The Parent Trap Is Our Aesthetic

It’s summer, and our aesthetic is The Parent Trap (1998): a rustic cabin in a pine forest, a kicky new summer haircut, a sedate London home, secret twins, a sprawling Napa estate, getting your ears pierced by a child, comfy yet timeless sundresses, midafternoon dips in the pool with your dad’s too-young fiancee, casual camping gear, finding out your parents were totally OK with never seeing one of their children again… The Parent Trap has it all.

Although remakes usually pale in comparison to the original, The Parent Trap is different. The Hayley Mills version is fine, but it’s the Lindsay Lohan adaptation that I go to time and time again. It came out when I was 11 – the same age as Hallie and Annie, and could have passed as their triplet – and although almost two decades have gone by, it feels ageless. It’s no mistake that this is our second “___ Is Our Aesthetic” post featuring a film from Nancy Meyers, romcom queen and kitchen guru extraordinaire: all of her movies feel fresh and current when they come out, and thanks to her use of timeless and playful styling, they stay that way.

The Entire Camp Experience

I never went to sleepaway camp: not rich enough to afford it, nor poor enough for a scholarship (even at 11, I was able to recognize that the Parker-Jameses were seriously loaded). But maybe that’s for the best, because I am free to imagine summer camp exactly as it is in The Parent Trap. Camp Walden is everything you expect in a New England summer camp. Nestled among tall trees, the girls really do bunk in rustic cabins, wake up to bugle calls, eat at a mess hall, swim in a lake, hold unsupervised poker tourneys and engage in elaborate prank wars.  It’s the kind of low-tech, high-fun camp I could imagine generations of the same family attending.

Even the preppy-yet-simple uniforms are great, and those little touches like how Annie always chose the more formal version: the polo shirt instead of the tee, for instance.

To get it out of the way: those twin scenes were filmed with the help of Erin Mackey, Lindsay’s double and now a theater actress, who is sort of the Kathryn Alexandre of the Parent Trap universe:

The Handshake

Annie and her butler Martin have a secret handshake, which Hallie must learn to replicate in order to impersonate Annie. Not sure what is cooler: having a butler, or having a secret handshake.

MAKEOVERS!

Whether it’s The Parent Trap, Clueless, The Princess Diaries, The Breakfast Club, She’s All That, or one of our many other throwback favs, we loved a makeover scene 20 years ago and we love them still. There was something so satisfying about Hallie getting the haircut and ear piercing just right… thank goodness.

The Soundtrack!

Not strictly aesthetics, but music is a big part of the timeless summertime vibes in The Parent Trap. I’m not ashamed to say I owned the CD. (Off topic: Mid-to-late 90s: the golden age of movie soundtracks?) The score even has the whimsical, pretty sound of The Holiday, another of our Nancy Meyers favorites, although The Holiday was a Hans Zimmer score and The Parent Trap was Alan Silvestri.

Hallie (And Annie-As-Hallie)’s Relaxed Wardrobe

(Links to a Hallie Parker-inspired look. I always loved those multi-colored beaded bracelets and the plaid shorts and denim jacket combo)

hello, moto jacket.

Hallie is a laid-back Napa girl: she’s outdoorsy and informal, but she wasn’t exactly wearing hand-me-downs like the rest of us poors (not that she could have, as her sister was a secret).

Annie (And Hallie-As-Annie)’s Classic Style

Don’t panic, but the headband matches. This is why I matched my school uniform kilts to a headband with the same plaid. Also because I was a dork.

This is how I’d love to dress my children, who will hate me.

Blair Waldorf’s style inspiration.

Oh, to have Annie’s upper-class, finely-tailored, utterly timeless wardrobe: tweed and Peter Pan collars and A-line dresses as far as the eye can see. If you weren’t one of the fanciest children in all of London town, it was probably just a dream for you, but it was Annie’s reality.

The Napa Ranch

I’m floored Hallie even GOES to camp, because her real home has an in-ground pool, horses to ride, acres of land and a Nancy Myers kitchen. I especially love her lived-in, pretty bedroom:

The London House

Like the girls’ respective wardrobes, Hallie’s is the one you can imagine possibly having in an alternate universe, but Annie’s is the unreachable goal.

[All house images are sourced from and link to a page on Hooked On Houses about the Parent Trap homes. Hooked On Houses has been a favorite of mine since I bought my house – I seriously cannot get enough.]

Sister Act 2 Is Our Aesthetic

Sister Act 2 is the closest thing I’ll get to a time machine to my childhood. I’m definitely not from San Francisco, but I grew up going to Catholic schools and living in the “inner city” in the 1990s — so, pretty damn close. It’s also pure proof that the ’90s fashion revival is warranted. Those fashionable teens are still cooler than me at 30, just like they were in 1993 when I was 7. Our previous aesthetic posts include The Holiday (winter), Matilda (Back To School) and The Witches (Halloween). It’s been a while, so let’s get back in the habit (SORRY).

