Sunday, March 20, 2016

Inspiration: Empire Records

We all have those movies, books, and albums we were totally obsessed with in our tween years, the things we were so blindly in love with that we look back and cringe. At the top of my list is Empire Records, yet another 1990s coming-of-age film surrounding a bunch of attractive teenagers with quirky, cool jobs in a struggling local record store. It's a pretty typical film; it's not so-bad-it's-good like Showgirls or underrated enough to warrant my endless recommendations a la Bound. So why do I sometimes feel a little embarrassed by how much I once loved (and still kind of like) this movie?

I think it's because Empire Records was so aspirational for me. 11-year-old Renee wanted to wear Liv Tyler's Doc Martens while listening to Ethan Embry's GWAR albums and spouting wisdom a la Rory Cochrane. It's all dated, yes, but even though I should have grown out of it, part of me still wishes I could look back on the days when I worked in a cool shop and snarked at my co-workers. (I actually worked in a grocery store. My bosses wouldn't let me leave my cheap polo shirt untucked, let alone allow me to headbang with customers.)

I decided to rewatch Empire Records for the first time in at least five years to see if I still love it. And no, I really don't love it anymore...but I can see why I did. And man, can I appreciate the fashion.

Let's start out with an assortment of truly delightful coats and very, very 90s makeup! I'm also digging that "sheer blouse over a dark bra" look in the bottom left. Logically I know that trend should've died with the 90s, but I'm not-so-secretly thrilled it's back in style, even if it's only visible on Instagram.

Holy shit, does anybody remember when everything was covered with smiley faces?! Also, those thick chains everybody wore for bracelets and necklaces--I totally had one! Um, anyway, let's just take a moment to appreciate Liv Tyler's beauty. I love her fresh complexion and soft, berry-toned lips in this movie; she looks like she belongs in a modern Glossier advert.

One of the great things that came of my Empire Records obsession was my lady boner for women with shaved heads. To this day, I think few things are more striking than a good-looking woman with close-cropped hair; it's one of the reasons why the Milk Makeup Gender tutorial stuck out to me. Let's all blame Robin Tunney. Oh, and you can also blame Empire Records for the sometimes fawkward wig she wore in The Craft. Sorry 'bout it.

Debi Mazar doesn't have a very big part in this movie, and it's a shame. She wears this incredibly cool black coat with a Mandarin collar that is, alas, very hard to photograph--you can see the top of it here on the right. Also, she's another person I've had a mad crush on for years.

It's surprisingly hard to get shots of Liv Tyler's full outfit in this movie! Anyway, it's very stereotypically 90s with a plaid skirt, fuzzy cropped sweater, and Doc Martens. But I'm only a little ashamed to admit I purposely duplicated this outfit when I was in middle school. Also, more gratuitous Robin Tunney!


  1. I enjoy your posts on 90s makeup in the movies. I still like that aesthetic.

    1. It's become popular again, which is weirdly nice.

  2. God, this movie...I loved the hell out of it when it came out (15 year old Amanda couldn't wait to work in a record store!) Loved Renee Zellweger in it but my favorites were Lucas and Warren Beatty (super gluing quarters to the floor). Might have to give this a rewatch soon. Man, the 90s were a great time to be a teenager.

    1. One of my favorite scenes is when they catch Warren stealing and make him pose for Polaroids while "Little Bastard" plays in the background.

  3. Hello Hello:)

    I just happened to stumble upon your site and I love it. I binge read more than a few articles. It is so great to find and honest and witty voice in the beauty community.

    In regards to this post: I had almost forgotten about The Craft. I hAve three sisters, all very close in age. We used to pretend we were the witches. We forced the younest to be crazy Nancy and as the oldest I was always Sarah. I will be sure to remind them of this at Easter dinner this weekend.

    Thanks for the trip down memory lane!

    1. Thank you for the compliment!

      As for playing...I would've loved to have been Nancy, LOL! She would've been my first pick, especially since her element was air.