Fashion time capsule: Bitchen versus Joanie

L-A: I know we said we’re still writing posts – we do mean it. We promise. But when Intern Krista found the book that inspired this post, we just had to share. And after Mel’s 90s flashback, we thought it’d be nice to take another flashback with the 80s. Not so much the choices we made, but for the advice we were given and how they stack up today.

Intern Krista: Friends, this may surprise you, but I’m no spring chicken. In fact, as a child of the 80s, I’m practically elderly.

As a child, my family would road trip around Eastern Canada and New England in the summer for our annual vacation (thus reason enough to shamelessly promote my own blog, Bite-sized Travel). When heading to the States, I would go with a list of things to buy because they didn’t exist in Canada.

That’s what it was like back in those days, we actually had different things in each of our countries. This gave me the opportunity to be the first person in my school to taste the sweet sugar toxicity of Smurfberry Crunch. I also got to buy different editions of various books (read: the US versions), and acquire the occasional awesome thing that just did not exist in Canada.

Enter the Valley Girl. Never one to resist an insufferable affectation, I dove into Valspeak, leading to a decade-long fight to get rid of superfluous “likes” in my day-to-day life. While researching this post, I found an amazing site that will translate the page of your choice into Valspeak . Hysterical. Fun fact: The ill-fated Gossip Girl spinoff was going to feature Lily as, like, Valley Girl Serena.

More relevant to my development as a fashion creature, however, was my complete and total obsession with the Valley Girl style. When I saw this book in a bookstore somewhere in Maine, I HAD to have it.

  FPQT - Valley Girl Fashion

As stated in my pitch to Ally and L-A, I didn’t know it was a parody, I thought it was a how-to manual. A precise one at that, it’s so slight, the pages aren’t even numbered.

Over time, I grew out of it, and Fer Shurr! somehow wandered out of my life. Recently, when looking for birthday presents for myself online, I came across this relic of my youth in an online bookstore. Just three short weeks later, I was once again in possession of the book. Since it is all of 40 slight pages, I burned through it in about 15 minutes, stopping briefly to soak to the joy that is the fashion rules section, otherwise known as “Clothes: Bitchen and Joanie”

 FPQT - Valley Girl Fashion tips

Both at the time and in present day, I assumed Joanie was a reference to Joanie Cunningham’s terrible styles in Joanie Loves Chachi:

 Fashion time capsule: Bitchen versus Joanie


Right? With that, let us take this opportunity to consider how this applies to today’s fashions.

The current state of bitchen versus Joanie

Headwear: While I’m not pro-headband, I am anti-cowboy hat. Unless, of course, you’re a Woo Girl or going to a Dallas-themed birthday party.

Hairstyle: Somewhere between The Rachel and The Rachel. Seems we haven’t really expanded our options in 30 years.

Eyelash goop: Mascara is still bitchen, I’m 100% okay with false eyelashes, à la Jennifer Lopez and Kim Kardashian, remaining Joanie.

Jewelry: no more gold chains for anyone, as they can be turned into valuable cash at Money4U

Blousery: both are now too joanie and American Apparel-ish for my taste, but I could get behind a tuxedo blouse resurgence.

Handbag: both options are joanie, but fabric pouches are still way more joanie.

Skirts: This may be a personal opinion, but at 5’3”, I am too short to wear bitchen minis, and at my age, I’m too old to wear them. I don’t know why, but prairie-length skirts are trying to happen again. Still joanie.

Hosiery: Opaque panty hose are mostly tights and are still way bitchen. Way way bitchen.

Shoes: Both flats and heels are now bitchen, though I prefer heels with a little meat on their bones.

Swimwear: When it comes to swimwear, the Vals’ inclination towards modesty is practically Amish in today’s swimwear context. I avoid swimwear, so this one is a draw.


Most things that were bitchen are still bitchen. Some things that were joanie are now bitchen, making this the most obtuse LSAT-style question in the history of logic.


There is nothing – nothing – on the face of the internet that better illustrates the Valley Girl aesthetic than this performance of the Frank Zappa/Moon Unit Zappa collaboration “Valley Girl,” performed by Moon Unit Zappa on Soul Train. Marinade in that sentence for a minute, then, watch this video 50 times.



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Staff Pick - The Tiny Wife by Andrew Kaufman

Staff Pick – The Tiny Wife by Andrew Kaufman