Which TV or film character’s style do you covet?


I think I remember the first time

I really, really wanted to look like somebody on TV. It was the late

1980s; the show was Saved by the Bell; the actress was Tiffani-Amber

; and the relevant monstrosity was this:

Now, you might be saying, that isn’t

really so bad. I mean yes, the top is mauve, the jeans are floral, the

hair is big and static … but that Tiffani-Amber Thiessen is a pretty

girl, right? No wonder at eight years old you wanted to look like her.

Well — yes. I mean, I’m sure the

fact that Tiffani-Amber Thiessen is pretty had an impact on it — but

I’m afraid I can’t excuse myself so easily. It wasn’t just that

when I watched Saved by the Bell, I wanted to have Kelly Kapowski’s

hair, or Kelly Kapowski’s smile. No, I wanted to have Kelly Kapowski’s

, her whole gloriously ’80s pastel-and-neon wardrobe — complete

with a pale orange T-shirt with rolled up sleeves that I remember particularly

coveting. And — since it was the ’80s — I think I more or less

got it.

Fast-forward five years, to the premiere

of a show called My So-Called Life in 1994. Jordan wore plaid flannel. Danielle

wore plaid flannel. Rayanne had a plaid flannel shirt that reached the

ground. And Angela … well, Angela had red plaid flannel shorts that

she wore with black tights. To quote a poster on TelevisionWithoutPity.com, “I can’t believe how normal I used to

think these outfits were […] Today, it looks to me like she’s wearing

cutoff pajama pants over leggings.”

Did I run from this sea of flannel?

Did I say “no plaid for me?” No. I had a pair of plaid green shorts

that I hoped would make me look like Angela (they didn’t).

Plaid got a different, less grungy

and more preppie twist the next year, when Clueless hit the movie


I think this was the beginning of

my love affair with preppie, ultra-girly fashion. Oh, how I longed for

a little yellow jacket and skirt suit, with matching yellow vest. Somehow

I suspected it wouldn’t go down quite the same in rural England as

it did in Beverly Hills.

In 1998 came Katie Holmes

in Dawson’s Creek, with her more accessible, girl-next-door,

denim-heavy twist on clean-cut fashion:

But I think I somehow knew that no

matter what I did, I was never going to be able to make just a plain

pair of overalls look that good:

I think it must have been at about

this time that the classic 1981 miniseries Brideshead Revisited, starring Jeremy Irons and Anthony

, and set in the 1920s and ’30s, re-aired on British TV,

thus providing me with my first glimpse of it:

I tend to think of boys’ clothes

as pretty boring on the whole, so this was the first time I had ever

really coveted men’s fashion. Oh, for a pale fawn three-piece suit

in which to lounge about Oxford (where I live, so at least I’ve got

a head start in one direction), or a linen shirt in which to sit in

a gondola in Venice with my ambiguously gay boyfriend:

But I’ll admit it: My biggest outfit

obsession is my most recent. Being in New York this past September,

I caught the premiere of the trashtastic Gossip Girl, and … hello, Blair Waldorf.

Actually, hello to the whole show,

because I probably wouldn’t turn down Serena van der Woodsen’s wardrobe

either, if it were offered to me:

But it’s uptight, bitchy, secretly

insecure Blair’s style that really strikes at a special place in my

heart. Whether wearing ruffly Victorian-looking shirts:

Or more ruffly Victorian-looking

shirts plus headband that I could not possibly carry off:

Or East Coast–meets–Clueless

argyle-and-miniskirt ensembles:

Or doily-type dresses garnished with

a little head-bow that makes her look like she’s wrapped herself up

as a present for someone:

Or something that I would be better

able to describe if I wasn’t quite so blinded by those red tights:

I want her clothes. And I want them

irrespective of the fact that I know headbands always leave me looking

stupidly flat-headed and helmet-haired when I take them off (a phenomenon

that miraculously never seems to afflict Perfect Blair. As a side note,

I can say from experience that she and Serena would also never be able

to walk down the streets of New York showing that much leg without experiencing

some serious, and possibly scary, sexual harassment).

I’ll admit that I also want a friendship

like the one she has with Serena:

That’s some serious girl-love right


Whose style inspires you? Whose style

do you wish had never inspired you? Do red-bow headbands make you want

to squee, or want to puke? Tell me all below.

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