The best and worst of TV fashion
The best and worst of TV fashion -- From the stylish cast of ''Friends'' to Farrah's feathered hair, we look at the most interesting styles to come from the small screen
”Face it,” says VH1’s FashionTelevision host Jeanne Beker, ”TV is only as memorable as its imagery.” Translation: TV shows are often the sum of their fashion. (Imagine Family Matters without Urkel’s high-water pants. You can’t, can you?) EW assembled a panel of experts — including Beker, Just Shoot Me stylist Katie Sparks, The View cohost Star Jones, and Joe Boxer founder Nick Graham — to debate 50 years of small-screen style. See if you agree with our picks.
BEKER Angelica from Rugrats has that bitchy-chic quality all great fashionistas must have. It’s not about the clothes, it’s about attitude — which she’s got in spades.
SPARKS Lucille Ball wasn’t a fashion trendsetter, but her I Love Lucy capris and sweater sets were crisp and neat.
JONES Dynasty‘s Joan Collins and Diahann Carroll were the quintessential divas. When they’d wear those [suits] with the fur around the collars, I’d think, Baby, if that could be me!
GRAHAM Emma Peel, in her Avengers cat suits, was the ultimate ’60s babe.
EW Buffy the vampire slayer — we’d kill for her wardrobe.
BEKER MTV’s Jesse [Camp] is really freakin’ scary. He’s gotta be noted, if only for having the guts to be that ridiculous.
SPARKS Pamela Anderson Lee has that Southern California, bleached-blond, lots of makeup, big-boob-job ick factor men generally go for, but I can’t relate to at all.
JONES Pamela Lee may be a sweet girl, but her style screams ”tramp.”
GRAHAM Mork. But hey, being an alien, he probably didn’t know you weren’t supposed to wear rainbow-colored suspenders.
EW Look up fashion victim in the dictionary and you’ll find a picture of Kirstie Alley in Veronica’s Closet.
Most Stylin’ Cast
BEKER Friends. Their look is accessible, which in today’s society is what we’re ultimately trying to celebrate.
SPARKS Felicity‘s pretty authentic. Real college students actually wear flannels and khakis. The clothes on that show look comfy and worn, like they’ve been washed a few times in the dorm laundry.
GRAHAM The Mod Squad. In 50 years, when people look back on that show, they’re gonna think it’s cool all over again.
JONES If you don’t put down that I said The View, I’ll slap you.
EW Noted, but we’re with Beker on this one.
BEKER Mia Farrow’s on Peyton Place. She had that really long blond hair, then one day just cut it all off. I was 16 at the time, and I went out and did the exact same thing.
JONES Marlo Thomas’ That Girl flip was totally original for its time.
SPARKS George Clooney had that [Caesar] cut a few years ago that really worked for him. Unfortunately, everyone — including my husband — thought they could wear it too.
GRAHAM I watched Kojak every week to see what hairstyle Telly Savalas would be sporting. You just never knew what he was gonna try next.
EW Seinfeld‘s Kramer. Aside from Ted Koppel, has anyone had funnier (in a good way) hair?
BEKER Chuckie’s Rugrats hair is terrible — like a big glob of spaghetti.
SPARKS Katey Sagal on Married…With Children. Her teased ‘do was perfect for that character — and totally hideous.
GRAHAM Luke Perry’s 90210 sideburns were pretty bad.
JONES Luke’s sideburns. What is he, Elvis?
EW Mike Brady, the Fro Years.
GRAHAM Mr. T’s gold chains. He was the one who got the whole heavy-metal thing going on in the streets.
SPARKS Mister Rogers’ sweater was pretty perfect. Watching him put it on, day in and day out, was very comforting.
JONES Wilma Flintstone’s pearls. She might have had a husband who worked in a rock quarry, but baby, she was always elegant.
BEKER Wilma’s ”pearls” were just big rocks on a string. June Cleaver’s Leave It to Beaver pearls were real and worn in the most fabulous way. She gave stay-at-home moms class.
EW Fantasy Island‘s Tattoo — sort of like Mr. Roarke’s matching handbag.
Worst TV Trend Adopted by the American Public
BEKER Farrah’s feathered hair was fab for a babe like Farrah, but not everyone in your high school class. To this day, I still see Farrah hair. I mean, lose the bad fashion trip from the ’70s already!
SPARKS Miami Vice‘s tees with suits. Like Clooney’s hair, every guy on the planet thought he could wear that look. The guys in L.A. still do.
JONES Fame‘s leg warmers. Those things were supposed to be for dancers who were wearing tights and on their way to work out, okay? They were never meant for grocery shopping or going to the movies.
GRAHAM Miami Dynasty — a cross between Miami Vice and Dynasty. You know, shoulder pads in pastel jackets with the sleeves rolled up. Awful.
EW Rose Marie’s Dick Van Dyke Show hair bow. Actually, nobody adopted this, but it needed to be mentioned.
Trend You (Hate to) Admit to Having Adopted
BEKER I started wearing three pairs of false eyelashes — two on the top and one on the bottom — every day in high school just because I’d read in a magazine that’s what Cher did.
JONES I got Jennifer Aniston’s ”Rachel”cut. I actually pulled rank and got the L.A. [hairdresser] who originated it to do my hair. But by that time, the look was over.
SPARKS I have very curly hair like Felicity‘s, and I tried the Courteney Cox super-straight look for like five minutes. It was just too much time and energy.
GRAHAM Sometimes I put on a suit and go to really old people’s birthday parties, like Willard Scott.
EW Spock’s ears. Believe it or not, they aren’t the date magnet one would think.
Character Deserving of a Better Wardrobe
SPARKS Ethel Mertz. She always looked like a frump. I never thought that was fair.
JONES Right. Lucy got those cute little skirts that opened up and showed her pants. Ethel looked like her maid.
BEKER Tommy on the Rugrats only gets to wear diapers, which are probably filled with poo half the time. It’s a downright shame. [Note: Beker is a mother of two, thus the Rugrats fetish.]
EW Large women generally get a raw deal on TV, ending up either dowdy (Roseanne) or clownish (Drew Carey‘s Mimi). Case in point: Camryn Manheim. Her Practice attorney has too much oomph for the Perry Mason drag she’s forced to wear.
Best Man in a Uniform
SPARKS Andy Griffith was such a dependable, hometown guy in his sheriff’s uniform, which was really reassuring as a kid. And Dean Cain as Superman was hot, hot, hot!
JONES David James Elliott [JAG]. Beefcake in a crisp white uniform.
GRAHAM Fantasy Island‘s Mr. Roarke. He wore that white suit with such confidence — and never a spot on it!
BEKER Captain Kangaroo. I don’t even know what the hell kind of uniform that was, but he was my first real TV icon. There’ll always be a special place for him in my heart.
EW The Brady Bunch‘s Alice. Well, she was a tad butch.
Most Inspired Moment
SPARKS When Carol Burnett came out in the Gone With the Wind curtain rods on her variety show, I laughed so hard I almost peed my pants.
JONES Carol Burnett’s curtain rods. When all else fails, use decorations.
GRAHAM Jim Carrey in the fig leaf [at the ’97 VH1 Fashion Awards]. He had the figs to pull it off.
BEKER Cybill Shepherd wearing sneakers with her evening gown to the Emmys. It said, No matter what crap goes on in your life, make sure you can run for it if you have to.
EW The Alka-Seltzer suit David Letterman sported on his NBC show in 1984. It said, No matter what crap goes on in your life, make sure you have a bromide.