Fashion

The Most Fashionable TV Shows Throughout the Decades

These Binge Worthy Series Are a Feast for the Eyes

BY // 05.12.20

You may have noticed a theme with my last couple of what-to-watch stories: the Top 10 Movies with Style and Top 10 Fashion Documentaries. I’m optimistic that there are style devotees out there who are waiting for the moment when they can be out and about again — perhaps they’re looking to their television screens for inspiration. So in keeping with my previous posts, I’m turning my style-seeking eye to the most fashionable TV shows throughout the decades.

I was surprised to find that there is no television show devoted to reporting on style. The greatest of all time was the 1980s classic Style with Elsa Klensch on CNN. I remember always being glued to the screen at 10:30 am (please email and correct me if I’m wrong — remember, however, that I was EST) on Saturday mornings so I could see clips of runways shows. (Remember, this was pre-Internet, and we didn’t have the luxury of being front row at any Paris show by simply doing a quick Google search.)

There were a few others, notably MTV’s House of Style — the better version with Cindy Crawford, not the ones with Daisy Fuentes, Molly Sims, and others whose names escape me.

Some shows almost made it onto my list primarily due to one character. So many are memorable, including Karen Walker (Megan Mullally) of Will and Grace and Mary Ann (Christine Baranski) of Cybill. Also, keep in mind that Schitt’s Creek isn’t on this list because I give the Rose family some sort of love in every other feature I write.

Creating the list was a hard task, and I consulted with quite a few friends before finally settling on my final 10. Here, I present them in no particular order.

 

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Christina Hendricks in “Mad Men.” (2007)

Mad Men

Much has been written about the importance of this series, so hopefully you’ve indulged and binged from beginning to end. If not, there is still time before the world fully opens up again. The clothing from this era made all the characters — Don, Peggy, Betty, Pete — look equally elegant and alluring.

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“The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour” (1974)

The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour

Again, another toss-up. I was torn when thinking of variety shows and almost went with Carol Burnett instead of this iconic husband-and-wife team. Both Burnett and Cher do owe a lot of credit to the legendary Bob Mackie for turning them into true glamazons. The gowns he created for both were showstopping and worth a second visit. Take a walk down memory lane by doing some Google searches.

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Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley in “Absolutely Fabulous” (1992)

Absolutely Fabulous

If you know me, then you are aware of my addiction to Patsy and Edina’s escapades.

Soul Train

Who cares about American Bandstand? Those dancers’ outfits were as boring and bland as it comes. The other dance show that comes to mind is MTV’s Club MTV, which came back into pop culture when Camille Grammer made her debut on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills; her claim to fame before marrying Kelsey Grammer was being a Jersey girl dancer on that show. It wasn’t until I did a Wikipedia search that I realized Soul Train ran for 35 years (1971 – 2006) in various iterations. When I get a drink in me at home, I’ve been known to make everyone huddle around my computer to watch vintage clips from the 1970s. In fact, while writing this article, I just fell in another hole watching, “The Soul Train Line” in action. The clothes were incredibly cool — and, in fact, they’re terribly cool once again. To quote sage Donna Summer, “I Feel Love” during a time when I oh-so need it.

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“Sex and the City” (1998)

Sex & The City

I must confess, this is my favorite. I could easily write a column about the importance — in terms of fashion — of this HBO series. Manolo Blahnik will be the first to admit that his label became a household name due to Carrie Bradshaw’s addiction to his shoes. I must admit, though, that the subsequent movies were annoying because they paid too much attention to the clothes. What was wonderful during the run of the show was that the outfits played a supporting character role. They didn’t have to scream out that they were stylish and influential to hundreds of thousands of women — and a few men like myself.

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Naomi Campbell and Taraji P Henson in “Empire.” (2015)

Empire

Cookie then … now … and likely forever. She will only just get better. Gotta love a girl who pushes the envelope, and it still never seems far enough. Another thing: I am a firm believer that clothing should never wear the girl. The girl should wear the clothes. Cookie always owns everything she puts on.

Project Runway 

Specifically season four, when Christian Siriano won. I can watch the partner challenge to create avant-garde that paired up Siriano and Chris March on repeat. It was magical what they created in such little time with a minuscule budget. Even the judges, often known to throw shade in massive amounts, couldn’t stop gushing. The word “sublime” was actually uttered by Michael Kors.

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Elizabeth Montgomery in “Bewitched.” (1964)

Bewitched

I started thinking about sitcoms from the 1960s and ’70s and assembled a list that included this show then That Girl, The Mary Tyler Moore Show (the beret throw alone deserves mention), and The Partridge Family. However, I went with Bewitched because the looks from that show were so inspiring and chic. Samantha’s simple little shifts for day. Her cousin, Serena, would appear looking like Angelina Jolie before we even had Angie. And then, the most glamorous of all: Endora. When Samantha’s mother came, she delivered fashion. She was Palm Springs caftan glamour before I even realized as a six -year-old watching reruns that were was such a thing.

Ladies of London

I’m willing to admit my lowbrow tastes — and one of them is my devotion to almost all things Bravo. I watch most of the Real Housewives franchises (except for New Jersey, since I can’t stoop that low). Some will say that New York (particularly Carol Radziwill) and Atlanta (Cynthia Bailey can generally be counted on to show up in something that will stop traffic) might belong on this list. No. I go back to a short-lived series, the other side of the pond’s Housewives — Ladies of London.

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The cast of “Dynasty.” (1981)

Dynasty

Quite a few other Aaron Spelling creations came to mind: Charlie’s Angels; Beverly Hills, 90210; Hart to Hart; Melrose Place; and Models Inc. (you probably forgot about that one). Dynasty was the best, in the sense that it truly captured the excess and indulgent glamour of the Reagan-era ’80s. Alexis Carrington Colby (Joan Collins) and Dominique Deveraux (Diahann Carroll) could catfight in power suits with exaggerated shoulders and hats for days, and it would never grow old.

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