(List includes any non-reality TV show whose bulk of episodes came after the year 2000)
By Greg Gargs Allard
originally published in Silent Charm
It is far from easy to name a serious top 10 in any category of life. If you’re a NBA fan, for example, just try to name the top 10 basketball players of all time while in the midst of many basketball fans. There’s no way you can do it it without an argument.
Well, I’ve tried to name the top 10 fashionable shows of today. I really did. If it’s not to your liking then go make your own list.
10. Downton Abbey
The extravagant period-piece fashion of Julian Fellowes’ BBC series Downton Abbey hit the American scene in January 2011 (September 2010 in England) and has been influencing our modern-fashion culture ever since.
With its widening array of post-Edwardian era long-silk gloves, empire-waist dresses, pearls, beaded head-pieces and shrugs — sales of titanic-period garments and accessories have rocketed recently with no sink in sight.
With former Fashion Designer Susannah Braxton winning an Emmy for her costume design on the show, and her able assistant, Caroline McCall taking over and teaming with Ralph Lauren, expect starlets such as Michelle Dockery to continue influencing the fashion world for some time to come.
9. Pretty Little Liars
With its feather-earrings and black-and-white striped dresses prompting retail, ABC Family’s Pretty Little Liars has become a powerful source of fashion sense for teenage girls.
Since its inception, when Mandi Line was hired to make fashion for the show, the unique looks of the show’s characters sporting leather jackets, trench coats and the above-mentioned stripes have become the subject of many comments on the multitude of blog sites inspired by the series, which has been renewed for a fifth season.
With a title like USA’s law series Suits, you would think the show’s fashion department would have just a little extra pressure on them than your non-garment-titled TV show.
That pressure falls firmly on the shoulders of the program’s costume designer, Jolie Andreatta, who makes sure that the tailor-made suits of male leads Gabriel Mact and Patrick J. Adams are no less than impeccable.
Although the show probably influences male fashion more than any other on television, Andreatta, who keeps over 100 suits always available for the show’s male characters, also pays attention to the show’s female stars as well.
It’s no fashionable accident, therefore, that no cast is more spotlessly dressed on TV.
Revenge is an ABC series starring Emily VanCamp, whose character Emily Thorne is out to more than avenge the perpetrators from the Grayson family who had her father wrongly convicted and then murdered in jail when she was a little girl.
Now, one of the most highly-anticipated shows on TV in terms of fashion, those who regularly tune into Revenge can see Emily Thorne dressing very much to mood as her thoughts change on how to handle those who have done her family wrong.
She almost seems to switch from Missoni to Prada to Fendi to Armani as often as it takes to stay a leg up on the evil Graysons. Costume Designer Jill Ohannesson also meticulously arranges for the villainous character Herve Leger’s wardrobe, as she does for her girly younger sister, Charlotte Grayson and the rest of the cast.
This Beverly Hills 90210 remake of sorts on CW leaves kids who watch it just as excited about the styles they see in it as the stories of the episodes themselves.
Enough fashion blogs have been created just so fans can follow what each character wore on each episode that it indeed bloggles the mind. In fact, the show is like a fashion magazine in and of itself.
The show was considered less than a success after its first season but Rebecca Sinclair revamped the show as the head writer and at the beginning of season two and is largely credited with saving it and emphasizing the fashion part of the series that has helped to make it more popular.
5. Ugly Betty
Series star America Ferrera, who starred in the movie, Real Women Have Curves, before her “Ugly Betty” fame on ABC, is first of all not really ugly.
But it was that movie that taught a lesson to women about embracing who they are physically that landed Ferrera in the role of Betty Suarez. Suarez is an eccentric, bubbly 22-year-old Mexican-American woman from Queens who is truthfully lacking in fashion sense, at least at the start of her working at Mode, a high-fashion magazine based in Manhattan.
Her un-matching style, along with her savvy intelligence and do-the-right-thing people skills are contrasted nicely by Patricia Fields’ costume work with the rest of the cast of characters, who range from suave boss to sex vixen to ice queen to gay chameleon.
