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.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Season 1, Episode 5: A Shirt Story

This entry is pretty exciting for me, because the show's plot is centered on fashion. Theo borrows his father's credit card to buy a Gordon Gartrelle shirt for his date with Christine. However, when Cliff learns that the designer garment ran him $95 (which, with inflation, would be over $200 today), he demands that Theo return it. Denise volunteers to sew an identical item herself for a third of the price. No one is surprised when this plan doesn't roll out flawlessly.

Let's start by getting the shirt in question out on display.

Nothing looks as good as mooching off your parents feels.

Another wise shopping decision. That yellow is sassy, the contrasting pockets are unique, and I could see a really fun outfit being built around this. Slap on a thin tie and you're good to go. It's tough to read the fabric, which in Denise's interpretation is quite shiny. Here it doesn't appear to have that gaudy disco finish. I'm sure hers just looks slimy to indicate that she's working with cheaper materials. But back to the man of the hour: what was he wearing on his shopping trip?

The whining, it is strong.

Compliments first. Black skinny jeans are generally a good idea. By today's standards, these are even a little baggy, but they're completely acceptable and would easily blend in at a modern gathering. The sweater, on the other hand, has the signature Huxtable cerulean-and-black combo that I so dislike. I have no problem with the placement of the stripes, and I find the yellow at the elbows kind of appealingly odd, but these shades just don't sit well with me. Also, he appears to be wearing a polo shirt beneath the sweater, and I'd prefer if the collar poking out were made of a lighter cotton.

Later, Theo checks in on Denise's sewing progress.

He know he look good.

Are you kidding me? Why does he even need a Gordon Gartrelle for tomorrow? This look is astounding. Do you see how the rich purple and vibrant aqua frolic so harmoniously across his torso? Does the solid polo beneath the outer shirt not make you swoon? Are the black cords not an ideal pedestal on which to rest this achievement in the layering sciences? This is poetry in motion, kids. If I were being truly picky, I'd dock him points for the lack of belt, but I can't hate. When it's right, it's right.

I'm going to save the reveal of Denise's creation for the end, so let's look at the rest of the family instead. What's Cliff up to, outfit-wise?

Does anyone ever sit in that pink chair back there?

A+, sir. The vest is another one of those classy geometric deals like the one Theo wore last week; I love the pattern and the palette. The blue crisscross adds interest to the shirt, and the lighter blue is an unexpected choice for a twill pant. This man is really winning me over lately. Whoever is dressing him has the right idea. By Saturday, however, he has fallen ill, and a sick man has no reason to look sharp on the weekend.

The party's here.

Not a lot to say here. Track pants (props for that maroon), last week's cardigan, and a white t-shirt. You can see, though, how that sweater (which I still love) has a little more of a Golden Girls vibe when worn less thoughtfully.

We saw Denise earlier in Theo's screencap, so let's follow up with her. She starts off dressed like so:

I'm worried too, hon. This is a worrisome top.

Again, compliments first: the hair has been made significantly less mommish, almost to a point that garners my approval. This top, however, has issues that need to be addressed. Her fascination with wearing planes has been taken to a whole new level. That print looks like something you'd find in the children's section at Kmart. If the blouse were a solid gray with just the weird collar and black shoulder rope, I might consider enjoying it. It's bulky and strange, but not offensive. The Red Baron thing just pushes it over the edge for me. Her pants are equally terrible, so much so that they were barely filmed. I did what I could to get a decent image.

Notice how she's attending to a sleeve that was dangerously unrolled.

So close yet so far! I kind of like the length of them in relation to the high boot she's wearing, but the closer we get to her waistline, the worse it becomes. Everything around the middle there gets bunchy and awkward. The crotch is way too low, the pockets are inside out, and the intention seems to be to suggest that she has four or five butts growing out of her pelvis at odd angles. There's a stylish vision buried somewhere in this outfit, but it got lost along the way. Possibly it was shot down in a biplane skirmish.

She kind of looks like she's interacting with the poster. Nice.

This is the first of two sewing outfits for Denise. I'm allowing some leeway here because she's not going out: she's working. That said, pastels are her friends. The shoulder pads are pretty intense here, but beyond that, for a cute, sloppy sort of lounge-around look, I can accept it. She even gets extra credit for those quirky little neon spirals in her ears. (Of course, she loses those points immediately because of that clip on top of her head, but at least she's breaking even.) It would be irresponsible of me to ignore the bottom half of this look, however, even if the director has once again tried to minimize the screen time devoted to her legs.


Drawstring? Inside-out pockets? You're killing me, Denise. And not to beat a dead horse, but how many shoulder pads are you wearing here? It's like an ass cheek at the top of each arm. You're practically made of auxiliary butts. Maybe we should move on to your Saturday sweatsuit.

Dowdy sweats: fun for the whole family.

The broadening effect here is so convincing that I spent a fair amount of time staring at my screen and wondering if maybe Lisa Bonet was just a lot bigger in the hips than I had previously suspected. But no, it's only unflattering drawstring pants and a baggy top. At least she looks good in light gray, and like I said, she's not planning to run into anybody other than her family, so some carelessness is to be expected. We've all had weekends like that. I will say that I'm in love with the sleeves here.

