We ask real-life women to judge the accuracy of costumes in ''Veronica's Closet,'' ''Ally McBeal,'' and more

How do the fashion-savvy working women of TV measure up? Real-life counterparts spell out prime time’s sartorial hits and misses.


Star/Job Calista Flockhart as the Fox dramedy’s high-strung Boston lawyer

The Look Thigh-baring pastel suits that give new meaning to the term legal brief. ”Short skirts work better on her,” says costume supervisor Loree Parral. ”Ally’s a little rebellious. She’s only been out of law school a couple of years — that youthfulness can be fun.”

Reality Check Major objections over the mini. ”I wear skirts but nothing thigh length, even if it’s beautiful,” says Brooklyn attorney Leila Jones. ”I don’t think jurors care one way or another. [But] you don’t get something 5 or 6 inches above the knee…. You want to look professional.”

Grade: D


Star/Job Tea Leoni as the brazen National Inquisitor reporter on The Naked Truth

The Look Attention-getting colors, designer trousers with vintage jackets, glass baubles. ”Nora is sort of like a magpie,” says the NBC sitcom’s costume designer, Louise Mingenbach. ”If it’s shiny and bright, she wants it.”

Reality Check Got the scoop. ”I dress in the same vein,” says National Enquirer reporter Suzanne Ely. ”I wear pants, and I wear a lot of the scarves she wears to add a splash of color…. I’m big on looking like I have style because people always want to label tabloid reporters as classless.”

Grade: B+


Star/Job Kirstie Alley as a lingerie-company owner on NBC’s Veronica’s Closet

The Look Opulent overcoats over silky slips. Lots of lace — and lots of cleavage. ”There’s this whole trend of wearing sleepwear as outerwear that’s reflected in how she dresses,” says Veronica’s Closet costume designer Debra McGuire.

Reality Check Wake up, sleepyhead. ”I have a wardrobe of beautiful suits,” pooh-poohs Samantha Jones, owner of an eponymous New York lingerie boutique. ”But I do accessorize with things from the store [like] a camisole or a lace handkerchief.”

Grade: B-


Star/Job Ally Walker as an Atlanta-based forensic psychologist on NBC’s Profiler

The Look A female Humphrey Bogart. Somber-colored pantsuits, trench coats, loafers. ”The idea of her loping along in these long trousers made more sense than her skittering around in high heels and a little skirt,” says Profiler costume designer Tom McKinley.

Reality Check Dead on. ”Because we have to go out in the field so much, I wear a lot of pantsuits,” says Atlanta-based psychological-services specialist Delores Harrell-House. ”You want to [wear something that’s] as casual and lightweight as possible.”

Grade: A-


Star/Job Jennifer Esposito as a daffy secretary in Spin City‘s mayor’s office

The Look Style that doesn’t create a budget deficit. Prints, bangles, and tight, tight, tight. ”She knows what’s hot but she doesn’t have a lot of money,” says the ABC sitcom’s costume designer, Thomas L. Keller. ”She looks for Dolce & Gabbana knockoffs.”

Ally McBeal
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