It's usually the likes of The Sopranos, Mad Men and The Wire that get trotted out as pertinent illustrations of the Golden Age of Television. But anyone who grew up in the ‘90s will know that despite their Dickensianly sprawling story arcs and psychologically complex characters, these shows will never hold a torch to ‘90s Saturday nights on ITV and its holy trinity lineup of Baywatch, Gladiators and Blind Date.
I'm betting that my younger sister and I are not the only millennial women who once upon a time would knot our cotton vests into cropped tops and practice our best slow-mo running around the sitting room in an attempt to emulate Pamela Anderson’s CJ. 20 years ago, to two girls on the Hampshire coast (which has zero in common with the beaches of Malibu) she was peak #goals.
And now, a whole new generation is set to fall in love with the Pammy of the 90s/00s. Next week, a completely transformed Lily James bursts onto our screens as Anderson in new Disney Plus show Pam & Tommy (Sebastian Stan takes the role of the Mötley Crüe drummer) which tells the story of their stolen - and leaked - sex tape. Back in May, James posted an image of herself to Instagram with a vintage Anderson quote: ‘It’s great to be a blonde. With low expectations it’s very easy to surprise people’.
Despite imitation being (allegedly) the highest form of flattery - but Anderson is apparently unimpressed, allegedly dismissing the production as a 'cheap knockoff'.
But she might have to get used to seeing a revival of her '90s style. Going by the trailer and promo shots (not to mention James' looks on the promo trail for the show), the social media generation are already doing the 2022 equivalent of rolling up their vests. Because throwback Pammy fashion feels very now doesn't it? Consider her fondness for corset tops– they’re getting a lot of love right now from the likes of Bella Hadid and DUA LIPA. If one of those is as terrifying a prospect to you as donning a red one piece, simply layer over a white T-shirt.
See also Anderson’s excellent arsenal of hats. Sure, she was fond of a baseball cap, but it’s the huge brimmed hats (so big they make Jacquemus’ giant straw ones look like fascinators in comparison) she favoured for awards ceremonies which would garner the most social media momentum now. Feeling it? I’d urge you to check out Emma Brewin’s fluffy bucket hats – Rihanna, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and Bella Hadid are fans.
Craving even more Pammy nostalgia? See also her love of thigh-grazing mini skirts (hemlines continue to rise), sparkle (seen at the SS22 collections of Brandon Maxwell, Versace, Moschino and more), double denim (given a high-fashion stamp of spin for the new season via Bottega Veneta, Dior and Loewe) and daring cut-outs (my favourites are the dresses by French brand Marcia and the audaciously twisted pieces by BFC Foundation Fashion Award winner Nensi Dojaka. Go commando or go home). It's not a stretch to imagine the likes of Kendall Jenner wearing the hip/tummy/boob baring outfit Anderson sported to the 2001 MTV Music Awards. Need evidence? See this look Kendall wore to her friend's wedding last year.
And what about the bleached blonde hair and pencil thin eyebrows? Well, RuPaul’s Drag Race UK fashion winner Bimini Bon-Boulash already had me reaching for the tweezers.
So iconic was the Baywatch swimsuit, the barbed wire tattoo, the bombshell body, that Anderson has been somewhat ignored for her style credentials. But designers – like Vivienne Westwood and Stella McCartney – have long been fans (of Anderson as an animal rights activist as much as a fashion plate). Now it’s time to give her her due.
Because above all, it’s the Pam glam spirit that feels right for now. It’s the fact that she unapologetically owned, and enjoyed, her sex appeal. Lo-fi style requires stealth fakery, there’s something more honest, more authentic, more fun about making an effort and choosing clothes that make it clear their purpose is to be noticed. After a nearly two years of trackpants, want could be better ‘Hello, world! I’m baaaack!’ than diving into unapologetically sexy dressing? It's not too soon to start prepping that Hot Girl Summer wardrobe.
Pam and Tommy begins on Disney Plus on 2nd February.
Spot the Difference! The First Looks From Pam & Tommy
Eat your heart out Kourtney and Travis.
LJ as CJ. The iconic red swimsuit makes an appearance.
It's not hard to imagine Dua, Bella et al wearing this look today.
The brows. The nails. The hair. The vest top. Pamela Anderson is set to be your 2022 style muse.
Doing couple's dressing before everyone else was.