think sporty chic with a monochrome lycra one-piece and knee-high socks. An Ostrich feathered jacket with a complementing headband. And my personal favourite – the striped ensemble. A stripey legging with a matching turtleneck all tied together with a Dr Seuss-inspired plait. 

Nicole Richie, The Simple Life

The only way I’ve been getting my fix of a more simple life at the moment, is indulging in Paris Hiltons and Nicole Richie’s The Simple Life. And I posit that when it comes to true style icons,  Nicole in those first seasons of The Simple Life takes the cake. Side fringe aside, Nicole serves up some straight-up noughties looks that are yet to hit their resurgence in the trend cycle but when they do, she’ll be the hero. Slogan tees, headscarfs, cowl-neck tops – think everything you asked your mum to buy you at Supre. Without a doubt, Nicole wore it best. 

Fran Fine, The Nanny

You would beam if The Nanny came on while you sat on the couch sick, missing school. But do yourself a favour and re-watch it. With maturity now, you’ll actually understand what’s going on. Apart from just grasping the premise of the show, you’ll also finally be able to appreciate Fran’s eccentric looks. She’s such an inspiration that there’s a whole Instagram account, with over 300k followers, dedicated to her outfits.

Kim Craig, Kath & Kim

How could we write this piece without closing with our all-time favourite fashion guru? The one we grew up with and loved. The perfect, Kim Craig. It’s safe to say, low rise jeans are back in. In-fact, low-rise denim paired with a midriff is all that Bella Hadid is wearing right now. She can thank Kim Day for that. The Baguette bag. That was Kim. Velour Tracksuit? Kim. Printed branded T-shirts nearly all fashion labels are adopting? I’m tracing that back to Kim.

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