Clueless in Selfridges

She hasn't got a walk-in wardrobe. She has to borrow her dad's mobile. But she sure can shop. Anna Maxted meets Britain's label babes

jenny Hewlett, 15, stands in Selfridges and gently runs her fingers over the smooth surface of a white patent leather jacket by Calvin Klein. To the unseasoned eye, this item resembles the cheap plastic affair which your auntie donated to Oxfam five years ago. To Jenny, it is the pinnacle of sartorial elegance. It is also pounds 520. Jenny wrinkles her nose: "That's a couple of months saving up," she sighs. "I'd have to consider it."

Surely she could find a cheaper version in a chain store? A copy perhaps? "A copy?" she echoes in disbelief. "It would have to be a very good copy." Her tone suggests that there is no such thing, and she should know. Jenny is clothes crazy. When she isn't at school, she is shopping. Not for any old schmutter, you understand. Names are essential and we're not talking Marks and Spencer. She spends up to pounds 200 a month and "it goes higher if I've got a party. I have to wear something different every time I go out or I'll look stupid."

Jenny is the British Cher - the cool wardrobe-obsessed Beverley Hills chick played by Alicia Silverstone in Clueless, the teen movie of the moment. Cher - whose mother died during a routine liposuction - has a walk-in wardrobe and a computer which helps her choose each day's outfit. The film is hilarious, trivial and too, too Californian - when Cher is mugged at gunpoint she's furious at being forced to lie on the ground, dirtying her Alaia dress. It strikes a chord with British teenagers who take fashion very seriously indeed.

Unlike Cher, Jenny cannot afford Alaia. She is forced to borrow her father's mobile phone, and she has a Saturday job to help fund her clothes habit. She would not explain her tardiness to Sir with "I had to visit the bathroom - I was surfing the crimson wave", and would never refer to the babe who looks fine from afar but a mess close up as a "Monet" (to Jenny, the unfortunate girl would be a "dog").

But, like Cher, she is a likeable fashion expert who is utterly intolerent of boys who wear ridiculous back to front baseball caps. If romantically approached by such a creature, both are likely to utter the crushing: "As if!"

Being chic requires dedication. Jenny and her friends, Nicky Petty (14, tall and svelte) and Sara Stone (14, petite and voluptuous) spend their weekends in Selfridges, Oasis, Morgan, River Island and Next. Nicky confesses: "I go on little shopping sprees. Sometimes I spend about pounds 70 per week. I've got Levis and all the name jumpers like Naf Naf. Everyone recognises them and everyone knows you've paid a lot for them." She adds: "If you look good you feel happy with yourself. I do get clothes from Top Shop but I prefer the names. You're safe with names." Unfortunately, if the trend setters - the fashion media and other bullies - say that Kickers (approx pounds 69.99) are in, so many image-conscious teenagers will blackmail their parents for a pair that their cool-rating soon drops. Who wants to wear what the class loser's wearing?

So Sara's mother Marion wears her daughter's cast offs. Today, she is dressed in a smart pair of black leggings embroidered with a beaded logo. "Sara threw these away," she explains. "They're 'obscene' because they're last year's. She wore them once." Nicky's mother Pam encourages her daughter to buy stuff from the market. As if.

Pam should count her blessings. In Clueless, Cher and her buddies can always dress to the max because there is no school uniform. Nicky and Sara have only the occasional non-uniform day. "It's like a fashion show," says Nicky. "You go shopping specially. Even though there aren't any boys around. If someone turns up in something really dodgy everyone will be going 'she looks a state'. You've got one day to impress everyone, otherwise everyone thinks you're really sad."

Sara's schoolmates are more forgiving: "I go to a grammar school. A lot of people are more worried about their work than what they wear. Some of them turn up in some extremely strange things." Sara raised her neatly plucked eyebrows, adding: "A lot of them don't care about the things that we care about, like boys and clothes and make up. There are girls who have never worn make up! I look at them and think 'my god, you look about 10!' "

There is, however, a difference between looking a mess and looking an expensive mess. We are in Nicky's room. Nicky and Sara sit in front of the mirrored wardrobe and discuss their icons. Nikki Taylor is "beautiful". Kate Moss is "pretty" and Liz Hurley has "her own style". Bjork, however, is sartorially challenged. Sara says: "I tuned into MTV and she had on a luminous yellow plastic dress. It was horrible. She always looks a right state." Nicky disagrees. "Ye-es," she says, "but it's a designer state."

Life and Style
“What is it like being a girl?” was the question on the lips of one inquisitive Reddit user this week
peopleDave Legeno, the actor who played werewolf Fenrir Greyback in the Harry Potter films, has died
Arts and Entertainment
Armando Iannucci, the creator of 'The Thick of It' says he has
tvArmando Iannucci to concentrate on US show Veep
Life and Style
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookA wonderful selection of salads, starters and mains featuring venison, grouse and other game
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

German supporters (left) and Argentina fans
world cup 2014Final gives England fans a choice between to old enemies
Arts and Entertainment
A still from the worldwide Dawn of the Planet of the Apes trailer debut
peopleMario Balotelli poses with 'shotgun' in controversial Instagram pic
A mugshot of Ian Watkins released by South Wales Police following his guilty pleas
peopleBandmates open up about abuse
Basketball superstar LeBron James gets into his stride for the Cleveland Cavaliers
sportNBA superstar announces decision to return to Cleveland Cavaliers
Javier Mascherano of Argentina tackles Arjen Robben of the Netherlands as he attempts a shot
world cup 2014
Arts and Entertainment
The successful ITV drama Broadchurch starring David Tenant and Olivia Coleman came to an end tonight
Four ski officials in Slovenia have been suspended following allegations of results rigging
sportFour Slovenian officials suspended after allegations they helped violinist get slalom place
14 March 2011: George Clooney testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during a hearing titled 'Sudan and South Sudan: Independence and Insecurity.' Clooney is co-founder of the Satellite Sentinel Project which uses private satellites to collect evidence of crimes against civilian populations in Sudan
Arts and Entertainment
Balaban is indirectly responsible for the existence of Downton Abbey, having first discovered Julian Fellowes' talents as a screenwriter
tvCast members told to lose weight after snacking on set
Life and Style
More than half of young adults have engaged in 'unwanted but consensual sexting with a committed partner,' according to research
Life and Style
A binge is classed as four or more alcoholic drinks for women and five or more for men, consumed over a roughly two-hour period
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    JavaScript Developer (Angular, Web Forms, HTML5, Ext JS,CSS3)

    £40000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: JavaScript Dev...


    £50000 - £70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Business Analyst Consultant (Fina...

    SAP Data Migration Consultant

    competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client, a FTSE 100 organisation are u...

    Programme Support, Coms, Bristol, £300-350p/d

    £300 - £350 per day + competitive: Orgtel: My client, a leading bank, is curre...

    Day In a Page

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
    Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

    Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

    In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
    Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

    A writer spends a night on the streets

    Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
    Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

    UK's railways are entering a new golden age

    New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
    Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

    Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

    Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
    Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

    Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

    This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
    Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

    Why did we stop eating whelks?

    Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
    10 best women's sunglasses

    In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

    From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
    Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

    World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

    No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
    Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

    Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

    18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    The German people demand an end to the fighting
    New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

    New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

    For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
    Can scientists save the world's sea life from

    Can scientists save our sea life?

    By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
    Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

    Richard III review

    Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice