Serious about Series Fashion: On-Screen Fashion Inspiration | 9Lives
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With television being the new film, we have seen budgets of TV series grow exponentially. The sets get more extravagant and A-list actors are moving from the silver screen to your television (smartphone, tablet or laptop) screen.

In the same way, we have seen fashion from nearly every era making a comeback. From Sex and City to Mad Men and Stranger Things, fashion of the zeitgeist has had a definite impact on the trendy looks of today.

With this in mind, we compiled a list of 10 of our favourite looks from recent series, inspired by the characters we adore, the designers who dress them and the directors who bring them to life.

Fit for a Queen

Netflix’ The Crown has captivated audiences across the globe and has become increasingly popular with the recent wedding of Prince Harry to Meghan Markle. The traditions, the extravagant jewellery and the addition of the signature royal elegance to every outfit contribute to the overall authenticity of the show’s wardrobe.

We see Queen Elizabeth in ball gowns or elegant two piece suits with diamond-encrusted tiaras, sapphire adorned necklaces and bracelets to match. Princess Margaret, another style icon in the historical piece, makes less conservative fashion choices than her sister, which includes bold colours, intricate designs and varying fabrics.

With a reported more that $100 million budget Jane Petrie, The Crown’s costume designer, has gone above and beyond to accurately represent this golden era and remarkable characters.

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The Madison Avenue (Wo)men

The 1960’s style, as represented by AMC’s Mad Men, sparked a fashion-driven obsession throughout its audience. From Don Draper’s tailored suits, Betty Francis’ stunning dresses and the vivacious Joan Holloway’s figure-hugging two pieces, this fashion tour-de-force still keeps audiences glued to their screens.

Mad Men is not only about the fashion but also about the characters’ fashion evolution. As Peggy Olson starts gaining confidence in the office, her clothes start to become more colourful, tailored and professional – ready to take the ad world by storm. Arguably the most fashion-forward character on the show, Megan Draper’s fashion is always a little bit ahead of the times and by the final season becomes very Californian.

The series kicked off in the early 1960’s, with the last episodes covering the early 1970’s. Costume designer, Janie Bryant, outfitted Don, Roger, Peggy, and Joan for a full decade in Mad Men years. Her visionary fashion storytelling earned her an Emmy for her work on the Mad Men wardrobe.

Click here for an amazing view on the show’s fashion evolution, courtesy of AMC.

Haute Couture And The City

Four single girls take on sex, love, friendship and New York City – and look damn fine while doing so! Sex and the City’s Carrie, Samantha, Miranda and Charlotte defined fashion in the early 2000’s and set the tone for what today is known as New York style, drawing inspiration from the Big Apple and its people.

These four women represent the extremities in fashion taste; Carrie is drawn to high fashion, Samantha is a party girl, Miranda dresses for the corporate world, while Charlotte is more pious and elegant. Several fashion houses regularly feature on the show and brands like Manolo Blahnik have become synonymous with the series.

Patricia Fields is credited with Sex and the City’s fashion success, as she was responsible for crafting most of Carrie’s signature looks. This includes Carrie’s infamous pink tutu skirt and white tank top used for the opening credits of the show.

We built this city on rock ‘n roll

HBO’s Vinyl might have been short-lived, but the 1970’s authentic rock ‘n roll fashion stuck. Looking past the cocaine-tainted view Martin Scorsese took on the Rock ‘n Roll era, there were a few spot-on fashion moments that makes this series worth the watch.

Olivia Wilde and the captivating Juno Temple don knee-high boots, printed caftans, shorts and a damn near perfect perm for the party of a lifetime – the 1970s. Wilde’s character, Devon, is now a Connecticut housewife and we see her yearning for the days of her sparkly little shift dresses.

John Dunn is credited with the Vinyl wardrobe. The show, which is known for its darker look on the era, is characterised by a slight nihilism and distinct hedonism of the disco era. Dunn expertly balance these factors to create looks that do justice to this era.

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I wanna do bad things to you

Sookie Stackhouse’s signature short shorts and white T-shirt has become synonymous with the famous vampires from Bon Temps in True Blood. More than that, her perfect blonde hair, sundresses and bikinis, all play their part in contrasting her against the much more dangerous, sexually-charged vampires.

Pam, on the other hand, or even Jessica as she settles into being a vampire, dresses more grungy, dangerous and seductive. Evan Rachel Wood’s Queen Sophie-Anne is the perfect blend between the two – ultra-stylish, ultra-seductive and easy to trust. Another character whose distinctive two-piece suits are tell-tale of her struggle to be taken seriously, is the provocative Sarah Newlin.