Lauryn Hill At Full Lauryn Hill

Just had to discuss this right out the gate. Lauryn Hill will always be the ultimate teen vocal/rap/songwriter sensation, even though she’s a grandma now (yeah. I feel old too. Remember To Zion? He’s a dad!). Sister Act 2 marks the musical moment when His Eye Is On The Sparrow entered all our favorite hymn lists. Sister Mary Round-Brush Bangs is right. Please don’t stop.

Everyone’s Under-Choir Robe Outfits

When the instruction comes to take off the choir robes, my teen reaction would’ve been “oh, no.” That’s because if I was wearing a choir robe, underneath I’d have on either something boring and schlubby, or something that was guaranteed not to peek out from the gown. These kids are in their full 1993 mall-outfit best. The two young ladies at far left ALONE. They look like they crawled off of 2017 tumblr and onto the screen.

 Specifically Lauryn Hill’s Outfit

It’s not so much that it’s classic – those mom jeans would’ve been majorly out of style for a good decade plus – but that this outfit has completely circled back into looking current again.

How The Choir Room Is Some Sort Of Attic

You keep waiting for the scene where they paint it or at least knock down the cobwebs, but nope. It’s always just kind of an attic for some reason. It’s a look.

This Rooftop Situation

It always seemed so cool to have a rooftop at school to hang out in. Not sure why everything at this school is so high up, but not complaining either.

When Ahmal Gets Really Into It In Oh Happy Day

He might be crusty, but Ahmal’s got that joy down in his heart. Did you know that actor Ryan Toby went on to sing in City High, who did that song “What Would You Do” (if your son was at home, crying all alone… yeah, it’s in my head now, too)? It was totally new information to me.

Ahmal’s Cultural Appropriation Speech

Ahmal was the woke one. You can tell because he is wearing the Woke Kid Uniform of 1993 and because he delivers a speech on cultural appropriation, which, yes, was a thing in the ’90s as well.

Can’t you come up with your own thing? Why must you continually come behind my people and steal our expressions? First jazz, then rock n roll, now rap? What’s next?

The Way Fancy Hotels Looked In 1993

We touched on this in our discussion of Curly Sue: fancy looked different in the early 90s. I’d almost say the era was peak fancy. There was a lot of gold plating and dusty pastels. I don’t know. I just love how this was the epitome of a really good hotel in 1993.

Sister Mary Clarence’s Minimalist Nun Cell

In 1993 this was like a prison room to die in; in 2017 it’s a minimalist studio to die for. And in San Francisco? The Catholic Church could only afford it by selling some Vatican artwork.

Richard’s Outfits

I feel like when anyone talks about ‘classic style’ they mean, like, polo shirts or suits, but consider this: this movie turns 24 years old this year (?!) and in any point since it was released, this outfit would’ve looked current.

Bonus: Baby Jennifer Love Hewitt smearing her mascara (?) behind him.

Uniform Adaptations

Never would’ve been allowed in any of my schools, but lots of fun and very reflective of real-life 90s style. Round sunglasses, hat bills flipped up, backwards snapbacks.

The Credit Sequence

So iconic, it was spoofed on Broad City and we all instantly got the reference.

Everything

From my notes during my rewatch: “The best part of Sister Act is the montage where they fix things up. The best part of Sister Act 2 is EVERYTHING.”

The Holiday Is Our Aesthetic

Christmas movies, in general, are aesthetically dreamy. Those technicolor classics like White Christmas bring the Old Hollywood glamor, cozy houses in movies like The Family Stone make me dream of joyfully chaotic decor, and Christmas rom-coms are the sparkliest and dreamiest of all rom-coms. That’s why this month, our aesthetic goals come from 2007 Christmas classic (ahem… modern classic), The Holiday.

Kate and Cameron’s Hair

Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz’s hair look perfectly normal, but that’s the thing. In 2007, Kate’s loose, beachy waves were actually at the very start of the loose, beachy waves trend, and I think it says something that it still looks current 9 years later – in contrast, imagine trying to sport, say, 1994 hair in 2003. I’ve also always been envious of straight, fine hair like Cameron’s that can looks fun yet professional in a short, croppy ‘do, as opposed to … floofy. I think a lot of us would look floofy with that haircut.

Rosehill Cottage, Exterior

Forget the likelihood that Iris, a young columnist who’s not at the top of her publication, could afford this. Holiday films are about wish-fulfillment, after all. It makes me happy just to think that SOMEONE gets to live in a gorgeous, quaint stone cottage with wildflower gardens, a rustic fence and a winding road in front of it. (Note: As a real estate addict, I did look up some houses for sale in Surrey. It is as expensive as you’d expect a picturesque London-accessible area to be; I assume the less-expensive ones are also secretly falling down inside. Maybe Iris inherited it from a relative. Whatever, it’s a movie and I’d much prefer to look at this cottage than a tiny, cookie-cutter terraced house from the 1970s).

