If this is your first time here, I recommend starting from the first episode and working your way forward. Of course, that's entirely your call.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Season 1, Episode 11: You're Not A Mother Night

This episode is all about Clair in so many ways. From a literal perspective, she is the center of the plot: overwhelmed by her dual roles as attentive mother and litigator extraordinaire, she is treated by her husband to a night at a hotel, where she will be wined, dined, and relieved of all responsibilities. From a personal perspective, I see this episode as about her because I see all episodes as being about her. As a self-appointed fashion expert on the internet, I identify her as the main event because, well, just look. 

The lunchbox is not an accessory.

Get ready to gaze upon this outfit for a while, because I took about a million screencaps. I love it love it love it. Where to begin? First off, that color is magnificent, and with the long skirt and full-length sleeves, there's just so much of it. It's not gray, it's gunmetal. That all-encompassing deep platinum suggests armor, or perhaps weaponry. She is ready for battle. Getting closer, we can take some time to appreciate the glorious pattern on top. It's not quite a plaid or a checker, just a system of crossing stripes. The hint of pale blue is breathtaking. The top also has a neckline that I deeply appreciate: though high, it's not overly conservative or dull. This whole thing just reeks of good taste. Let's check a couple other details.

I love RoboClair. No way to control it, baby it's automatic.

The buttons on the back and the large locket, combined with the coverage and the cut of the sleeve, give this a slightly Victorian feel. She's melding old and new in a manner that is both elegant and daring. Also, check that asymmetrical slash of purple and blue across the waist. You're on a roll, Mrs. Huxtable. 

Rudy knows how to make sassy hues work for her. 

The fit is just perfect: slim enough to highlight her figure, but still loose enough to wear in an office environment. She's letting you know that she's completely bodacious without flaunting it. Rudy's sweater is also a stunner; more from her later. Before we get there, Clair needs to let you know that she's not all business.

She should have starred in a "Wonder Woman" movie in the '80s. No, really.

Do you see how high the slit in that skirt goes? I noticed right away that it existed, but I just about fell out of my chair when she ran across the living room and gave me a surprisingly complete look at the inside of her left leg. This woman has officially thrown down the gauntlet: I'm not sure that we'll see a better ensemble for the rest of the season. I'm so, so happy. Moments like this make life worth blogging.

She's not done yet, though. What, you might ask, does a woman of such grace and style wear for her evening out?

Oh no she did not.

Oh yes she did.

I'm going to start by easing any worries you might have about that giant bag. She does not have an enormous purse; she's staying overnight at a hotel, remember? In the second shot, you can see the perfect little clutch that she brings to dinner. Now, let's talk about everything else she did right. There's so much! Look at the confidence of that pink. It's so rich and vibrant, and there's a ton of it, and she's just luxuriating in it. The cooler purple isn't exactly a neutral, either. It's like cutting Campari with vodka: they're both going to take your senses for a wild ride. The dress itself is a work of art. The cut is deceivingly simple; it almost looks like she just grabbed a sheet and wrapped herself in it, and yet it's actually two matching pieces. The complex draping is doing everything for her. The way the back cascades down like a cape is unbearably glamorous. A pairing of shades like this would look tacky in a simple cocktail dress, but when you tornado the fabric around yourself, you let everyone know that they are in the presence of a queen. In terms of accessories, she's serving opulence: gold, gold, gold, from the hair clip to the earrings to the great big necklace to the shoes. I will say that it's a little less delicious once the top piece comes off.

"I must have misheard you. Was that a critique?"

Sorry, Clair, I just think there's too much pink shoulder pad and not enough billowy brilliance. No need to get defensive. I'm going to jump forward and skip the bedroom scene, not because it's NSFW but because they wear pajamas, and we're not talking about pajamas here. Instead, let's review the coming-home-to-motherhood attire.

"Don't listen to him, Rudy. Mommy will always look good in shoulder pads."

Given the dizzy heights she reached with her last two looks, it'd be difficult not to let us down a little with her everyday wear. The trend of lousy coats continues here with this overly wide fuchsia number. It's not terrible, but the cut isn't great, and the hue doesn't really complement the purple (surprise) shirt underneath it. I'm also worried about that skirt. We never get to see exactly where her waist is, but I feel like it's a little high, which is weird since it's also a little long, and maybe a little too full. There's slightly more garment than there should be in every direction. The scarf has something going for it; letting it hang long over her shoulder like that says "movie star fantasy," especially when we zoom in on the detail.

