Scrunchies. Bubblegum pink. Bang — A multitude of lockers slam at different times. The school bell chirps. Your love interest waits at the front of the school in his top-down convertible. If only life was as exciting as a John Hughes ‘80s film. Even though a majority of high school experiences never quite measure up to the grandiosity of a John Hughes film, there’s something about these cult classics that leave us wanting more. Hughes’ films have endured the test of time due to their ability to serve as insight into the minds of teenagers as well as their underlying complexity.
“Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” (1986) is the story of a truant high school senior. Through his style choices, Bueller embodies the meaning of teenage rebellion. When he takes on Chicago with his friends, he is sporting a hockey jersey — which are always seen at fun events.
Bueller rocks classic pieces such as a white T-shirt and a leather jacket. The white T-shirt gives him a James Dean vibe which makes him attractive because bad boys were all the hype back in the ‘80s. He dons a leather jacket which makes him look very polished. This exemplifies that his laziness is strategically planned out to ensure that he does not get caught.
Lastly, Bueller rocks printed shirts which shows that he is not afraid to stand out. He does not fit the typical mold of what the stereotypical popular guy looks like. Thus, the printed shirts demonstrate his ability to be popular in a way that differs from a typical jock.
As Bueller eloquently puts it, “life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop to look around, you might miss it.” Bueller’s actions and style choices capture the essence of carpe diem. After all, it is important to make the most of what you have while you have it.
Boy Meets Girl
Regardless of one’s generation, everyone is a sucker for a good love story. “Sixteen Candles” aims to deliver a love story that will resonate with every teenage girl. Throughout the film, the three main archetypes are the overconfident freshman, the most popular guy in school, and the nobody who falls in love with someone she can’t have.
Farmer Ted is the typical freshman who is desperate for attention. His desire to be accepted is demonstrated through his polished style choices. Ted rocks button up shirts throughout the movie. Normally this makes girls swoon, but sadly Ted just doesn’t have the it factor. Each one of us can relate to Ted because he does not know who is. In our youthful confusion we can all act inauthentically.
Jake Ryan is the man of Sam’s dreams. In contrast to Farmer Ted, who dresses to impress, his style is more laid back. His staple piece is a plaid shirt and the only other piece we see him in is an argyle sweater at the end of the film. These throw on items show that Jake Ryan’s appeal transcends an impeccable outfit. In contrast to Farmer Ted who is dressed to the nines, Jake Ryan wears clothes that require little effort to put on. He does not have to try hard at all in life or with clothes because his desirability is natural. Although Sam puts him on a pedestal, his fashion choices show that he’s a down-to-earth guy who Sam has a chance with despite his social status.
Lastly, we have the idealistic Sam who is saving herself for Jake. Her purity is reflected in her choice to wear long dresses over a T-shirt. This showcases her lack of self-confidence. Sam’s character and style reflect the flawed mentality that being in a relationship will complete you. Spoiler alert: They won’t.
More than Meets the Eye
In “The Breakfast Club” (1985), five stereotypes are explored in the film with the underlying message that people should not be placed into boxes. First up is John Bender, the criminal, as he says. Dressed in a flannel button up and wide-legged pants, he finishes off his look with a jean jacket, aviators, and a cold heart. However underneath that seemingly tough exterior is a broken boy who is afraid of becoming his father.
Next up is the princess. Claire Standish embodies perfectionism. She wears a blush pink top paired with a belted long skirt — emphasizing her femininity. From an outside perspective she appears to have it all, but underneath that mask of perfectionism is a girl who longs for her parents to genuinely care about her. Claire’s character demonstrates that everybody fights demons of their own.
Another ideal high school student is the character of Andrew Clark, the jock. Andrew is dressed in a varsity jacket, a sweatshirt, jeans and stylish shoes which give him a desirable outward appearance. But despite his desirability, his entire reputation has been created because of pressure from his dad. Andrew wrestles with the fact that he does not know his true identity. It was chosen for him.
On the other side of the spectrum is the brain: Brian Johnson. Brian rocks a crew neck sweater with khaki pants. Although he thrives when it comes to academics, he is unsuccessful in the social atmosphere of high school because he is ostracized by his peers. He is a relatable character because “not fitting in” is a huge worry for most teens. His character embodies that insecurity.
Last but not least is Allison Reynolds, the basket case. She is wrapped in black from head to toe and does not say much throughout the entire film. Her outfit covers most of her body reflecting the fact that she hides most of who she is by being reclusive. The dreary nature of her outfit conveys a cry for help. It is not until the end of the movie when she starts to set herself free from the walls she has placed between her and the rest of the world.
Each of these films prove that high school is not as shallow as people think it is. “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” reminds us to appreciate the present because it is all we have. “Sixteen Candles” shows us the importance of being confident in ourselves and knowing who we are. “The Breakfast Club” shows us that we are more than labels. While all of these movies teach important lessons, John Hughes films have flaws of their own. “Sixteen Candles” is tainted with sexist themes that encourage rape culture in addition to making teenage girls believe that getting a guy to love them back is an accomplishment.
As for “The Breakfast Club,” it is unrealistic in the sense that it takes more than a few hours to change the way people treat each other. Though the plots of these movies are nowhere like the typical high school experience, as a society we find ourselves going back to these classics time and time again. The themes presented in the movies give us insight into our high school experiences: the good, the bad and the ugly. Sometimes we do not even want to be reminded of those days, but the nostalgia that comes with going down memory lane is just too darn irresistible. •
by: Patricia Valderrama
Photography by: Madeline Schell
Models: Caroline Beagles, Grant Kanak, William Kachi and Sophia Santos
HMUA: Kameron Kelly and Anna Strother
Stylists: Sophia Santos and Sandra Tsang