Mister Rogers, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood
As the Smithsonian article discusses, Mister Rogers’ daily ritual of switching up his shoes and donning a knit cardigan was perhaps meant to teach us that a wardrobe change can stir up our creativity, helping us shed our stresses. But before we go all philosophical on the transformational power of clothes, more than anything we think Rogers taught us that it’s okay to look like you put some effort into getting dressed in the morning. The long knit cardigan, button-down shirt, and spiffed-up oxfords are the epitome of polished geek-chic.
Angelica Pickles, Rugrats
From her flared purple jumper to her green-and-blue polka-dot tights and girly hair bows, Angelica Pickles’ uniform would be right at home on your standard-issue Manic Pixie Dream Girl — a personality type the character herself never would have approved of, much less embodies. Angelica was aggressive, and her girlie wardrobe never got in the way of her self-assured (OK, bossy) personality. We could all stand to learn that you can dress creatively without acting like an airhead.
Chuckie Finster, Rugrats
Angelica’s, uh, friend (victim?) Chuckie, aka Charles Crandall Finster, was one of the original hipsters. His uniform consisted of purple square glasses, a blue T-shirt with the planet Saturn on it, and a mop of rumpled hair. Add to that his awkward, scaredy-cat demeanor, we’re sure he gave hope, stylistically and emotionally, to the future Michael Ceras of the world.
Ms. Frizzle, The Magic School Bus
Ms. Frizzle’s catchphrase: “Take chances! Make mistakes! Get messy!” And when it came to fashion, she certainly took her own advice. Reptile-print dresses, mushroom earrings, and statement necklaces were the norm for the science teacher who marched to the beat of her own sartorial drum. Her out-there ensembles choices taught us to stand out and be adventurous.
Judy Funnie, Doug
Judy Funnie is the ultimate cartoon beatnik. Never seen without her dark glasses, black tights, and a sweater dress, Judy would have surely fit in at any ’60s Greenwich Village watering hole. But Doug’s theatrical sister wasn’t just a rehash of the past — she also influenced us, back in the ’90s, to give her vaguely goth, purple-on-black look a try.
Fred Jones, Scooby-Doo
Most of the time when we talk about Scooby-Doo style (and that happens more often than we care to admit), the conversation veers towards sexy Daphne or hipster-chic Velma. But let’s not forget that Fred was a pretty classy guy. His fitted blue jeans, crisp white shirt, and orange scarf ensemble proves that guys can pull off the preppy, nautical look without sacrificing their masculinity.
Phoebe, Hey Arnold!
Geek-chic glasses, simply cut dresses, and a sleek bob made Phoebe from Hey Arnold! the embodiment of librarian chic. No frills, no prints, no accessories — her minimalist aesthetic proves that less really can be more.
Clarissa Darling, Clarissa Explains It All
Clarissa Explains It All was the first Nickelodeon series to feature a female lead, and we think it’s safe to say that she was one of the coolest girls to come out of ’90s television. Her mix of crazy prints, combat boots, and out-there hair accessories made for a look that very few could pull off. But Clarissa’s style wasn’t intimidating in a fashion-forward type of way — she just seemed to genuinely have a good time getting dressed in the morning. At a time when TV characters are polished and coordinated from head to toe, a look back at Clarissa is a reminder that you can be a style maverick without taking yourself too seriously.