Her I-shouldn't-laugh-but-can't-stop-myself face is my favorite.

That's right: it's a multicolored alligator print. No foolin'. I'm not sure it belongs with the other pieces, but then again nothing here really goes together. This whole look should be disassembled and only worn separately in the future. But nice try, Clair. I know how it goes when you pack in a hurry and then you get there and you're like, "why did I only bring jogging shorts, a tuxedo shirt, and a lime green poncho?" 

Happy colors, sad face.

Cliff starts the episode out alright. Normally I'd throw a lot of shade about the suspenders almost matching the polo, but I think there's just enough contrast that it works. The trousers are riding a little high (and the pleats just won't leave me be), but this is a decent showing. There's something compelling about everything being light. The constricted tonal range pleases me.

Teach us an important lesson about earth tones.

That little flash of pink at the bottom near the center (not the chair behind him, clearly) is Clair. In other words, when she dressed for dinner, he put on a coat. For a moment, I was supremely worried that he was going to wear this for their night out. Underwhelming, right? We've seen this before: khaki pants with a tan coat. Beige-a-palooza! Luckily, Cliff would never do that to his lovely wife.

"Why does everyone keep asking me who died?"

He never stands up, but I'm sure we're looking at a full suit here. This is not a slacks-and-blazer scenario. I'm not enamored with the so-blue-it's-black jacket paired with a simple white shirt and navy tie. I realize that he's prioritizing formality, but the look ends up being boring as a result. The occasional flourishes aren't working for me, either. The stripes on the shirt that don't extend to the collar, for instance: not right. I'm all for a contrasting collar, but it really only fits when the rest of the material is bolder in color or pattern. You can do this with solid pink and white, or checkers and white, but not pinstripes and white. The red emblems on the tie aren't great, either. The handkerchief in the pocket was a step in the right direction, but he missed his one chance to incorporate a catchy color. This suit puts me to sleep. 

Doctors are trained not to show signs of overt stress.

This wakes me right back up, and not just because he's making a crazy monster face. He's wearing the same blazer from yesterday, but the closer shot reveals that it's pleasingly textured. Ignore the cap, because it's almost matching the jacket, and I'm at my wit's end with that nonsense. Focus instead on the sweater, which is just right: great combination of rich greens on that bright yellow, and creative use of argyle by refining it to a single stripe down the center. The hint of salmon collar peeking out is the fashion equivalent of a wink: it says, "oh yes, I'm having fun with this." And so are we.

Now for the children. I had some trouble capturing images of them because they're not around a lot, and when they are, they're moving. On top of that, the picture was a little blurry for parts of this episode. While I'm tempted to blame Netflix, it seemed that the issue was actually with the episode itself, as though it were filmed with two cameras of different quality levels. Anyhow, until someone buys me the whole collection on DVD, this is as good as it's going to get. You'll get the idea.

Stoop parties are the best parties.

Denise begins the episode wearing an outfit we barely get to see. It's sort of a huge dark pink shawl/shirt over a white turtleneck with lighter pink pants or leggings underneath, from what I can tell. It's probably suitable if unremarkable. No, that's not true at all: it's weird and I'd either adore it or despise it, but since I can't tell for sure, I'm not going to needlessly speculate. Still, I'm obsessive and thus can't let clothing go by as if it didn't happen.

She and her band are going to ruin Jem once and for all.

Poor Denise. She's all set to go out dancing, and her father forces her to stay home and babysit instead. Unfair. And on top of it, I'm going to question her fashion sense again. Since I'm a nice guy, I'll search for some positives first. I can support the silhouette of the dress: the tight bodice that opens into an explosion of tulle is interesting. But she's trying so hard with this one that my screen is practically sweating. The painter's dropcloth pattern of the dress itself is loud enough without three different shades of contrasting fabric shooting out beneath it. Then she pushes even further by adding that squiggly coat with the short sleeves, which isn't terrible but still adds one more epilepsy trigger to an already messy situation. The jacket needs to go entirely, as does the crap bandaging her wrist. Everything else needs to take three giant steps back. You're not stranded on a desert island trying to attract the attention of low-flying planes. We all see you.

