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Best of TV Costuming 2013: The Collection

1 Jan

Happy New Year everyone! There’s a lot to look forward to on TV in 2014 (and still much to catch up on from 2013) and here’s a roundup of the Best of TV Costuming 2013 series. Rather than do a standard top 10 list we looked at the shows that have got us talking with the impressive wardrobe work; from the items that we covet to the garments that took our breath away. Here is a full list of everything we have discussed over the last month. It’s been a special year and this site has grown in ways I could never have imagined when I launched it in April; here’s to an even bigger and better new year!

Megan tshirtMad Men and the Megan T-Shirt Conspiracy

Never has an item of clothing stirred up so many theories on Mad Men as conversation and predictions turned to murder.

NG_Ep215_sc22_1325New Girl and Trench Coat Nick

It’s the episode of New Girl that changed everything for this “will they/won’t they” couple and it’s not the trench coat that gave Nick the confidence to make the bold first move.

Elizabeth JenningsThe Many Wigs of The Americans 

One of my favorite new shows of the year also had the most costume changes and The Americans explored notions of identity both physically and emotionally. So excited about its return on February 26.

KERRY WASHINGTONScandal and Olivia Pope’s White Hat

Scandal is one of the most talked about shows here at TV Ate My Wardrobe and the use of white costuming helps explore the question of morality and ethics in a world where the lines are increasingly blurred. It also prompts my confessions of being a food and drink spiller.

borgenBorgen, Birgitte Nyborg and the Red Coat of Defiance

Birgitte Nyborg has been a joy to watch over the past few years and as Borgen comes to an end I discuss the use of the color red in the final episode.

Sleepy Hollow 1.3Revolutionary Styling of Sleepy Hollow’s Ichabod Crane

Some have questioned why Ichabod Crane is still wearing the clothes he woke up in on Sleepy Hollow and we talk about why it matters from both an aesthetic and character perspective.

Hannibal 1.10 HannibalPattern and Color on Hannibal

It’s one of the most visually sumptuous shows of the year and the costuming on Hannibal adds another layer of beauty and conflict through color and pattern. 

Orphan Black ClonesThe Many Looks of Orphan Black and Tatiana Maslany

The Americans might win the wig contest, but there’s only one actor this year that has portrayed this many different in depth characters while often sharing the scene with herself and that’s Tatiana Maslany on Orphan Black.

Parks and Recreation - Season 5Leslie Knope’s Wedding Dress

Everything about Leslie Knope’s wedding dress on Parks and Recreation embodies the endearing warmth of the show; from the person who made it (Ann) to personal and group victories that make up the documents used on the skirt.

ABC TCA Summer 2013 PartyOut of the Box: Look of the Week Best of 2013

“Out of the Box” was the first feature on TV Ate My Wardrobe and I looked at the show, character and person who appeared as part of this column the most. I also picked out my favorite individual red carpets outfit from the 36 entries in 2013.

Masters of Sex 1.04 Virginia lipstickBest of TV Costuming 2013: Group Discussion

And in our last item from this series I’m joined by two of my favorite ladies Kerensa Cadenas and Julie Hammerle as we discuss the year in costume. This includes what shows are influencing our personal style, highlights of the year (including Masters of Sex) and what we’re looking forward to in 2014.

Best of 2013 TV Costuming: Group Discussion

31 Dec

TV Ate My Wardrobe’s Best of 2013 Costuming series concludes today and I am joined by Kerensa Cadenas and Julie Hammerle to talk about this excellent year of costume design. We’re here to talk about a variety of shows and topics including Scandal, what shows influenced our own wardrobe choices and what we’re hoping to try out in 2014.

For all of the Best of 2013 articles head here. Happy New Year!

Olivia Pope Scandal S3Emma: 2013 has been an excellent year for TV, so much so that I know we all have certain shows that we haven’t had time to watch yet (for me it is Orange is the New Black, Game of Thrones and Enlightened). What I would like to do is talk about our highlights of the year from a costume/fashion perspective; which shows have stood out, shocked, enthralled, disappointed and influenced some of your own clothing choices.

I’m going to start with the show that we discussed in depth in October and that’s Scandal. It’s one of the most talked about shows in terms of everything with Olivia Pope’s style dominating sites (like this one) and fashion magazines. The rise of Scandal has also seen an influx of Kerry Washington magazine covers and deservedly so. The costuming on Scandal has got more audacious and season 3 has delivered some exceptional pieces including every single coat (and specifically the Burberry trench in the S3 premiere) and this Rubin Singer dress looks like superhero couture. Olivia continues to perplex and impress me with her red wine drinking/no spilling skills as I would have ruined all of that cashmere by now.

Other Scandal highlights for me include Abby’s Diane von Furstenberg updated wardrobe and ditching the poker straight hair for the wavier look is an instant win. Maybe dial back on the eyeliner. Same goes for Quinn. Mellie’s Chanel pearls are perfect as are all of her updated Nancy Reagan red suits. All the bonus points for putting Scott Foley in military dress uniform, leather jackets, hoodies and THAT suit.

What on Scandal has stood out for both of you this year?

Kerensa: I can’t help it but literally fashion-wise, Olivia is blinding. So much so that it’s almost hard to notice anyone else.  All those coats with those amazing collars and perfectly matched gloves and bags. For the season 3 premiere, my Scandal watching partner in crime and I attempted to wear our most Olivia-esque cardigans, he succeeded. I can say despite all of Olivia’s fashion slam-dunks, I did not like that dress that she wore to the White House Correspondents Dinner.

I think James always looks great and I’ll leave all Scott Foley related business to our resident expert, Julie. What do we think about Fitz though? I mean it’s all very generic and presidential obviously, but I was speaking with a friend recently and we both think that Fitz is probably wearing a lot of dad-seeming things–jeans, shoes, etc. And he would especially if they lived in Vermont. Ugh Fitz.

Scandal 3.05 Olivia and Jake WHCD Julie: As a ’90s gal, I’m fine with the eyeliner on Abby and Quinn, but that might just be me. Also, I loved the Rubin Singer dress, which was total knockout. It reminded me a bit of Julia Roberts’s Oscar gown, one of my favorites of all time. I’m a big fan of a black and white evening gown. Olivia’s dress may have had some fit issues, but that could’ve been due to her early pregnancy curves.

