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 / Updated  / Source: TODAY
By Chris Serico

Happy 45th birthday to pop star Debbie Gibson, the eternal fountain of "Electric Youth"!

Celebrating her birthday Monday, the late-'80s and early-'90s pop star was a major style icon when her biggest hits — including "Lost in Your Eyes," "Shake Your Love" and "Out of the Blue" — charted.

And as she told TODAY's Matt Lauer in 2003, she was only 16 when her first hit, "Only in My Dreams," became a nationwide sensation.

"I mean, it was crazy," Gibson told Lauer. "You know, you're going through all the changes you go through, and finding out who you are as a teenager, in front of the public, so it's challenging."

Being a teen pop star, she added, came with a unique set of challenges.

"I [would] think about writing certain songs in social studies class, when I should have been studying," she said with a laugh. "I remember performing with Billy Joel and Elton John at [Madison Square] Garden; [and] I was part of [Atlantic Records'] 40th anniversary; and then I had my normal milestones, like the prom and all that."

Debbie Gibson flashback time! Check out these vintage looks.
Debbie Gibson flashback time! Check out these vintage looks.Courtesy Everett Collection

In the mid-'90s, when Gibson added more acting to her repertoire, she asked to be called Deborah rather than Debbie in an effort to stay "sane, happy and healthy." While it was hard for some to make that change — to the point that she still goes by the name Debbie Gibson on Twitter — she explained to Lauer why she considered it important.

"I didn't have to sell out and try to chase pop music trends, which change every week," she said in 2003.

But perhaps Gibson wasn't giving herself enough credit when she said that. In the '80s and '90s, she often was the trendsetter for her millions of fans, many of whom were teenage girls.

Debbie Gibson flashback time! Check out these vintage looks.
Debbie Gibson flashback time! Check out these vintage looks.The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty

No collection of Gibson looks would be complete without a nod to her hats. "Electric Youth" would be neither as electric nor as youthful without them.

Debbie Gibson flashback time! Check out these vintage looks.
Debbie Gibson flashback time! Check out these vintage looks.Everett Collection

From hats that would be worn by the title character of NBC's "Blossom" to jeans adorned with blossoms, Gibson's bubbly persona was reflected in many of her looks.

MORE: 'Blossom' turns 25: We'll never forget the show's amazing hats

Debbie Gibson flashback time! Check out these vintage looks.
Debbie Gibson flashback time! Check out these vintage looks.Courtesy Everett Collection

Part of Gibson's charm was her all-American appeal, reflected in this button-down, vest and shorts ensemble. She also appears to have won the "Electric Youth" pennant, although it's not exactly clear who her competition was.

Debbie Gibson flashback time! Check out these vintage looks.
Debbie Gibson flashback time! Check out these vintage looks.The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty

Sartorially celebrated for her casual attire, Gibson also knew how to dress it up for formal occasions.

These days, Gibson hasn't been afraid to embrace her fashion past. Last Thursday on Twitter, she shared a 1991 photo of herself in a black dress as she posed with a lion cub. ("Yes, I was scared," she tweeted.)

Follow TODAY.com writer Chris Serico on Twitter.