Audrey Fischer, who was responsible for the wardrobe on the True Blood set, initially took inspiration from the True Blood novels. Thereafter, her inspiration matured into a blend of who the characters came to be and the Southern influence of the set.

Dress for the job you want

It is no secret that Claire Underwood reigns supreme in Netflix’s House of Cards. From the get-go, her power suits and tailored white shirts establish her as a force to be reckoned with. As her role evolves, some have even drawn parallels between the fashion of Claire Underwood and Hillary Clinton.

As the series progresses and she makes her voice heard more often, Claire’s signature power dressing becomes even more conservative as she takes her rightful place. Claire avoids bright colours and sticks to tailored white, black and grey pieces. Where she at first used to wear tight pencil skirts, she now favours pantsuits, as she is figuratively also starting to wear the pants.

From season 3 onward, Robin Wright (Claire Underwood) is styled by Ms Argan and Kemal Harris, who have made a study out of political attire and the communications embedded within them. Each piece Claire Underwood wears is worn for a reason and has a subtext.

Dungeons & Dresses

It’s 1984 in Hawkins, Indiana. Teasing combs and pliers to zip up jeans transport us back to the era of Breakfast Club and St Elmo’s Fire. Netflix’ Stranger Things is the perfect fashion inspiration for those laid-back weekends and casual days.

While Eleven mostly wears hand-me-downs, her female counterparts like Nancy Wheeler is known for her high-waisted denims, knitted jerseys and jackets. Max, on the other hand, wears a lot of denim and Vans and tend to dress a bit brighter than the rest, signalling her West Coast origins.

The captain of this fashion time-machine is the talented Kim Wilcox, who expertly recreates the Duffer Brothers’ vision for an Upside-down Hawkins. A lot of her inspiration comes from the movies of the era, but she also draws quite heavily on the fashion choices of Rob Lowe, The Outsiders and Bruce Springsteen, for the men.

Confessions of Millenial Fashionistas

HBO’s Girls is often described as Sex and the City for Millenials. Another ode to the Big Apple, this series follows the lives of four very different women as they come of age in the big city. The series also pioneered the body positivity movement and we followed Lena Dunham’s Hannah Horvath as she embraces who she is.

Who can forget Hannah’s yellow mesh top? Or Shoshanna’s spell in Japan? What about Jessa’s see-through caftan that she wore to her babysitting job? And also Marnie’s Brooklyn get-up? As these characters evolved, so did their fashion choices and by the end of Season 6 these characters have moved closer and closer to their authentic selves.

Girls’ costume designer, Jenn Rogien is also known for her work on Orange is the New Black and The Good Wife. Because the series touched on so many genuine issues, the wardrobe had to reflect it accurately by showing that these women don’t have a lot of money and are desperately trying to find their place in the world.

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Kappa Kappa Style

The satirical marriage between the typical sorority chick flick and the slasher film Halloween is a union that could only have come from the mind of Glee and American Horror Story’s Ryan Murphy. Scream Queens, the Fox-series, spares no expense when it comes to the wardrobe for Chanel Oberlin and her band of Chanels.

Think pastels, matching high heels and expensive brands, these Kappas know how to put together a million dollar outfit. Lea Michele’s character undergoes a dramatic style evolution to eventually rival Emma Roberts and the rest of the Chanels’ expensive, designer tastes and the effect is eye-catching.

The Scream Queens wardrobe can be accredited to Emmy winner Lou Eyrich. She is well-known for her work on both Glee and American Horror Story. Dressing these fashion-forward tweens in designer wear on a TV budget could not have been an easy task, but Eyrich does it flawlessly and the cohesiveness between the looks and styles creates a beautiful effect.

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The Netflix original comedy series on the fashion lover turned millionaire entrepreneur, Girlboss is a style journey like no other. Hot mess Sophia Marlowe sells upstyled vintage clothes in her online store and the series beautifully translates her love of vintage clothes.

Every short, skirt and jacket speaks of Sophia’s obsession with clothes and style. All her outfits have this perfect balance between effortlessly casual and high fashion, that is the envy of every twenty-something woman. The entire series is homage to a mid-2000s lifestyle and the show positions Sophia’s East West jacket as symbol of the time.

The fashion success of Girlboss can be attributed to Audrey Fisher (from True Blood fame) and she does an amazing job of representing someone that is still around today. To source, design and create a wardrobe for a series about fashion is quite a daunting task and the inspiration we get from these outfits are endless.

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What’s your favourite series for fashion inspiration? Share your thoughts in the comments section below, we’d love to hear from you!

Main pic supplied by Netflix


Free State-girl, living in Stellenbosch. Love to explore small towns, read in Afrikaans and everything pop-culture. My favourite yoga move is 'The Pigeon' and one day I'd like to own my own vintage cinema.

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