How 'The O.C.' Shaped My Style (Yes, Really)

Watching The O.C. for the first time was a revelation. Sitting on my middle-school best friend’s couch, in the quaint suburban New Jersey town we called home, I was bowled over by the possibilities life apparently had to offer on the opposite coast. Drama, fashion, and romantic intrigue? You couldn’t have provided my seventh-grade self with a more appealing trifecta.

Unfortunately, I was lacking in certain tools of the trade: independence, for one thing, endless funds, and a tumultuous love affair. Without debutante-ball levels of drama in sight, I had to look to for other ways to channel my inner O.C. girl. The most obvious option was through my clothing, which paled in comparison to the trendy-prep style of Marissa Cooper, or the perky pops of colour loved by Summer Roberts.

In fact, at the time, I didn’t know any girl who wasn’t envious of their wardrobes. Though the fashion pools they dipped into were essentially the same as the rest of us—polo shirts, cropped cardigans, jean skirts—there was always a unique twist or finishing touch. There were ribbons as belts (and belts as ribbons), tank tops under strapless dresses, bikini tops under sheer T-shirts, disheveled hair with formal dresses, bandanas tied around purse straps, layered necklaces over graphic T-shirts, slip dresses as tank tops, and so on.

In short: They experimented. They shook things up in a way that was cool rather than crazy. It gave me the sense that I could do the same—and, boy, did I try. I distinctly remember rocking a bikini top over my t-shirt to school just because Summer did. Did we have the same success rate? Well, ignorance is bliss. While the nuances of Marisa and Summer’s particular style may no longer cut it—and might even seem dull today by today’s standards—the anything-goes ethos is still inspiring.

So, for the sake of whetting your riskier fashion appetite, here’s a walk down O.C. memory lane...