Every generation has its iconic television shows. You know them: the ones you religiously watch every week, with characters who become your best friends and storylines you totally resonate with. The ones that really represent a time and a place. The nineties certainly had no shortage of great TV and, in particular, seriously awesome female leads. Women unapologetically intelligent, fierce, strong and complex, with fabulous style to boot. Nostalgia for the decade is at an all-time high, showing up in music, fashion, makeup, and all the best memes. Instagram accounts, like @buffythestyleslayer, @whatfranwore and @mirandamondays, dedicated to some of the most kick-ass nineties female protagonists (Buffy Summers, Fran Fine and Miranda Hobbes — from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Nanny, and Sex and the City, respectively) have become go-tos for endless inspiration, in many ways. With smart, witty captions that relate past context and culture to present-day and feeds filled with coveted outfits, they celebrate the characters for who they are and what they represent. We caught up with the forces behind Instagram’s best throwback TV accounts to talk fashion, pop culture, nostalgia and more.
MAE COPELAND – @BUFFYTHESTYLESLAYER
WHAT’S YOUR DAY JOB? I’m a student. I graduate in December. And, other than that, I work for Urban Outfitters and I intern at Paste Magazine, I’m their social media intern.
WHY DID YOU START THIS ACCOUNT? WERE YOU A BIG BUFFY FAN GROWING UP? The hugest. I have loved Buffy since I was a child and I watched it so many times, and admired her and tried to emulate her fashion, the way she spoke, and all of that as a kid. I was inspired by the account @everyoutfitonsatc, where they do pretty much the same thing as me: they take outfits from Sex and the City and they critique it. I was looking for a resume builder, basically, to prove that I can run an account, organically grow followers, and write. And it worked, it’s how I got my job with Paste. They thought I was hilarious and it’s paid off.
ONE OF THE THINGS I LOVE ABOUT THE ACCOUNT IS YOU HAVE BOTH — THE FASHION AND THE SOCIAL COMMENTARY. AND BUFFY IS SO MUCH ABOUT BOTH. Yeah, it’s so funny how relevant Buffy still is. So many people still love it and are just now discovering it. But the fact that I can take a snapshot from a show that aired 20 years ago and apply it to our current culture — and the fashion is really now coming back into style — and reapply it to our modern lens is really cool.
IT’S AWESOME HOW YOU INCLUDE ALL THE CHARACTERS ON THE SHOW. JUST TALKING LADIES, HOW WOULD YOU DEFINE BUFFY, WILLOW, CORDELIA, AND FAITH’S STYLES? Buffy really loves a touch of glamour in her style. she wears mini skirts and tall boots and bobble sunglasses with gold lipstick. And she loves texture and animal prints and suede, leather, satin, mesh — all of that.
Willow is actually pretty funny, because she’s kind of noted as the least fashionable on the show, but she’s, like, a pioneer for normcore with her crazy sweaters. She has every single pair of Adidas Gazelles and Superstars that you can imagine. So, she’s probably the most relevant to fashion right now.
Faith is super edgy, loves leather pants, just comfort is her jam. I mean, she’s wearing denim cutoffs with huge combat boots to exercise in.
And then there’s Cordelia. She’s very fashion-forward, refined, she wears button-ups and makes them look very sexy.
WHAT DOES THEIR STYLE TELL US ABOUT THEIR CHARACTERS? Well, it’s funny because before Faith rolled into town, Buffy had a lot of edge to her wardrobe. And then Faith took over the bad girl role and she was the rule breaker, and Buffy’s style kind of went to a more modest place. She wore a lot of pastels and they [the show’s creators] were really playing up the good girl role in the dichotomy between the two. Faith’s the bad slayer, she dresses edgy and risqué, and Buffy’s the good slayer and she is well put together and follows the rules. It’s interesting to see how they make their style reflect what’s happening on the show.
