The Breakfast Club: Teen Uniforms

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Emilio Estevez, Molly Ringwald and Judd Nelson on the set of
Emilio Estevez, Molly Ringwald and Judd Nelson on the set of

To celebrate the 30th anniversary of The Breakfast Club, we consider the perfectly stereotyped styles of its key players

From the David Bowie-borrowed opening monologue and emotive fist pumps to the choreographed Simple Minds soundtrack, The Breakfast Club is a pop culture heirloom. This month celebrates 30 years since cinema’s greatest teen stereotypes debuted on screen: the Princess, the Jock, the Brain, the Criminal and the Kook, rife with teenage angst and dressed in 1985s finest. Styled by costume designer Marilyn Vance, the entire film is played out over one day, meaning that all costume changes revolve around each individual outfit. As the film progresses and the characters grow closer to one another, they shed their layers. “Each layer is a little piece of the person,” explained Vance in 1999. “All their hang-ups are discarded as they start becoming relaxed with each other.” With its prophetic one-liners and raw honesty, the film changed the way that Hollywood viewed teenagers, and generations continue to fall for the iconic Brat Pack style, which in many ways has sartorially come full circle. To mark the cult movie’s anniversary, we take a look back at the teen uniforms that shaped the film.

Andrew “Andy” Clarke – The Jock
Brat Pack lothario Emilio Estevez played school jock Andrew. In a pre-American Apparel world, he trademarked the primary colour hoodie and white Tee, worn with a custom-made varsity jacket. In recent months he has also become an unlikely Normore pin-up, in his white sneakers, stonewash denim and Nike tank top.

Allison Reynolds – The Kook
Gothic ‘Basket Case’ misfit Allison, played by Ally Sheedy, became an unlikely cult hero, with her introverted eccentricities, sugar sandwiches and black-rimmed eyes. She is engulfed by her hooded parka coat for much of the film, worn with an all-black, oversized ensemble which now seems reminiscent of the Junya Watanabe-led 90s which she predated.

John Bender – The Criminal
Judd Nelson’s portrayal of rebel John Bender in his plaid shirt and thrift-store finds continues to inspire fashion - Marc Jacobs, Lanvin and Calvin Klein all appear to have taken leverage from the troubled teen in recent years. Spearheading double-coat layering, he wore an oversized tweed coat over a denim jacket, teamed with utilitarian boots and a natty scarf. His floppy hair, sarcastic humour and underlying insecurities made him an instant bad boy pin-up. That, and he could light a match with his teeth.

Brian Johnson – The Brain
Played by Anthony Michael Hall, Brian is anti-fashion, dressed in high waisted khakis and a fisherman’s knit. Hall remained suitably typecast for the rest of the decade with a follow-up role in Weird Science and while he went on to star in many more movies, he forever reigns King of the Cinema Nerds.

Claire Standish – The Princess
Leaving the most iconic until last, Claire was played by Molly Ringwald, AKA the shining jewel on the Brat Pack’s glitzing 80’s crown. For the movie, she dressed head-to-toe in a Ralph Lauren pink and brown leather ensemble, worn with brown equestrian boots which birthed one thousand imitations. In the final scene she gifts her diamond earring to Judd Nelson, melting teenage hearts everywhere.