When John Goodman is getting rid of old clothes, she gets a call.

When she next appears, she's wearing defeat. Oddly, I'm drawn to this look. My head says that the gargantuan plaid shirt is dumpy, but my heart accepts it. Something about the palette and brazen horizontality of the pattern, I don't know. The jeans could be better; they're too short and there's a lot of drawstring (I think that's a drawstring) going on. But after the countless times she's carted out overworked creations that hurt my eyes, she's maybe just lulling me into a false sense of security with this comparatively simple presentation.

Basketball is not typically played sitting down, champ.

Sports jerseys should be reserved for sporting events in which you are a participant. Conversely, if you plan to participate in a sporting event, do not wear your largest watch. This is all terrible.

Vanessa's tough to caption because I legitimately don't care about her.

Vanessa brings out last week's skirt, but it looks better in new surroundings. The cerulean tights are especially well chosen, but I also admire her blouse. The color is refined and the pattern is subtle but effective. She's maybe slightly off-base with that bow, but it's not as bad as it could be. I'm prepared to voice tepid support for this outfit.

When it's right, it's right.

Rudy has to deviate significantly from the norm to get mentioned, so if you see a picture of her, it's typically because she's either nailing it to the wall (in a good way) or hammering it to death (not in a good way). Here, we have an example of the former. Those britches with the knee socks are so fun for a child her age. Since she's being pretty daring with her styling, she wisely opts for neutral colors with only hints of flair in the greens and yellows around the neck. Her hair accessories are my favorite, though: purple roller skate barrettes? Yes, please. A small part of me wonders if a present-day adult female could rock this look, including the hair clips. I kind of think it's possible.

"Your mother leaves for one day and you all forget how to dress yourselves?"

All the kids get a brief second appearance at the end of the episode, but they don't get a lot of individual screen time, so I'll just evaluate them quickly as a group. Denise sometimes wins me over with her love of volume, but I'm unconvinced by this blobby shirt. The fire-engine red was smartly selected, but the cut is a problem. Her pants are close to good, but the flecks of color look like television static or confetti or something. Taking chances is fun, but you can't win 'em all, especially when you're a teenager in the '80s. 

Theo is also homing in on stylishness without actually arriving there. The muted shades look nice on him, but rather than suggesting a vest, why not just wear a vest? It's fine, but could have been great if he'd thought a little harder.

Vanessa secretly invented the Snuggie. She looks preposterous and I hate everything about her fleece smock. I knew I would from the second she walked through the door.

This is a test shot of Leia and Han from the unreleased blaxploitation remake of "Star Wars."

Her face is a rictus of despair. At least the belt is simple and nice, but really, who thought the rest of that would fly? I hope there were pink slips a-flyin' in the costume shop after this aired.

There's only one person left now.

Meet the lady.

Cliff saw a patient in this episode. Again, I'm including her only because I have a mania about thoroughness. She's bountifully pregnant, and while this dress looks terrible, the designer maternity phenomenon hadn't really hit when this aired, so I'm making allowances. It's all wrong, but it's alright.

Well, another one bites the dust. Join me next week for episode twelve, which will mark the halfway point of the first season. Milestones like that make a compulsive shut-in like me feel so accomplished!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Season 1, Episode 10: Bonjour Sondra

I knew this dreaded day would come. Can I first apologize to Sabrina Le Beauf and anyone that knows her personally? I'm sure she's lovely and has gone on to do fabulous work elsewhere, but I just hate Sondra. She's hands-down the most obnoxious part of this show in my eyes. I can't stand to look at her. It's been a nice nine episodes, but now she has reared her bothersome head, and I am forced to deal with her.

Let the wrong one in.

Do you see that? Lurking on the front porch like a creeper? From her first moment: sheer awfulness.

The other sister.

I happened to pause right at this moment. I thought about going for a kinder screencap, but then I realized that I'd probably end up looking for an even derpier one, so I stuck with the option provided by chance. Anyway, there's lots to talk about here, but that collar is the clear front-runner in terms of sheer Baroque heinousness. It's like she's being eaten by the swiveling maw of a terrifying sweater monster. It looks like a pink poly-blend garbage disposal. She could wear it in a community theater production of Shakespeare in Love. I could go on all day. Seeing my least favorite character in my least favorite garment thus far, I feel almost personally betrayed by the creators of this show. How could they?