As far as Mr. Foley goes, I want him either shirtless or in a suit. There you go, Scandal costume people, your job is done. The moment where he’s revealed to be the new Command was our notice to sit up and take notice of all Scott Foley-in-a-suit has to offer. And it’s a lot.

Fitz is so generic and so, kind of, old. His costuming is just dull. He’s dull. It all fits (Fitz?) together.

I think the costumers have done a great job with Mellie as well, showing us this softer, less conniving woman before working on Fitz’s presidential campaign (and before being sexually assaulted by her father-in-law), and then contrasting those looks with the Washington power wife she has become.

Scandal 3.08 red suit plotting

Emma: I guess it’s hard to be a super stylish President and while I don’t think he needs to be emulating Harrison or James, there’s just not much to talk about with Fitz and fashion. He did wear a turtleneck in the flashback, but most of my feelings about turtlenecks aren’t particularly flattering. Same applies for Fitz.

As it’s become clear that they’re (thankfully) not going to write in a pregnancy storyline it will be interesting to see what inventive methods they will use to hide Kerry Washington’s bump, I’m picturing more oversized coats and purses.

Moving on from Scandal and another show which makes me wish I had a reason to wear expensive lady suits and that’s The Good Wife. I know you both only dipped into this for the first time this year with the incredible “Hitting the Fan” and I wanted to know if anything costume wise stood out to you because I think they’re one of the best dressed casts on TV. This piece on Diane Lockhart’s costuming is also TV Ate My Wardrobe’s most popular article of the year and I think that says a lot about both the character and the clothes she wears. TV has been championed for great roles for women over 40 and The Good Wife does a fantastic job of avoiding the pitfalls of clothes you might expect a woman of a certain age to wear.

What do you guys think about this?

Diane Stone ColdJulie: Having only watched the one Good Wife episode this season, I don’t have much to add, other than the two “ladies of a certain age” on the show do look lovely and professional. Christine Baranski always gets those kinds of roles, doesn’t she? You never see her playing the schlubby old hausfrau or anything. She’s always, like, the society maven or the company CEO or (in the case of The Big Bang Theory) Leonard’s mother, who is also renowned psychologist.

Emma: Yeah I can’t think of a Christine Baranski role doesn’t require poise. I’m so happy The Good Wife has given her a role that doesn’t feel like the stereotypical older woman who has chosen her career over a family nonsense.

Are there any shows which have influenced your clothing choices this year?

Julie: That’s a good question about what on TV influenced my clothing choices. Hmmm…well, I just received the same lipstick that Max uses on 2 Broke Girls (Tarte’s Envy) for Christmas, so there’s that. Oh, and I bought myself a fluffy white sweater that I often wear while eating popcorn and drinking red wine (I’ve had to have it cleaned six times already).

Beyond that, I’ve mostly reverted to the ’90s after watching My So-Called Life. I bought a pair of Dr. Martens and I’ve been wearing darker lipstick.

How about you?

Jess pjsEmma: Currently typing this while wearing my new polka dot pajama set and quite a few of my Christmas gifts had a TV influence. So yeah New Girl’s a big one and at the moment I’m on the hunt for an a-line wool mini skirt a la Jess. This is mostly because I have lots of tights and sweaters that I think would look good with this. Alas no joy yet. Same goes for my endless quest to find the perfect mustard yellow hoodie that I have been coveting since I first saw April Ludgate wear one when she drove to the Grand Canyon with Andy on Parks and Rec.

This year I’ve also tried a couple of Megan Draper influenced stylings including a scarf in my hair and a short sleeved/high neck sweater that looks late 60s esque. With the Mad Men stuff I try not to imitate too much otherwise it looks like fancy dress. In real life Kiernan Shipka is showing what it looks like for a 14 year old to dress better than anyone else in this cast. She is my everything, please don’t ruin her Hollywood. I’m also scared for all things Flowers in the Attic – haven’t you seen it Kerensa?

And yes the 90s! So glad to have all this plaid back in my wardrobe, though I wish I’d saved it all first time around. I still haven’t tried out the super dark brown/rose lip stick; I should probably get on that.

What I really would like in my life is some Olivia Pope sized wine glasses and pretty much all the furniture and fixings from any of the Scandi shows.

What about you Kerensa? Any TV wardrobe influences this year? And to you both is there something you want to try out in 2014?

Julie: I’ve also been wearing a lot of Jess Day-inspired pajamas. With dogs and monkeys on them.

I love the question of what to try out in 2014. It’s like making a TV fashion-related New Year’s resolution. My hair is about the same length (and color) as April’s on Parks and Rec, and I’d like to try getting mine a little wavier, like hers.

Also, on the Jess Day train, I’m always on the lookout for cute dresses and glasses (though I cannot pull off the big nerd frames. I’m more of a Mad Men/cat eye kind of girl).

What about you ladies?

MM_602_MY_1107_0801.SizedKerensa: As has Julie, I’ve only seen a few episodes this season of The Good Wife, so I can’t really speak to the clothes on that show either. But in my current catch up of the show, holy crap, yes.

Kiernan is the most fashionable 14 year old ever. And yes, I did see Flowers in the Attic, and I’m proud to report that it is A TREAT.

In terms of 2014 TV inspired resolutions, I’d like to just be Olivia Pope pretty much. But my general clumsiness, inability to not stain anything white-hued and working from home I think kinda negates that from happening. I’d love to take a page from Megan Draper’s wardrobe–that cool, sexy, effortless 60s Valley of the Dolls vibe she always has going. I agree with Julie that I’m loving April’s hair on Parks and Recreation right now, so it’s the right length, I just need to make myself take the straightening iron out of my hand.

A little out of the discussion, but I just watched Skins: Fire last night, which wrapped up the entire Skins series in 2013. Fire focuses on Effy, one of my favorites of the endlessly gorgeous extremely selfish and damaged characters. She begins working at a London hedge fund. In terms of television, it’s certainly not the greatest (I say this as I’m watching the other 4 episodes right now) but Effy’s wardrobe for this job is amazing. I mean it certainly doesn’t hurt that Kaya Scodelario is model-y gorgeous but her outfits are all these amazing leather trimmed structured blazers, nipped mini-dresses paired with tights and booties. It’s so reminiscent of her teen wardrobe–all leather clad, ripped tights and plenty of angst–but grown up. And I want every single piece of it. Oh and Olivia’s wine glasses, a staple.

