Clueless at 25: Costume designer explains history of Cher’s most famous outfit

Laura Harding, PA Deputy Entertainment Editor
·3-min read

Alicia Silverstone tried on plaid suits in a variety of colours before settling on the famous yellow outfit she wears in Clueless, the film’s costume designer has said.

The actress, who plays Cher Horowitz in the classic teen film, tried red and blue suits before landing on the yellow Dolce & Gabbana outfit that made it clear she was “queen of the school”, Mona May revealed.

The costume designer, who has also worked on films including Romy And Michele’s High School Reunion, Never Been Kissed, The Wedding Singer and Enchanted, told the PA news agency: “The scene that we were fitting for takes place outside, there’s a lot of greenery in California, a lot of colours and plants, we have a lot of people crossing in front of her, a lot of action, so she has to stand out.

“So we start to try the clothes on – there were 60 changes for Alicia so that’s a lot of clothes to try – but for that particular scene we wanted to try suits and we wanted to do plaid because plaid is so synonymous with school uniforms, with first day of school – it just lends itself.

“We have a blue one, it’s beautiful but it doesn’t have that pop. We try the red one, it was too much, it felt like she was trying too hard, maybe a little too Christmassy.

“And then we tried the yellow one – and we all gasped because that was it.

“It was yellow, it was sunshine, it was the queen of the school, it just radiated that kind of energy. When we imagined her walking in that scene, all the people, and you know your eye is going to be completely on her.”

Speaking as the film, which is available to watch on Now TV, celebrates its 25th anniversary, May said she struggled to find inspiration from high schools for the costumes in 1995 because the grunge look was so prevalent.

She said: “The script talked about these girls who were rich, from Beverly Hills and into fashion, rich enough to go to the runway shows.

“So this is where I took my inspiration from – the runways – and then I had to take all those ideas and figure out what that would relate to in a high school setting.

“You didn’t want them to be supermodels running around in high heels with their midriffs showing; you wanted them to be young girls appropriate for their age.

“So, I had to really figure out what would be timeless, like the French cuffs and the berets and the pea coats and the plaid skirts.

“The process of the film was really daunting in a way because there was not a lot of money, it was a 25 million-dollar film, I had eight weeks to prep, and the main character had 60 changes.

“Dionne (played by Stacey Dash) had 45 changes, Ty (Brittany Murphy) had 35 changes, then you have Amber (Elisa Donovan), you’re dressing all the kids.”

– Clueless is available to watch now on streaming service Now TV, with a Sky Cinema Pass.