Remember in the pilot when Denise was firstborn?

There's not much that could be done to save this outfit. Nothing in this world is perfectly, 100-percent wrong: I can see how black and pink could work for her, and that's a really nice scarf. The rest is just carnage. I'll pry my eyes from the cupcake wrapper around her neck long enough to voice my disgust with that grisly sweater. I understand where she thought she was going when she went for the pink leggings under that skirt, but the skirt itself is the wrong length and cut for this purpose. You're not at ballet rehearsal. No joke, when she walks in the door and asks her father how she looks, he responds, "Like trash." Go ahead, load it up on Netflix and check for yourself. She's so out of bounds that they had to reference it in the script.

That hair clip is practically a hate crime it's so ugly.

For just one second, let's stop abusing Sondra and point out that Clair rewears her episode five sweatsuit. OK, back to our regularly scheduled scorn. What you're seeing here is basically a drab fat suit. There are parts about this that I would see as reasonable if we took off the top layer: the dusty purple goes nicely with the greenish pants, and the white shirt underneath gives off the right clean-cut, Princetonian air. But then she goes and throws on an oversweater, which isn't even a thing, and it's the baggiest, draggiest, gaggiest thing since yesterday's collar. (Seriously, I'll never get over that collar.) So, straight back to Failsville here. Sorry, girl, strike two.

"This is my adorable face."

OK, this time I tried to find an unflattering shot. Sorry, Sabrina. Nothing personal. Anyhow, the rest of the family is dressed formally for Thanksgiving dinner, and she's rocking a glorified sweatshirt. Do you see the wasteland of fabric between her shoulder and the shirt's seam? Sloppy. The pink brooches would look classy if matched with dressier attire, but here they just read cutesy. We never see Sondra stand up from the table during this scene, but I'm sure whatever's down there is just begging to be hated. She has three strikes, but is unfortunately not out: we have to watch her on and off for the rest of the series. Sorry, guys.

You know from her shirt that her judgment is impaired.
I bet that mug is full of hooch.

Since we already saw a bit of Clair, let's follow up with her. Besides, Phylicia Rashad's presence will soothe me, even if she's wearing a tartan pillow case. I'd love to say that she looks good, but there's no point in lying. The pattern and cut combine to make her appear completely flat and shapeless. The red is terrific, and it's one in only a handful of times that she hasn't worn blue or purple, but hue alone can't save her. Skipping over the sweatsuit, let's see what she gives us on Thanksgiving.

This is not the face of a woman who spent all day cooking.

The shots of her formalwear are insufficient for judging: she's seated at the table and furthest from the camera in group shots, and then on top of that given only a single close-up. What I can tell from the limited screen time, however, is that she's back in her comfort zone with this royal blue. The neckline is a little casual; even in shiny fabric, a banded crew neck screams t-shirt. But she saves it with the pleating and the pearls and her killer smile. We've had better from Clair, but this isn't bad.

It's fashion o'clock.

Now this is a gift. For what may well be the first time in the series, Cliff opts for flat-front slacks. No pleats here, friends. Sure, khakis are a basic, but he gets full marks for those pants. I don't love the darker teal on him, and as a rule the long-sleeved polo should probably be avoided at all costs, so he's not winning me over completely. In fact, he's breaking one of my cardinal rules:

This expression is a result of Sondra knocking on the door. I feel you, Cliff.

The purples almost match. Why would you even bother to do that? If you were making this shirt, wouldn't it be a lot more work to introduce another shade? Just stick with what you've got! Wrongness. While we're obsessing over that stripe, let's mention that it sits too low on his body, exacerbating his paunch to make him look old rather than broadening his chest to make him look virile.

90 percent of the above screencap is in the red/orange family.

This shirt was better in episode three when he wore it under that bangin' sweater. These pants would be better without pleats. That is all.

The painting behind him sucks.

This is a C+ or B- suit. Positives include the color, which is dressy without being overly rigid. The tie shows some personality and takes this out of the board room. The wide, peaked lapel is a miss, though, and the buttons distract. I don't mind the white shirt; not every party should be an excuse to wear your loudest color combinations. His look doesn't do much for me, but it doesn't cause deep offense, so that's something.


