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, December 26, 2011

Season 2, Episode 5: Theo and the Older Woman

For a school sociology project on large families, Denise and her friend Susanne are conducting interviews with the Huxtable clan. Theo complicates what would normally be a routine set of discussions when he falls for the woman asking the questions.

When Theo sees her, he hears Foreigner in his head.

It helps that the target of his affection is Robin Givens. She would look good wearing absolutely anything, a maxim that the wardrobe staff apparently took as a personal challenge. I keep looking for something good to cling to, but it's a calamity from every angle. None of these pieces look like they were meant to be worn by an adult female. Something about the teardrop earrings reads too old to me, though maybe I'm just concerned about the way their shape is mirrored in her outlandishly tall bouffant. The overcoat has a distinctly Gorton's fisherman air, while the blue romper would be more appropriate for a toddler. The undershirt would be OK in concept except that it has shoulder pads, which, I mean, what? Why? Must we put shoulder pads in literally everything? She's not helped by the flatness of her clothing, either. It's all single tones. Can we have a stripe or pattern somewhere? And does it have to be primary colors all the time? DKNY's spring ready-to-wear line plays with these same hues, and even a not-dissimilar silhouette, but because they use a print, their creation seems much more dynamic. Observe.

Model: Elsa Sylvan / Photo: Marcus Tondo, GoRunway.com

See? Instead, we have this.

The clipboard means she's a good student.

Belt placement is supremely important when you're wearing something this tight. One wrong move and your whole body looks like it was constructed from spare parts. By blocking her upper midsection with a white band that's thicker than her forearm, she unnaturally shortens her torso. And while we're talking about that belt: just because I asked for patterns, that doesn't mean you can throw any old random black markings on your clothes and call it a day. Thick belts (and white belts) have been popular multiple times since this show aired, so I understand the appeal, but they're not foolproof. I feel the same sentiment toward those crimson suede boots. In the right circumstances, they could be magical, but they can only be worn with pants this tight if you're in Robin Hood's band of merry men.

His character is on the wrestling team. There's a joke there, but I won't make it.

Theo is dismayed to find that his dream lady, who he's been pining after for over an hour, has a boyfriend. And not just any boyfriend: it's Blair Underwood, making a swoon-worthy return to the Huxtable household. Interestingly, he's playing a different person than before: his character in episode #1.16 was a friend of Denise's, but in this appearance he introduces himself as if he's never met her before. Most of what he's wearing remains covered during the short time he's onscreen, but there are indicators that it might be good. In general, a bomber jacket is a great piece to incorporate as a wardrobe staple. This particular one is a little busy, but I'm fond nonetheless. Beneath that, his cardigan has potential, though with only that one band of neckline showing, it's tough to call it with any confidence. On the subject of necklines, I will say that his t-shirt (maybe tank top?) appears to be a scoop neck rather than a v, and I think that's a mistake. He was also better off with last season's shorter haircut.

When Theo sees her, he hears Sade in his head.
And not just because her hair is pulled back so tightly.

Working to overcome his grief, Theo goes cruising at the library, where he picks up Tori. She's played by Victoria Gabrielle Platt, who you might recognize from her work as Vicky Spaulding on The Guiding Light. She fares better with sunshiny outerwear than her competition; if we pretend that the vest has a cap sleeve, ignoring obvious indicators that it's simply too big for her, then this is a cute piece. Pairing it with purples is also a better choice than red and blue. Her shirt, though also oversized, has a nice pattern. It's disappointing that she's wearing leggings, though. They're not pants, people. I thought this trend was new, but apparently it started long ago. Sure, jewel tones are nice, but that doesn't excuse indecency. When you're getting dressed in the morning, please get all the way dressed. Incompleteness is not an option.

Did Susanne step in something? That would explain why everyone wears shoes inside.

That's all for guest stars. Vanessa will be the first Huxtable we examine because she wears the episode's only repeat, revisiting her shirt from episode #1.23. It looks better in calmer surroundings; a garment that loud shouldn't need to fight against other bold colors or weird belts to stand out. By supporting it with a goldenrod t-shirt and chinos, she presents a little more cleanly. Baby's growing up.

She's better than this.

Initially, this look reminded me of her episode #1.24 outfit, but it's not the same. In fact, it's mostly worse. I'm fond of the warmer pink on her, but otherwise it all seems too slovenly. The half-untucked shirt, the baggy pants with rolled cuffs, the stretched collar... there's a real hobo vibe, no? The only thing I entirely like about this is the hair.

