Thelma and Louise came out in 1991, precluding the protection of spouses under American rape statutes and in the same year that it finally became illegal to rape your wife in England. Contextually, the film spoke powerfully about an atmosphere of victim-blaming so prevalent within sexual assault narratives in the early 90s (and still today) - and offered an alternative. Spoiler alert: women don’t have to be victims, they can fight back.
I’m as anti-death-penalty as I could possibly be (an eye for an eye and we all go blind and all of that) but there’s something about Thelma and Louise that keeps me rooting for them. Two ladies on a road trip eshewing their horrible partners and boring waitressing jobs? I’m not fussed if a lewd trucker and a potential rapist get hurt (read: murdered). I guess that says something about how my morals can go a little AWOL when I’m watching a movie, but so be it.
I’m pretty sure that at university I wrote something about how the ladies plunging into the Grand Canyon was some sort of gynocentric utero-symbolism and harped on about the reappropriated male gaze but today I’m throwing my critical theorizing to one side and I’m going to tell you how you can look as cool as Thelma and as babetastic as Louise. Soz, Dworkin.
(Side note: if you want any other reason to emulate Geena Davis apart from her being an absolute pin-up who hooks up with Brad Pitt, she’s also an ace feminist and campaigner for USAID and FWD. She even launched an institute to work to increase the presence of female characters in media and reduce stereotyping in a pretty patriarchy-heavy industry.)
Firstly, I’m going to talk about double denim. Yes, it has been damned as the costume of badly dressed Canadians, but when it’s done well, it’s rad. Firstly, a good sleeveless denim shirt looks best when you crop it by tying it at the waist – this Topshop one is an ace wardrobe staple.
My foolproof method to avoiding showing ten inches of midriff in a croptop? High, high, high waisted jeans with a black studded belt to break it up a little. These American Apparel ones are high waisted and sturdy enough to suck you in like a pair of Spanx for a Geena-esque figure. Am I the only one wearing Spanx? I hope not.
If double denim doesn’t do it for you, you can alternate with a biker-vibe sleeveless tank. Your best bet is a vintage store or on eBay, because there’s nothing quite as distressing to me as a Nirvana t-shirt on the sale rack in Urban Outfitters but, if you don’t have a stack of heavily worn yet perfectly fitting cotton rock’n’roll tshirts in your wardrobe, here’s one that will work:
Now, for the boots. I am yet to meet a woman (meet? I only online-stalk her, does that count?) who knows about boots better than the wonderful Alison Freer – she has the top recommendations so take her word on it. However, I do know a thing or two about where to find the best designer knockoffs. Chockers do amazing versions of pretty much every shoe that gets a buzz around it and they are cheap as chips. You can’t drop a grand on the dreamiest cowboy booties I’ve ever seen from Chloe Sevigny? Try Chockers: £34.99.
And, of course, you need some bad girl accessories. Nothing is going to look quite as cool as a gun, but Maria Francesca Pepe’s double stud turquoise ring comes in a close second if you don't want to risk being frisked. It’s spiky and tough but delicate enough to not look costume-y - and it features my all time favourite stone, turquoise, which gives you that Arizona, road-trippin’ vibe.
You’re also gonna need some cats-eye sunglasses and a headscarf. These Alexander Wang ones are to die for, but ASOS do a pretty amazing rip off, just in case you aren’t going to do a full Thelma-and-Louise and hold up a petrol station in order to afford them.
When you’re pelting full-speed down a desert freeway, you need something to keep your hair in check. Headscarves are equally useful now that we are in Autumn and light showers are becoming heavier - they stop your hair from frizzing up both from humidity and from damp. So multifunctional. My favourite place on Earth is the Liberty scarves hall (especially during sale season) – so I have to throw in a Liberty scarf. I call them investment pieces to justify the extortion.
When it comes down to it though, working a Thelma-and-Louise vibe extends past a good denim shirt and a slick of MAC Russian Red (although God knows it helps). I’ve spoken before about how much street harassment kills me, how it makes me want to curl up and die whilst simultaneously enraging me to the point of engaging in fully murderous thoughts. And really and truly, it was this bit in Thelma and Louise that empowered me enough to start to want to shout back. I want to leave you with this, because even if you don’t want to look anything like them, why you wouldn’t want to be as cool as them is beyond me.
Do you love/hate my adulation of '90s movie style? Do you want to go on a vengeful roadtrip? Do you love Thelma and Louise as much as me? Share with me, ladies, or I can't justify my penchant for online shopping whilst wallowing in so much debt.
Olivia is on Twitter @oliviasinger.