Looking ''authentic'' on TV -- What it costs to dress the women on ''Designing Women,'' ''Roseanne,'' and ''90210''

As Dolly Parton announced in Steel Magnolias, ”The only thing that separates us from the animals is our ability to accessorize.” But how come the women of TV pull it off so much better than ordinary mortals? Hoping it had more to do with money than innate good taste, we found out what it cost to make TV’s women look authentic. We then asked their real-life counterparts how much they spend to get it together. We feel better.

To dress Dixie Carter as Julia Sugarbaker costs up to $2,680. For example: Valentino suit ($800 to $2,000), Mister Frank blouse ($200 to $400), Charles Jourdan shoes ($200), jewelry ($60 to $80). Ginger Barber, an interior designer from the South, makes between $50,000 and $75,000 a year and spends about $925 per outfit-less than half of Sugarbaker’s clothing allowance: DKNY blazer ($350), Ralph Lauren khakis ($150), DKNY belt ($150), cotton T-shirt ($25), Ralph Lauren shoes ($125), jewelry ($125).

Jamie Lee Curtis plays Hannah Miller, a junior writer at a Chicago magazine who dresses more like a publisher, at $1,080 to $1,240 for an outfit: Armani jacket ($650), Donna Karan skirt ($150), silk T-shirt ($40), Joan & David shoes ($200), jewelry ($40 to $200). Some of Nancy Fowlds’ colleagues at Chicago magazine think Hannah is based on her. But with a salary of under $40,000, she’d end up half-naked if she tried to dress like her TV image. Instead, she spends about $575, including five-year-old cowboy boots she wears almost every day: Gap jeans ($35 to $45), J. Crew T-shirt ($20), DKNY blazer ($300), boots ($200), ”cheapo hoop earrings” ($20).

This may be working-class America, but it would take a lot of tips to buy the $308 waitress’ uniform Roseanne Arnold/Conner wears: uniform, including crown and apron ($250), Nike sneakers ($50), lacy anklets ($4), tights ($4). Working at Corky & Lenny’s in South Euclid, Ohio, Ida Burns takes home $2.10 an hour plus tips and doesn’t spend more than a grand total of $102 getting dressed for work: uniform, consisting of a used tuxedo shirt and spandex skirt ($30), Rockport walkers ($69), lacy anklets ($3).

Working the hallways of television high school costs Brenda Walsh (Shannen Doherty) about $625 for a typical set of school clothes, Southern California style: used Levi’s ($10), cowboy boots ($165), used antique vest ($50), Guess? wool jacket ($300), antique jewelry ($100). Beverly Hills High School senior Stacy Melczer looks just as cool for as little as $120. A typical outfit: used Levi’s ($10), Birkenstock shoes ($80), sleeveless tank leotard ($20), five earrings (three in one ear, two in another, $10).

Beverly Hills, 90210
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