THE OLSEN EFFECT
WRITTEN BY HANNAH ZIEGLER
PHOTOGRAPHS BY JARED MILLER
ALEX FILTSOS + TINA MITROVIC
HANNAH ZIEGLER + MIYA STRAUSS
If there’s one image that is ingrained in my mind from childhood, it’s two strawberry blond twins in matching overalls. Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen’s “You’re Invited” home videos were a very big part of my life. The girls, clad in their matching outfits (Mary-Kate in blue overalls and a purple tee, Ashley in the reverse) introduced us devoted viewers to their world of spooky sleepovers and mall parties through adorable sing-song — if you haven’t seen any of these videos yet, you gotta watch.
I immediately was drawn to their cute, coordinated style. I didn’t have a sister to borrow clothes from, just a brother with a lot of basketball shorts. I found this video particularly relatable as an irritable 7-year-old. I just wanted someone to match with, so the Olsen twins were the centrepiece of my idealistic mood-board.
As the twins creeped into the 2000s with more incredible matching outfits, it subconsciously inspired a trendy wave of matching with your bestie. I would always be on the search for the perfect Little Miss or Junk Food tee to match with my pals, knowing our adorable ‘fits would charm the hell out of all our peers and moms who saw us at the local 7/Eleven.
Without a sister to match with though, I was sometimes left to my own devices. I’d stock up on merch from their Walmart line and come up with interesting and new toppings to put on my pizza, a la the iconic Gimme Pizza video. It totally made me feel closer to the sisters in a completely healthy and unsad way!!!!!!!!!!!
It’s kind of funny to look back on those charming and cheesy travel-themed, straight-to-VHS movies and how much they impacted viewers beyond the surface level. Most of them followed a similar plotline: Mary-Kate and Ashley trekked somewhere foreign, shenanigans and boy drama
ensued. Their films have been ranked by surreality (not an easy
feat, since they starred in more than 36 movies in the span of 12
years) and celebrated on streaming services. But us loyal
Olsenheads weren’t watching for a new and unique movie experience:
we came for that it-factor the twins have, and sartorial choices
were a huge part of that.
Look around and you’ll see the Olsen influence all around you in the form of ‘90s nostalgia. Midi skirts, which the girls often wore in complementary colours, have been THE must-have item of the season. Leopard midis specifically have become a hot commodity, so much so that one clever culture observer has made an entire Instagram account dedicated to the trendy item. Then of course there are slip dresses, platform flip flops (questionable) and crushed velvet galore.
One thing is for sure:
friendship bracelets will never go out of style.