Every style has an originator. A special someone who wears a look in such a way that everyone else wants to as well. Throughout the decades, teenagers have had their idols, and in many cases, tried their darndest to look just like them. Hindsight Idols is a section about the celebrities, characters and personas that we’ve wanted so badly to emulate.
This week’s Hindsight Idol is Gwen Stefani. We’re not talking about just any era of Gwen Stefani. We’re talking about Gwen circa Tragic Kingdom and earlier. Mid-nineties Gwen. Red lips, platinum blonde hair, baggy pants, exposed midriff, Indian Punk Rocker Gwen.
I can very clearly remember the first time I heard a No Doubt song on the radio. The song was “Just A Girl” and it was playing on the pop radio station that came all the way from snazzy Buffalo, New York. I was sitting on the floor of my teenaged bedroom, books sprawled out, doing my homework, when the first guitar chords broke through my train of thought. From the moment I heard Gwen’s voice, I knew I wanted to be just like her. Though I hadn’t ever seen this girl, I knew that she was probably the coolest person to have ever lived. And, when I watched the video on Much Music a few weeks later, I wasn’t disappointed.
There was something about that Early Gwen that was so revolutionary. She was the perfect blend between tough and feminine. She had that touch of 50’s pinup paired with the masculine punk rock accents that I tried so hard to imitate all through my teenaged years. And, of course, she could ROCK.
There was a period during my adolescence where my go-to outfit was absolutely an unabashed, blatant Gwen ripoff. I had found a pair of red plaid pants, slim and slightly flared, at the Salvation Army. I paired them with a pair of suspenders (though worn, of course, hanging down around my bum) and a cut-off white “wifebeater” tank top, exposing my brand new bellybutton ring. I wore lots of red lipstick and thick black liquid liner. I always wanted to wear a traditional Indian Bindi, just like Gwen, but I figured at the time that this would be too much of a giveaway of my fashion inspiration (as if there was any doubt?).
Gwen Stefani was the first female to sport a nouveau punk rock style in 90’s mainstream music. And, while I was being tormented for my punk rock outfits at a very conservative high school, Gwen Stefani’s presence in the music industry was like a quiet reminder that I wasn’t the only one.
So, Gwen Stefani, The Hindsight Letters would like to salute you. Your bare belly, tough girl, pinup flare inspired us to paint our lips red and sing our little hearts out. Though I might have tried to disguise it in the past, I am hereby officially declaring my adoration. I’m exposed. But I guess that’s no big surprise.