Fashion

In Praise of Bill & Ted, the First Style Icons for Boys of the 90s

Oversized '90s 'fits, Nirvana hair, checked shirts, and Valley Boy style are forever.
IMAGE Orion Pictures
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When I was six years old I'd return from school every day and throw my book bag of prescribed reading down in the hallway. That could wait, as could my mother’s, every mother’s, daily question: how was your day? My day was fine, usually, but it wouldn’t be exceptional until I’d scrambled the carefully pre-wound VHS into it's oversized player and prepared for a duo that easily trumped the printed escapades of Biff and Chip: this was my time with Bill & Ted.

For those unaware, Bill & Ted is a franchise centered upon two teenagers who travel through space and time by way of a doctored phone box from the future. Sounds ridiculous. It is. But that’s the point, and it’s a forgotten corner of weed-addled, Valley Boy cinema that’s set to return with the  sequel Bill & Ted Face The Music

And although it may have been 27 years since Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter last appeared together onscreen, there’s every reason to be excited. According to an interview Reeves gave on The Graham Norton Show last year, in the script, both Bill and Ted are in their later years but still very much involved with the art of universe saving. 

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"Basically, they’re supposed to write a song to save the world, and they haven’t done that," said Reeves. "Their marriages are falling apart, their kids are kind of mad at them and then someone comes from the future and tells them if they don’t write the song, it’s not just the world it’s the universe they have to save, because time is breaking apart." Two air-headed air guitar heroes juggling intergalactic strife with a mid-life crisis? Count us in. 


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Of course, my optimism for the film is rooted more than a little in nostalgia. Bill & Ted was my—and many other people's—first experience of proper, burger-chewing, primary-hued Americana extending a perfectly tanned arm across the Atlantic. 

Bill and Ted behaved so differently to teenagers around me. Yorkshire is many things: beautiful, rustic, full of people keen to burst your bubble at the slightest sign of over-confidence. But it isn’t glamorous. To my young eyes, Bill and Ted were the teenagers from a place so cool, it couldn't possibly exist. They spoke a strange language that took repeat viewings to gleefully decipher. And they dressed amazingly. 

It was the little boy’s equivalent to Clueless, if you will. But where my sister opted for checked two-pieces and a sense of entitlement à la Cher Horowitz (albeit of a slightly less convincing kind: we lived in Hull, not Beverly Hills), I pined for checked over-shirts, orange layers, and smiley face motifs not entirely appropriate for a five-year-old. It was my first, properly conscious style move, one endorsed by my onscreen heroes, if not my parents. 

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The Nirvana manes, a far cry from the wet look gelled fringes of my home town, and oversized '90s fits were forever scorched into my consciousness. Even now, approaching 30, I’d rather wear a pastel denim jacket than an unstructured blazer any day of the week. Daily viewings of Bill and Ted that spanned almost half a decade is almost certainly responsible for that. 

The sportswear-cum-streetwear phenomenon is as rooted in the '90s era of Bill & Ted as it is in Warren G’s


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And it’s a trend that, despite the protests of menswear classicists, refuses to budge. The sportswear-cum-streetwear phenomenon is as rooted in the '90s era of Bill & Ted as it is in Warren G’s, and the line between skater boy culture and West Coast rap has always been a very fine one. 

It may be a risk getting our hopes up too much for Bill and Ted’s next outing. Such reboots rarely go well. But it feels like both cinema and style has a huge opening for something light-hearted at a time when the world has never felt so heavy in the chest. And if it does reignite an appetite for Valley Boy threads and clothing that favors fun over ‘timelessness’well, that’d be just excellent.

This story originally appeared on Esquire.co.uk. Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.

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Murray Clark
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