The Wardrobe Department of a television series has an Important Job. After all, “clothes make the man.” In this case, they could very well make the character. The character’s outfits provide us with an immediate impression of the person behind the clothes. Sometimes, that is a very, very, bad, seriously, oh my God, so bad impression. Take Kate Harper from West Wing.
She’s a former spook who now works for the White House and she is dressed EXACTLY how you would imagine a military chick, constantly surrounded by men and with way more important things to worry about than what she should purchase at Barney’s next week at a sample sale. (Not that those things aren’t important, to each his or her own. But you get my point.)
Her costume person did a perfect job. Does that mean she looks good? Oh, Lord, no. This whole situation is just awful. It actually distracts me while I’m watching her WW reruns. “This situation in China sounds just terrible. MOTHER OF GOD, KATE. SHOULDER PADS?” is a constant refrain in my house.
With that, I give you television’s Top Five Worst Dressers, characters whose personal style is so mind-numbingly awful that it’s actually physically distracting to watch them on the TV lest your eyes burst into flames. Fun!
5. Miranda Hobbes from Sex & the City (Seasons 1 – 3)
Long before Sex & The City became this kind of massive fashion icon, thanks to Patricia Field’s zaniness and Sarah Jessica Parker’s penchant for drooling over Manolo Blahniks, Miranda Hobbes’ wardrobe kind of made me want to end my own life.
Sure, yes. She just screams New York lawyer. But, unless you’re ready to sue your dry cleaner, that is not a good thing. Miranda is abrasive, funny and brilliant. She’s also the most awkward of the foursome, at least in the first few seasons. Not only was her string of suits bad (bad BAD. And hair. Hair bad.) but everything fit her oddly, like Patricia Field and SJP were sipping cocktails and laughing over pinning a ginormous flower to her lapel and then Pat would turn to Cynthia Nixon, slouched nervously off to the side of the dressing room, and go, “Oh. Erm. Here.” And toss her a turtleneck that actually succeeded in making her look stumpy, if that’s at all possible.
4. Donna Martin from Beverly Hills 90210
Jesus. Yes. You’d better cry.
In the beginning, Donna Martin was actually kind of mousy in a Valley sort of way. Which is strange, considering how uber-rich she’s supposed to be. Put it this way- if the high school girls of the new 90210 ran into high school Donna, they would not hang out with her. They might even pull a few Amish/ deranged Blossom/Walk to Remember jokes. Oh, that’s right. They’re not me. I digress.
And then. And THEN. Lord. I imagine the conversation with the producers went like this.
“The flower bonnets aren’t working for us. They just don’t measure up to Kelly’s bicycle shorts and flower print dresses.”
“I hear you.” Executive producer taps finger-tips together. “How about we whore it up?”
“How exactly? She’s a virgin. How do we turn a virgin into a whore? Without, you know, her having sex?”
“Good question.” Executive taps a finger to goateed chin. “Do we have any belly shirts? With suspenders?”
Anyone who thinks of Donna Martin remembers the awkward dress ball gown she wore on Halloween, the floppy hats from the first season and then the horrible, God-awful ’90s nightmare of tight pants, short skirts, an endless collection of teeny baby T-‘s and plunging scoop necks that told us way too much information about her breast implants. And then she’d wear a button-up blouse with suspenders (see tears above) or a denim tuxedo and try to distract us with dying her hair in obnoxiously vibrant colors.
3. Denise Huxtable from The Cosby Show (Season 1 & 2)
Oh, DENISE. A part of me thinks you might be some kind of avante-garde genius. The Rihanna hair, the shoulder pads, the COLORS. Do you know how many times I had to adjust the color settings on my TV when you’d saunter through the Huxtable living room? SO MANY TIMES. The jewelery, the Hammer pants. Some of those jumpers- I just- I didn’t- WHERE DID YOU FIND THEM? I could just stare at the construction for hours. Why isn’t your wardobe something studied on Project Runway? All I want is for Tim Gunn to enter the bathroom while you all are saying good-bye to Rudy’s fish, give you and your neon jumpsuit a once over and say, “Denise. I’m concerned.”
Seriously, someone look at this outfit and send me a diagram or something about how it was made. I have to know.
2. Kimmy Gibler from Full House
Sometimes, I watch old episodes of Full House and think, “How did they get away with dressing this fourteen-year-old as an elderly prostitute?” And then I wonder if their sticking Andrea Barber in leggings and bicycle shorts pretty much for her entire childhood hindered her ability to have children as an adult. Or scarred her against wearing, well, anything ever again. Or anything with a pattern anyway. If I were her, I’d stick with solid colors for, oh, the rest of my natural life.
1. Jerri Blank from Strangers With Candy
Poor Jerri Blank. Cursed not only with booze, pills, and being a total loser (her words, not mine), she also destined to be the homeliest person on Earth. Her lipstick-smudged teeth, her Mom haircut, her woeful expressions, her lumpy body and her late ’70s after-school special meets Grandma’s handbag wardrobe… It’s a good thing it all adds up to her being such a hysterically funny icon for forty-six-year-old high school freshmen everywhere.