April owlEmma: I like that April Ludgate is a style icon for us all; for hair and hoodies (and owl sweaters).

As far as 2014 goes for me I’m hoping to get some inspiration from the new season of The Americans (seriously I really want their son Henry’s rainbow jacket) and blend it with some Felicity stylings. Pretty much a Keri Russell hybrid.

Both Abby from Scandal and Alana Bloom on Hannibal wear some excellent Diane von Furstenberg patterned dresses and while I can’t afford actual DVF I’d like to add to my  wrap dress collection.

And if I could not spill anything on my clothes I would be a very happy lady. I fear this is a resolution to far for me.

Jumping off from your Skins comment Kerensa (and those outfits do sound amazing) are there any particular moments/shows/characters that stand out in terms of costuming and style?

Are there any returning or new shows that you’re anticipating for their costuming?

Julie: Big sweaters forever! Also, I’m going to start re-wearing long sheath dresses over T-shirts with Chuck Taylors, because I’m still 17, I think.

Oh, yes. I love Alana’s dresses on Hannibal. That show is so subtly fashionable. I say that because sometimes it’s hard to recall what I’ve seen beyond all the gore.

As far as costume moments go, we already talked about Olivia Pope’s Correspondents Ball dress, which I loved. I’m having trouble thinking beyond that at the moment. I’m currently watching Masters of Sex and loving everything Lizzy Caplan wears on that show (when she wears clothing).

I’m looking forward to Game of Thrones returning, for many reasons beyond fashion, but I do want to see how they style the Dornishmen and what kind of fabulous dress they put on Margaery for her wedding to Joffrey.

And of course The Walking Dead returns in February, and I hope Carol returns to the group with every designer gown she can find in tow. Because while everyone else is raiding drug and grocery stores, I bet no one thought to break into Gucci or Prada to steal their wears.

Felicity 1.09 cable knit jumperEmma: I just got the most amazing big mohair striped sweater from the Dr Martens shop (which I think you both would love). It would be both Angela and Felicity approved. I’ve wanted a mohair sweater for ages (Trudy Campbell wears one in the Kennedy assassination episode of Mad Men and I’ve been obsessed ever since). That’s one 2014 wish to be ticked off the list before the new year has started. Thank you sale shopping.

Hannibal’s suits are impeccable, it’s such a beautiful show considering how horrifying it is and it’s high on my most anticipated list.

Other shows I’m looking forward to returning include The Americans because all the wigs and everything else, Girls as I want to see if they can top Marnie’s plastic dress from last year and Mad Men because of all the reasons. I still need to watch Game of Thrones.

With new shows Looking is top of my list and I’m interested to see a show set somewhere slightly different and how this influences costuming choice. On the other end of the scale is True Detective as it looks grimy. And you know the Harrelson/McConaughey factor.

One of the big shows this year for me has been Orphan Black and all the many versions of Tatiana Maslany. That’s why it’s also on my 2014 list of things to look forward to. I’ve written about a lot of my favorite costume moments in the Best of 2013 series I’ve been doing and Leslie Knope’s wedding dress *might* be my personal highlight as both it and that episode encapsulated everything that makes Parks and Recreation such a joy to watch.

Now I want to see a fashionista character on The Walking Dead. That would be the best.

Orphan Black SarahJulie: I need to watch Orphan Black, which I just got for Christmas. Looking looks fabulous, even more so since my new Frozen crush Jonathan Groff is on it.

And seriously. Why are people in the Zombpocalypse not wearing more fashionable clothing? I’d wear a tiara every day to go with my katana blades.

Kerensa: Yes to the Orphan Black costuming! It’s so great. All of Felix’s short robes and Sarah’s general bad-assery (aka my ideal look). Looking forward to what they do with other clones as well!

As for returning–I don’t know if RuPaul’s Drag Race counts but goddamn the fashions on that show. And it’s always doubly impressive since the contestants are making all those looks themselves. Also, everything that RuPaul wears always and forever. The man wears a skinny suit impeccably as well as a sequined ball gown.

I’ll be interested as well what’s in store for Girls–especially with Jessa. I just want to see how they can top her ridiculous boho European free spirit stuff every year.

Side note: Julie I don’t know if you watch, but what do we think about the costuming on The Carrie Diaries? I think a lot of it is pretty ridiculous but I kinda love it anyways.

Express YourselfEmma: Super on the Orphan Black watching front, you’re in for a treat. It’s the only show that has made me wish for dreadlocks (it would never happen).

RuPaul’s Drag Race is something I’ve only ever seen via The Soup, it’s something I’d love to catch a whole season of and those outfits sound fantastic!

With The Carrie Diaries I’m so in love with all the crazy pattern clashing and the fact they’ve found every slogan tee for Dorrit from Forever 21 – there was one in the last episode that read “I Hate Everyone” which is pretty much perfect. I like that they’re got going for complete authenticity with the costuming and use items from mostly affordable stores. It makes sense for this audience (well the small one it has) to go this route rather than a Mad Men style one. It’s not a costuming note, but I do want to highlight how amazing the Walt storyline has been and especially the bonding time with Dadshaw over Golden Girls. Back to costuming everything Donna LaDonna wears is the perfect amount of excess. Same with Samantha and her ab baring tops.

As always it has been a pleasure discussing TV and fashion with you both.
I’m pretty obsessed with the idea of The Walking Dead plus Prada now to be honest.


Kerensa Cadenas is a writer living in Los Angeles. She is a staff writer for Women and Hollywood. She also writes for This Was TelevisionForever Young Adult, and Bitch magazine. She was the Research Editor for Tomorrow magazine. You can follow her on Twitter and read her ridiculous thoughts about teen television at her website.

Julie Hammerle is, according to Klout, an expert in the areas of both Morgan Freeman and glasses. Her writing can be found at and you can holler at her on Twitter as well.

