Lindsay Lohan

Style Icon?

Lindsay Lohan

Photo source unknown.

Is Lindsay Lohan a style icon, like Debbie Harry or Lady Gaga? I will reserve judgment...but I hope you won't. The evidence, for and against, her iconic status.

First, a few facts about Lohan's life, separated from the drama and schadenfreude that follow her like a shadow. Lindsay Lohan is an actress and occasional musician. She founded 6126, a clothing company which mostly sells leggings. She was born in 1986; as of this writing she is 23 years old.

Five years ago, Ms. Lohan was best known for her starring role in cult classic Mean Girls, as well as Disney films like Freaky Friday, Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen and The Parent Trap. Today, she is better known for partying, run-ins with the law, court appearances and substance abuse.

Is Lindsay Lohan a Style Icon?

According to our style icons page, icons "hold enduring appeal for what they wear and how they wear it." It's an icon's personality, as expressed through their clothing, that makes them so iconic––not the expensiveness or tailoring of their clothes. I'm sure Prince Charles's suits cost more than three months of Eugene Hütz's rent. Still, how many people could say Prince Charles is a "style icon" while keeping a straight face?

In this article, I've tried to outline opposing arguments to this question: is Lindsay Lohan a style icon? Does her fashion sense, and marginal position in the fashion community, translate into a sense of style? Answers––and arguments––below.

Yes, she is.

Lindsay Lohan in the movie poster for Inferno. She stars as Linda Lovelace.

Beliefs are always based on the emotions. Seemingly rational arguments are usually inventions of the conscious mind to explain unconscious urges. With that in mind, let's explore the emotional basis for admiration of Lindsay Lohan.

Many people, including this author, have an emotional investment in seeing Lindsay Lohan conquer her demons and make a comeback. Seeing someone so beautiful fall so far makes us question many of our preconceptions––about rehabilitation, fame, money, parental influence and even the American Dream. If someone who has everything can be unhappy, well, then, what will make her (i.e. you, me, the reader) happy? Unlike Judy Garland, a similar tragedy, Lohan's talents are modest. There is no spirit of triumphalism in Lindsay's personality, only narcissistic angst. A comeback would quiet many of these uneasy questions, and affirm our hopes for humanity and for ourselves.

There's an element of schadenfreude, not necessarily sadistic, in watching a young, beautiful girl self destruct. I may not be beautiful; I may not be rich; I may be too x and not enough y. But Lindsay Lohan had it all, and look how fucked up she is! I wouldn't trade places with her now for twice the money she's in hock for. Looking at life this way, one's own defects and shortcomings turn into assets.

At first glance, Ms. Lohan seems like a confirmation of Fitzgerald's famous quip, "There are no second acts in American lives." Were Lohan to fade from the spotlight––even for nine months––all would probably be over for her. Reports already suggest that she is in deep debt, addicted to multiple drugs, near bankruptcy and heading to jail or a drug-related death. If the paparazzi didn't follow her, would we care? Honestly?

Lindsay Lohan and Samantha Ronson, watching the dress and the model, respectively.

Outside of the media glare, Lindsay Lohan would be another child paying the price of privilege. Like Britney Spears and Lady Gaga, Lohan's sartorial experiments reach every supermarket counter in the USA. This alone does not make her a style icon, but it is a mitigating factor.

What makes Lohan a style icon is that her struggles to find herself through fashion––her constant shifts between black/blonde/red/brown hair, her outfits that constantly change while the template remains the same––mirror her fractured identity. In some strange, disturbing way, Lohan represents trashy celebrity culture and its devastating mental, physical and spiritual effects. She's almost a manifestation of

Whatever you think of Lohan personally, something about her gets her more press coverage than similar trainwrecks like Lily Allen, Amy Winehouse and Paris Hilton. Even though most comments about her wardrobe are disparaging, they're still comments.

Lindsay Lohan is a style icon, but a negative style icon, a good advertisement for bad living. Instead of seeing a sanitized, glossed-over version of "heroin chic," watching Ms. Lohan's beauty die serves as a strong memento mori, in the glitziest, most superficial package possible. What could be more iconic than that?

No, she isn't.

Lindsay Lohan

By plucking her petals, you do not gather the beauty of the flower.
––Rabindranath Tagore

Like Lady Gaga, Lindsay Lohan retreads over the same old tired trends, from aviator sunglasses to jean cut-offs to dancer leggings, and makes them seem original because humans are more goldfish than elephant.

Of course, vintage and retro elements aren't bad––Dita Von Teese comes to mind. Unlike Von Teese, or other style icons, Lohan never seems to be enjoying herself. And even Lydia Lunch enjoys herself. An expression of peevish irritation, of constant, barely-suppressed pain, mars Lohan's features in every shot that isn't airbrushed.

At events, Lohan hardly ever wears outfits worth remembering. Her tattoos––a heart, a star, "the good life" in Italian, the word "breathe"––are equally forgettable. Yet any idle reader of gossip blogs can think of a prototypical Lohan outfit in a few seconds: a baggy shirt or long blouse, leggings, stilettos, a large handbag, a plaid fedora (or slouchy knit hat) with large, aviator sunglasses. How does that style differ from any other mildly-hip Angeleno, of either sex?

Anecdotal reports, and a televised expose of her "hoarding" habits, show that Lohan is addicted to shopping for clothes and shoes. Still, there's no product so expensively made that it can transcend a scowl. Lohan's manifest unhappiness, her unoriginality and her lack of investment, even interest, in her career, bar her from style icon status.

Lohan's personal problems are not the issue; nobody wants their icons completely sane. Elizabeth Taylor married eight times, twice to Richard Burton; Judy Garland was addicted to painkillers originally given to her by her mother; Steve McQueen ran with a street gang in his teens and was a prodigious pot and coke ingester. With Lindsay Lohan, however, her pain is her celebrity. Whatever made her shine in Mean Girls and Freaky Friday is long gone. She wore her honour out; renown will soon leave her behind; at present, only her name survives.

Related Reading:

Lady Gaga - A Dissenting Opinion

Heathers - A Style in Film Review

Hipster Handbook

Debbie Harry

Why Models Never Smile

Sex and the City Quotes

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