Secret Style Icon: Lila Fowler, Superstar

Tips for getting your high school hauteur on from the meanest girl of them all.

If you have an older relative who grew up in the ’80s, chances are you spent a fair amount of time devouring Francine Pascal’s Sweet Valley High novels. The books centered on the beautiful, popular twins Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield, high school juniors whose glossy blonde hair, blue eyes, perma-tanned skin and cherry-red Fiat convertible fit the idea we had (have?) of Southern California girls.

Pascal made efforts to distinguish the twins, in that somewhat obvious Young Adult-lit way: studious Elizabeth was four minutes older, and she was as mature, kind, and responsible as cheerleader Jessica was boy-crazy, adventurous, and daring. A lot of girls identified as either a Jessica or an Elizabeth, but for the reader who truly craved teen drama, Elizabeth was sort of a goody-goody bore, and even Jessica’s self-centered scheming to, say, make the head of the cheerleading squad left something to be desired. Luckily, Pascal also decided to bless us with her greatest creation, one of the most terrifyingly awesome (or awesomely terrifying) villainesses ever put to page: Jessica’s best friend/worst enemy, Lila Fowler.

Lila Fowler is the ultimate mean girl: while the Wakefields were upper-middle-class, Lila was filthy rich (her dad did something vague with computers, because in the 1980s computers = MASSIVE WEALTH). The Wakefields lived in a comfortable split-level ranch; Lila lived in a mansion on a hill named Fowler Crest. The Wakefields brought turkey sandwiches to school; Lila ate butter and caviar on a baguette. Jessica could be sort of manipulative when she wanted her way; Lila was more snobbish, conniving, and casually cruel than Jessica on her worst day. There was the time she rejected Roger Barrett, the shy-but-cute guy on the track team, just because he had an after-school job as a janitor, calling him a “cleaning boy” in front of the whole school! Or the time she started a rumor that Susan Stewart, the beautiful new girl in school who everyone suspected had royal heritage, had escaped from a home for the criminally insane!

In short, Lila is an awesome character. And she had great style too. In the books’ cover art by James Mathewuse, Lila is imagined as a cool dark-haired beauty, jut-jawed and haughty, her eyebrows raised in a slight smirk, her tousled hair falling just so over her immaculate collection of Smarties-colored sweaters. It’s a very fussy, rich-girl look because, unlike Jessica, Lila makes no effort to hide the fact that she is a fussy rich girl. Sure, she could be annoying: endlessly bragging about her rich older boyfriend; her dad’s beach house in Malibu; her horse, Thunder. But for her many flaws, Lila knows exactly who she is and what she wants (and will do whatever she has to do to get it), and I can’t help loving her for that. Here’s what to wear when you want to channel Lila’s very special brand of self-confidence. Try not to start any vicious, life-ruining rumors while you do it.

Burberry Big Boys cashmere sweater $75, Nordstrom
Invert Pleated Flippy Skirt $60, Topshop
Initial Pendant Necklace $56, Max and Chloe
Pink Plaid lipstick $15, M.A.C. Cosmetics
Scallop Edge Satchel $35, ASOS
Lorenzo Uomo houndstooth socks $9.50, Nordstrom
Vintage Salvatore Ferragamo Vara pump around $35, Etsy

IRH Metalist riding helmet $60, Dover Saddlery
Vintage Ralph Lauren blazer (you can find similar ones at Old Navy [$30] or Lands’ End [$80] or the thrift store)
DAV Vegan Equestrian Bit Black Rain Boot $78,
Purple sweater $100, Place de Tendances (here’s a similar one from Uniqlo for $30)
Ralph Lauren jodhpurs $179,
NARS blush in Gaeity $28, Barneys
Gold Starter Charm Bracelet $48, Juicy Couture
Maybelline Great Lash mascara in Very Black $5,
Blue First Place Ribbon, $2, Dinn Bros.

Grooming to Win by Susan E. Harris $23,

Knitted Fluffy Pocket Cardi $60, Topshop
Girls’ Regular Uniform Pleated Plaid Skirt $40, Lands’ End
Kenneth Jay Lane 3 Rows Pearl Necklace $150, Pret-a-Beaute
Punchout Backpack $68, ASOS

The Art of War by Sun Tzu $5.50, Tradebit
Love’s Baby Soft $14,
Jean Naté After Bath Splash $10,
Bonne Bell Lip Smacker lip gloss in Bubble Gum $2,
SORT Slipper Vamp Kitten Heel Shoes $55, ASOS
Vintage Trapper Keeper eBay


  • rosiesayrelax February 16th, 2012 3:08 PM

    That mint green backpack is going on my shopping list fo sho!

  • Susann February 16th, 2012 3:09 PM

    That Lila smirk seems awkwardly familiar to me.. I might have seen it in the mirror an hour ago.
    Nice style tips!

  • Dayzee February 16th, 2012 3:11 PM

    ahhh I love the last outfit!

  • Alison February 16th, 2012 3:28 PM

    Oh, I love this!! Is that Jennifer Connelly on the cover? She is so gorg.

  • Besu February 16th, 2012 3:29 PM

    Aw I really love this post I really like the green skirt in the first outfit!

  • Maggie February 16th, 2012 3:31 PM

    Let us visit Riverdale High, for a similarly cast triumvirate:
    Elizabeth= Betty
    Jessica= Veronica

    • MissKnowItAll February 16th, 2012 5:02 PM

      How true! Personally my favorite characters were Chuck, Nancy, and Jughead.