BUFFY’S STYLE EVOLUTION REALLY MATCHES HER CHARACTER GROWTH. SORT OF BRIGHT AND BUBBLY AT THE BEGINNING AND DARK AND MOODY TOWARDS THE END. Yeah, absolutely. At the beginning, she’s very carefree and open with her style choices and finding herself as a teenager. And then everything throughout the show happens and her style evolves around with it, where at the end she’s totally different. Everything she wears is unrecognizable from the beginning seasons.
GOING BACK TO NINETIES FASHION, WHY DO YOU THINK THERE’S SUCH NOSTALGIA FOR IT RIGHT NOW? It’s really crazy because the show aired 20 years ago and I’m in my 20s, so I recall that fashion and now it’s coming back and it’s all in Buffy. Everything that she’s wearing and all the other characters are wearing, you see on the street. I mean, style is cyclical. Everything comes back and all of a sudden, nineties are a thing again. It’s just recalling your childhood and that time period, which doesn’t seem so far away but I guess it really is.
IT’S INTERESTING WATCHING THE LATER SEASONS WHEN BUFFY’S IN COLLEGE AND GETTING INTO THE PEASANT TOPS AND THE MORE EARLY 2000S STUFF, WHICH IS COMING BACK IN FASHION NOW, TOO. I started this whole project back in January and last year it was very nineties, which inspired me to start the Instagram because I was seeing all this fashion coming back in stores and I’d watch Buffy and be like, ‘it’s exactly that.’ And as I’ve gone through the show, I’ve tried to be somewhat chronological with it, and now fashion and trends are moving into the early aughts and the millennium and you can see Buffy turn from very nineties to very 2000s, very Y2K. I mean, where is fashion going to go after that? It feels so radical right now, all the rhinestones and the low cut jeans of the early 2000s. I can’t even comprehend what’s coming next. Are we gonna do 2010 fashion? What was that?
BUFFY IS FULL OF LIFE LESSONS. WHAT IS ONE THAT WE CAN TAKE FROM HER? Buffy really taught me how to respond to difficult moments and react to complex emotion. It taught me how to react to hardships in a different way and think what Buffy would do, because she was faced with that all the time.
ONE STYLE LESSON? Don’t be afraid of texture and prints. Buffy wears animal print and fur and spandex and leather and satin, and that’s what makes her style so interesting. She’s fearless.
SHANAE BROWN – @WHATFRANWORE
WHAT’S YOUR DAYJOB? I’m a patient care technician at a hospital.
WHY DID YOU START THIS ACCOUNT? WERE YOU A FAN OF THE NANNY GROWING UP? WhatFranWore started on my Tumblr blog. I was posting screenshots of my favorite Fran outfits and people always asked what she was wearing, so I decided to see how many outfits I could identify. I was too young to really appreciate the show as a child, but I rediscovered it as an adult and I’m definitely a fan.
HOW WOULD YOU DEFINE FRAN’S STYLE? I would describe Fran’s look as 90s chic. The character embodies everything women’s fashion was in the 1990s, she rocked every trend effortlessly.
WHAT DOES HER STYLE TELL US ABOUT HER CHARACTER? Fran’s style tells us that she’s brave and fearless, her clothes were definitely an extension of her personality and the fashion was a huge part of the show.
HOW DO YOU GO ABOUT IDENTIFYING ALL THE DESIGNERS? I get this question a lot! When I began my research, I had no idea what to search for, but I started with a basic Google Search. Usually, Google will take you to other places such as blogs, online marketplaces, or vintage magazine archives. It’s time-consuming, but it’s fun, and I’ve learned a lot about designers and fashion.
DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE FRAN OUTFIT? Since starting the Instagram account I have developed an appreciation for all her outfits, even the ones that are a little iffy. I’m not sure I have a favorite anymore.
WHY DO YOU THINK THERE’S SUCH NOSTALGIA FOR NINETIES FASHION RIGHT NOW? I think most of the nineties nostalgia is coming from people like me who were too young to truly appreciate the fashion back then.