Lena Dunham’s brilliant comedy, a sort of a younger “Sex and the City” meets Woody Allen, is not only well-written, smartly cast, tastefully scored and convincingly acted, it is way up on everything it means to be a struggling artist in hipster New York, including a strong sense of fashion.
Show creator Lena Dunham plays Hannah, whose style, when she’s not walking around in different degrees of naked, is unapologetically whatever she wants it to be. Her style has taste but it is extremely unique and would probably look like a dysfunctional mess if worn on anyone else. On Hannah, at least it’s loveable and surely has some kind of method to its madness. Her best-friend Marnie’s style, is probably the most put-together of all of Hannah’s friends, but Marnie is a dysfunctional mess in her own way.
Their friend Jessa has been around the world and she has the wardrobe to prove it. She is eccentric, wild, unpredictable, elegant and attractive, just like her fashion sense. Shoshanna is like a pretty but nervous squirrel. She has disposable income, since her parents pick up her young-woman tab, so she dresses bright, trendy, girly and cute somehow all at the same time. When she’s a little more relaxed she also dresses casually.
When it comes right down to it, if any show has a realistic sense of 20-something fashion, it’s the critically-lauded Emmy-winning HBO hit, Girls.
3. Gossip Girl
What else could you expect from a privileged young adult drama series based in the Upper East Side of New York to be but perhaps the most trendy fashion show in television history?
O.C. creator Josh Scwartz and writing partner Stephanie Savage created this series based on the book series of the same name.
When you have characters like Blair setting college campuses everywhere on fire by making head bands all the rage, and Serena making maxi dresses and pant suits bigger than they’ve ever been (and that’s not to be taken literally in terms of size), then you know you’ve got yourself a winning formula.
Voted the most restauranty series since Sex and the City, these characters sure dress up and go out to eat a lot.
But after all, it’s New York, and what better thing to do with your time than dress in the finest clothes and taste the finest foods?
2. Sex and the City
The first question that many people may ask is how can this show not be number one? After all, four professional thirty-something single women living in the cultural center of the world have got to be spending a hell of a lot of time on dressing up, going out and what have you.
First of all, there is “Sex,” which is such a powerful force it keeps this world where we have to struggle for existence populated, and there is “the City,” New York City to be exact, which in many ways is sexiness personified. In such a surrounding, you better be on top of your fashion game, or you might be left in the literal gaudy dust of the New Jersey housewives, or some other nightmarish fashion boulevard.
The star of this HBO mega-hit, Sarah Jessica Parker, played Carrie Bradshaw — a writer who makes a living writing a magazine column about relationships. Her fast and loyal friends included independent business woman and sexually confident Samantha Jones, played by Kim Cattrall; art gallery worker and idealistic Charlotte York, played by Kristin Davis; and the career-driven lawyer Miranda Hobbes, played by Cynthia Nixon.
Created by Darren Star, this show set the fashion world on fire for six years (from 1998-2004) before being transferred to the Big Screen where two movies have been made to this date.
1. Mad Men
The sixth of ten shows to make this list whose story is located in New York City, Mad Men is located on the most influential avenue in the world during the most influential time in advertising history: Madison Avenue during the 1960s. This show reminds you more than any other that people actually had good taste before it all started going wrong in the ‘70s and ‘80s.
Mad Men is more than just a period piece with heavy fashion influence, it is a fashion feast for the eyes from the inception of its theme song “A Beautiful Mine,” to its finishing credits. It’s a historic museum that Don Draper and company get to live their lives in for an hour every week, which dropbacks the social unrest of the unwinding 1960s to the rhythm of motivated advertisers trying to make a good buck while the industry is still burgeoning.
Created by Matthew Weiner, Mad Men started in 2007 and is on the verge of beginning its seventh season as of this writing. The styles of the women leads like the Jackie Kennedy-esque January Jones, the sexy and talented Elisabeth Moss, the voluptuous Christina Hendricks, and the exotic Jessica Pare help the show to exhibit a wide gambit of female fashion for the time period.
However, the male actors of the series are up to the task in both fashion and style to equal the women with their posh and swank wardrobes, helping to make Mad Men easily the most fashionably-stunning visual experience in television drama history.