It was the yel­low tartan ensemble heard around the world. Hav­ing just fin­ished watch­ing the 1995 cult clas­sic Clue­less for what seem like the mil­lionth time, I can’t help but won­der: will we ever really be bey­ond Clue­less?

Unless you have been liv­ing under a rock for the past 20 years you prob­ably know all about Clue­less. The 1995 teen com­edy was loosely based on Jane Austin’s nov­el Emma and became the sleep­er hit movie of the 90s, gath­er­ing a strong cult fol­low­ing. The film’s fash­ion cre­ated a vibrant world full of bright col­ours, fluffy back­packs and of course a pleth­ora of tartan. The writer-dir­ect­or of Clue­less, Amy Heck­er­ling, and the films cos­tume design­er, Mona May, envi­sioned a style to con­tra­dict the pop­u­lar grunge fash­ion of the time. But why are we still obsessed with their uber-fem­in­ine, tartan clad look?

With the release of Aus­trali­an rap­per Iggy Azalea’s new Clue­less inspired video for her single Fancy it’s sur­pris­ing that this movie still con­tin­ues to have such a strong influ­ence in a world where a trend sur­vives as long as a Big Mac at a fat camp. But she is hardly the first per­son to inject a little Clue­less real­ness into their look. This Clue­less effect can be seen from high street fash­ion from New Look to Top­shop, to the Ver­sace Fall 2013 RTW col­lec­tion, the Wild­fox SS13 line, the Moschino cheap and chic SS14 col­lec­tion, to the Anti­po­di­um SS14 col­lec­tion. What is it about this par­tic­u­lar teen clas­sic that keeps design­ers rol­lin’ with their hom­ies?

To invest­ig­ate this trend we spoke to the man that is fast becom­ing the world author­ity on teen cinema, writer and dir­ect­or Charlie Lynne, whose new film Bey­ond Clue­less is a “part his­tor­ic­al account, part close tex­tu­al ana­lys­is, part audio-visu­al mood piece and part head-over-heels love let­ter to the teen genre”. Lynne, an award win­ning film crit­ic, edit­or of the blog Ultra Cul­ture and a self con­fessed teen cinema lov­er appears to be the per­fect man for the job of unrav­el­ing this mys­tery. “Teen movies are fas­cin­at­ing because they make up per­haps the only genre that’s expli­citly aimed at people of a cer­tain age, and an incred­ibly impres­sion­able age at that. These are movies that say ‘we spe­cific­ally want to be seen by the people who are most likely to be influ­enced by what they see’”.

These movies have served as a muse for design­ers and inspired many wider cul­tur­al trends, but although their col­lect­ive impact was great, no single release inspired more than Clue­less, the archetyp­al teen movie. Lynne states that “Clue­less is a per­fect film, so it’s no won­der it’s remembered with such fond­ness. More sig­ni­fic­antly how­ever, it arrived at a time when teen movies were in a dire state. In one fell swoop it kicked off a whole new wave of teen films, con­vin­cing film­makers and their back­ers alike that there was still an appet­ite for these films.”

When we think of Clue­less, we are drawn to the fash­ion, and why not? But Lynne points to a com­bin­a­tion of both style and sub­stance. “Clue­less, She’s All That and so on have very dis­tinct­ive looks, but I think they nev­er would have taken off if they weren’t enga­ging as films at the same time. The style of the films helped them take off as a genre, but their qual­ity is what makes them – and by exten­sion, their style – so endur­ing.”

The fash­ion of Clue­less is so endur­ing because it’s lar­ger than life, the per­fect example of optim­ist­ic cloth­ing. In the tur­bu­lent fin­an­cial, polit­ic­al and social times we find ourselves liv­ing in, what bet­ter way to escape (if even just for a little while) than with a fluffy pen or some group co-ordin­ated black and white workout gear? A tartan ward­robe isn’t going to fix your fin­an­cial situ­ation, but at least you can fill out those job applic­a­tions in style.

Bey­ond Clue­less is show­ing at vari­ous fest­ivals across the world over the sum­mer and will be more widely avail­able later in the year.