Out of the Box: Look of the Week Best of 2013

27 Dec

It’s the final Friday of 2013 and so we’re bringing you a special end of year “Out of the Box.” This was the first article to run on TV Ate My Wardrobe and it’s been a regular weekly column ever since. Costuming, red carpet appearances, street style and magazine shoots have all featured heavily and we went back through the 36 weeks it has been running to see what shows and faces have appeared the most. The only stipulation is that it had to feature as part of this column and so while there have been many exceptional outfits on TV Ate My Wardrobe if it wasn’t part of “Out of the Box” it hasn’t been included.

The categories we are looking at are most featured show, character, person and favorite individual outfit. There’s also a special mention to the only week where a piece of set was included.

MM_605_MY_1219_0624Show: Mad Men 

Mad Men hasn’t been lavished with as much praise in 2013 as it has in previous years, but one aspect that has remained consistently excellent is the costume design work from Janie Bryant. There are many photos I could have chosen including Peggy’s pantsuit of power (thanks Tom & Lorenzo for that name), Bob Benson’s shortsStan’s beard and Sally in plaid. Instead I have gone for this one from “The Flood” with Peggy and Megan in their award show frocks. Both are incredibly striking and Megan’s is very I Dream of Jeannie; as we head towards the ’70s things are getting bolder in fabric and color and even though there’s a clash in pattern between the pair there is warmth between these two characters. This scene takes place just before they find out that Martin Luther King, Jr. has been assassinated and it shows the how far removed these characters are from the civil rights movement.

Parks and Recreation - Season 6 Character: April Ludgate, Parks and Recreation

April Ludgate (Aubrey Plaza) from Parks and Recreation appeared on the inaugural “Out of the Box” and many weeks since. With April her costuming is colorful and features a variety of patterns and the occasional animal; it’s mostly casual wear and unlike a character like Olivia Pope it’s a wardrobe that can be recreated with affordable clothes. I’m still on the hunt for the elusive perfect mustard yellow hoodie like the one in the shot above from the season 6 premiere. 2014 will be my year to find one.

Hannibal bathroomSet: Hannibal “Sorbet”

The costuming on Hannibal has been much talked about here at TV Ate My Wardrobe; it’s also the only set design that has appeared on “Out of the Box.” When I wrote the original post I had yet to see The Shining and I am happy to say that this is no longer the case (I watched it after having a wisdom tooth out which was a tad surreal). This exquisite set is an homage to the bathroom in Room 237 in Stanley Kubrick’s The ShiningHannibal is one of the most visually arresting shows of 2013 and it’s why it deserves this special mention.

Kerry Washington FlarePerson: Kerry Washington

This has been the year of Kerry Washington as she has dominated Scandal, magazine covers and best dressed lists; she is also the person who has featured the most on “Out of the Box.” Flare is one of the many magazines Washington covered this year (ElleEssenceVariety, Vanity Fair and Glamour are some of the others) and this is my favorite cover shot. The polka dot Miu Miu coat and scarf have been everywhere this year and for me it is most memorable on Kerry Washington. Versatile style is something Washington has and she’s daring with her choices on the red carpet. While you can pretty much predict what some people will wear every time they hit an event, with Kerry Washington you can never been sure and it’s one of the many reasons why we love to write about her.

ABC TCA Summer 2013 PartyFavorite Individual Outfit: Darby Stanchfield at the ABC Disney TCA Party

There are many incredible outfits that have appeared on these pages and so it was tough to highlight just one; I’m going to stick to the Scandal track and go with Darby Stanchfield from an event back in August. This was before we got to see Abby’s season 3 transformation and so the wavy, wilder looking hair was a big departure from the poker straight style we were used to seeing on Stanchfield and so she instantly caught our attention. Stanchfield takes the prize of favorite individual outfit in a jacquard floral-print pleated skirt by Alexa von Canisius that cinches in at the waist and the green metallic tone complements her raven locks.

To look through all of the “Out of the Box” archives head here.

Best of TV Costuming 2013: Leslie Knope’s Wedding Dress

23 Dec

Continuing TV Ate My Wardrobe’s “Best of 2013″ costuming series and rather than doing a straightforward countdown we’re going to do a variety of posts that look at which costumes and shows have made a huge impact this year. From items that we want in our own wardrobe to pieces that got everyone talking, we want to look at this year’s TV through the prism of costume.

In the Parks and Recreation two-parter “Emergency Response” and “Leslie and Ben” the group throws an impromptu park fundraiser followed by an even more spontaneous wedding. Unconventional wedding ceremonies and huge group projects give Parks and Rec the chance to show off their most heartwarming and hilarious material. On this occasion it also led to one of my favorite pieces of costume design from 2013.

Parks and Recreation - Season 5Leslie’s wedding dress is only half made as their wedding has been moved up by three months and it’s down to Ann to turn it into something that Leslie can wear. Eight years of Project Runway watching and five years of being Leslie’s BFF leads to a surprisingly unflustered Ann and the end result is stunning. Ann has collected all the meaningful bills, pictures, documents, newspaper clippings and memos from Leslie’s life and created a tiered full skirt to finish off the dress. Some suspension of disbelief is required, for me this is easy to do because it’s such a beautiful moment and Parks and Rec excels at triumph in the face of adversity (time being the problem, later followed by Jamm).

Parks and Recreation - Season 5For Leslie this gown is the most beautiful thing she has seen – it’s the “Ann Perkins of dresses.” The Leslie/Ann friendship is something I addressed earlier this year after it was announced that both Rashida Jones and Rob Lowe would be leaving the show; it’s one of the strongest female friendships on TV (Snake Juice aside) and Ann’s role in the wedding prep underscores how vital their relationship is. Change is an important aspect of challenging character dynamics and of course I will miss this pairing and yet I’m also excited to see how they will respond to losing two regular cast members.

A wedding is a sitcom staple (hell How I Met Your Mother is using a wedding as the basis for their entire final season) and it gives an opportunity for sentimentality among all of the characters, even the ones who reject this.

