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20 important style lessons from ’90s cartoons characters

Posted by
Nick Pope
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The nineties was a veritable golden age for cartoons. If you spent your formative years watching them, you'll also have learnt a lot: They warned us against bullying (because pent-up nerd rage is terrifying). They schooled us in evolutionhistory, and science. They told us that greed is bad and that hard work always pays off

And did you know there were plenty of sartorial tips to be gleaned too? Even if you missed them first time around, they’re still just as relevant today. 

So here are 20 of our favourite nineties hand-drawn style icons…

  • 20 important style lessons from '90s cartoons characters

    Roger Klotz – from Doug

    Sure, he’s a big bad bully – but you try hanging around Doug without feeling the urge to shove his white bean head down a few toilets. Roger has modelled himself after Marlon Brando’s legendary biker get-up from The Young Ones, so obviously he needs the renegade attitude that goes alongside it too.

    Get the look: Nudie

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    Dad – from Cow & Chicken

    This guy only appeared on the show as a pair of limbs, so it was imperative that he put some effort into his loin’n’leg’n'lace game.

    And you’ve got to respect his choices here: striped, chartreuse slim-fit trousers, cut short to maintain a breezy mankle vibe. And, what’s this - a sockless segue into a pair of brogues? Ahead of his time. 

    Get the look: Asos

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    TJ - from Recess

    Stumped as to why so many bomber jackets are cropping up everywhere you look? Answer: this freckled badass right here. Follow his lead and pair your green garm with a white tee, a cap and some Levis 501s. 

    T.J’s not the only kid in the Recess playground with style, however – just look at the effortlessly cool Spinelli, the Yeezy-inspired Mikey, and Gus, who invented the whole ‘look at my white socks’ trend decades ago.

    Get the look: Dickies

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    Gambit – X-Men The Animated Series

    Camel colour is bang on trend this season, and you owe it to yourself to cop a classy overcoat like our deck-throwing buddy Gambit (not to be confused with the X-Men Origins: Wolverine version of the character, who looks like he gets his style tips from B-list Vegas magicians). 

    Get the look: Noose & Monkey

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    Arthur - from Arthur

    The king of #Normcore. Every day when he walks down the street, everybody that he meets, has an original point of view – but Arthur doesn’t bother with lurid fashion statements or high concept clobber. He just keeps it 100 with risk-free staples. It’s no wonder that this aardvark rejects consumerist label culture – his glasses defy gravity, after all. This dude plays by nobody's rules.

    Get the look: Gap

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    Alfred Jonathan Kwak – from Alfred J. Kwak

    It might not have resonated like other shows, going the way of The Moomins in terms of its cult status among scampish TV viewers, but what style its lead character had. Who says you need to wear clothes when your scarf game is this on point? Section 66 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003, but you catch our drift. 

    Get the look: Selfridges

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    Poochie - from The Simpsons

    If only he’d waited just a little longer before returning to his home planet (and dying on the way), Poochie would have had his day in the sun. We’re finally ready to appreciate this nineties Seattle-style flannel shirt & white tee combo. He’s edgy, he’s “in your face”, and he looks like a dog who gets “biz-zay!” consistently and thoroughly, which is a lot more than can be said about you.

    Get the look: Urban Outfitters

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    Arnold Shortman - Hey Arnold

    Arnold’s grungy skatewear look hasn’t gone unnoticed by the fashion industry at large. Walk into any Urban Outfitters right now, and you’ll see racks on racks of clobber that’s pretty much tailor-made for Nickelodeon’s favourite son – apart from the neck holes, which are at least 11x too small for the football-headed one.

    Get the look: All Saints

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    Rocko - from Rocko's Modern Life

    When buying a shirt, it’s so easy to just pick out a straight-edged Oxford and scuttle out of the shop with as little fuss as possible.

    But where’s your sense of adventure, you coward? Every man should have at least one brave design in their wardrobe - like this eighties-inspired number from Rocco. His outfit also teaches us another lesson: an ace pair of brown shoes can rescue almost any fashion faux pas.

