The five members of the Spice Girls became some of the most iconic and important influences on British fashion, music and culture, and with the widespread revival of 90s trends, their looks are no longer reserved for fancy-dress parties. Along with Britney’s schoolgirl pony-swishing, the cheques of Clueless and the denim-clad Friends cast, the girls join the long line up of 90s influences redefining 21st Century trends. What would a thoroughly modern Spice Girl be wearing today? And what can the group teach 21st Century girls about finding style and forging friendship?
The spice’s 90s look is all about being playful, youthful, and not taking yourself too seriously. The girls provoke the juvenile fun of primary colours, animals and flags, with sky-high hems, bare knickers and flashing midriffs. While their flirty adaptations may not be suitable for the everyday, as the girls certainly pushed boundaries, today their influence is well supported by recent libertarian fashion movements such as free the nipple or American ‘pussy hats’.
With Bunton’s saccharine blush, she’d fit right in with the rosy hues of millennial pink. And with the rise of mono-dressing, she’d go all out, layering tones from head to toe, accessorised, of course, with a Pumpkin Spice latte.
Dress: Urban Outfitters
There’s nothing scary about leopard print anymore. Leopard is everywhere, and Mel B can keep her reign of the jungle by experimenting with some colour. If you’re still scared, opt for smaller print, or just choose some accessories.
Dress: Free People
Amid the crowds of retro Nike and Fila supporters, the rise of athleisure means Mel C could go easily unnoticed. Stand out from the rest in a full tracksuit uniform.
The only Spice to ever look sophisticated. We can’t all be bubbly and colourful every day, so posh would still be keeping it real, all dressed up in lbds- with a moody pout to match. As she’s too busy working to tour, she’ll be in a lot of dark suits too.
Amid the political minefield of Brexit, Geri’s fun old-fashioned patriotism may be best avoided. Perhaps her fearless hair colour may be a more suitable inspiration, at least for now.
90s Lessons for 21st Century Babes:
Girl power: The Spices were all about girl-power; and when it comes to the group’s friendship, this mantra runs beyond the clothes. The girls teach us something about healthy cliqueism, and the ability for friendship to celebrate individual difference. In a world where insecurities over ‘fitting in’ lead to copy-catting, or even worse, handpicking like-for-like friends, we can all learn something from the (quite literally) harmonious unity of the group.
“They each dressed to suit themselves, showing a strong and confident set of female personalities that appealed to a wide and diverse audience,” says Liz West who won a Guinness World Record with her extensive Spice Girls collection.
The Spice Girls made the dressing-up box the everyday; and by claiming randomly fanciful themes (leopards and p.e. kits belonged in jungles and gyms until Mels B and C adopted them) each look became truly unique. While the five iconic trends have clearly influenced high-end and high-street fashion, the Spice Girl’s ability to be playfully wacky and fearless with their looks seems to be the overriding message. In other words, you don’t have to literally dress like a Spice Girl to dress like a Spice Girl. 90s pop trends may seem an edgy short-cut to establishing 21st Century individualism, but when everyone’s relying on the convenience of Urban Outfitters etc, we can all end up the same. So perhaps amphibious creatures might appeal more than big cats, or maybe workmen may be a more fitting inspiration than sports-people for some.
By Sarah Mortimer