Life with her mother has taught her a killer glare.

Jumping on the Annie Lennox androgynous trend, she interprets the big hairstyles worn by women in her era through the lens of an Elvis-like pompadour. It's a bold move that could even have been a little severe, but she keeps it soft by leaving things a little messy and warming the color with some stylish auburn highlights. The finished product is divine.

Look at all the fucks he gives.

Theo starts the episode in jeans and a t-shirt, which we're not going to talk about. Of course, he steps it up later. In fact, we're led to believe that he picks a new outfit and cleans his entire room over the course of about fifteen minutes. He's so smitten he gains superpowers.

What's the opposite of rico suave?

He's on the right track with this palette. The olive and lavender are smashing, and they provide a lovely base for that stupendous gradient tie. But despite his efforts to look older and butcher, he ironically feminizes his shape through these ill-fitting garments. Look at the way the high waist and deep pleating of his trousers create a curvier hip, and the puffiness that emerges in his sleeve when the fabric bunches from being rolled too tightly. He's suddenly got Alexis Carrington shoulders, which I'm thinking wasn't his intention. Sorry, Theo.

Trying to pick up girls? Then stop talking to your bros on the phone.

When he unbuttons his shirt, we learn that he has some sort of charm necklace on. Was it there beneath the tie the whole time? If so, does it serve a totemic purpose? If it isn't there for fashion, as it remains unseen, then perhaps it is a spirit animal that he calls on to heighten his virility.

Clair Huxtable: Lawyer. Mother. Lover. Farmer.

If you forgot how rich the Huxtables were, this episode reminds you by establishing that they have a backyard with a lawn, a garden, and a driveway. Sure, none of these areas is huge, but I've been in apartments without closets and these people have room to grow vegetables? I bring this up mostly because there's nothing to say about Clair's look here. She's not wearing it to be stylish, so I shouldn't critique it as though that's the case. I did notice that her plaid is remarkably similar to Theo's from last week, but that seems unimportant. (Unlike the rest of this blog.)

Those are last week's earrings, by the by. 

First off, apologies for the unflattering screencap on the left. I tried for a better one, but it was the only frame that fully revealed the belt. This outfit is a classic illustration of how a baggy top can work against you. The way it drapes at the bottom, then again at the belt, then again at her breasts, makes her look like a Mister Softee ice cream cone. This impression is furthered by the tight, almost conical pants. And those are stirrup pants, people. Clair is doing the devil's work. She's even in sad little one-inch heels. At that point, why bother? And don't talk to me about how I'm a man and I don't know. I've stomped my way through parties in three-inch pumps. These are flats.

He doesn't care and you can't make him.

Unlike his wife, Cliff could not be bothered to put his grown-up clothes on, even with company over. He starts the day in his bathrobe and doesn't get dressier than sweats. Sorry, Dr. Huxtable, but nothing will be said about you this entry.

The Clair Glare once more.

I wasn't going to mention Rudy, but I felt bad continuing to ignore her. Plus, her face in that second image is hands-down serious. You don't want to step to that. Her outfit isn't bad, anyhow. I mean, for a striped onesie. She's five, there are no rules.

And there you have it, another delicious look back. Hope you all had wonderful holidays. Merry Hotness to all, and to all a good neep nop de zibben flibberty hoodad mujimjam burbisurb. Ya SEEEEeeeeEEEEE?

Monday, December 19, 2011

Season 2, Episode 4: Cliff in Love

Episodes with firsts are so exciting. Today, as Sondra mopes about her on-again, off-again romance and Cliff tries to hook her up with a more suitable suitor, we are introduced to two new faces, both of whom will eventually become established members of the extended Huxtable clan.

Nerd boyfriend dot com.

The main source of her misery is none other than the man who will become her husband, Elvin Tibdeaux, played by future series regular Geoffrey Owens. I've gotta say: though Elvin is a chauvinist moron, he's pretty cute. He's got the whole Donald Glover nerdy guy thing going on. I wouldn't kick him out of bed. At least, not until he started talking about how he would prefer for his woman to have a hot meal waiting for him when he gets home from work. Don't worry, Clair knocks that idea right out of his head.