Parks and Recreation - Season 5Yep I’m looking at you Ron Swanson as he tells Leslie in the scene above “You are a wonderful person, you’re friendship means a lot to me and you look very beautiful.” This is also a great time to point out the pop of red from Leslie’s shoes and the flower hair accessory – she did say that she wanted “the sensuality of Eleanor Roosevelt and the animal magnetism of Lesley Stahl” and I’m going to go ahead and say she got both of those things, just because. It’s a very unique and distinctive wedding gown; it’s perfectly Leslie Knope.

Parks and Recreation - Season 5This is a picture heavy post even though I’m talking about one dress and the shot above is here mostly because they are the most adorable couple on TV; no they’re not particularly edgy and there’s little to no conflict and this is why they win the adorable title. My favorite TV marriage of all time is Eric and Tami Taylor (of course) and I can see a lot of them in Leslie and Ben. Yes the two shows are in very different genres, however at their heart both are about community and lean towards a more optimistic outlook. For Leslie and Ben the reason why they appeal so much can be summed up by this “You’re all I need. I love you and I like you.”

For more photos head over to the NBC created Pinterest board.

Best of TV Costuming 2013: The Many Looks of Orphan Black and Tatiana Maslany

19 Dec

Continuing TV Ate My Wardrobe’s “Best of 2013″ costuming series and rather than doing a straightforward countdown we’re going to do a variety of posts that look at which costumes and shows have made a huge impact this year. From items that we want in our own wardrobe to pieces that got everyone talking, we want to look at this year’s TV through the prism of costume.

I came late to Orphan Black this year and an article discussing the incredible performance(s) of Tatiana Maslany is long overdue. Same applies to the costume design work, as this plays a part in defining each clone and how we perceive them.

Sarah Orphan Black We could do a Spice Girls categorization of each character boiling them down to one part of their personality through their clothes and hair styling:

  • Rock Chick Clone
  • Hippy Science Clone
  • Suburban Clone
  • Crazy Clone
  • Fashionista Clone
  • Serious Cop Clone

Reducing these characters to broad categorizations could be viewed as either a disservice or high praise; each individual clone has a distinctive look and on the surface level this reveals a certain amount of information about who they are. Of course their inner world might not be reflected by these outward characteristics which is why this might seem too reductive.

Tatiana Maslany plays each version and for practical reasons having a variety of strong looks helps when they share the same face. Hair, makeup and costume all help with this process, but without an actress as gifted as Maslany it would be a hard task to pull off. Luckily, Maslany produces a variety of performances that often makes me forget that I’m watching the same person play all of these roles and it takes a special talent to do this. Costuming does play an important role and while each character can be broken down into a ‘type’ it doesn’t come across as contrived or like they’ve gone through a lookbook of archetypes.

Sarah Orphan Black pilotColor isn’t a big part of Sarah Manning’s wardrobe and black leather is a staple. Sarah begins the season on the outside when it comes to her clone origins and her demeanor is a reflection of her difficult upbringing. It’s a look that projects an “I don’t give a shit” attitude and it’s Sarah’s way of protecting herself from the world. Posing as Beth requires a wardrobe change and Beth’s style is far more traditional and functional.

Orphan Black clash t-shirtClothes are part of how we reveal who we are to the world and Sarah slips up by not letting go of part of herself with her “London Calling” tee, prompting Paul to question why Beth is wearing something so un-Beth like. Sarah is browsing through Beth’s Ann Taylor/J. Crew looking wardrobe in her Clash shirt instantly reflecting how different these characters are. It’s hard for Sarah to completely lose herself to this new persona even if the initial endgame is to get a buttload of cash. By wearing Beth’s clothes it helps fool people on a surface level and in cases where those questions become too much there are other methods; she uses sex to disarm and distract Paul.

Alison and Sarah Orphan BLackThroughout the first season of Orphan Black we see a variety of impersonating combos; Helena as Sarah as Beth, Alison as Sarah and Sarah as Alison. On each occasion one wears the clothes of the other (and Helena hides her mass of her under a beanie) and they fool most people because external factors like clothing is something we use to identify who someone is. This is why Sarah’s Clash shirt arouses suspicion in Paul.

Helena as BethHelena’s trip into the police station in this attire should have triggered more questions as the red around Helena’s eyes is pretty distinctive. It helps both Sarah and Helena that Beth has been going through some things and her general behavior has been different lately; certain character ticks don’t register as particularly odd.

Switching coats is a quick way to temporarily look like someone else and each character’s style can be summed up in their outerwear.

HelenaHelena’s oversized parka conceals her gender at first and a Helena/Sarah coat switch later in the season is part of a grand plan to gain the upper hand, but it also reveals Kira’s identity to Helena and this sets off a chain of events that almost ends in tragedy.

KatiaThe clone we barely knew and Katia is all about a flamboyant statement in her oversized sunglasses and fur coat.

CosimaCosima’s red funnel neck coat is my personal favorite and would feature high on the coat covet list. Cosima’s look is heavy on the accessories with chunky jewelry and scarves. Dreadlocks and tattoos also point to her free spirit and she’s the only one of the clones who hasn’t been impersonated by another so far.

AlisonBIOOn the other end of the spectrum lives Alison and on the outside she is pure suburban soccer mom. It’s all Lululemon, gillets and pastels as Alison projects this image of modern day Stepford Wife. Ah suburbia, you have many secrets and Alison is so tightly wound that she starts to question which parts of her life are fake and which are real.

Alison pjsThis includes torture by glue gun in a matching pair of gingham pajamas. Alison is definitely resourceful in an almost Jason Bourne use your surroundings kind of way.

FelixIt’s not just all the Tatiana Maslany’s that can pull off multiple looks and Jordan Gavaris’ Felix plays multiple roles throughout Orphan Black’s first season. His regular style mirrors Sarah’s as black is a defining feature and considering how close these two characters are it makes sense that they mimic each other in this way.

Felix Orphan BlackWhen required he can play a part and whenever he interacted with Alison and her family it produced some truly memorable moments. From playing dress up with her kids to his role as suburban bartender – the jumper draped over the shoulders is everything – to saving Alison from the intervention in her living room Felix livened things up. Felix is an important emotional tether for Sarah and a grounding point for the clone dramaz; Felix is part of the emotional core without being sentimental and he doesn’t sugar coat his feelings telling Sarah “Is every man in your life a complete wanker besides me?!”

