Julia Roberts Is The '90s Fashion Icon Currently Inspiring My Summer Wardrobe

by Shelby Ying Hyde
Originally Published: 
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Julia Roberts with a curly hair, wearing a white tank top, smiling
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I'm a firm believer that less is more when it comes to summer dressing, and on days when it's especially hot, easy pieces like, a t-shirt and biker shorts, are undoubtedly the way to go. However, more than modern inspiration, I like to look backwards for outfit ideas when it comes to styling the basics. Lately, it's been Julia Roberts' outfits from the '80s & '90s that inspire me most since she has an ability to make even the most plain clothes appear incredibly chic. Whether it was off-duty or on the set of one of her many Blockbuster movies (My Best Friend's Wedding is a personal favorite), Roberts helped to define an entire era of fashion.

Fun fact: I'm named after Julia Roberts' character, Shelby Eatenton in the 1989 film, Steel Magnolias — also starring Dolly Parton and Sally Field. As one of my mom's favorite movies, it was, coincidentally, playing on television when she went into labor with me. So it makes sense that I grew up on movies, like Notting Hill and Runaway Bride.

And by adulthood, I was no stranger to the actor's casual sense of style. It was what I referenced when thinking about the '90s (along with Princess Diana and Whitney Houston). There's no "normcore" aesthetic without Roberts' simplistic approach to dressing and the proof is in some of her best outfits from the last 40 years.

Some might say that Roberts' looks over past decades are relatively basic in conception. But that's also the beauty in it. After choosing fashion over comfort in summers past, I tried investing in quality basics that I could wear interchangeably as an alternative and was surprised at how much more prepared my wardrobe felt. It takes the guess-work out of getting dressed for blazing hot temperatures and ensures you get a put-together look in the process. From a blazer and biker shorts to pajama pants with a fitted tank, Roberts has been quietly pulling off effortlessly chic summer looks for years now, and to say that she's inspired my own pared-back aesthetic would be an understatement.

Ahead, I've rounded up some of Julia Roberts' best vintage outfits, while offering a fresh new way to integrate them into your own summer wardrobe.

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Julia Roberts' Best Outfits: Blazer & Biker Shorts

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Though an unlikely pairing, biker shorts and a blazer are without a doubt the easiest way to pull off a casual look with a sporty edge. Whether you're grabbing a quick to-go drink with friends or lounging around the house before a Zoom call, it's the outfit you'll rely on time and time again.

Julia Roberts' Best Outfits: Tank Top With Pajama Shorts

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For those that aren't necessarily fans of jean cutoffs (myself included) pajama shorts are a comfortable alternative. Julia Roberts' street-style look from the '80s shows them styled perfectly with a loose-fitting top to balance the portions of the overall look, and a flat heel for wearability.

Julia Roberts' Best Outfits: Fitted Top With Baggy Pants

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Julia Roberts' lounge-pant and fitted tee outfit is great for days when it's especially hot outside. The lightweight separates are meant to keep you cool and comfortable, while the graphic print of the trousers gives it an elevated twist.

Julia Roberts' Best Outfits: Off-Duty Sweatpants Outfit

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A quintessential look from the '90s, Roberts' track pants and basic tank combo has an undeniably sporty feel. By adding a chunky sneaker, the Pretty Woman star completes the vintage vibe, wrapping things up nicely with a pop of color via a statement bag.

Julia Roberts' Best Outfits: Elevated Basics For Evening

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The best part about the actor's after-hour looks is that many could have easily been worn during the day. Speaking to this outfit's overall versatility, all you have to do to transition the look from one occasion to another is swap out the heeled sandals for slip-on sneakers or slides.

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