Not Just A Girl: The “Tail” Behind Our Latest Lookbook

[Shop our Fall Collection Now on Shell Shack, and for Custom Group Orders!]

 

By, Ali Matthews

As the 90’s trends cycled back into mainstream fashion, we knew our latest lookbook had to happen (see it here). Plaid skirts, chokers, platforms, vibrant graphics, unique layers. Inspiration for days!! It also felt like perfect timing to talk about a little more than just fashion. Our vision was a fresh take on a classic, sprinkled with themes that remain relevant today. I can’t believe Clueless was released 21 years ago, in 1995! In our Video, you see that we’re still addicted to our phones. Cher and Dionne did however get upgraded to iPhones… all before tossing them on the sidewalk. GIRL, live in the moment!

Beyond the phone toss, there’s so much more that makes this lookbook close to the heart for me personally. So, what exactly about Clueless & 1995 created this inspiration? It was a year that defined me.

 

The Tail Behind the Lookbook (Yes, “Tail”… we’re mermaids.)

In 1995, I was 10 years old. I was a girl, not yet a woman (this was pre-Britney Spears). I was a tomboy that liked to play soccer and draw pictures. You could find me in a Roxy or cK tee with denim shorts on any given day. I loved graphic tees, go figure!

That year, I was both excited and terrified as my childhood tomboy self started taking an interest in makeup, clothes, and everything girly. What was happening? Could I still be the old me, and be a “girly girl” at the same time? Was that possible?!

Thankfully, two important ladies entered my world… Cher Horowitz and Gwen Stefani. Since then, I’ve realized that strong female personalities have inspired me my entire life. (Ariel from The Little Mermaid was actually the first; some things never change!)

I watched Clueless too many times to count. I started reciting each line. Cher taught me about fashion, boys, and breaking for animals. She had a close army of female friends, and those friendships came first. She was a “girl’s girl” who had guy friends too. I could relate.

Of course, her wardrobe inspired me on another level. Her closet was among the things that dreams were made of! Cher wore skirts and all things ultra feminine, while carrying herself with elegance and confidence. Her ensembles were not demeaning or overtly sexy; she simply wore what she wanted, while setting trends in the process.

As Cher drove her white Jeep Wrangler to pick up Dionne in the beginning of Clueless, she was blasting a particular song on the radio– “Just A Girl”, by No Doubt. I like to think that wasn’t a coincidence, but rather a wink.

I began listening to Tragic Kingdom by No Doubt on repeat (also released in ’95). Green Day, Pearl Jam, Nirvana… there was so much great music. Unlike the other bands of the era, No Doubt had a female frontwoman powerhouse setting the stage. Gwen became my preteen idol, and “Just A Girl” blew me away. She was the epitome of feminine and badass, empowering me with her persona. The lyrics, “take this pink ribbon off my eyes” moved me. I was no longer viewing the world behind rose-colored glasses. Wait a second… women can be seen as objects if they’re wearing a skirt? I like skirts! Why is being a girl so complicated, and how are we not equals? How am I “just” a girl? That seemed so unfair back then, and it still stands true today– perhaps more so now than ever.

After Cher then Gwen came into my life, I was certainly no longer just a girl either.

You’re never “just” a girl. You’re not “just” anything. Are you one-dimensional? AS IF! You have multiple facets to your authentic self, your personality, and who you aspire to be. It’s never just that simple. Yes, you can be a girly girl and still a tomboy. You can be powerful while wearing a skirt. You can be smart, athletic, into makeup, prefer jeans to dresses or skirts, etc… it doesn’t matter. The variables can fluctuate over time, but you will always be smart and uniquely you. Owning your femininity is powerful, as is not being afraid of being yourself. We are all perfectly imperfect. Cherish it. It’s magic.

Being a girl can be contradictory and paradoxical, similar to Gwen on that Tragic Kingdom album cover… an idealized portrait of simultaneous strength, sweetness, and vulnerability. Beauty that surpasses surface level, made infinitely more beautiful because of what’s on the inside. It’s so much more than being “just” a girl.

Ironically, it is that simple. You are a girl, and you are enough just as you are. Misunderstood? At times, perhaps. Complicated? It shouldn’t be. We can make it less complicated by taking one simple step: girls need to support girls. Lead by example. Show each other that we actually can be anything that we want to be. Another girl’s beauty doesn’t take away from your own; neither do her accomplishments. Once we become each other’s cheerleaders (Cher learned this lesson in Clueless) you feel the love in return. And, we’re able to love ourselves for who we are… for our own individual uniqueness. Being a girl is awesome.

In the context of Greek Life, I think the founders of women’s fraternal organizations would enthusiastically like the idea of girls supporting girls. After all, they were trailblazers! It wasn’t common for women to seek higher education in the mid to late 1800’s. These women wanted a support system; female friendships with like-minded individuals. Thanks to them, we have our Greek letters to wear proudly. (P.S. You’re more than “just” a sorority girl, too.)

It’s no secret that Ali & Ariel is fueled by girl power. Ariel, like the mermaid, symbolizes the freedom of being anything you dream to be. I’m proud to call myself a feminist. Do I view women as being equal to men? Absolutely! Equality shouldn’t be a question… it liberates both men and women from the stereotypes.

You are so much more than “just” a girl. Girls supporting girls is something to celebrate!

 

Shine on, mermaids.

xoxo, Ali