Orphan Black is one of the most thrilling shows I have watched in 2013 and Tatiana Maslany’s is exceptional throughout. It’s also a testament to her as an actress that her Parks and Recreation guest star stint delivered yet another style of performance and a completely different look. Set those calendars to April 19 when Orphan Black returns for season 2.

Photos courtesy of BBC America

Best of TV Costuming 2013: Pattern and Color on Hannibal

18 Dec

Continuing TV Ate My Wardrobe’s “Best of 2013″ costuming series and rather than doing a straightforward countdown we’re going to do a variety of posts that look at which costumes and shows have made a huge impact this year. From items that we want in our own wardrobe to pieces that got everyone talking, we want to look at this year’s TV through the prism of costume.

The first season of Hannibal premiered in April and from the outset it produced some of the most visually stunning episodes on TV this year. As with the character, Hannibal’s costuming is rich, textured and multilayered. Hannibal is also the only show to appear as part of “Look of the Week” as a piece of set design, rather than just costuming.

Hannibal 1.01 HannibalStarting with the titular character everything that Hannibal wears is meticulous and well tailored. Costume designer Christopher Hargadon predominantly dresses Hannibal in three piece suits (often in plaid) and the elaborate quality reflects Hannibal’s desire to have only the finer things in life. There is an element of control with everything that Hannibal does and yet he also likes to play with his environment and this includes his wardrobe. 

Hannibal 1.11 HannibalPattern clashing is in abundance and this style choice is featured in pretty much every episode. There is nothing accidental about the pocket square matching the teal shirt and the colors of Hannibal’s suits are incredibly rich, even in their darkness. On this occasion Hannibal is wearing paisley with plaid; it’s bold and distinctive much like Hannibal. Dark earth tones are a signature and you won’t see him in bright primary colors. As the season progresses, his suits get even darker to mirror just how far Hannibal is pushing Will’s mental state.

Hannibal 1.08 dishevelledEven when he has been in a full on dirty fight to the death, as he has in “Fromage” he still looks relatively well put together. His pocket square has been ruffled and his tie is at an angle, however this all plays into his act of being in shock. If he wasn’t playing this role there is no doubt that he would have straightened these up and fixed his hair.

Hannibal 1.13 HannibalThe use of shadow with bold patterns means there are moments like this one in the season 1 finale where the only detail visible is Hannibal’s striking tie and grey shirt. He kind of looks like a floating head coming out of the darkness.

Hannibal 1.13 BurberryThis moment also comes from the finale as Hannibal visits Will in his new ‘home’ and the brown Burberry London coat (thanks Wear the Rude for the heads up) is part of the rich brown trend that Hannibal wears throughout the first season. Hannibal is littered with out of the shadows moments and this shot is framed as if Hannibal is the emerging victor.

Hannibal 1.10 kill suitHannibal even has what looks like a custom kill suit and when you have clothes as luxurious as Hannibal you don’t want them getting ruined by a spot of blood. There’s also the evidence factor of course.

Hannibal 1.09 Alana and AbigailThe color scheme on Hannibal is as precise as Hannibal’s suits and there’s one character who wears both bold tones and a whole lot of pattern and that’s Alana Bloom. I’d argue that Alana is the heart of the show as she is the only person who is looking out for Will’s best interests all of the time – in the pilot she talks about the dangers of putting Will in the field as he might get too close and this is exactly what happens.

Hannibal 1.09 AlanaThe variety of prints Alana wears could represent her confused romantic feelings towards Will; she wants to be honest with him and lets him know in the scene above that she can’t have an affair with him while he is this unstable. Whereas both Hannibal and Jack will manipulate Will to get what they desire, Alana is suppressing her desires for the good of Will.

Hannibal 1.08 Will and AlanaThis is the nearest Will gets to rom-com set up and for once his demeanor is only reading at 30% troubled. Part of this is the company and Will takes the step in “Fromage” to get the girl. While this doesn’t entirely pan out – this is Hannibal and not a sitcom after all – if Will does get better there’s a chance these two kids could give it a go. While a lot of their interactions are bathed in darkness in lecture halls and interrogation rooms, the lighting in this open field scene gives a glow of hope. Will is dressed in his outdoor wear and he’s far removed from his usual work attire, the beanie is a win for him. Alana’s wine colored coat and patterned scarf maintain both her signature style and palette.

Hannibal 1.13 orange jumpsuitFrom light to dark and all color has been saturated from this scene except for Will’s jumpsuit and Alana’s multicolored Diane von Furstenberg wrap dress. This scene contains one of my favorite exchanges as Will tells Alana “I could use a good scream. I can feel one perched under my chin… I’m afraid that if I started, I wouldn’t be able to stop.” Control is a big element of Hannibal; Will thinks he losing all of his whereas characters like Hannibal and Alana have a full sense of who they are and their working boundaries. This is why they are the two characters who wear pattern and prints throughout the first season. Alana gets bonus bright colors because she wears her emotions on her sleeve.

Hannibal 1.01 Will GrahamWill wears red and plaid in the pilot but as the season progresses all color drains from his wardrobe and it’s pretty much all grey. At a push some earthy tones pop up, but Will’s costuming is all for practical and functional reasons. There’s nothing flamboyant and he even uses his glasses as prop to hide his eyes from the world.

Hannibal 1.02 FreddieNot afraid to make an impression is Freddie Lounds and this all scarlet ensemble dares to clash with her red hair and the walls of Hannibal’s waiting room. Freddie is essentially one of the many devils of Hannibal and like Hannibal himself she likes to manipulate dangerous situations to see how it impacts the outcome.

Hannibal is far more than just another antihero/murder venture and it is elevated beyond these stale factors thanks to the meticulous details in the writing, acting and all facets of the production design including the incredible costuming.

Best of TV Costuming 2013: Revolutionary Styling of Sleepy Hollow’s Ichabod Crane

17 Dec

Continuing TV Ate My Wardrobe’s “Best of 2013″ costuming series and rather than doing a straightforward countdown we’re going to do a variety of posts that look at which costumes and shows have made a huge impact this year. From items that we want in our own wardrobe to pieces that got everyone talking, we want to look at this year’s TV through the prism of costume.

