When Molly Ringwald placed her diamond stud earring in Judd Nelson’s ear in the closing scene of The Breakfast Club, hearts stopped everywhere. From her teen-angst birthday in Sixteen Candles, to her accessorising thrift-store finds and that homemade prom dress in Pretty in Pink, Ringwald is an 80s cinematic teen hero.
A staple member of the decade’s brat pack, she wore floral prints, polka dots and heavily padded blazers; wayfarers, cropped jumpers and oversized earrings. Along with her bright red bob, iconic pout and coming-of-age characters, she became an inspirational pinup and emblem for the pop culture of the decade. As Michael Agger wrote, “if you were white and suburban and insecure, you came to the theater and saw yourself.” She represented a style that you could adopt and one that altered with each character, while maintaining a running thread of 80s nostalgia. Her one outfit worn in the Breakfast Club still continues to drum up online attention, with her low-heeled tanned boots developing a genre of their own.
"She represented a style that you could adopt and one that altered with each character, while maintaining a running thread of 80s nostalgia"
Ringwald shied away from the public eye, and shortly after her 18th birthday she vacated LA for France, where she married and consequently divorced, living a very private life. In a way this has only enhanced her beauty; for the most part, she remains in the 80s, in floral headbands, pearl strings and varsity jackets. Young Molly lives on with each new generation of school memories, her style carried within the music of the decade, from Simple Minds to OMD and Patti Smith.
Text by Mhairi Graham