He brought that bitch some flowers. Bitches love flowers.
(It works because it's a meme and he's a misogynist!)

He's dressed like your average college dude: jeans, t-shirt, hoodie. The intensity of the orange plays well against the navy. I'd love it if that was a weird, no-reason-except-for-fashion seam running horizontally below his collar, but I'm pretty sure it's only a weird fold from the fabric getting caught in the sweatshirt. I'm also feeling the hair. Dudes with curls like his don't rock this intermediate length much, and while it's by no means a guaranteed success, I'm kind of into it on him. Overall, he's no trendsetter, but he's not doing anything wrong. He's trying a little harder when he comes back tomorrow, with mixed results.

Clair wipes that smile right off his face.

The jeans, I assume, are the same today. They're nothing to write home about regardless. I'm not a huge fan of the blue shirt, not because it's bad on its own, but because it matches the denim a bit too closely. Even with the yellow underneath (and props to Elvin for again embracing assertive hues), it just reads too monochrome. I also have to question the khaki garment. At first, I was sure it was a coat, based on its weight and the fact that it's fall and probably cool outside. But upon checking the details, like the size of the collar and the slightly rolled sleeves and most notably the curve of the seam at the bottom, I have to conclude that this is in fact just another shirt. Don't do that, Elvin, that's not what shirts are for. You can't just pile them on indefinitely. Buy a jacket. You can probably find one that looks almost exactly like the corduroy thing you're sporting.

What if this date is actually the Olivia origin story? Scandal!

Pop quiz: who is this man? If you said Lt. Martin Kendall, you'd be incorrect until season 6. Today, he is Daryl, the man who takes Sondra to a concert while she's mad at Elvin. That's right, Joseph C. Phillips has played two roles on The Cosby Show. His clean-cut good looks and easygoing charm make it easy to see why you'd want him around. He's also a pretty snappy dresser, at least as this character. Let's skip the khakis, because chinos, whatever, we get it. Check everything else, though. The shades by themselves here would be enough: the richness of his coat is veering toward purple, while the sweater underneath skews into greener territory, and then the pink is a delightful non sequitur. But then he goes wild by adding additional tones in the knitting of the sweater and in the weird plaid-ish pattern of the blazer. I would probably wear that jacket, no joke. My only hesitation in giving this an A+ is that I can't tell if he's actually heavier here than in later seasons, or if he just looks heavier because the clothes don't fit. There's no way to be sure, but it gives me pause. Whatever: in the future, you're thinner and you marry Denise instead of Sondra. How do you feel about that?

I wanted so badly to photoshop a little sparkle into his teeth.

That's what I thought.

Speaking of Sondra:

You're never too sad for strappy shoes.

Damn, hon, you look rough. Now granted, this is the outfit she wears while dealing with relationship troubles, so I sort of get it. Her hair and sweatsuit collectively read like a suicide note. They're not just bad: they're aggressively, creatively repulsive. If I can direct your attention to her collar: how many shirts is that? Three at least. She took the time to match them, which makes no sense, but ignoring that, I'm seeing sweatshirt, followed by a red tee, followed by another gray tee. Or is that just a red tee with a contrasting detail? I can't be sure. Then she's pulling the same nonsense below the waist, with sweatpants (with a matching stripe, because again, she's thinking ahead to coordinate her defeat regalia) and gray shorts over them. Of course, she can't be that cold, because she's wearing capri-length bottoms with no socks. She's also wearing overly complicated ballet flats. If I had no intention of leaving the house, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't bother with shoes that laced halfway up my calves. Am I expected to believe that she wouldn't brush her hair, but would put on her most labor-intensive footwear? Absurd. Whatever. Date night tomorrow, Sondra. You gonna step it up?

"I'm a colorblind cowgirl!"

Sondra's outfits are my least favorite part of this blog. Honestly, what do you want me to do here? There's maybe hope for that skirt. I can see it being the centerpiece in much plainer surroundings. Same with those cerulean boots: someone could really do something with those. But that sweater, my God! I'm running out of words for largeness with all the XXXL crap everyone keeps carting out. Her shoulders are so bulky that there is literally room for football padding there. She could be the coziest linebacker. The color story here is all wrong, too. Daryl had the right idea by pairing different blues, but she takes it too far by throwing in actual purples and sea greens in a way that looks sickly next to that delicate sky blue wool number. Also, can we talk about the Southwestern phase she seems to be going through? A bandanna around her neck? A fringed suede jacket? No, really, look at this jacket.