One of 2013’s breakout hits is Sleepy Hollow and it has become a “Look of the Week” regular. The storytelling is fast paced and it delivers episodes soaked in crazy with a big side helping of heart as Ichabod adjusts to his 21st century setting. Ichabod Crane’s present day costuming has been called into question and I want to look at why it makes sense for him to still be in his Revolutionary threads.

Sleepy Hollow baseballSuspending disbelief is something we constantly have to do when watching TV; whether it is because a headless horseman is roaming the streets or that a man who died in the past wakes up over 300 years later. The line is apparently drawn when it comes to what Ichabod is wearing in the present and why he would still be wearing the clothes he woke up in.

Aesthetically, if Ichabod had undergone a makeover and was now dressed in jeans and t-shirt he would lose part of the visual ‘fish out of water’ element; he’d look like a generic hot dude solving mystical problems. The late 18th century garb is a constant reminder that Ichabod is not of this time. There are other cues of course like his issues with computers and his disgust at historical inaccuracies that are being taught and these are used sparingly is from.

102SH_101_0552.jpgFlashbacks show Ichabod’s uniform in its natural habitat if you will and within this part of the story he is far from being a stranger in a strange land. Thanks to battle conditions he still looks somewhat rugged, but there is a more polished quality to the costuming as it is being worn in its original setting.

Sleepy Hollow red coatWe also get to see Ichabod in his original red coat before he defected and this is a rather jarring experience as the blue is a constant part of the Ichabod that we see in the past and present. Red is used sparingly in Sleepy Hollow and generally means the side of evil and this is why it looks so alien on Ichabod. This is Ichabod Crane at his most polished and the tricorn hat adds distinction to this look, even if we associate the color red with all things diabolical.

Sleepy hollowIf he smelt so bad would Abbie be hugging him like this?

The pilot episode shows Ichabod washing his clothes in a sink and recently Tom Mison joked to TV Line “Would you like to see him maybe at the Laundromat, just sitting on a bench in his 18th-century pants? That would be nice. One of Abbie’s bathrobes and a face pack – watching High School Musical. Just make a weekend of it, me and Abbie!” Don’t get me wrong, I do want to see that and all potential makeover montages, however the Revolutionary attire is part of what makes Ichabod who he is. It’s a tangible part of his past and it’s one of the only physical reminders of who he is and where he came from. There’s the question of letting go and it would probably be considered an unhealthy attachment if the present wasn’t so strongly connected to the past through purgatory and Katrina. The world is a very different place for Ichabod upon his return and to maintain a sense of self and identity his clothing acts as a tether.

Sleepy Hollow costume designer Kristin M. Burke has answered questions about Ichabod and Abbie’s costuming at her excellent TV and film costuming site Frocktalk

Best of TV Costuming 2013: Borgen, Birgitte Nyborg and the Red Coat of Defiance

15 Dec

Continuing TV Ate My Wardrobe’s “Best of 2013″ costuming series and rather than doing a straightforward countdown we’re going to do a variety of posts that look at which costumes and shows have made a huge impact this year. From items that we want in our own wardrobe to pieces that got everyone talking, we want to look at this year’s TV through the prism of costume.

Borgen has come to an end and while season 3 didn’t hit the lofty heights of the previous years, it has still been one of the most enjoyable watching experiences of 2013. Watching Birgitte Nyborg return to politics reminded me of Coach Taylor taking the helm at the East Dillon Lions on Friday Night Lights and both shows feel like a ray of optimism in a cynical world.

Borgen Red coatThe coats on display on Borgen rival any of the Scandal outerwear and like The Good Wife red is the color of power. Birgitte demonstrated her most political and strong self in the final episode, switching her black coat from the previous episode to the bold belted red. Birgitte’s has a huge decision that will impact the entire political landscape of Danish politics and she works through her options with mentor Bent, in the shadow of the magnificent building the show is named after (it’s the nickname of the Christiansborg Palace).

photoIn an incredibly striking shot Birgitte stands alone in her red coat in the snow looking at her second home; the world of politics where she believes she can make a difference. Birgitte is different to the other politicians on the show (and those in real life) as she does admit when she is in the wrong and her idealism guides her decisions without being the sole driving force. For all the faults of this season (the Kasper/Katrine relationship resolution is a big letdown); one factor is consistent and that’s Birgitte Nyborg. As consistent as her bun of glory.

BorgenSidse Babett Knudsen’s performance has been exceptional from the lows during the debate in which she floundered in a way we had previously not seen, to the portrayal of her breast cancer diagnosis as she at first went at this alone to the various personal and political victories. The reason why I mentioned Friday Night Lights in my intro is I realized last night while I was watching this finale is that both shows give me similar chest bursting feelings of happiness and I’m going to miss Borgen and Birgitte.

Best of TV Costuming 2013: Scandal and Olivia Pope’s White Hat

12 Dec

Continuing TV Ate My Wardrobe’s “Best of 2013″ costuming series and rather than doing a straightforward countdown we’re going to do a variety of posts that look at which costumes and shows have made a huge impact this year. From items that we want in our own wardrobe to pieces that got everyone talking, we want to look at this year’s TV through the prism of costume.

It would be impossible to talk about shows that dominated 2013 without talking about Scandal and I marathoned the first two seasons over the summer. This is a decision I am very happy with as not only is the storytelling at the speed of a juggernaut, but it also features some of the most exquisite costume design work courtesy of Lyn Paolo.


Olivia’s wardrobe is a plethora of neutral tones and the white attire of her collection is when she is at her most defiant. ‘Wearing the white hat’ is one of Olivia’s core ideals and it’s a notion that she uses to justify her less than legit methods (election fixing anyone?) and in the season 2 finale “White Hat’s Back On” Olivia received a real white hat from David Rosen. The symbolism is explicit as David is who Olivia tends to have these ethical debates with (this has sadly been lacking in season 3 so far) and the box also contained evidence to implicate Billy Chambers. David at this point is probably the one character who could be described as morally good in this very murky world, he hasn’t murdered anyone (yet) and he still has a strong moral compass; at this point the white hat belongs to him.

