Why Winona Ryder's 'Reality Bites' Look Is Still So Good

It’s very “I woke up almost like this, but I put a little effort in because that’s what adults do, you know?”
Publish date:
August 18, 2014
How-To, Winona Ryder, '90s, nars, l' oreal, 90s Week, movies, Laura Mercier, Reality Bites

This isn’t the first time I’ve publicly declared my love for Winona Ryder, and it surely won’t be the last. She's my quintessential cool girl. I'm not sure what came first--my love for Winona or the comparisons--but I'm hella flattered each time I’m told I bare a passing resemblance to her.

It’s difficult to choose a favorite Winona Ryder film, but if I had to pick the one I relate to most on any given day, it would have to be the 1994 classic, Reality Bites. Filled with the same twenty-something angst I’ve come to know and hate, and a wardrobe of '90s era fashions that seem right at home in the midst of today’s resurgence of big flannel shirts and tiny floral prints, Reality Bites strikes a nerve nearly every time. As a confused, bitter, excited, short-haired twenty-something, Lelaina Pierce speaks to me.

Throughout the movie, Winona’s look is simple but stylish. It’s very “I woke up almost like this, but I put a little effort in because that’s what adults do, you know?” She reps her trademark flawless complexion, but with a totally matte finish, because: NINETIES. Her color is mostly minimal, but she does a bit of eye makeup and a red lip.

While re-watching the movie for “research” reasons, I thought, Wait, this is my everyday look, too! I’m all about clean-looking skin, a touch of eye definition, and bold lipstick. And while I won’t go so far as to say that Leilana subconsciously inspired my early twenties makeup routine, I will say that this is a super practical, wearable look for everyday life. Let’s get to it.


My hair is a little longer than Leilana’s shaggy pixie, but I work with what I’ve got. (I’m using all my energy to talk myself out of going back to a pixie cut.) I blow-dried my hair with a round brush and L’Oreal Advanced Hairstyle Boost It Blow-Out Heat Spray for bouncy volume. After it was dry, I warmed a bit of Lush R&B up in my hands and ran it through my hair to make it extra smooth before haphazardly tucking most of it behind my ears.


For a clean slate, I started with L’Oreal Magic Nude Liquid Powder Bare Skin Perfecting Makeup. Then I brushed on some Make Matte Finish Blush in Ochre, a pinky coral that’s close enough to my skin color to look natural, on the apples of my cheeks. I finished the look with a dusting of NARS Pressed Powder in Desert. I also filled in my brows with an angled brush a matte dark brown shadow.


Using a flat brush, I tightlined my eyes with Laura Mercier Tightline Cake Eyeliner in Black Ebony, using a Q-tip to clean up any liner that got into my waterline. Next, using the same flat brush, I gently smudged the liner lightly into my upper lash line. We’re not going for a dramatic look, but some definition is good. After a light-handed swoop of Lancome High Definition Mascara, my eyes were finished.


The final touch was Laura Mercier Rouge Nouveau Weightless Lip Color in Matte Coral Red, a lightweight, matte poppy red.

Then I took my best friends to the roof of a building (err, parking garage) downtown and shot some footage for my documentary. It’s going to really make a difference, I know it.

It's a doable everyday look, right? Also, what’s your favorite Winona movie? Wanna get coffee, some smokes, and talk about it? Wino forever.