Really, Denise? You're going to do this to me today of all days? This sweatshirt has been flocked within an inch of its life, primarily with remnants from one of Rudy's old quilts, by the look of it. In my dreams, the red shirt underneath is really cute, but I have no evidence to back that up. My belief in her fashion sense is simply a triumph of the human spirit. The earrings that I liked so much in episode six just seem costumey and overdone when juxtaposed with her circus shirt, and the gray sweatpants remind me of those other pants of hers that I despise so desperately. This is getting depressing.

She has a wistful, far-off look in her bangs.

Day two involves a gray sweatsuit. It was hard to get a decent shot of it, and I don't really want to talk about it anyway. Please, Denise, for the love of all that is good in the world, save me with something delightful at tomorrow's family dinner.

Going with a more literal version of gangsta.

This is another instance where I see her verging into parody, but in a positive sense. She's going beyond simply wearing men's clothing by giving us some key details to evoke a more specific reference. The thin vest and elbow garters push this over the edge. She looks like an off-duty blackjack dealer or a 1920s bank teller, but fashionably. Like her episode seven schoolgirl realness, she's playing this totally straight-faced. I'm a little iffy on the earrings, but everything else sings. I'm especially fond of the tie, which takes the line between teenager and octogenarian and shaves it as thin as it can go.

I'm sorry you had to see this.

Vanessa honey, I know I said I liked your purple double belt last time, but that wasn't a request for you to raise the stakes. You've veered into uncharted territory, and you need to turn back. Oddly, I really want this outfit to work. When you describe a lavender shirt paired with a high-waisted light gray skirt and a funky, grommeted belt, they sound like a series of well-made choices. Then she wears this and I wonder what went wrong. I think the belt is what throws it. Removing it, the other items might be OK on their own.

Two seasons later, they are still teaching Rudy to play checkers. Either she
needs a special school, or she's the most patient shark ever.

If it's the day before Thanksgiving, then we're just barely getting into the season where a heavy knit like this is appropriate. Her real triumph here is the coordination of her socks with the sweater. The more I look at this shot, the more I think that Vanessa is kind of onto something here. These boxy, Christmasy wool numbers are pretty popular right now, so the cool kids in Williamsburg are partially expressing ironic love of, and homage to, this outfit.

Proof that confidence cannot save any outfit.

What kills me about this dress isn't that it's ugly (though it sure is that): it's that it's poorly made. That collar is just everywhere and the sleeves are bunching like they were home sewn. Also, in my book, red and green can be worn together only within a three-day radius of December 25th. This is an inappropriate palette for Thanksgiving. You're dismissed, Vanessa.

Note the gold chain. It will be referenced later.

Another child? Seriously, this entry is sprawling. Did we really have to see the whole family for three days? Anyhow, Theo's shirt basically exists to illustrate points I've made earlier about other shirts. For starters, you can compare his stripe to Cliff's: it's a little higher, and it shifts focus to a different place on his body. Granted, he's less paunchy to begin with, but there's a benefit regardless. Second, the maroon/gray pairing is far superior to the black/blue he's always carting out. This is essentially the same sweater he's worn twice before but in a new tonal range, and the improvement is staggering.

Giving the illusion of chunk.

The cut of the shirt is too baggy, the sleeves are too short, the neon detailing is wildly unattractive, the vertical paneling is on the verge of being interesting but falls short, and the fact that he is always, always wearing a gold chain around his neck is disappointing. I can't believe you're still reading this.

I'm dubious about this painting, too.

Does Theo get to carve the turkey this year? He sure does. Did he choose a shirt and tie that I love individually but dislike together? Yep, that too. In the wide shot, he looks like he's pulling it off, but in the close-up, the colors all feel a little too similar and things get muddy. A little more contrast would have sealed the deal: darker darks, brighter brights, more vivid midtones. I sound like I'm selling you a television. The pants have a lot going on: thick waistband, aggressive pleats, some sort of adjustable strap up top. Everyone calm down. Just tailor the dress pants nicely and leave them alone. They don't need bells and whistles. (You hear me, Denise? Because you are a step away from putting literal bells and whistles on your clothes, and I won't have it.)

Fun fact: per Rudy's contract, her glass is full of Bacardi 151.