  • Fortune_Goddess February 16th, 2012 3:36 PM

    Is it bad that I’m 13 and I still squealed “LILA FOWLER EEEE” when I saw this?

  • Cosmo Beatrix February 16th, 2012 4:36 PM

    it’s such a shame the patent ferragamo vara shoes cost £139 on ebay!!
    they are purrrrfect for uniform!

    • Leeann February 17th, 2012 3:43 PM

      I know, it sucks they’re so pricey, but I’ve had really good luck finding vintage pairs for cheap! I’ve got 2 pairs and didn’t pay more than $15 for either one. They’re hard to find in thrift stores, but have seen tons in antique stores throughout New York and the midwest. Happy hunting!

  • darksideoftherainbow February 16th, 2012 5:14 PM

    i love all of the outfits but that first one hurt my heart and i had an immediate and uncontrollable reaction to put my hand over my chest because i wish that i was wearing it right now. EXCELLENT post. rookie 4 eva

    • Leeann February 17th, 2012 3:43 PM

      No way, that’s awesome… wish you could post a pic!

  • Lascelles February 16th, 2012 5:20 PM

    What about the pearl, stud earring and the classic, purple turtleneck? I don’t think you can find that particular pastel, purple though. Kinda went out with the eighties. Anyway. I think the feeling with Lila is inheritance, royalty… so maybe Prince by Machiavelli instead of Tzu :D

  • Ellie February 16th, 2012 5:32 PM

    That pleated green skirt is SCRUMPTIOUS.

  • Adrienne February 16th, 2012 5:46 PM

    *Droools* I love the purple sweater and peter pan collar, initial necklace, the jodhpurs, and the riding boots.

  • Maggie February 16th, 2012 5:50 PM

    I own that exact Land’s End pleated skirt. I wore it every day last summer, paired with a shapeless UV-protection shirt (a different color for every day of the week, girls!):

    I’m pretty sure Lila would have been like, “No, Maggie. No.”

  • Johanna February 16th, 2012 5:55 PM

    So… has anyone noticed the MASSIVE resemblance between the girl on the first book and the actor Jennifer Connely in her teens?
    I mean MY LORD. It’s got to be her.

  • bethleeroth February 16th, 2012 8:34 PM

    Lila Fowler is what Kate Middleton WISHES she was.

  • melmaus27 February 16th, 2012 11:54 PM

    AHHH!! I LOVE the vintage Trapper Keeper!!! I know someone (ahem who shall remain nameless) who had one with hot air balloons on it.

    • Leeann February 17th, 2012 3:48 PM

      I remember the one with the balloons, it and the one with the neon hearts were my dream Trapper Keepers! I had the comparatively way-lamer plain turquoise one, THANKS MOM! *sobs like Jan Brady in the background image*

  • Olivia February 16th, 2012 11:59 PM


  • Chloe Elizabeth February 17th, 2012 12:01 AM

    HOW I have I not heard of these books!?

    • Leeann February 17th, 2012 3:49 PM

      Chloe, it’s not too late! I’ve gotten way into reading them again and they DEFINITELY STAND UP (because teen drama iz timeless).

      Also, they’re practically being given away used, I just bought 10 of them for 5 dollars, wheee!

  • Sheena Louise February 17th, 2012 8:17 AM

    This is giving me intense flashbacks. Love’s Baby Soft?! Yes.

  • theaterbex February 17th, 2012 8:28 AM

    Ah! I definitely remember these. I had a book where Lila’s credit cards maxed out, and when she tried to buy two purple cashmere sweaters (in case one was at the dry cleaners), her cards didn’t work. And then she got it into her head that she was poor, and she befriended Elizabeth and did community service with her and tried to get used to not being rich… And then it turned out that everything was fine, and she went back to being a bitch.

    • Leeann February 17th, 2012 3:44 PM

      Haha, I need to find that book, I’ve never read it! SO glad Lila didn’t stay a good girl for too long because, um, I always thought Elizabeth was a total THUDDING BORE.

  • Gerlin February 17th, 2012 9:04 AM

    In case you didn’t know about this yet. It’s Elizabeth from Summer Camp and Emmy The Great. It’s HILARIOUS. And I have never even read any of the books / knew about them prior to discovering this blog.

  • neon_rattail February 18th, 2012 10:55 AM

    Brilliant! I grew up obsessed with Sweet Valley and started reading my sister’s copies from wayyyy too young an age. I still have my copy of Lila’s Story! Also have a big box full of books from each series. Also have the TV show on DVD. Ok, I also have the board game and I still play it. So glad to see some ridiculous Sweet Valley-ness on Rookie!

  • Nikilodeon February 20th, 2012 10:21 AM

    This seems so cool! I’d love to dress up like her. She reminds me a little of Heather Chandler.

  • Katherine February 20th, 2012 12:17 PM

    Is it weird that I’m more excited over The Art of War than the actual outfit? (Not that the outfit isn’t adorable; I am drooling over that backpack.)

  • AP February 21st, 2012 12:02 PM

    Oh my gosh I love Lila! Living in England it was so hard to find the books, i’d have to scour charity shops (thrift stores) for them.
    It was depressing growing up and realizing life just isn’t like the world of Sweet Valley.. And having to accept that Todd Wilkins is a fictional character and doesn’t exist. That one was tough.

  • Ouija April 13th, 2012 10:12 PM

    I used to read those books religiously. Will be assembling these outfits <3