DO YOU THINK FRAN MADE AN IMPACT ON POP CULTURE? I think she has an impact in a small way. One thing I’ve noticed is that while the show is well known, it isn’t universally well known. I would love for the show to be on either Netflix and Hulu so the character can be rediscovered and be truly appreciated for her style.
WHAT’S ONE LIFE LESSON WE CAN LEARN FROM FRAN? Fran was always kind of looked down on by the other characters on the show, however it never stopped her from being exactly who she is. So, I think the life lesson is to be confident because people are always going to have something to say no matter what.
ONE STYLE LESSON? A simple one but…turtlenecks are a must!
ANONYMOUS – @MIRANDAMONDAYS
OTHER THAN SPREADING THE GOSPEL OF MIRANDA HOBBES, WHAT IS YOUR DAY JOB? I’ve pledged to remain anonymous but I can tell you that I’ve had careers from shop girl to corporate girl, but my favorite job is posting Miranda Mondays.
WHY DID YOU START THIS ACCOUNT? WHY MIRANDA, SPECIFICALLY? I wanted an outlet for my views and Miranda was someone I ALWAYS idolized! I identified with how she kept pushing Steve off at the beginning because she couldn’t believe men were interested in her, I was the same way and still get shocked when a man thinks I’m sexy.
MIRANDA SEEMS TO HAVE ALWAYS BEEN PIGEONHOLED AS THE LEAST FAVORABLE CHARACTER OUT OF THE SEX AND THE CITY GANG. BUT NOW, THERE SEEMS TO BE A GROWING REALIZATION THAT SHE WAS ACTUALLY ONE OF — IF NOT THE — BEST. WHY DO YOU THINK THAT IS? We have finally moved past the 2007 iconic “ditzy is sexy” phase and are bullet training right into “smart and strong.” People see her now in [these] episodes and are like, omg I love to order Chinese food, watch TV and drink wine, that’s not sad, she just owns her own goddamn apartment and has coin!
MIRANDA HAD SOME PRETTY ICONIC FASHION MOMENTS (THINKING ABOUT THAT BUCKET-HAT-OVER-TEAL-HOODIE COMBO) — HOW WOULD YOU DEFINE MIRANDA’S STYLE? “As free as the wind blows on this beach,” honey she served butch, fish, femme and everything in between. Labels didn’t matter, she had this style that was like, “I know what everyone else will wear today so let me be different.”
WHAT DOES MIRANDA’S STYLE TELL US ABOUT HER CHARACTER? She is strong, outspoken, but will never take life too serious. One of my favorite fashion moments is the grey suit she wears, it’s very Man Repeller and edgy, she could have been an influencer in her day I swear.
ANY STYLE TIPS WE CAN TAKE FROM HER? Print, layers, and literally wearing anything. She was so different with her fashions, I look back and I’m like, wow Pat Field must have had such a field day coming up with some of those looks!
WHY DO YOU THINK THERE’S SUCH NOSTALGIA FOR THE NINETIES RIGHT NOW? I think it was a time we had a Clinton in office and people are [now] like fuck, we have this asshole as president let’s just post 90 images and pretend that a Clinton is president.
WHAT IS ONE OF YOUR FAVORITE MIRANDA MOMENTS ON THE SHOW? This is such a tough one, I will forever have MAJOR FEELINGS when Steve’s mom runs out of the house and Miranda bathes her, I felt like a true Miranda fights being vulnerable so much but can be such a compassionate person. I also love when Miranda flashes the nip.
DO YOU THINK MIRANDA HAS MADE AN IMPACT ON POP CULTURE? Omg she has made a HUGE impact, I think the real impact started recently with the celebration of independent women and gay men who see themselves in her world.
WHAT IS ONE LIFE LESSON WE CAN LEARN FROM HER? To never stop being yourself! She owned her pointed and opinionated self and everyone else can go fuck off!