15 Iconic TV Shows That Changed The Way We Dress
Television has taught us many things over the years. From staying informed on politics and world issues to knowing what the weather will be like when we leave the house tomorrow morning, but it’s done more than that. It has also influenced our personal style choices.
There were many small screen series that boasted big style. From the Upper East Side of Gossip Girl, to the chicest costume dramas like Mad Men, TV shows have gotten a lot more fashion-focused in recent years.
Moving to a big city? Well, you had your pals Carrie, Samantha, Miranda and Charlotte to give you advice on how to dress for success. And who could deny the effect Kelly Cutrone had on style while we soaked in every minute of The Hills? These were all more than just TV dramas, they were our early fashion education and affected what we wore.
Here are 15 of the most fashionable TV shows that changed the way we dressed.
Sex and the City (1998)
Arguably the pinnacle of great fashion TV, each cast member of Sex and the City brought something different to the table. Charlotte related to the Burberry-clad ladies who lunch, Miranda as the lawyer spoke to the powerful single women and Samantha spoke to the showoffs. But it was Carrie Bradshaw with her Fendi baguettes and Manolo Blahnik heels that related to everyone. There’s no denying the show became iconic largely in part for its fashion.
That Girl (1966)
Marlo Thomas always had style, but it was her ABC sitcom back in the 60’s That Girl that lent itself so well to legendary fashion moments. That Girl was about Ann Marie, an aspiring actress who had to do various temp jobs in order to pay her rent – each of which came with a comical costume change. From maid suits to mod modelling looks, That Girl wore it all and had everyone stealing Ann Marie’s style.
Charlie’s Angels (1976)
The original Charlie’s Angels TV series was 70’s style at its best. With the stacked team of Jaclyn Smith, Farrah Fawcett and Kate Jackson fighting crime with their feathered hair, flared pants and plaid shirts; you can basically walk into Topshop today and buy that exact outfit and be completely on trend.
The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (1990)
If you’re currently binging The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air on Netflix, you might cringe every now and again at their outfits. But for the late 80’s and 90’s, Will Smith’s style was entirely on point. Meshing his West Philly past with his posh home of Bel Air, Air Jordan VIIs, backwards hats, neon vests and printed Zubaz were actually cool and influenced a lot the viewers fashion choices at the time.
Mad Men (2007)
Throughout the series, Mad Men’s 1960’s era of cat-eye sunglasses, high-rise pants and cinched waistlines evolved with the characters and their respective storylines. But viewers weren’t the only ones inspired by the retro vibes of Sterling Cooper’s workwear – Banana Republic was too.
Dynasty was a fashion lover’s dream show back in the 80’s. Few families mixed catfights and diamonds with as much flair as “the Denver Carringtons.” With bold colours, elegant gowns, shoulder pads and lots of ruffles, the wardrobe served as inspiration for many during this era.
Gossip Girl (2007)
From the guys to the girls, everyone’s outfit on Gossip Girl was a fashion knockout. With the infamous Serena Van Der Woodsen and her revealing, slightly boho ensembles, to the queen of prep school chic Blair Waldorf, you probably dressed like one of them (or both) on multiple occasions. And headbands? Who wasn’t wearing one back in 2007?
The O.C. (2003)
The OC provided a window into the sunny Cali-girl style of rich Laguna Beach teens. It was the Lacoste polo tees, Chanel jumbo bags and sundress that had viewers everywhere obsessed and running to their nearest Hollister to replicate the outfit. As everyone’s favourite character Seth Cohen once said, “Every day’s a fashion show for these people.”
Ally McBeal (1997)
Calista Flockhart redefined workwear as young lawyer Ally McBeal. With short skirts, tight blouses and high heels, she was ready to rule the corporate world. Sure, those skirts may have been a little too short for a law firm, but no team redefined late 90’s office wear like the associates at Cage and Fish.
The Mindy Project (2012)
Nobody loves fashion more than Mindy. The show often had cast poking fun at her personal struggles with style, but this stylish doctor is both relatable and aspirational. From that Birkin collection to her bold prints and impressive coats, The Mindy Project taught viewers to take fashion risks and to wear whatever they want regardless of judgement.
With such striking ensembles, Empire is the essence of glamour when it comes to fashion TV shows. With Taraji P. Henson wearing head-to-toe fur and Terrence Howard in smooth, cool suits, plus Naomi Campbell making cameos as a fashion designer, television doesn’t get any chicer than this.
The magic of Girls was that its characters may not have influenced our style so much as they captured it. The show was a glossy, over-styled New York drama with its four distinct yet relatable characters. Marnie with her groomed style, Hannah with her jumpsuits and out-there fashion choices, Jessa’s boho vibe and Shoshanna’s cute student wear made for some memorable TV fashion.
The Hills (2006)
Lauren Conrad influencing our style is nothing new, but her reality TV show The Hills has had us swooning over feminine dresses and expensive handbags since season one. The show brought viewers deep into the Teen Vogue fashion cupboard, keeping them up-to-date on trending LA styles.
The City (2008)
Whitney Port’s spinoff series The City introduced us to not only the mega stylish Olivia Palermo, but it brought viewers into the offices of Elle and Diane von Furstenberg’s Meatpacking showroom. We can thank the show for a surge in wrap dresses and making working in the accessories department at a magazine every fashion lover’s dream job.
Olivia Pope brought new meaning to the style of white coats. The style game of Kerry Washington’s character was so high it was as much of an event as the plotline of the actual show. Olivia Pope remains the essence of elegance and luxury, so much so the character even inspired a fashion line in the show’s honour.
Which show on our list is your favourite? Share with us in the comments section!
Featured image: Instagram/ @gossipgirll
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Brooklyn is a Toronto-based journalist and if she isn’t writing, you can find her enjoying a nice glass of merlot. She is a lover of good books, Sunday brunches and running around the city with her girl gang. She’s your basic Blair Waldorf in a world of Jenny Humphrey’s. You can follow her on Twitter @BNeustaeter.