How Stefani felt clearly resonated with people the world over, given the song’s runaway success; first on radio stations, then in packed-out stadiums on the two-year tour that followed the single’s release. Still, the video itself established the formula that would come to define Stefani’s iconic ’90s looks, which gave the DIY style of Riot Grrrl icons like Kathleen Hanna and Kat Bjelland a kitschy, kaleidoscopic spin. With her cropped tank tops, baggy track pants, and tonged platinum blond hair, the look reflected her role as the frontwoman of a band in a heavily male-dominated industry, a sentiment she so skilfully expressed in the song’s lyrics. “I don’t think I thought too much about wanting it to be a tomboy look, but I think the message behind the video was the divide between the genders,” Stefani explains. “That separation of the two genders is something we saw our whole lives, and I think ‘Just a Girl’ was just about coming of age and being aware of your sexuality.”
It was this divide, however, that Stefani was compelled to play with in her fashion choices. “I really liked the idea of mashing time periods together, so my face and hair would be inspired by a glamorous screen siren from the olden days, and from my chin down I was quite masculine in the way that I dressed. But then it would be fun to find one girly thing to add, like, I’d let my bra straps show and let them be a contrasting color or put diamonds on the bra straps. I was really into this whole sort of masculine and feminine thing at the same time. It’s weird, I didn’t really think about it then, but I really was. It was very natural, though—it wasn’t really thought out. It was just everything that I loved, put together.”
While the bindis that also formed a key part of her style may be met with a more divisive reaction today, the inclusion of them in her looks was equally personal and heartfelt. “At that time I was 25, and my boyfriend was Tony Kanal [Stefani’s No Doubt bandmate],” she remembers. “His family is Indian and I grew up with him from age 17 to 26, I was over at his house every day. It was so fascinating to me to watch his mom come down the stairs completely done up in clothes and fabrics I had never seen before. Glittery, sparkly, full of color, and of course she used to wear bindis. She gave me a bunch and I just thought they were so beautiful and I started making it my thing. Every time she would go to India she would bring me some treasure back.”
This content was originally published here.