While anything “-ista” may not belong in Harriet’s lexicon, her undeniable flair for mixing basic nineties pieces with a mean middle part, spying accessories, and a penchant for primary colours made her one of my childhood style icons.
Now, let’s get one thing straight… I am referring mainly to the film adaptation of Louise Fitzhugh’s famous novel Harriet the Spy, starring a young and untainted Michelle Trachtenberg as the titular character and Rosie O’Donnell as Ole Golly. Harriet the Spy was one of those movies that made you kindred spirits with other kids who liked it. Not only did it come on a neon orange VHS tape(!!), but it was filmed in Toronto, making aspirations of similar sleuthing adventures seem fully plausible. Normally I am a total book over movie girl, but Harriet the movie was just… better. Feel free to contest this, but I have met several folks who agree and I think part of this owes to the spectacular styling in the film. The character of Harriet remains childlike but mature and she never becomes a caricature as is the case in so many children’s films.
So with this in mind, my pal and fellow Harriet fan Geneva and I set out to explore the alleyways of Bloor West Village Harriet-styles, taking photos as we went! (Of course we began our night with a viewing of the movie to get us into Harriet mode.)
Although Geneva and I didn’t end up on any roofs or trapped in rich ladies’ dumbwaiters, we did get kicked out of a laundromat and had a generally hilarious night.
For all other Harriet fans, here’s a list of top Harriet trends we noticed and tried to mimic; we were pleasantly surprised by how many of the pieces we already had in our closets:
1. Primary colours! (This contrasts interestingly with Harriet’s pals Sport and Janie, who tend to wear more purples and greens.)
2. Stripes, stripes, and more stripes!
3. The classic layered tee over long sleeves look (capitalize on this by mixing stripes and solid primary colours).
5. Bulky hoodies.
6. Wide-legged red trousers. Sadly we couldn’t source any, but the real Harriet aficionado knows they are a key element to her look!
7. All sorts of spying accessories… think safety goggles, a classic black or black and white notebook, flashlight, compact, rope, binoculars, you name it!
8. A long yellow coat (see Geneva in my knee-length yellow mackintosh).
9. Wide black headbands.
10. Hair always parted in the middle and styled either in one long braid, a ponytail, or straight and down.
But the most important tip of all: maintain curiosity and poise under pressure! Like Harriet’s hero Mata Hari — circa the film with Greta Garbo, of course — Harriet proves any girl can be elegant under pressure.