If only someone had managed to get this garment all the way through the shredder.

That's how much fringe. No thank you.

This is possibly the best her hair has ever looked. I love it.

Denise leaves me pretty confused this episode. There's another reason I'll get to in a minute, but for now let's just focus on this outfit as presented. Her hair is done, and it's cute. The red pants (which we barely see) are a good match for the colors in her top. But this shirt? It's so long and sloppy that she spends the entire scene with her hands covered. Still, the deep purple/brown color provides a great base for the pink and red vertical stripes, and she's playing with convention as always, so we should just accept this as a weird but fun look, right? Except for this:

She's shopping under the impression that her ass will one day be titanic.

This isn't tomorrow: Denise changes into this later the same day. With no explanation given, I have to wonder if the first getup wasn't merely pajamas. It would make a certain amount of sense if that was a nightshirt and not a full-on, outside-the-house piece, but there's no telling with this girl. Let's just move on and get to this second ensemble. If the pants look familiar, it's because they're the same ones she wears in this season's opening credits. The shirt, however, is new, and it's really something. As you can see, the front fools you with more conservative coverage, while the back shocks you with its seasonally inappropriate cutout the size and shape of a public toilet bowl. Someone in the costume department fell in love with greenish blue today, it seems. Viewed independently, though, it's not a bad companion for the orange. The real problem is the combination of two sloppily draped garments. If one half of you is going to be this big, the other should be much slimmer. Otherwise, you look like a Teletubby runway model. Her middle is downright bulbous. I'm also not convinced by that three quarter butterfly sleeve. Seems like it'd be hard to ever make that not ugly.

"What kind of bread is this? I'm counting carbs."

Theo wore this in the pilot episode. Production values have improved since then, and it's nice to have a crisper picture that captures the plaid better, but I don't know that it warrants a full re-examination. Next.

Those eyes suggest the presence of a stimulant in the potato chips.

I can't help but look at this as an homage to his parents. The sweater has the same thistle-y quality as the cardigan that Clair stole from Cliff last season. Underneath, he's got on a shade of purple that may as well be named after Phylicia Rashad she wore it so often. It's a shame he didn't tuck in his shirt, but otherwise I'm not seeing much wrong here. It's not a heartbreaking work of staggering fabulousness, but I'll take it.

UPDATE: I knew this would happen eventually. I missed a repeat. Theo previously wore this sweater on episode #1.18. Apologies for the oversight.

"Hey Vanessa, want some of these Meth Crisps?"

Vanessa appears only briefly, and only to show us this goofy plaid. There are times when black and yellow cooperate, and times when they scream "bumblebee" or "taxi cab" or something else you don't really want to resemble. If the t-shirt underneath had been shown a little more, maybe I'd feel differently. It might break things up a little. As it stands, this isn't great. Also, there's a blue hair clip near the back of her head that wasn't captured in this angle, meaning that she decided to don all three primary colors for some reason. Probably just to bother me. Friggin' Vanessa.

Sandwich spread + Dr. Huxtable = Mayo Clinic. Get it?

Cliff has purchased a big, meaty, fattening sandwich to cheer his daughter up. While Clair quickly highlights that this is also Cliff's favorite food, no one ever doubts that Sondra loves hoagies above all other edible items. This strikes me as unlikely. She doesn't seem like a hoagie kind of gal. Anyway, back to the fashion. As stated above, khaki pants are kind of too boring to really get into. Same for white t-shirts. The cardigan, however, is wonderful. I'm living for that low scoop, and the chunky diagonal stripe, and the thickness of the wool, and the way the gray comes alive next to that red. It even has little pockets on the bottom! I'd love it even more if it were a size smaller (as I've pointed out in previous entries, the shoulder seam should fall somewhere near the actual shoulder), but I'll take what I can get.

Sorry, I guess I'm off my caption game today. That last one was pitiful.

That belt isn't brown. It's maroon. Got to respect that. On the other hand, who here has seen The Dark Crystal? If you skinned Aughra and made her into a garment, it would look exactly like this shirt. That's all.

Maybe it's sorcery. Or hypercolor.