While my own relationship with white clothes is rather fraught (I am a perpetual spiller), Olivia has the poise to drink red wine in her luxurious lounge wear and not spill a drop. It’s more impressive when you factor in the occasion when she got super sloshed and drunk dialed her terrifying father. White is Olivia’s armor and this was no more apparent than in the season premiere when she wore this incredible Burberry trench – I’m still riding the high of predicting this piece would feature in season 3.

Scandal 3.1 Olivia Burberry TrenchWhite is a color that suggests purity and while we know Olivia steps way into the moral grey areas, it’s still the image she wants to project to the world. By putting on the white hat both literally and figuratively it acts as justification of those nefarious methods. This season has focused on B613 and Olivia’s parents; hopefully tonight’s mid-season finale will put some of those stories to rest as I miss how Scandal previously balanced the long term arc with the procedural elements. Shows need to evolve, they also need to not get bogged down in shadowy puppet master storylines (see previous offenders Buffy the Vampire SlayerRevenge24Alias).

It’s a show that isn’t afraid to head down some very dark roads (wrist munching/face licking) and while I don’t necessarily agree that these parts are necessary, showrunner Shonda Rhimes justifies these moments to Vulture stating “For me, it’s a reminder that as much as we all love these people, they’re all still monsters. They’re all still monsters walking around in human skin.” Is Rhimes including Olivia in this grouping? If so these monsters also wear some fabulous Prada, Burberry and Armani.

Scandal has become one of the most discussed shows here at TV Ate My Wardrobe and the costuming is a huge part of that. Abby’s Diane von Furstenberg infused wardrobe upgrade would feature highly on our wish list and every coat that Olivia wears is perfection. What these characters wear informs the story as well as my own shopping fantasies and it is a vital part of the big Scandal success story of 2013.

Best of TV Costuming 2013: The Many Wigs of The Americans

11 Dec

Continuing TV Ate My Wardrobe’s “Best of 2013″ costuming series and rather than doing a straightforward countdown we’re going to do a variety of posts that look at which costumes and shows have made a huge impact this year. From items that we want in our own wardrobe to pieces that got everyone talking, we want to look at this year’s TV through the prism of costume.

The Americans debuted in January and like all good spy shows disguise is a key element to the costuming. Today we will be discussing the variety of looks that both Philip and Elizabeth Jennings wore throughout season 1 and how this reflects some of the key issues of the series.

the Americans ClarkOn the surface The Americans is a show about two Soviet spies in an arranged marriage infiltrating the US; this means plenty of missions and costumes. This set up leads to the exploration of broader and deeper themes such as identity, family and marriage. Compartmentalizing is a big part of how these characters deal with their jobs and yet it is impossible to completely deny all feelings especially when a fake family contains two very real children and a connection that goes beyond regular co-workers. Elizabeth and Philip take on a variety of roles throughout the first season, for minor missions and long cons such as Philip’s Clark persona – in the shot above ‘Clark’s’ sweater vest/turtleneck combination is several levels of incredible, as is Elizabeth’s Velma wig.

Picture1The wigs are vital to the disguise and they serve a variety of purposes. This blonde wig in the opening scene of the pilot (TUSK!) is all about seduction and as soon as Elizabeth is in the car out of view, she rips it off as if she’s disassociating herself from the sex act she has just performed to get the information she needs. Ah yes, they must have some super strength Soviet glue as none of the wigs ever come off during these physical entanglements.

The Americans Clark and MarthaI was convinced that Martha would find out the truth mid romp, but Clark’s cover is still safe for now. Clark is the only repeat disguise and in a way he does feel like his own character. Clark is now actually married to Martha, when not even Philip is really married to Elizabeth. There was no ceremony, no real vows beyond those to the country. So the real marriage is fake and the fake marriage is real. Of course Martha is blissfully unaware and she will become collateral damage at some point whether it’s a broken heart or something more grave than that. When it comes to matters of seduction, the methods are similar it’s just the time scale that is different. Philip has built up his relationship with Martha because she is an asset they can use for the long term, whereas most of Elizabeth’s targets involve a brief post bar hookup. It’s all about finding the best way to gather information and they are both using their bodies to do so.

The Americans weddingClark’s fake family is made up of his fake wife and his handler and they share similar hair and glasses style. It’s a testament to the show that one of the biggest emotional gut punches comes in a scene featuring glasses this oversized.

The Americans all that hairOther than wigs that have the power to stay on during rigorous activity, the other magical element is how all of Keri Russell’s glorious hair fits into some of the super short wigs. A state of the art wig cap is the only answer. Dramatic cascading hair fit for a shampoo commercial is on display from time to time.

The Americans goateeFor Philip he gets the bonus disguise option of facial hair and the variety of characters he can take on with all the beard and moustache types is huge; Philip can flip between super sweet Clark to a dirtbag in several easy steps.  For Elizabeth she can rock a hat, but they have to get creative with any additions such as facial scars. Most of the time it is about distraction and the accessories they wear draw attention away from their real features.

The Americans two sketchesThese are sketches of two of Elizabeth’s disguises and while some in the FBI aren’t convinced it is the same person, Stan is. This is based on his experience and having an opponent in law enforcement that is actually smart adds tension to this game of cat and mouse. The stakes are raised and it actually feels like Philip and Elizabeth are in danger going into the final episode of the season.

The Americans mom jeansThe endless stream of wigs and costumes adds to the early ’80s aesthetic and Keri Russell can even make a pair of high waisted ‘mom’ jeans look good. Everything they wear is a disguise in one form or another and this includes when they are at home with their children and it helps create an image. The role of parent is very real even if the foundation it sits on is fabricated and this is one of the most thrilling aspects of The Americans; the spy shenanigans are fun and yet the emotional punches come courtesy of this fabricated life that has become their reality.

The Americans finaleFamily is what matters and it’s scenes like this one in the finale that emphasize the conflict between their duty to their country and the one they have created as part of their job. There are so many different versions of identity in The Americans and at home with their children is the most honest of them all. You know, aside from Henry and Paige thinking their parents work in the travel business.

Season 2 begins next year and we can’t wait to see what treats it will deliver us.

Julie Hammerle

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