I can't ignore Rudy, though it would almost be merciful to do so given how she's dressed. That sweater would be really cute if it weren't for the Easter bonnet it's shackled under. I like the idea of a pale yellow accent piece, but a collared shirt would have sufficed. This is clownish.

Well, that was a marathon, huh? Let's all calm ourselves with some General Foods International Coffees.

"I love this coffee." "I loved that waiter."

See you next week with episode 11.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Season 1, Episode 9: How Ugly Is He?

I love Denise-centric episodes. She's the most competent actor of all the children, so scenes run a little more smoothly when she's around. Her character is the zany one, so the stories they write for her go a little further out of bounds. Most importantly for the blog: she's the one who knows how to dress. She doesn't appear until later in the episode, though. The first person we see is Vanessa.

It's too much and yet not enough.

Whoever put this outfit together is trying way too hard. I'm not offended by the various shades or the way they go together, though the effect is surprisingly drab for a look that is so ostensibly colorful. Something about the lavender double belt really grabs me. The rest is sort of regrettable. The overalls with the short straps are too young even for her; they scream preschool. Having one shirt under the overalls and another over them is overkill, and neither shirt is all that attractive. In particular, that outer plaid one has problems: the tan undertone makes everything look murky, and the cowboy-style flaps on the front are distracting. And then both collars are popped. If you know me in real life (and you're reading this, so I have to assume that you do), then you probably know of my utter disdain for the popped collar. It's an affront. Double-barrelling on that kind of look is equivalent to punching me in the eye.

Oh, and we only get one hint regarding the length of Vanessa's skirt:

The prognosis for this look is not good.

I'm putting that image here just so I can say I reviewed all aspects of the outfit. Truthfully, it gives us almost no indication of what her jumper actually looks like below the waist. I'm assuming it's boxy overall and that seeing it full-force wouldn't make me hate it less.

Remember: it doesn't matter what Rudy wears.

Theo throws down a repeat of his look from episode four. I don't have a ton to say except that I've previously voiced my preference for thinner shirts under sweaters. The polo collar looks wrong.

Polo fiasco.

Cliff's look also has a certain toddlerness to it. Having a contrasting band on the cuffs and collar is a nice concept, but the rainbow lacks polish. All the periwinkle and peach just makes it seem like a polo Rudy would wear. I appreciate the yellow horizontal stripe and the olive trousers (which I assume are pleated), but this is kind of a miss for me. While we have them up there, we should also talk about Theo's pants, which are tailored more widely than usual. I'm not sure what drove him to bulkiness; he knows better.

Now, the premise of this episode is that Cliff wants to meet Denise's boyfriend, and to make this happen he organizes a dinner to which formal attire will be worn and children under 16 will not be invited. He even allows Denise to select his clothes for the event.

You betta work.

Though this style is overall too young for Cliff (that's the joke, after all), there are some good things happening. Since the coat is in a neutral color, I'm supportive of efforts to make it showier in terms of design. It's a hair busy, but all the extra panels are neatly placed, and the sizing isn't too far off. The blacks and grays keep this whole ensemble feeling clean. Had I designed the tie, I would have used something other than bubbles to bring color in, but I like the flash of brightness. The thin tie is inappropriate for his age bracket, but like I said, we're forgiving that. The pants seem like a solid bet, but there's actually some weirdness going on in back.

I shouldn't have wasted DAT ASS in the previous entry.

They're riding way high. The waist does not begin directly below the ribs. Bad move. Also, if I'm seeing what I think I'm seeing, then the wide belt is built in, which is pretty tough to defend. I know that Denise is all about the fashion risk, but there's a difference between skydiving and jumping from a plane without a parachute. Worse still, it is specified during the episode that these pieces were purchased for Cliff as Father's Day presents. Come on, now. Be kind to your dad.

Clair will pose you DOWN.

Clair wore this entire outfit three episodes ago. In some ways, I appreciate the repetition. It's a real-world thing to do. Do you know anyone who wears something different every day? Besides, if she's going to stick to shades of purple, then even a first-time look is already a little tired. Whatever, it's one less paragraph to write. Thanks for letting me phone one in, Cosby Costumers!

Thanks also for phoning it in with even more of the same shade.

See what I mean? Everything new is just old again. I'll at least applaud her for having a nice overcoat, an item heretofore absent from her wardrobe.

You are not ready for this.

