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 3, 2012

Season 4, Episode 2: Theogate

This might be my favorite episode of the entire series; hopefully, you remember it fondly as well. When Theo comes home late from a track meet (what happened to wrestling and tennis?), his mother finds his excuse slightly suspicious. As implausible details build up, making it less and less likely that he is telling the truth, she is left with no choice but to drag Theo to "Family Court," where she gets her litigation on and reveals the rest of the story. It's a spectacular scene with a surprisingly realistic and depressing payoff: Theo confesses that he had mocked an overweight girl to amuse his classmates, but was yelled at and  then removed from the team when she overheard the jokes and began crying. Though he seems to escape further punishment from his parents (which surprises me even now), no one gets out of this interaction clean.

Cosby Show Huxtable fashion blog 80s sitcom Kenny Deon Richmond Peter Chiara Peter Costa Rudy Keshia Knight Pulliam
Seriously, guys. Seriously.

I'm taking the kids in the episode as a unit both because they only ever appear together and because they're kids and thus not doing much to drive clothing trends. I'll start with Kenny, who has really downgraded since his last foray into the formal arena. In fact, I'm surprised that at his age, he even has more than one blazer. His family must be rich, too. Anyhow, other than the slightly dandy affectation of the bow tie, he's playing it pretty safe here, with a conservative tonal range and nothing in the way of flourishes to distinguish him from the crowd. Peter isn't much farther afield, though he hints at boldness by sporting a pink shirt with a red tie and pocket square. Still, nothing there really stands too far out. Picking up the slack, however, is Rudy, who is serving paisley-on-paisley pandemonium. I'm not really sure what's going on with that getup: it's sort of like a clown suit, and the rolled sleeves suggest that it might be for a larger clown than her. I wish she'd lose the tie altogether: it's not even cleanly tied, and it's too brash against that already preposterous backdrop. Sometimes less is more and sometimes more is more: on this couch, neither turns out to be true.

Cosby Show Huxtable fashion blog 80s sitcom Kenny Deon Richmond Peter Chiara Peter Costa Rudy Keshia Knight Pulliam
Yellow shooooz!

When the children next emerge, they're members of Theo's jury. Kenny shows a little more dynamism in his everyday duds: the olive slacks and lavender shirt are similar to one of Theo's own outfits, and the denim jacket, while certainly dated, was nonetheless a sharp item at the time (and then again around the turn of the century). Peter's still rocking the sweatpants, though his shirt isn't bad. Rudy has a full sweatsuit, but oh what a sweatsuit.

Cosby Show Huxtable fashion blog 80s sitcom Rudy Keshia Knight Pulliam
Aww, look at all the cute little tragic deaths!

Is that a cartoon Godzilla attack on her top? Good for you, little lady. Get weird. I still disapprove of polo shirts as a lower layer, however: their collars never sit right when pushing out of another garment. Don't do it.

Cosby Show Huxtable fashion blog 80s sitcom Vanessa Tempestt Bledsoe
I'm not reviewing the flower because it had god damned well better be a prop.

Vanessa was apparently cast as Nellie Forbush in her school's production of South Pacific this week. Like Theo, she's had a number of episode-long talents: before she was a musical theater star, she was a dancer, a member of the pep squad, and a clarinet player. Anyhow, she buries what might actually be a cute outfit under that dumpy jacket, so we're going to have to do a little estimating. We can clearly see a stylish African print skirt topped by a slim red belt (and possibly a thicker waistband beneath it, though that could just be a change in the skirt's pattern). That part I love. Up above, there's some manner of white top and what appears to be Sondra's sweater from episode #3.25. All of this might gel nicely; the sunflower-colored socks are her only stumble. She's having a good night because of her show, so I'm just going to assume that when the coat comes off, she looks great.

Cosby Show Huxtable fashion blog 80s sitcom Vanessa Tempestt Bledsoe
Her being a judge is about as likely as her being a musical theater star.

Her role as judge in Family Court involves a graduation robe that covers almost every bit of her clothing, though I'm pretty sure that she's wearing a gross shirt and grosser tie under there. Call it intuition.

Cosby Show Huxtable fashion blog 80s sitcom Cockroach Carl Anthony Payne Theo Malcolm Jamal Warner
The Gruesome Twosome.

Theo and Cockroach arrive home together in post-track clothing. I think these are intended to be outfits, but I barely have the patience to review them, especially in Theo's case. He's been giving me sweatshirts for so long that I feel like we're going to need a disfigurement or an exorcism to change his mind. I'm not even acknowledging those pajama pants (I know they're not really pajamas, but they may as well be.) Cockroach wore this exact shirt/cardigan combination in episode #2.21, though he thankfully spared us that dippy hat last time.

Cosby Show Huxtable fashion blog 80s sitcom Theo Malcolm Jamal Warner
Because I love you, I'm not going to make a joke about breaking wind.

I'll give Theo this: he stepped up his color game for his second look. I'm enjoying the interplay among the deep indigo and brighter accent colors, particularly the softer salmon under the windbreaker. Overall, though, his look is dominated by a dated jacket (aren't you glad no one wears windbreakers anymore?) and those bizarre front-seamed jeans from episode #3.22.