Clair is wrapped in a mystery at the start of this episode. So many questions. Is that top purple or blue? Would we call it a shirt or a dress? Are the sleeves designed to be that short, or did she pull them up? Is it velour, or just dirty? Huxtable fashion is often incomprehensible to me, and this is just another situation in which I would need greater cognitive ability to parse the deeper meaning hidden here. Further adding confusion: I was certain that I had seen this pin before, but couldn't find it in any of my screencaps. I looked and looked, and it wasn't there. Maybe I imagined it, or mistook it for another brooch, or recalled it from the first time I saw this episode. Part of me is still set on the idea that she wore it once. Whatever, it's simple and pretty and just the right size, and it goes well with both purple and blue, so she's covered in that sense. (Seriously, why does her top change color? Is she a wizard?)

Don't sass her for repeating an outfit. She will make you regret it so hard.

Last but not (quite) least, we have Clair's repeat of her episode #1.2 jumpsuit. It remains firmly in the so-close-to-wrong-that-it's-got-to-be-right category. I think I actually prefer it without the shiny accessories: she doesn't need the silver pin and belt and earrings. Nice to see that she didn't feel the need to wear stockings this time around, though. Also, I overlooked the seam down the front in my earlier review. Not my fave. Still, this outfit will always hold a place in my heart because it's what she wore when she said, "Let me tell you something, Elvin." Her quick change into takedown mode is unbeatable. Do not cross Mrs. Huxtable.

We'll end on that note. Happy Monday, kids.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Season 2, Episode 3: Happy Anniversary

Ask all your friends which episode of this show is most memorable, and they'll probably all give the same answer:

BAY-BAAAAAAAAAAaaaaaAAAAAY!

That's right, it's the episode where the family puts on a musical number for Russell and Anna as a present for their 49th anniversary. There's not a ton of plot here: it's all what to get them, what to cook, lip sync for your life, blah blah blah. Rudy's Emmy nomination has to be, like, 90 percent because of this song. Since the script includes two days and nine Huxtables, though, there's a lot of clothing to cover, so let's get to it.

Let's do a blog about low-budget 1980s set design in sitcoms.

I'm carting out this screencap not to highlight the clothes specifically (I'll get there), but to talk about the set for a second. This scene is supposed to take place roughly five steps from the Huxtable residence; their front door is just out of frame on the left. Now, I ask you: how in the world does this setting relate to the exterior establishing shots in each episode? Where is that wall behind them coming from? In later seasons, they get a different "outside" environment that is, while not entirely realistic, at least vaguely plausible. This one is totally off. How are they even walking in this direction? Did they emerge directly from the brick? It makes no sense.

Context does not explain his facial expression.

Clair and I need to have a talk about her outerwear, because she continually pulls out the most awful coats. How many stuffed animals died to make this, hon? The pattern suggests that you're emitting a fleece force field. Were you trying to confuse enemy radar? I can't begin to figure out why these colors were put together in this layout in this shape with this fabric. All of the choices, from start to finish, were misguided at best and malicious at worst. Someone might be trying to kill her with that coat, and it would be a slow, painful death, let me tell you. Underneath, we catch a glimpse of what might be a fabulous red skirt, but she never reveals the full outfit. She actually wears the coat upstairs rather than taking it off and putting it in the front closet. (If that means that this is actually a shirt, then I'm going to need a pep talk and another shot of espresso, because damn that's demoralizing.)

Pretty in pink. 

Cliff, who usually rocks a more classic vibe, has really pushed into contemporary (for the time) styling with these choices. The light jacket with the brushed texturing, the tiny collar, the pale-on-pale pink-and-gray palette, the geometric black-and-neon tie... he's not wearing ugly clothes, but he doesn't seem like himself. This is very Miami Vice for Dr. Huxtable, and while I don't disapprove of the outfit conceptually, I have a hard time believing that he would have it in his closet.

We still haven't reached maximum Cosby Sweater madness.

Here, we find the missing link between his wardrobe in season 1 and the fashions from the rest of the series. In this sweater's pattern, we can observe the vestigial suspender markings left over from previous outfits. He's obviously not yet fully comfortable abandoning them for bizarre, bulky knits, so he retains them in a representational form. This is a standard showing: the red and gray work (even if something about them reads a little Christmasy to me), the pants and shirt are basic, the sizes are all reasonable. It's good everyday wear.

I'm truly not trying to catch him at odd times. He's just always making faces.

