When I was growing up in the ‘90s, there was really only one character on a TV show who mattered to me sartorially: Rayanne Graff from My So-Called Life . On quite a personal level, I have never identified with any fictional character more than I identified with Angela Chase (Claire Danes), from her constant introspection, to her wild friends and quirky family, and her heartbreaking (and mostly unrequited) love for the distant Jordan Catalano (Jared Leto). However, when it came to unique and inspiring wardrobe choices, the true star of the show was undoubtedly A.J. Langer as Rayanne Graff.
Sure, as a character, Rayanne was far from perfect. She had her share of issues with drugs and alcohol, and these led to her not always being the most reliable or loyal friend for the much more sensitive Angela and Rickie. But for the most part, Rayanne had a heart of gold... and one kick ass wardrobe.
Whether you got to experience '90s fashion firsthand or not, the show provides a window to the various styles you would have seen in high school at the time in a very realistic and non-stereotypical way. It's easy to identify what the characters are about based on their outfits, but their clothes all seemed lived-in and authentic, rather than costume-y.
Rayanne's style on the show was completely unique. She walked to the beat of her own drum, and every single thing she wore was a reflection of that. When I was in high school, faced with the various cliques that I didn't quite fit into, I adapted "what would Rayanne Graff wear?" as a kind of mantra, and tried to channel her DGAF attitude when it came to dressing myself. Here are some of the things I admired most about her style.
1. Her Hair Was Always On Point
That streak. I spent so much time, money, and effort in my formative years experimenting with streaks and colors in my own hair, and I have Rayanne to thank as part of my inspiration. Plus, she always had a different intricate hairstyle, including braids, updos, and wearing all different kinds of scarves, baby barrettes, and hats. She made me want to wake up earlier just so I could have fun playing with my hair in the morning.
2. She Wore Mismatched Jewelry
I don't actually know if my penchant for mismatching my earrings originates with my adoration of Rayanne's style... but she hardly ever matched her earrings, her hair clips, or even, sometimes, her shoes.
3. She Wasn't Afraid To Mix Styles, Either
While her usual style was kind of part grunge, part hippie, and part psychedelic gypsy witch, Rayanne didn’t really subscribe to any kind of fashion niche or subculture. It was perfectly okay to wear a backwards baseball cap with a double-stranded pearl necklace, because, why the eff not?
4. She Could Make Flannel And Mom Jeans Look Cool
Yes, it was the '90s, and everyone was wearing flannel and mom jeans... But not everyone managed to actually make them look stylish. The other elements of Rayanne's style, like her hair and her wacky jewelry, were enough to elevate even the most normcore basics to statement fashion pieces.
5. She Personalized Every Aspect Of Her Look
Most of her clothes looked like they came from a thrift store or she made them herself. And when Rickie's artist crush started painting sneakers, she jumped at the chance to get a customized pair herself.
6. Her Accessories Were Everything
No one could command a room like Rayanne Graff, mostly because it was impossible to look away from all her bling-y jewelry and accessories.
7. She Loved Dramatic Pieces
Whether it was a silk caftan, a giant overcoat, or a long peasant skirt, Rayanne's layered looks frequently included a dramatic, drapey piece that allowed here to make a fashionable entrance.
8. She Wore Underwear As Part Of Her Outfit
Rayanne Graff was fearless. She could rock a bra top with an open overcoat to school and no one would even bat an eye because she owned her style choices with so much confidence.
9. She Wasn't Afraid To Be "Sexy"
Rayanne knew she was hot, and could unapologetically use her confidence and sexuality to her advantage when she needed to.
10. She Put A Lot Of Effort Into Her Look, While Still Looking Effortless
The sign of a true fashionista. Even if nothing matched, Rayanne's looks were always somehow either color coordinated, or thematically linked in some way. This showed that a lot of thought went into how she presented herself, despite her carefree attitude.
11. She Looked Amazing As A Sexy Vampire Goth
The Halloween episode of My So-Called Life was one of my favorites, and Rayanne pulled off the sexy goth vampire to perfection, including her perfect Lily Munster streak.
12. She Basically Always Looked Like A Rock Star
Even if she was too shy to actually perform in front of a crowd, Rayanne always looked ready for the part, thanks to her flair for the dramatic, her multiple layers of unique clothing, and her picture-perfect hair. Also, it takes a certain amount of guts to pull off a bowler hat.
13. Even When She Dressed Down, She Stood Out
In the last few episodes of the series, after a completely understandable falling out with Angela and a subsequent rededication to sobriety, Rayanne toned her look down significantly. When you're as comfortable with who you are as she is, though, you don't even need a million accessories and flamboyant clothes for your unique and vibrant personality to shine through.
Images: ABC; Tumblr (11); Giphy (1); Tumblr (2)