By the way, is that Clair behind the counter? What's she wearing? We'll check her current stylings out and work backward. You can follow, right?

"Oh, honey, you'll grow into that mom hair. I did!"

Meh. Loungewear. She's yet another member of the clan to have paired cobalt with black, though she kicks it up a notch by running the thinnest bar of red across the collar and cuffs. Still, she's not winning any contests in this one. Unless you're holding an Unexpected Argyle Socks contest.

"I know you're not looking at my wife's sweet behind."

Yep, that's what those are: argyle socks. I wouldn't have predicted that. You ought to see what she wore to take Theo to the store, though.

Suitable and inscrutable.

Her ensemble is imperfect, but has some admirable qualities. I'm glad she went for a suit, particularly with these colors. I accept the open shirt with three gold chains. She flossin', but I ain't mad. On the other hand, we need to talk proportions. To accentuate what she's got, that skirt needs to be slimmer and shorter. I'm fine with the waist being a little high; she could even stand to get all sexy secretary on us and raise it an inch or two, but I won't demand it. The jacket is similarly oversized: too long, too wide, too much in general. Get thee to a tailor, Mrs. Huxtable.

Getting her sass on.

By getting rid of that jacket, she achieves a twofold victory. One: she gets rid of the jacket. Two: she lets us have it with that belt. Metallic, slung to one side, buckled with a big ol' hoop: this woman means business. Like the argyle socks, this is the ace up her sleeve. Just when you think you have a handle on her wardrobe, she's going to knock you out with a mean left hook of an accessory.

Vanessa appeared only once in this episode, while Rudy was entirely absent, so this is all we get from the preteen contingent:

"Should I just go back to the green room? Do I even have a line?"

It's a purple sweatshirt. She has matching barrettes to hold her hair loaf in place. As usual, there's not much to point out. Since you're probably near sleep from this screencap, I'll wake you up with the reveal of Denise's exact replica of the Gordon Gartrelle design.

Really? This is the one time he doesn't consider rolling up the sleeve?

Oops. Sadly, Theo has no one but himself to blame for the pleated pants.

And now, a first for the show (and thus for this blog): non-Huxtables!

Rich people's kids.

Theo is planning to go on a double date tonight. His crush Christine is in the chair; Philip and Melissa are on the couch.

"Do you look a mess or am I having a stroke?"

Philip (played by a young Kadeem Hardison, if that means anything to any of you) has a decent look going here. Drawing inspiration from that bizarre neo-Classical trend that almost happened in the early 80s (check out the video for "Bette Davis Eyes" as an example), he goes for a little puff in the sleeve and a high-water britches kind of deal with odd court jester slippers to finish it off. While it's tempting to write this off as costumey, I can't help but embrace it. The red and charcoal coordinate impeccably, and all of the details have been carefully planned: the off-center buttons, the thin belt, the length of the trouser, the grass green watch. It's so well assembled that I can all but overlook the pleats.

Katy Perry has nothing on this teenage dream.

Oh, Christine. No wonder your date wanted to spend so much on a shirt to impress you. This girl is a Clair Huxtable in the making. I'm all over this situation. I normally wouldn't recommend a blouse that exactly matches your skin tone, but how can you deny the perfection of this ensemble? It's impeccable. Look at the rich bronze sequins, making her look like a teenage goddess. The earrings are phenomenal: I adore the flash of purple on top of the monochromatic foundation. Her rosy makeup is heavenly. Her skirt gets insufficient exposure, but I'm guessing it's a ten. Theo, you better lock that down.

Leave. The episode is over.

Melissa gets precious little notice, unfortunately. I tried to find something to say about her from the brief moments she's featured, but there's not much. She's rocking black and navy, which one of the wardrobe people obviously can't get enough of. Her dress is simple and cute, the blazer over it is nicely cut, and the bow in her hair is sweet and flirty. If she were rocking a shade other than dark blue, I'd probably lavish her with praise. As it stands, I want a whole different color story from her, like a white dress with pink accent pieces. Or anything else, really. Just not another black and blue creation. Enough is enough.

Well, it all worked out in the end. Christine loved the shirt, though it's unclear how a lady of such obvious taste could fail to identify that as an atrocity. I hope she comes back with more mind-blowing blingcraft. Stay tuned to find out.


  1. Just a little hint: Cliff often wears maroon as a nod to his alma mater, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, where he received his doctorate. In fact, those track pants are probably from UMass, and as the show progresses, he sneaks UMass gear in a lot. He also likes to give a nod to Temple, where he attended undergrad (in "How Ugly is He?," Theo wears a Temple t-shirt).

  2. nic, thanks so much for the extra Cosby knowledge!

  3. Love your blog so far. Also enjoyed seeing Kadeem before he was cast on A Different World as Dwayne Wayne.

  4. Here, take a look at this recent post: http://popstyle.ew.com/2013/04/11/suburgatory-georges-gordon-gartrelle-shirt-and-the-cosby-show-connection/#disqus_thread

  5. LOVE THIS :This girl is a Clair Huxtable in the making. I'm all over this situation. AND THIS: Christine loved the shirt, though it's unclear how a lady of such obvious taste could fail to identify that as an atrocity.

  6. Questlove from The Roots wore this shirt for Halloween this year..check his Instagram lol!