    Shop the look: Carhatt 

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    Butters - from South Park

    Is this a jacket, or a light green shirt with a very-in-right-now granddad collar? We like to think it’s the latter.

    Teaming it with a pair of green jeans – providing the shades are complimentary – is a smart move, and we think Butters might just be the best-dressed character on the show.

    Get the look: Reiss

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    Fry - from Futurama

    Fry’s outfit is based on one of the most iconic pieces of movie fashion to ever grace the big screen: James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause. The character might not be as cool as his chain-smoking counterpart, but this jacket still holds up. Check out PALACE Skateboards’ ace take on it from their new collection.

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    Ned Flanders’ dad – from The Simpsons

     

    If you don’t have at least one breton top hung up in your wardrobe, then something has seriously gone wrong in the course of your life. Personally, we’d opt for the ubiquitous blue stripe, but then maybe we’re just cubes of the Squaresville variety.

    Get the look: Farah

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    James Bond Jr. - from James Bond Jr

    Look, we know you didn’t watch James Bond Jr., but all you need to know is that: 1) it's better than Quantum of Solace, and 2) The nation’s favourite super sleuth’s fashion talents run in the family.

    From where we’re standing, those kicks look like Nike’s classic 1984 ‘Air Ships’, one of the most celebrated, era-defining sneaker models of all time. Team that with some slim fit denim and the best haircut this side of Young Stalin, and you’ve got yourself some #goals.

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    Little Bear – from Old Bear

    Any style don knows that fashion never sleeps. Always be ready for a surprise 3am catwalk by investing in some comfy, old-school pyjamas (bonus points for carrying a candle and wearing a sack on your head).

    Another lesson: as long as it isn’t velor, you should never be afraid to breathe new life into an old-school material. With that in mind, Young Bear’s classy corduroys are always a strong casual alternative to jeans.

    Get the look: M&S

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    Brendon Small – from Home Movies

    We can’t tell if Brendon’s decked out in double-denim or a morph-suit - and frankly, we don’t even care.

    Despite what you might think, there’s nothing wrong with wearing a one-colour combo. Brandon looks like an idiot, sure, but that’s only because he hasn’t mixed up the shading. Do that, and you’re onto a time-saving sartorial winner.

     

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    Johnny Bravo - from Johnny Bravo

    If you’ve got it, flaunt it – and everyone’s favourite sex pest certainly does that with his ultra tight-fitted black tees. It’s impossible to know, however, whether he actually owns pecs, or if he merely possesses a monumental pair of man boobs.

    If it’s the latter, he knows the tricks of the trade: black is hella slimming. If you don’t noir, get to noir, pigeon-chested compadres. 

    Get the look: ASOS 

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    Dale Gribble – from King Of The Hill

    Heavy-duty workwear from brands like Dickies has blown up over the past few years, mostly among guys whose only experience of machinery involves Apple logos.

    But Dale Gribble’s the Real Deal. Replicate his thrill-free, hard bastard, blue collar, well, collars by throwing some cash at this Dickies short sleeve offering.

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    Gary - from Pokémon

    No wonder the Pallet Town cheerleaders were always after Gary Oak’s Poké Balls – the guy wore the hell out of an oversized jumper. We’ve also got to give him props for this timeless black polo and extremely brave Miami Vice look.

    Still, a monumental dickhead, all things considered.

    Get the look: Size?

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    Inspector Gadget - from Inspector Gadget

    Originally inspired by the tailored design of old military wear, trench coats are a great way to stay cool in more ways than one. Not only are they classy and compliment your shape, but they also have loads of pockets for amateur storage hunters.

    Inspector Gadget filled his with handcuffs, a telescope and a wooden mallet. What a strange man he was.

    Get the look: Zara

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    Gerald - Hey Arnold

    As Mr. Hyde will tell you, there’s nothing wrong with donning sportswear on the regs. Beyonce’s new Ivy Park line proves that active threads are on-trend in women’s fashion, and it’s only a matter of time before it crosses the gender divide too.

    And if that means that we’re one step closer to watching Santi Cazorla strut down a catwalk, then we’re fully behind it.

    Get the look: JD Sports