There are a handful of movie GIFs that I feel perfectly represent my life: Elle Woods shouting “Me!” in Legally Blonde (for my confident days), Ginny Weasley looking shocked/terrified in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (for my not-so-confident days), and Tai from Clueless, falling down the stairs at the club. In fact, I think about that Clueless scene a lot, mainly because the whole thing is very relatable to me.
On top of being clumsy and feeling like, at times, nothing is going smoothly — AKA falling down the stairs in the figurative sense — I think Tai awkwardly standing on the dance floor, fussing over her outfit, is one of the realest parts in this story, which, to quickly summarize, is basically about a wealthy girl falling for her ex-stepbrother.
First of all, Tai is someone who showed up to a club wearing short overalls, to hang with her friend Cher who, of course, has on a tight, white Calvin Klein minidress. After recovering from her fall, she immediately asks Cher what to do with the cute, printed, but maybe not club-appropriate button-down shirt she paired with her look, and I immediately have flashbacks to times I’ve felt under- or over-dressed. Afterward, the teen stands around, alone and insecure, fussing with her outfit, while everyone else dances around her.
The late Brittany Murphy put some top-notch and hilarious acting skills on display for this scene (RIP), but I particularly love how Tai quickly switches up that same button-down. She does as Cher suggests and ties it around her waist, but then, in another shot, throws it back on and knots the bottom. At one point, she’s wearing it as a headband before styling it the same way as she did before, over her short overalls. It’s the equivalent of realizing that no one else at a New Year’s Eve party is wearing tights (been there — especially in college) or standing in a bar, rocking your stuffy workwear while everyone else has on casual (and somewhat sexy) clothing. I’ve felt this way every time I’ve chosen to step out in snow boots, only to notice the snow has already melted after I’ve left the house.
Sure, I am a fan of Cher’s outfits, from her plaid skirts to the sheer layers that pop up throughout the movie. I do think about her Alaïa dress and wonder why we don’t talk about her fuzzy-sleeved sweater more often. But, Tai’s club outfit — complete with a scarf worn as a headband, metallic boots, and a bright pink shirt — perfectly represents the awkwardness of trying to fit in, and, therefore, is the one that’s stayed with me all these years.