Mia Thermopolis' school uniform WAS culture. BY MAREN BEVERLY
Everyone has their favorite guilty pleasure. Maybe yours is watching Dance Moms when you’re feeling sad, or listening to the High School Musical soundtrack at full volume when you’re home alone. Admittedly, not every aspect of culture we consume is high in artistic value. This is why, without hesitation, I will confess that my favorite movie genre is the early 2000s romantic comedies. I wish I was someone who referred to movies as “films” and could discuss their cultural impact. But if I did, I would not be living my truth: I will watch a kitschy movie with Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughey over Parasite any day.
Film aficionados could easily debunk the value of these movies. Sure, their plots are cheesy and flimsy. Yes, they often rely on the notion that a single woman can never be happy. Yet despite these faults, I cannot disregard my undying fondness towards them. They carry a certain nostalgia no modern-day romance movie can replicate. Watching them transports me back to when I watched them for the first time— a time when I had bangs, wore footie pajamas every night, and believed that I would meet the love of my life in high school. I eventually ditched the bangs, the footies, and realized my soulmate was not in my hometown. But somehow, I am now eighteen, still waiting on my own Hugh Grant. Simply put, these rom-coms shaped me into the hopeless romantic I am today.
Not only did these movies foster my idyllic vision of love, but I also idealized the female protagonists. I wanted the freedom of Jenna (Jennifer Garner) in 13 Going on 30 and a career like Andie’s (Kate Hudson) in How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days. Though above all, I admired their style. I adored it in all its Y2K glory. Each one boasting a particular aesthetic, the styles that defined the early 2000s are immortalized in these movies. Their iconic fashion has gone unnoticed for too long, so let’s take a moment to appreciate the unappreciated.
13 GOING ON 30 (2004)
Jenna dresses like a teenager whose parents finally let her shop at the mall alone—as the plot goes, she really is a teen. Her wardrobe reflects her newfound adulthood, making her style playful. Sixteen years after the movie’s premiere, the youthful, flirtatious and lively spirit of Jenna’s fashion remains timeless. She proves that dressing like an “adult” does not always have to look so serious. After all, we never completely abandon the childhood diva within us. I loved pink as a kid—and I still do, in tasteful doses. This Artizia tank is perfect for a summer night when you want to (elegantly) channel the energy of a thirteen-year-old.
HOW TO LOSE A GUY IN 10 DAYS (2003)
Andie Anderson is an advice columnist in NYC, stealing the heart of Ben Berry (Matthew McConaughey) in style. Throughout the movie, summer dresses and long skirts with fun prints are her go-to. She makes me want to put on a sundress and break boys’ hearts. Arguably, the most memorable fashion moment of this movie is when Andie steps out in a long yellow silk gown. Silk dresses have made a comeback, so check out this baby blue spin on Andie’s— because everyone deserves a jaw-dropping silk dress moment.
BRIDGET JONES'S DIARY (2001)
Bridget’s quest for self-improvement is eerily similar to my own. She is the epitome of a single girl looking for love and she does so in a quirky, imperfect manner. Fashion-wise, Bridget Jones made loungewear cool before everyone started tie-dyeing sweatsuits. Parading around her London apartment in floral PJs, wrapping herself in comforters and swearing off problematic men, it’s safe to say she would have killed quarantine. Most importantly, her simple, leisurely style reminds us that we don’t always have to be dressed up. Bridget doesn’t claim to always have everything together, especially clothing-wise. However, she simultaneously pulls off a chic little black dress and floral PJs. The duality is...refreshing. This floral tank would have surely been a staple in her wardrobe.
THE PRINCESS DIARIES (2001)
Is it just me, or has Anne Hathaway not aged a day since her reign as Mia Thermopolis in The Princess Diaries? Not to be dramatic, but both this movie and Anne Hathaway are national treasures. Mia had the greatest glow-up in all of cinematic history and somehow made the schoolgirl aesthetic look effortlessly cool. Looking studious can be cute, too. Princess Mia’s clean, classic style remains relevant almost two decades later. If you still wish you were Genovian royalty, this plaid skirt will get you one step closer.
Collectively, these movies are a fashion time capsule. We always look towards fashion’s future. Sometimes, however, the ghosts of fashion past deserve a second look. By examining previous decades in fashion, we see how style moves cyclically. It constantly evolves, but never completely abandons the past. The influence of the early 2000s fashion has not completely disappeared, after all. Low-rise jeans made a comeback (despite the opposition) and so did colorful hair clips. We can only hope bedazzled jeans and capri pants remain a memory forever.
Even though these “chick flicks” are slightly outdated, I will never stop watching them. They are like a teddy bear in your childhood bedroom— a comforting piece of the past that may have worn and fading fur, but you still love it. From the age of thirteen, these movies have been my go-to. And even when I’m 30, they will still be on my recently watched list. But maybe by then, I’ll have my own Ben Berry to watch them with. ✰
Maren Beverly is an 18-year-old writer from West Hartford, CT. She attends Wake Forest University. In her free time, she enjoys romance novels, Timotheé Chalamet movies, and Vogue. You can find her on Instagram @marenbeverly.