Making no further mention of her desire to think inside the box with regards to color, I'll instead focus on some of the other problems here. Though the tailoring is solid for most of this getup (which I think is two pieces, but is meant to be worn as one particularly fussy dress), those sleeves are all-the-way bad. Starting at the shoulder pad and working down, they're too big to be flattering and yet not big enough to be trying for a droopy hippie vibe like she's done before. That little bow on her waist by her hand is distracting and unnecessary. The buttons up front have an almost Amish vibe, and while I could accept that as an overall aesthetic, I can't really encourage little Puritan pieces on an otherwise unremarkable outfit. Clair, this is not your best work. I'd say you should let Denise dress you too, but she's not always nailing it herself.


This is a textbook example of an outfit that looked great when the show aired and now just seems completely wrong. The pastels, the size of the shirt, the way the sweater sleeves are draped over her shoulders; these are choices we are glad have been abandoned to the ravages of time. You have to see this from multiple angles to really grasp how bad it is. For instance, if you think the bangs are bad from the front: you're right. SO BIG. But just check that action from the side.

That orange hat in the background is like a looming threat.

It's like she has a sea creature on her head. And while we're taking a new perspective, could you give us one from the back, Denise?

She's going out as a potholder for Halloween.

Yep, that's gross, too. Worse than expected, even. Can you imagine if she were actually wearing this sweater all the way? No, in fact, don't do that. It's too harrowing. Keep your fingers crossed: the dinner party look is coming right up.

Her efforts to style her family paved the way for The Rachel Zoe Project.

Sometimes she nails it. I've harshed on her potato sack dresses before, but this one is so absurdly large that I have to admit defeat and just enjoy. So much neckline bunching! So much sleeve! So much saggy torso! She's like a big, fashionable beanbag chair. Remember how you loved those as a kid? Who wouldn't want to see one prancing down the runway? (The fashion runway, not the airport runway. This is big enough that it could be mistaken for a vehicular option.) Unlike her mother, she only pulls out the weapons-grade purple for special occasions. She's worn similar belts before, because she knows they work. The feather brooch is preposterous enough to hold its own against this garment. Overall, a solid success. But wait, there's more!

These episodes never end with Denise having had a good date.

I mean, obviously she needed a coat and hat. That sea of wool wasn't going to keep her warm. It's kind of tough to layer with something this big, and the coat ends up looking a little strange as a result. It's got a sort of bathrobe quality to it because it's so widely built and the fabric is so thin. It also reads a little Norma Desmond when paired with the hat (which almost but not quite matches the sweater and we know how I feel about that). It's not actually a turban, but it's shaped like one. I almost wish it were a turban, because that would be a weirder throwback. I do like that the hat is an accessory that has its own accessory, though. Go big or go home.

The only person left, then, is David, the mystery boyfriend.

His head looks a little like a Barack Obama chia pet, but the rest is great.

You knew she'd land someone fine and fashionable. This kid is giving it on every level. Bright hues, assertive patterns, coordination without overt matching. I don't even know where to start! The blazer and tie would feel dressy except that he's having such a huge amount of fun with them. The grass green tweed looks wonderful next to the teal and yellow plaid, and then that palette is shaken up by those rich maroon accessories. The tucked-in tie and yellow-detailed scarf are confident to the point of being brazen. Since everything is singing in such perfect harmony, I have to give him the high-waisted pant: he clearly knows what he's doing.

Always practice safe socks.

Since the show makes a point of highlighting (and laughing at) his mismatched socks, I'll bring them up as well. First, let's get this out of the way: Theo wore a second look that I skipped. It's a t-shirt and jeans. The denim is great, the t-shirt is a t-shirt. I don't think much more could be said about it. If you look closely, you can see that of Cliff's socks is bright red, and presumably he matched the pair. Without Denise's input, he never would have gone even that far, so having a different color on each foot surely would have sent him over the edge. I'll admit that David, in his flouting of standards, still managed to make each sock individually complement his overall look, and that's pretty swanky. On the other hand, it's the kind of thing he can only get away with for another couple years. Teenagers can do this. Once you're a grown man and you pull that kind of nonsense, you look like a teenager. That's not something you ever want. People hate teenagers. Right, Clair?

Careful. This is a woman that can kill with a salad fork.

Oh, girl. I better go get to work on episode ten.