Cosby Show Huxtable fashion blog 80s sitcom Cockroach Carl Anthony Payne
His law career also seems dubious.

I started this blog because of Theo, but Cockroach might be the secret male style icon of this series. He's not perfect, but he's generally more collected and stronger in displaying a point of view than any of the other dudes that roll up in this house. I'm feeling the winy horizontal stripes with the light gray jeans, and delighted by the added pattern on his collar (even if I'd much rather he folded it down). Sizing on the shirt is of course an issue, and though I didn't capture it well in these images, I promise you that there's a butt flap happening. But if it were taken to a tailor, it could be salvaged. I bet someone could make this kind of work today.

Cosby Show Huxtable fashion blog 80s sitcom Cliff Bill Cosby
Maybe it was a Father's Day gift.

Cliff starts the episode in a suit. Did people really get this fancy for high school plays? Anyhow, since I've previously talked about how pointless it is to try to review fine tailoring based on old, fuzzy footage, let's use this opportunity to discuss the best and worst ways to make a suit stand out. Frankly, it takes a lot less within the tight constraints of men's formal attire to make a fuss, so there's no need to pick your biggest, awfulest tie and clashing pocket square. Personally, I prefer for the suit itself to be in a wilder hue: it doesn't have to be neon green, but even a sharper blue, leaning more toward the cobalt side of things, could have lent this more punch then that paisley mistake. Accessories like tie pins and cuff links are also smart ways to spice things up without going insane, but it's tough to really make out how the doctor has used those flourishes in most cases.

Cosby Show Huxtable fashion blog 80s sitcom Cliff Bill Cosby sweater
If that collar was any worse, it'd be cholera.

Day two finds him in a sweater that mirrors the knitting pattern of his episode #2.24 offering, but in cooler shades. I prefer this array of blues to the previous yellow confection, but disagree whole-heartedly with the addition of a collar, especially given that the shirt beneath it also clearly has a collar. Rein it in, dude. The pants are his green cargos: you can see them better when he removes his top layer to become the court bailiff.

Cosby Show Huxtable fashion blog 80s sitcom Cliff Bill Cosby
He's no Latrice Royale.

We could assume that these props belong to one of his kids, but I'm voting fetish gear. You know he and Mrs. Huxtable have to have at least engaged in some light role playing by now. They've been married for how long? And they're still going at it? I'm just sayin'. Whatever, back to the real topic.

Cosby Show Huxtable fashion blog 80s sitcom Clair Phylicia Rashad
One bad mother - SHUT YOUR MOUTH! - I'm just talking about Clair.

This episode (like the rest of my life) is all about Clair, so I've saved her for last. Let's start with her look for Vanessa's play. I'm sorry, but are you telling me that this woman walked onto school grounds wearing a knee-to-diaphragm black leather skirt with red stitching? She's going to incite a riot. Loving the brassy cut of this coat, too, though I could have done without the mismatched lapel. The soft cream blouse is just heaven, and the big gold accessories scream of opulence. Plus, she's just getting started.

Cosby Show Huxtable fashion blog 80s sitcom Clair Phylicia Rashad
She knows all and sees all.

I guess she's going to make scarves her "thing" this season. This brick-and-black creation is sort of a toned-down version of yesterday's motif: you can't see it well, but if you watch the episode, you'll notice that this skirt is the same shape as the previous one, but in what is probably a cotton rather than a hide. The color story here is just phenomenal, with the orange flower on that shoulder-slung shawl turning this plain business look into a full spectacle. I'm not usually one for matching, but the precision with which her shirt and jacket align is commendable. Also, be amazed by that wrist bangle. It's huge, bejeweled, and vaguely frightening. Consider it a harbinger of the mild terror she is about to unleash on her unsuspecting son.

Cosby Show Huxtable fashion blog 80s sitcom Clair Phylicia Rashad
I'm dead.

Flawlessness. I can't. There's just nothing to say. This black suit is everything. She looks professional, deadly, sexy, powerful... it's all there. Each aspect of the fit is stunning: the skirt is just the right length and hugs her beautifully, the jacket is slim with the perfect amount of pad at the shoulders, and oh my stars that cream cowl-neck blouse. When it's right, it's right, and this is right. No judge in the world could disagree with her.

Cosby Show Huxtable fashion blog 80s sitcom Clair Phylicia Rashad

Even the pin is perfect! It's a pair of angel's wings using the truth to set someone free. She is a symbol, an emblem, a one-woman revolution. I almost want to stop watching the show because I honestly don't see how we can do anything but decline from this point forward.

And yet forward we must go. Check back next Monday to see what else the Huxtables have in their closets. You never know, there could be more looks of this caliber.


  1. This site has renewed my love for The Cosby Show. What a wonderful creation.

  2. I gasped when I saw Claire's last look. FLAWLESS!

    1. Same. She walked through the door and I completely lost my breath.

  3. Yasssssssssssss gawd hunty!!! I live! Your commentary is everything! Your love for the fierce goddess that is Claire Huxtable breathes new life into me. Glad to have found this blog. I WILL be bookmarking to go back and read everything in my free time.

  4. I am super late but thank you so much for posting. This episode contains my favorite looks of Clair Huxtable: classy, sexy, gorgeous, and ready to go to work. Thank you again