You know I can probably trace my affinity for 90s minimalism back to the fact that a) I grew up in the 90s with an Aunt who was so chic she used to spray her scarfs with Chanel no.5 before she wore them and only painted her nails red and dyed her hair a different colour every week depending on her mood. And b) because I watched a hell of a lot of 90s movies set in the rough and tumble of urban life and they all had fantastic, minimal 90s wardrobes. Like You've Got Mail. And Patriot Games (am I cutting the definition of 90s here a little fine? Whatever. It's my blog, I'll do what I want). I loved those movies, and I loved those wardrobes. I loved the little tee shirts with the cropped cardigans, the flippy hair cuts, the straight leg jeans and the square-toed boots.
Julia Roberts had a good wardrobe in Notting Hill. It was a little plain, in the way that 90s clothes were plain, simple tee shirts, no-nonsense skirts, but she made it all her own with that beautiful, knock-out smile and that little squint in her eye and the way she would shrug her shoulders as she walked. Who could forget her entrance on the stairs, after changing at Hugh Grant's house because he spilt orange juice all over her plain white tee shirt and leather jacket (a great outfit), in that black crop top and pencil skirt? (I could not for the life of me find a picture of this, but you can see it in motion here). Or what about her bohemian chinese silk jacket and jeans combo at dinner? Or Grace Kelly esque suit at the press conference? Naturally, my favourite outifts are the clothes of Will's that she dons when she stays at his house after the photographs are leaked to the press. The dorky tee shirt, the oversized sweater and leggings, the stripey dress shirt worn as pyjamas. The ease of it all went perfectly with how easy she seemed to fit into Will's life, eating toast, watering house plants, reading lines on his dilapidated rooftop. Back in the day when rent in Notting Hill wasn't sky high and people could still feel a kind of romantic fondness for Hugh Grant and not overwhelming sleaze. But there you go.
Part of it is definitely Julia Roberts' inherent charm. Put most of this on a normal person and it's not going to look as good. But what I liked about the wardrobe in the film is how it constantly straddled that boundary between "movie star" and "real life". It deconstructed this idea of what a celebrity or actress or famous person was and fused it with normality. That movie stars, also, wear jeans and tee shirts and thongs and ratty sweaters and birkenstocks with matching anklets. That they spill things on themselves and climb fences and they fall in love with real people. It's romantic and it's idealised and it's a conceit. I know this. But, I think, even better than some aspects of the film, the wardrobe showed on many occasions how Anna really was just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to love her.