His second suit is much more in keeping with previous endeavors. In fact, it's entirely possible that it's the same suit he wore in episode #1.2. It's definitely the same shirt. I have to say, he looked slimmer and sharper in the previous jacket. The color was part of it, but also the cut. This one is a little broader overall. In particular, I think it closes a tad high: we don't see a ton of his tie and shirt this time around, which would have been nice. There's so much dark happening here: he could have made better use of that pink. I might've swapped out for a different tie, too. Something more vibrant, maybe with a pocket square to match. This isn't a goldfish funeral, dude. 

So scornful she's making the soda froth up.

Clair's second look is a repeat from episode #1.21, so I'm going to let it stand without comment.

I would love her even more if she fixed that haircut.

I do, however, want to point out this thing they keep doing with her make-up. It's not as apparent here, but in later episodes, they apply the shadow really heavily to her outer lid, and then leave the rest of the eye almost bare. It's a jarring choice that is maybe rooted in actual trends of the time and maybe rooted in a sort of stagey approach to facial contouring that was more appropriate before high-definition television happened, but the point is that it's weird. I'm mentioning it now so that we can both watch for it later.

Either she's wearing stockings or her legs are bionic. Both kind of make sense.

This dress has a lot going for it. For starters, the cut. She's been wearing her clothes a little looser lately, so it's nice to see her return briefly to fitted garments. If I was in that kind of shape, I'd want to remind you, too. I mean, look at her entrance into the living room.

"Don't mind me, I'm just over here being FABULOUS."

My God, even out of focus she's breathtaking. Between the shape of the garment and the placement of that wide belt (which is a completely fantastic piece on its own, I might add), she's kicking ass and taking names. Which is not to say that everything's peachy. Those big buttons distract me, for instance. She should be wearing jewelry, not fussing up her front with giant fasteners. The primary colors thing is also a little over for me. In general I find them better suited to toddlers than grown-ups, and on her specifically I think this bold blue is not stupendous. Everyone has one color they should avoid, and this is hers. She doesn't look bad, per se, it's just that she's typically luminous and some of that luster fades against this shade.

Check the cookies at the bottom. The prop department wants you to know
 that he both pigged out and napped.

Russell is literally asleep in this shot, but in a more figurative sense, he's asleep at the wheel. I seldom have an unkind word about his outfits, but this is a rare misstep for him. The blue-red-black scheme is usually Clair's error (see the above dress, not to mention her unholy episode #1.5 sweatsuit), but he gives it a shot today and doesn't do much better with it. I appreciate the hue on him, but those stripes don't grab me. Brick and cobalt are uncomfortable bedfellows, and I'm not sure why everyone's trying so hard to put them together. He's done all that could be done with unsatisfactory tools, but this is still problematic for me.

The navy lining might mean that this item is reversible. Ew.

When he puts on his jacket to leave, things only get stranger. The windbreaker seems a little youthful for him. Like Cliff, he's kind of dressed out of character. Russell has always been a champion of age-appropriate attire: he's frequently more formal and old-fashioned than anyone else in the room. It sort of makes sense that he'd have outerwear like this because it's basic and functional. That's how my grandfather would shop: identify a need, find it in the right size and color, and call it a day. But that stripe down the side bothers me, and I can't put my finger on exactly why. It feels like a Theo jacket, though, right? Am I wrong here? I guess I just expect a blazer from Grandpa Huxtable. Casual isn't his groove.

That there's how it's done, folks.

This is how I'm used to seeing him. His party look is flawless. Charcoal three-piece suit, shirt with a retro collar and just a hint of yellow, vintage brown tie. Clean, cool, and classy. Not a hair out of place. Like a boss, as they say. He comes from an era when men knew how to dress, and even back then people probably thought he looked better than the rest.

Age brings wisdom, but not always taste, apparently.

Anna's only got one look for this episode, and it isn't great. Yes, her confidence in sporting full-force, uninterrupted fuchsia is stupendous, but that doesn't mean that I can overlook her decision to wear a men's XXL polo shirt. And it's not even a shirt dress, because she has a matching skirt underneath: it's really just a big-ass polo, brazenly presented as a formal garment, which it is not. The square earrings are awesome-ish, but the overall ensemble isn't for me. Or her. Or maybe anyone.

Her?

