My babysitting days were the richest days of my life. Okay, so maybe I only babysat the 4-year-old down the street every once in awhile– whenever his mother decided that she wanted to change out of her San Diego Chargers Ryan Leaf jersey into her San Francisco 49ers Jerry Rice jersey, cake on another tube of mascara, and pedal-to-the-metal to the local dive bar. While I loved the disposable income that disposable diaper-changing (and yes, that kid was– disgustingly– yet to be potty trained) granted my 13 year old self, I was extremely disappointed that my babysitting experience was nothing, nothing like the ones detailed in my favorite YA book series, Ann M. Martin’s The Baby-Sitters Club. The Babysitters Club (or, BSC) was all about my favorite things: girl power, strong friendships, being boy crazy, and, duh– fun fashion choices. Like your’s truly, those girls never met a side ponytail that they didn’t like. So let’s honor that golden era of pre-teendom– when we had pockets-full of babysitting cash to blow at Contempo Casuals and Hot Dog on a Stick– by infusing our own wardrobes with a bit of fun, nostalgic, teenie bopper style (on the cheap, of course!)! Here are your BSC essentials:
1) Friendship bracelets: I don’t care who you are– I bet you love yourself a friendship bracelet. They are cute, great gifts, and hella cheap to make (just buy at least 3 colors of embroidery thread from Michael’s for like 35 cents a pop, and you can make like 5 bracelets from that!). Even if you don’t want to tie friendship bracelets all up on your delicate little wrists (but who wouldn’t want to, come on), they make adorable key chains or book marks, and are reminders of those middle school summers spent at camp, shit talking Brittany P. while French-braiding Jessica F.’s hair on the top bunk.
2) Choose your babysitter: There were like 10 babysitters, but– let’s face it– half of them were lame. Kristy wore hideous backwards baseball caps, Mary Anne was cute-but-mousey, and Mallory– god, what a snoozefest! So here’s how to dress like the best three BSC members (in my not-so-humble opinion):
a) Claudia Kishi: Claudia is unarguably the most stylish character to ever grace the pages of YA literature. There are like, entire blogs dedicated to dissecting this chick’s outfits! The resident artist of the BSC, Claudia is totes a maximalist and has an “anything goes” attitude when it comes to fashion. To get Claudia’s look, pile all of your hair into a high ponytail, and secure it with a scrunchie from the 99 cents store. Then wear basically every piece of crazy printed clothing you own, all at once. Sure, you might look like a girl, interrupted who got dressed from the dumpster behind a Claire’s store, but hey– you’re an artist! How will people know you’re one of those kooky “creative types” if you aren’t ridiculously over-the-top, ya know?
b) Dawn Schafer: Dawn is from the best state in the Union–California!– so she is obviously a hippie who annoys everyone by giving intimate details about her Master Cleanse and refusing to wear a bra (the BSC was big on stereotyping). To Dawn yourself up for free, stop shaving those pits, and put some tiny braids in your hair (the hair on your head, that is). If you have a few bucks to spare, pick up a flowing skirt and a used copy of The Feminine Mystique at a thrift store. Being a granola-munching 13 year old never looked so good!
c) Stacey McGill: I always identified with Stacey– mostly because she has divorced parents and is a mathlete, just like I was as a middle schooler! But not one to fall victim to Ann M. Martin’s penchant for insane stereotyping, Stacey’s not only a number-cruncher with daddy issues, she’s also from NYC, and super sophisticated, and diabetic. She’s so much more mature than the other babysitters, because she’s seen the world and has like, real issues and shit. To achieve Miss McGill’s smarty sophistication, sport some knee socks or black tights, a thrifted mini skirt and a sweater, and lots of a New Yorker’s favorite color: black.
3) A swoon-worthy boy toy: You can’t truly capture the hormonally-charged preteen spirit without awkwardly holding hands with someone you’re “going out” with. If there’s one thing the BSC love as much as keeping kids away from choking hazards, it’s giggling over boys. So find yourself stud muffin, and write about him in your diary and draw a bunch of hearts all over the page and pick the names of your future children. Then make sure he doesn’t find it, ‘cause that’s obsessive and creepy.