About ten years ago, we laughed at "Saved by the Bell." More specifically, we laughed at "Saved by the Bell’s" style: the high-waisted jeans, the off-the-shoulder sweatshirts, and everything A.C. Slater owned.
Granted, everything A.C. Slater wore was abysmal. (And the same goes for Screech and Mr. Belding, too.) But now, 25 years after the premiere of the series’ first episode (coinciding with a new Lifetime movie coming out), we can confidently look back at the outfits of Kelly, Jessie, Lisa, and Tori and tip our hats. Here’s what we’ve learned from the wardrobes of Bayside’s most popular. (And Violet Bickerstaff, too.)
1. Never Rule Out Crop Tops
For years, crop tops lay dormant until their 2013 revivals, and now they’re not only back, they’re encouraged. And why wouldn’t they be? Considering high-waisted jeans are a staple of most wardrobes, crop tops aren’t as scandalous as they may have seemed circa 2002, and don’t show very much off. After all, if Kelly Kapowski can bare her midriff at school, why not do the same as a grown-ass woman on your own time?
2. Animal Print
Lisa Turtle doesn’t get enough credit for what she brought to the "SBTB" table – especially since the woman knew how to wear a print. Unlike Kelly, Jessie, and later Tori, Lisa wasn’t afraid to be bold. In addition to her matching jackets and skirts, she embraced florals, geometrics, and animal print willingly, which has taught us a more-than-important lesson: wear the print already. It might get you into $400 worth of debt on your dad’s credit card, but what a way to go.
3. Everybody In Vests
Not everyone can wear a vest. But Jessie Spano? Girlfriend could, and did, and almost on the regular. Balancing out the fashion-forwardness of Lisa Turtle and the “girl next door” vibe of Kelly Kapowski, Jessie adopted an androgynous style, pairing t-shirts with vests and faded denim for a look that actually returned in the late 2000s. (As opposed to this year or the one before.) In fact, we can probably blame Jessie for the months we spent convincing ourselves to bring applique back.
4. Don’t Fear The Cutout
Kelly Kapowski strikes again. Now that we’re over two years into defending cutouts in tops and dresses, we can thank Kelly for her contribution to the cause, since she casually embraced that trend before most of us even knew what it was. However, like most of Kelly’s pieces, she kept this look subtle, making it seem a little more approachable and wearable – which was (and is) great for anyone who needs to ease into an eye-catching trend as opposed to jumping in, Kardashian style.
5. Off-The-Shoulder Fleece
In a perfect world, after Jessie Spano was so excited and so scared in her sweatshirt, she lent it to Kelly who wore it to the prom (or kind of) with Zack, when she couldn’t afford to go. Either way, the "Flashdance" legacy has never died: whether for a casual meltdown or unique take on a usually formal event, off-the-shoulder sweatshirts are truly the only option.
6. Sheer Fabrics
First of all, let the record state that we all would’ve wanted to wear Lisa Turtle’s clothes, but were too intimidated to try her style out in high school. (Then, in our adult years, we decided to just wear the damn hat and relax already.) Case in point: sheer fabrics, which Lisa wore with no second thought whatsoever, and accompanied even by bright hats and loud prints. So whenever you worry about wearing something sheer, remember that Lisa Turtle did it before you. And she had to evade Screech the Predator as it was happening. (So it connotes strength.)
7. Matching Everything
We laugh at the idea of pairing matching prints (when we watch old "SBTB" and "Beverly Hills, 90210" episodes, obviously), but the Fall/Winter 2014 collections actually saw a modern take on the controversial classic via collections by Dries Van Noten and Dolce and Gabbana. Now obviously, no outfit worn on "SBTB" is remotely close to anything we just used as an example. But in this world, "Saved By the Bell" led to the mixing and matching of prints this summer, and of course, inspired designers to adapt looks to suit the 2014 mandate. Because Bayside will always have that power.
8. Motorcycle Jackets
Tori Scott was a badass B. (And honestly? Thank goodness because that school needed a little edge.) So instead of compromising her sense of style in hopes of fitting in at Bayside, she flaunted her fashion choices in those preppy kids’ faces, pairing an oversize leather jacket with literally every outfit she owned (even her homecoming dress). Because of her, we can do the same. (And let’s face it: she’s the only one out of that whole posse who’d actually be friends with us.)
9. Denim On Denim
The Jessie Spano special: dispelling myths about the Canadian tuxedo and proving that in the early 1990s, California was just as hung up on denim as the rest of the world thinks Canadians were. Lest we forget.
10. Tights And Shorts
Now, look. We know "Saved By the Bell: The College Years" is actually one of the worst spin-offs to ever exist. But we like to think of it as the inspiration for decades of shorts and tights. We know other shows did it, but look: here, Kelly Kapowski embodies the mid-‘90s gothic influence she eventually took with her to Beverly Hills. She did it for us. "Saved By the Bell" did it for us. Except for Screech.
See where the cast is now: