Saluting female geek style since twenty minutes ago.

by guest writer Marcia Heron

I wish I was a fifteen year old girl again. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World would be without doubt my favourite film (sorry, sorry, ‘critically-acclaimed major motion picture’). This is not to belittle Scott Pilgrim or its fans, many of whom I am sure are (well) over the age of fifteen. There’s nothing wrong with winning the approval of a fifteen year old girl. Indeed, there are probably few critics as fierce as a fifteen year old geek girl. When it comes to matters of taste and distinction, fifteen year old geek girls give the appearance of being coated in polytetrafluoroethylene. Nothing impresses them. No, the reason I wish I was fifteen, is because then I could excitedly think, ‘when I grow up I want to be Ramona Flowers’, rather than wistfully think, ‘if I could just go back in time and have my adolescence over again, I could be like Ramona Flowers (and whilst there, turn over the final page of the booklet in my first French GCSE exam and do that question I missed that was a third of the paper)’. [1]

Comic version of Ramona © 2004 Bryan Lee O’Malley

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World  gave fifteen year old girls a fantastic role model in Ramona Flowers – and here I am focusing primarily on the film, rather than the comic, and the reification of Ramona in the form of actress Mary Elizabeth Winstead. Much of her appeal stems from her style; we have to quickly pass over her taste in men – configured courtesy of the casting of Michael Cera in the leading role. This raises the question of what the hell has happened to the quality of nerd candy in popular culture, that Michael Cera got the Scott Pilgrim gig (besides being Canadian)? I wasn’t convinced by the attempts to charismatize him in Juno – he has a bewildered look on his face throughout the entire film like he has wet his pants and doesn’t know what to do about it. And even the most cursory of glances at NILFs through the ages would suggest Cera is towards the back of the queue for action: surely any self-respecting geek girl would rather get nasty with Anthony Michael Hall, Carlton from Fresh Prince, Ralph Malph or the entire cast of Dead Poets Society? In centuries to come, scientists who will have completed a taxonomy of sub-atomic particles will still be puzzling over the appeal of Michael Cera in the early 21st century. But I digress.
In sullen and moody twenty-something beauty Ramona Flowers, what we get in style terms, is something of an apogee of the indie girl look, whose forms have varied with changes in music, film, game and comic cultures. It combines the hoodies that emerged in skate culture with tiny skirts/shorts over tights as featured in late 1980s grunge – accessorised with vintage sportswear bags and bright colours (cf mid 1990s dance culture) mixed with the mini-dresses, parkas, heavy boots, and army surplus that have become ubiquitous in alternative fashion, with some superhero touches to finish it all off – goggles, skates, giant hammer. That Ramona Flowers encapsulates some desirable style archetype is evident from a quick review of the several authors of webpages devoted to recreating her style. It seems everyone has a page about dressing like Ms Flowers. Ban-Ki Moon is probably this very moment wondering whether accessorising with both the hammer and the goggles is just ‘too much’. [2]

ramona with hammer
Ramona with Hammer © 2004 Bryan Lee O’Malley

So permit me to recreate it one more time for the cheap seats. I’d leave off the goggles and belts – bit too Tank Girl/that five minutes in 2001 when everyone wore their belts backwards. And the skates: arse over tit is not a very fashion look. The key aspect of her style, is of course…the hair. It doesn’t really matter what you wear if you top it off with a somewhat raggedy bob in a primary colour (it has to be a bob though –  the ur-haircut of girl geekdom).  Here, Ms Flowers, plots a course pioneered by the likes of Miki Berenyi of Lush (who also did body con dresses in the days when there were still bodies to go in them).   During the course of the film, it perhaps gets a bit too raggedy – can’t help but sometimes want to grab a pair of scissors and trim a bit off those two hair tusks at the front, but concede, without them, she would lose some Flowers-power.
So there you have it. Do the hair, avoid the goggles and skates. And if you must have a hammer, Homebase do a pretty sturdy mallet for £7.99. Be aware though ladies, in certain areas with one of these sticking out of your handbag you could be picked up under s.1 of the Prevention of Crime Act (1953) – and saying ‘I’m Ramona Flowers innit?’ might not cut the mustard as a reasonable excuse.

1. Luckily, there’s still plenty of characters played by the lovely Ms Winstead that I can aspire to – e.g. the alcoholic teacher of Smashed
2. When I wrote this, a while back, I thought it might be amusing to take a world statesman and juxtapose him with pop culture. Then this happened. So apologies if, as Morrissey opined, that joke isn’t funny anymore.

Published by Mark Brassington

Father and Husband. Works in Corporate Banking. Loves Books, Comics, Cycling, Music, Games, going to the Gym and Writing.

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