Melissa Joan Hart: ‘This outfit put me on the worst-dressed lists – but I still love it’

The star of Sabrina the Teenage Witch remembers one of her first event outfits, a second disaster at the Frozen premiere, and Sabrina’s bizarre fashion style

I was so excited to wear this outfit, designed by Vivienne Tam. I’d worn it for a photoshoot when I started on Sabrina [Hart played the lead in the 90s teen sitcom, Sabrina the Teenage Witch] and I thought I looked great in it. So I wore it to an event – I think it was at the Playboy Mansion – but I ended up on the “worst dressed” lists! People picked it apart and said: “What is this? Is it a dress? Is it a long skirt or a short one?” I was young, it was my first time on a worst-dressed list and I was horrified. It really made me second-guess myself, but I still love this look; I think it was beautiful.

Melissa Joan Hart at the world premiere of Frozen.
Melissa Joan Hart at the world premiere of Frozen. Photograph: Alberto E Rodríguez/WireImage

I had a similar experience with a blue dress I wore to the Frozen premiere in 2013. I had just had a baby but I was working out loads and trying to prove that having three kids doesn’t mean you have to let it all go. I put on the dress and felt I looked the way I wanted to look. But afterwards there was a backlash because I had worn high-definition powder makeup, which reflected badly in the camera flashes. From the front I looked lovely, but there was a picture taken from the side where I am yelling at my son, and you can see I have a little belly and the makeup is smeared across my forehead. I like to put the two versions side by side and say: “This is the difference made by lighting and posture; with and without the smoke and mirrors. There are always two sides to every story.”

Sabrina’s style throughout the years was so bizarre: it went from Avril Lavigne to office temp. It was always just whatever fit the episode. Clarissa [Hart’s character in the earlier teen sitcom Clarissa Explains It All] really inspired a whole generation of girls – she did a lot of layering, mixing patterns and fabrics. She wore big, baggy, Keith Haring T-shirts and big skirts with leggings – they kept the look very young. My mom would not allow them to pluck my eyebrows or put mascara on me. Nowadays you look at girls who are that age doing TV shows and they look like grown women.

When I would show up at work, people would always feed me and dress me and do my hair and makeup, so these were skills I never learned. Now I am often behind the camera directing, so I wear jeans and T-shirts with sneakers or boots. I have got better at accessorising – it’s still a new thing for me.

Contributor

As told to Leah Harper

The GuardianTramp

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