Rosehill Cottage, Interior

I know that saying “I like the cottage better than Cameron Diaz’s mansion” makes me sound like one of those guys who think it’s a revelation that they find, like, Emma Stone more attractive than Angelina Jolie. The cottage is doing pretty well for itself, thanks. That said, yeah, I would 1000% rather live in Iris’s cottage than Amanda’s SmartHouse. (I bought a cute little 1909 house a few years ago so it’s not just talk. Also I couldn’t afford anything even approaching Amanda’s SmartHouse even if I wanted it, let’s be clear.) Rosehill Cottage really holds up on rewatch. There are layers of cosy decor, lots of overstuffed chintz chairs and a great vintage iron bed, but if you look really closely nothing is sloppy or haphazard. Also: fireplaces everywhere! Stone and stucco walls! A stainless steel tub and a painted wood bathroom floor! Do yourself a favor and go gawk at the Hooked On Houses page for it.

PS, I think “it has a fireplace in the bedroom” is the house version of “and it has pockets!” in a cute dress.

Iris’s Nancy Meyers Kitchen

Ain’t no kitchen like a Nancy Meyers kitchen cause a Nancy Meyers kitchen is very, very charming. Echoing the old-country charm of one of my other favorite Nancy Meyers kitchens (the vastly underrated Baby Boom), this one comes complete with a stucco fireplace, open shelving with blue and white earthenware pottery, flush-mounted cabinet doors in a chalky robins egg blue, and a cosy vintage table. Yes, I did make note of all of those elements for reference when I remodel my kitchen.

Sweaters

Second to the late 90s WB show Felicity, Christmas movies are the best visual source of people in comfy sweaters. If people feeling warm and comfortable is your aesthetic, may I present Jude Law in a blue sweater?

Sophie and Olivia’s Fort

Why is it that you can be a full-grown adult with a home or apartment of your own, but you’d still move into a soft blanket fort with fairy lights any day? Sophie and Olivia, come decorate for me.

Arthur’s Old Hollywood Vibe

Modern Hollywood culture – not much aesthetic appeal. But anything that smacks of the old studio system? Now we’re talking. Arthur, a funny and sweet relic from the days when people only knew about celebrities’ personal lives through fake ‘dates’ they’d go to at the studio commissary, is the real romantic hero of this movie.

This New Year’s Party

Low key decorations, snacks, champagne, and only like 6 people, two of whom are small children. Now THAT’S what a call a no-fuss holiday gathering. But the best part is everyone dresses way the heck up anyway because it’s the holidays, and the best aesthetic of all is “fancier than is strictly necessary, just because it’s fun sometimes.”

 

Previously In Our Aesthetic:

The Witches Is Our Aesthetic

New month, new aesthetic… same author? Last month we explained why the 1996 film Matilda is our aesthetic. This month, I have another Roald Dahl adaptation on the brain: the 1990 classic The Witches. It has all the best of Halloween spookiness, Scandinavian middle class life and early ’90s British coziness.

The cobblestone-y Norwegian streets

The first part of The Witches was filmed on location in beautiful Bergen, Norway, with quaint winding streets and Scandinavian houses that look like something out of a Jan Brett book or Colonial Williamsburg.

Helga’s hygge-ified kitchen

Helga has the perfect cozy grandmother’s kitchen to hear a story about witches in.

Flashback Erica’s knit woolens

Very Kirsten Larson, if you know what I mean (and I’m sure you do).

Helga’s tiny bed

It seems so simple and old-school European to sleep on a minimalist, space saving bed but also I’m a greedy American and I need a queen bed so I can sleep diagonally across it.

This hotel

Look. If I drove by this hotel in real life and I needed a place to stay, I wouldn’t even stop. I’d just assume that it was already fully booked for a witch convention and keep going.

This witch’s super conspicuously witchy outfit

Very motorcycle meets Audrey Hepburn meets mean rich lady.

Convalescing by the sea

Just in general, it is 100% my aesthetic to be sent to convalesce at the sea-side when you’re sick. I don’t want to be sick ever, it’s just that WHEN I am I wish the treatment plan involved “sea air” and not, you know, amoxicillin. I imagine I’d have a lap blanket and go on strolls that weren’t too strenuous. What I think I’m saying is that I’d only do a sitting-down type vacation if I had a disease.

This Married With Children-looking witch

On the right. Imagine her trying to act like a normal human at either a New Jersey deli or a Steel Magnolias-style southern beauty parlor.

This whole Mary Kay General Meeting-style convention

Don’t even try to tell me somebody isn’t about to get awarded a pink Cadillac.

PS, my favorite witch is mustard yellow, front left.

This nice pram

This scene is seared into my memory from childhood and that’s not great, but goodness, what a beautiful baby carriage.

Cute rat children

Riddle me this: I don’t find rats cute, but somehow I find children even cuter when they’re morphing into them.

Luke as a rat muppet

An actual rat would have lost me, but this Jim Henson’s Workshop version of a rat is my aesthetic.

The topsy turvy dinner scene

…because it fixed what otherwise was an incredibly boring dinner. It gets better after this but you’ll just have to watch the move.

Also my aesthetic: cress soup.

This grand high witch outfit

Feat. the BEST hat.

Luke’s room when he’s a rat

It’s probably rough being a rat-boy, but a Rube Goldberg-y setup with THIS FREAKING TRAIN and conveyer belt and toy Ghostbusters firehouse softens the blow and sort of makes a human want to get turned into a rodent by a witch.

Keeping the grand high witches’ names in a black filofax

Both for how early ’90s it is, and how ordinary and practical.