As someone who grew up consuming Tim Burton movies as often as I marveled over all things Disney, Winona Ryder's style has been a huge source of inspiration to me for years. I first got the chance to obsess over her through my favorite childhood film, Beetlejuice. I spent years drooling over her exaggerated moody goth aesthetic and strongly identifying with her ever-present anxiety and existentialism. And though her looks in other films that I adore (like Heathers and Girl, Interrupted) are vastly different from her veiled and spidery Beetlejuice aesthetic, they can all be united by a flair for androgyny and a grungier palette than many of her contemporaries evoke.
Ryder's aesthetic particularly resonated with me as a genderqueer young person. Her take on androgyny, which featured no shortage of the color black and a minimalist '90s vibe, was the first alternative-to-hyper-feminine presentation I ever encountered that matched my own taste. As I got older and gained more agency over how I dressed, I used Ryder as a template for my aesthetic. Channeling her in my wardrobe — through my men's shirts, leather jackets, and black dresses — still empowers me to this day.
Besides the influence she's had over my own style, her iconic look has had a huge impact on fashion as a whole. Here are 11 reasons Ryder has proven herself to be the ultimate sartorial inspo in my book, and the books of many.
1. She's Made A Case For At-Home Cuts
Honestly, I don't think there's any hairstyle in cinematic history better than Ryder's choppy and perfectly gelled bangs in Beetlejuice. She's likely inspired lots of interesting at-home cuts for young girls everywhere (or was that just me?).
2. And Made Oversized Blazers A Wardrobe Essential
Throwing ideas of stereotypical femininity and what's "flattering" aside, Ryder has embraced blazers (especially those that are slightly oversized) since the '90s. With look after look of perfectly-executed androgynous dreaminess, one has to admit that she makes the garment look like a super essential basic for any person who embraces the more masculine side of style.
3. She's Helped Normalize Dark Circles
With a combination of positive body image messaging and general trendsetting, Ryder made dark circles look cool and even enviable. Her Beetlejuice character Lydia Deetz, who has pretty dark under-eye circles, made me proud to rock my own.
4. She's Proved That Red Lips Can Look Punk AF
While red lipstick has long been seen as the staple for any classic Hollywood starlet's routine, Ryder has long reframed it as a look that can be pretty badass. Pairing red lips with jet-black hair really made the look seem extra punk.
5. Her Disregard For Red Carpet Dress Codes Is Fantastic
IMO, celebrities who stand out the most on the red carpet are usually rocking unconventional attire. That's why I love Ryder and her insistence on breaking fashion rules. Not only is she always reframing our perception of the red carpet, but she also reps styles that are easy to replicate and totally appropriate for admirers to sport as street-wear.
6. She's Shown Us That Style Icons Don't Have To Be Oozing With Femininity Or Confidence
One of the best things about Ryder (at least in my eyes) is that she portrays an alternative narrative to what we normally perceive as the Hollywood fashionista. Though Ryder is able-bodied, straight-sized, and white, her androgyny and seeming discomfort in many photos can help us redefine our idea of the calm, cool, and collected style icon. As a fashion lover with no shortage of anxiety and body hangups, this is comforting to me.
7. She's Helped Us Realize That Anyone Can Rock Short Hair
Ryder's short haircut circa Girl, Interrupted and beyond was (and continues to be) inspiration for ever short mane-repping girl or femme.
8. She's Showcased That Black Will Always Be The New Black
Ryder's all-black aesthetic has reminded us time and time again that this classic look is truly timeless.
9. She Can Rock The Hell Out Of Slinky Gowns, Too
Ryder was the queen of slinky and strappy gowns in the '90s, even repping the black velvet look from time to time.
10. She Made "Prep School Style" Cool
In the '80s cult film Heathers, Ryder really made a preppier aesthetic work while also channeling every important fashion staple of the decade.
11. She Can Kill It At Any Age
With Ryder's Stranger Things venture and her latest magazine cover for Nylon , she's still reminding us that her legacy as a fashion icon and source of daily inspo is ironclad.
For these reasons and many more, Winona Ryder will always be my favorite fashion icon.
Images: Columbia Pictures (2); The Geffen Film Company; NYLON