By Big Mama.
I love clothes. It’s true. I have loved clothes since the fourth grade when my Me-Ma bought me a pair of aqua Gloria Vanderbilt jeans with a matching aqua top with that little swan on it. When I think back on it that seems like a lot of aqua to rock in one outfit. But, prior to the moment I put that ensemble on, I had no idea an outfit could make you feel that good. And, lo, a clotheshorse was born.
Sadly, I had an unfortunate incident that ended with me getting battery acid on my aqua Gloria Vanderbilts while changing the batteries in my eight-track player. That’s the kind of life-altering tragedy a child of today will never have to suffer with all their fancy iPads that don’t run on six Duracell “C” batteries. They’ll also never know the agony of trying to save their Def Leppard Pyromaniac cassette tape by putting a pencil eraser in those little hole things and winding all the tape back in.
But that’s a discussion for another time.
The point is that fashion has been a constant in my life for a long time. I’ve been influenced by everything from Seventeen magazine to Vogue over the years. But more than anything else, my fashion tastes have been inspired by characters on my favorite T.V. shows. In fact, I’ve been known to watch shows just to see the ensembles the characters wear. Shout out to Gossip Girl. Because while I couldn’t care less about Serena van der Woodsen and Blair Waldorf, I love to see what they have on. Even though I can’t really copy their style for reasons that include lack of funds and the fact I just turned forty.
But there are five T.V. characters whose style has influenced the way I’ve dressed in various seasons of my life.
1. Denise Huxtable
Was there anyone cooler than Denise back in the 80s? She had a sense of style that was completely fearless and managed to take the trends of the time and make them into her own. Before Denise I’d admired the style of Mallory Keaton, but Denise took fashion to a whole new level.
She did hippie/eclectic in a way that hadn’t been done as well since Rhoda Morgenstern. Denise made girls everywhere swoon with envy over her wardrobe with all her hats and oversized sweaters and drapey pearl necklaces.
Before Denise Huxtable I stuck to my Levi 501s with various grosgrain ribbon belts paired with Polo shirts. She opened my eyes to a whole new bohemian style that influences my wardrobe choices to this day.
2. Rachel Green
Yes, her hair launched a million layered haircuts, but it was her sense of style that drew me in. Friends will always have a special place in my heart because it debuted the fall after I graduated from college and all of a sudden there was this cast of characters in the same stage of life I found myself in. They were my Thursday night refuge after a long week of trying to act like I knew what I was doing as a financial consultant.
(Sidenote: If I helped you set up a 401(k) in the early 90s, please go see a real expert immediately.)
Rachel had a style that was accessible to the average girl on budget. Vintage t-shirts with jeans, short skirts with boots, pencil skirts with tights. I paid attention to everything she wore and did my best to emulate it in real life. She had a way of putting clothes together that looked effortless and totally chic all at the same time.
3. Lorelai Gilmore
Gilmore Girls isn’t necessarily a show that makes you think about fashion. It was quirky and funny and the witty dialogue (especially in the early years) made me so happy, especially when I caught all the random references the characters made.
But Lorelai Gilmore had a sense of style that appealed to me. It wasn’t flashy or super trendy, it was just an eclectic mix of t-shirts, scarves, hats and dresses that she wore with flair. She influenced my wardrobe as a mom and helped me navigate that line between practical and boring. Her wardrobe was appropriate for being the mom of a teenage daughter, but never dull.
4. Carrie Bradshaw
Whether you love the show or not, you cannot underestimate the impact Carrie Bradshaw had on the fashion world. Yes, there were times she wore things that were completely whack-a-doo, but she always did it with flair. And then there were the moments she wore things that completely took my breath away at the gorgeousness.
Her style was a combination of haute couture mixed with quirky vintage finds and she wore combinations that were absolutely fearless. Carrie wasn’t afraid to wear what she wanted to wear and always dressed to fit her mood and the occasion. (As a girl who once wore a leopard print top to the zoo, I really appreciate this quality.)
Very few of us could totally emulate her style and even less of us can afford a closet full of Manolo Blahniks, but you can’t deny that none of us would have worn flower pins on our lapels or in our hair without her influence. She brought us nameplate necklaces, baguette bags, and newsboy hats. And the fashion world was forever changed.
5. Betty Draper
Betty Draper makes me wish I lived in the 60s. Her style is everything that is good and right. Classic, elegant and sophisticated. Whether she is cooking breakfast for the kids and dropping cigarette ashes in the eggs or on vacation with Don Draper in Rome, she epitomizes style. There is one scene after she returns home from Italy where she’s in the kitchen wearing some sort of Pucci-inspired caftan that made me gasp out loud with love.
I love Mad Men for so many reasons, but a big part of it goes back to the fashion. Joan, Betty, and Peggy, in all their different ways, remind us of a time when it was okay to embrace glamour and for a woman to look like a woman. In a world that brought us Britney Spears and her low-rise cut-offs, I find this refreshing.
And so those are my top five fashion influences over the years. I know there are so many more, but those are the women that stand out in my mind. Who did I forget? Whose style inspires you? And have you ever rushed out to totally copy an outfit you’ve seen on T.V.?
Because I totally have.