Over seven seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which debuted 20 years ago this Friday, Buffy Summers dusted countless vamps, be it with a stake, a crossbow, or a good old-fashioned beheading. But the true secret weapon in her arsenal? That killer ‘90s wardrobe. With every choker, every feminine floral print, and every strappy crop top, the Sunnydale teen truly slayed. In honor of two decades of Buffy, check out 15 of her greatest looks, ahead.
This white evening gown, accessorized with a crossbow, sees Buffy through her own prophesied death, subsequent unexpected revival, and eventual defeat of the Master in season 1’s finale, “Prophecy Girl.” Fashion speaks louder than words, and this ensemble says, loud and clear: “We saved the world. I say we party.”
The Red Leather Pants
“Look at you. All dressed up in big sister’s clothes,” Faith says to Buffy when she sees her, in season 3’s “Graduation Day, Part 1” wearing these utterly iconic red leather pants. And while this look may seem more suited to Faith, and is a departure from Buffy’s mega-girly teen wardrobe, both the silhouette and the color scheme will come to define her style even more than any of her floral skirts ever did.
Nobody can rock leopard print like Buffy Summers, whether it takes the shape of a tank top, a button-up, or a short skirt and a looooong jacket. Welcome to the ‘90s.
Buffy the Bridesmaid
Yikes! No wonder Anya and Xander’s wedding doesn’t work out.
A True Classic
Look at that pastel tank top! That slit floral skirt! The barrette, the choker, the half-Rachel hair! This look brings together so many crucial Buffy wardrobe elements, it should be in a museum.
A Showstopping Number
When the demon who made Sunnydale sing throughout season 6’s “Once More, With Feeling” says “now that was a showstopping number,” is he talking about Buffy’s confessional performance, or what she wore while she delivered it? The slayer’s cowl-neck, swishy-sleeved red top from the musical episode’s dramatic finale — not to mention the purple-lined leather jacket and tastefully bejeweled jeans she paired it with — really is something to sing about.
The Slo-mo Trench
If any garment was ever made for running in supremely badass slow-motion, it is this blue jacket.
Let Them Wear Pink
In a misguided effort to impress Angel, Buffy abandons her ‘90s teen threads to go full Marie Antoinette in season’s 2 “Halloween.” Unfortunately for everyone involved (except Xander, whose magically acquired military knowledge somehow lasts him the rest of the series), Ethan Rayne has cursed all the costumes in his shop to turn their wearers into whatever they’re masquerading as. His dirty trick notwithstanding, however, this pink 18th-century confection is a pure treat.
Buffy learned that she was the slayer (and insisted that she was “destiny-free, really”), in a flashback in season 2’s “Becoming, Part 1,” while wearing one of her cutesiest outfits of the entire series. And what better to accessorize a delicate, daisy-strapped tank than with matching barrettes and a lollipop?
With a Cherry on Top
These two cherry-print dresses are more than just a pair of sugary-sweet fashion statements — they also serve as sartorial bookends to season 4. The peasant-necked dress, which appears in season opener “The Freshman,” is Buffy’s choice for her first day of college, where she finds herself missing the intimacy and familiarity of high school, overwhelmed by UC Sunnydale’s sprawling campus and cavernous library. In the landmark final episode of season 4, the surrealistic “Restless,” Buffy wears the V-neck cherry-print dress in a dream, where she meets with the First Slayer in the desert. Their encounter makes her realize, as only a dream can, that she is unique among slayers in that she is not alone, and her friends give her strength as much as her supernatural calling does. (In short: Wear a cherry-print dress, overcome existential loneliness.)
If Buffy’s got a brand new dress for a formal occasion, you can bet she’ll have to battle the forces of evil in it — and in season 3’s “Homecoming,” she has to do it alongside a similarly overdressed Cordelia, who also happens to be her competitor for Homecoming Queen. Despite looking oddly Christmassy together in their red and green dresses, they make a pretty good team.
An Explosive Chapeau
Woman in Uniform
While Buffy’s preferred slaying uniform usually consists of a short dress and knee-high boots, she is required, on a few occasions, to don actual employer-mandated workwear. In these unfortunate instances, when hiding from her calling in season 3 premiere “Anne,” for one, or struggling to get out of debt in season 6’s “Doublemeat Palace,” she usually manages to lend the looks her own distinction — and always somehow finds herself back in slayer mode, despite demon-hunting not being part of the job description.
While season 2’s “School Hard” is mostly noteworthy as the episode to feature Spike’s first appearance, we would be remiss to let that completely overshadow this flawless example of casual Buffy wear. Because roundhouse-kicking vampires in a tiny tank top and micro-miniskirt is one thing, but painting a banner for parent-teacher night requires nothing less practical than shapeless overalls and an embroidered tie-dye tee.
The forces of darkness never fail to interfere with Buffy’s plans whenever Sunnydale High has a school dance scheduled, and the prom is no exception. Buffy finds herself fighting hellhounds before attending the dance, naturally, but once there, she is given a rare reward for all her sacrifices when she is named Class Protector. She is lovely in lilac for the sweet moment, her strapless floor-length gown beautifully complemented by the bedazzled miniature umbrella presented to her by Jonathan. When she caps off the night by sharing one final slow dance with Angel, it’s clear that not even all the demons in the hellmouth could ruin her perfect prom.