Sondra's back. Oh goodie. I'll give her a little leeway because she's cooking, so maybe that smocky overshirt is actually serving as an apron. Wearing it with the intention of dirtying and/or destroying it is acceptable. Otherwise, it's an obvious "no." I feel the same way about her hair: my hope is that it has been pulled up haphazardly just to keep it out of open flames, because I would be sad to learn that someone had spent time and effort making it do that on purpose. If we remove the purple shirt, however, we're left with another problem: the gray pants and gray top would match, leaving her in a drab faux bodysuit with only a thin band of color coming from the yellow undershirt. Why does she have so many layers on, anyway? She must be cold-blooded like a lizard, because anyone else would die of heat stroke if they swaddled themselves so thoroughly before cooking a large meal.

Wasn't it bad enough the first time, you sadist?

The wardrobe department was apparently unwilling to let this look go to waste after the opening credits were filmed, so here it is in all its glory again. I don't have much more to contribute, except that I hadn't realized how pleated her shirt was. Those folds continue all the way over her shoulder and onto the back. It's criminal. Also, look closely at her middle in the first shot. There appear to be two belts there: a smaller one cinching her waist, and a larger one for purely cosmetic purposes. Don't do this, people. You can use a single accessory to both shape your clothes and add interest to your outfit. Seriously: that's what belts do. One is plenty. Otherwise, my previous commentary stands unaltered.

Gag on the eleganza!

Denise doesn't appear in the "cooking dinner" segment, so she only gets one chance to show us her stuff. As I've said before, her efforts to subvert the norm when dressing formally are consistently delightful to me. Even when she's more odd than actually good, I can't help but feel affection for her commitment to blazing new trails. The skirt and blouse complement each other while still creating an almost disorienting effect: the colorful bottom offsets the subtle top half nicely, but they're both patterned in a wacky, complicated way that makes it difficult for the eye to focus. Her usual almost-floor-length hemline and bunchy waist are in effect, but she's exploring novel territory up top with a much more fitted look that seems quite polished. The high neckline and puff sleeves are delicious, like she's in a modernized costume epic. She just needs a towering wig. The more I saw of this, the more I approved. And then she turned around.

It's like she has her shirt on backwards, but in an elegant way.

Gold chains? Oh, Denise. You're too good to me.

Been there, done that.

Theo already wore this in episode #1.6, so let's move on.

The nighttime is the right time, indeed.

I had a difficult time capturing Theo's second look; he's sort of lurking around on the sidelines until the big number, at which point he covers up with a coat. (Though, in his defense, the coat and hat are pretty sweet, even if they're obviously his dad's.) He appears to be wearing a meta-shirt, essentially: it's covered with other pictures of people in fun outfits. I can't get close enough to review the sartorial choices of the individuals on his clothing, but that's some Inception-level nonsense that I can't get into anyway. Extra points for the shiny midnight tie (so much better than flat black) and the suspenders (which I guess are getting handed down to the next generation now that Cliff is focusing on sweaters). I wish I could get a better read on the shirt's color. I want it to be a minty green. Wouldn't that be slammin'? Let's just pretend that it is so I can congratulate this boy some more.

Oh, girl. Gritty in pink.

Vanessa, honey, what's going on with those pants? They seem like the spiritual successor to your shirt from two weeks ago, and that's not a good thing. On top of that, you shouldn't match your pink bottoms with your pink top, even if you cover it with a loafy gray sweatshirt. Also, I shouldn't address you directly because you're a fictional character from decades in the past. You're not reading this because there's no "you."

I don't know, something something Katy Perry song.

Not better. I can see where we were going here. A peacock print sounds great: those colorful feathers are so beautiful and opulent. And if we're going to put lots of golds and blues in our shirt, we should reflect that in our choice of vest and trousers, right? And by reflect, I mean literally wear shiny things! No, no, and no. The peacock is an emblem of showiness, and likewise, the choice to emulate it ends up seeming overdone. (The peacock is also the logo of NBC, though I doubt that had any influence on her attire.) The vest with coattails is cute, but beyond that, we're in Bonkersville. In particular, I'm distressed by her yellow shoes. They're bad on their own, but I worry that she might be trying to literally embody a peacock. Like, if the vest has a tail, are those supposed to be bird feet? Is she in a costume? It just got weird in here.

Since we started with Rudy, let's end with Rudy.

She is the alpha and the omega.

Her slippers are too big. That's all.

No, really, that's all. There are no more outfits. See you next Monday, darlings.