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, April 30, 2012

Season 2, Episode 23: The Card Game

Once more, the DVD  disagrees with the internet about which episode comes next. I have some questions about how this box set was compiled. As is always the case with such discrepancies, I have placed my trust in the Internet Movie Database. This week, Cliff welcomes his father for another in their regular series of pinochle games. Though Russell and his friend Homer are used to winning, their victory is no longer inevitable once Cliff's college literature professor joins the game.

What's the old, male, overeducated version of the manic pixie dreamgirl?

Roscoe Lee Browne earned an Emmy nomination for his appearance as Dr. Barnabus Foster. He would reprise the character a handful of times for A Different World, and otherwise made a good living playing mostly distinguished gentlemen in both television and film until his death in 2007. His distinctive voice made him a good candidate for work in animation, as well, leading to roles such as Kingpin in the Spider-Man cartoons. Here, he is dressed in a crisp, classic three-piece suit to match his austere presence. The attire says a lot about him as a person; while it is specified that he has a conference to attend the following day, his only immediate commitment is a social call with the Huxtable family. There's thus no need for him to be dressed so formally, so his choice to do so communicates an uncommon adherence to old-school social graces. For the most part, this is a well-made but unimaginative presentation: that shade of gray is about as safe as one can get, as is the periwinkle of his poplin shirt. He adds just a touch of whimsy with the brighter plaid bow tie and the emerald handkerchief overflowing from his breast pocket. These pieces liven the look and hint at the rakish humor hiding just below his slightly dour surface.

This "regular" game of theirs happens with astonishing infrequency.

Homer is portrayed by Bill Gunn, whose acting career ended with this character. He died a few years after his second appearance on this program, at only 59 years old. In addition to his on-screen career, he had some success as a writer, for instance penning the screenplay for The Landlord. In terms of fashion, he's clearly working in the realm of the Cosby sweater, though his color and pattern choices are not as overtly daring. There's something calming about the geometric blues and subtle gray accents. He's just a normal guy wearing a normal, off-the-rack outfit.

Someone needs to install a streetlight outside this house.

The secondary plot of this episode involves Theo's uncertainty about whether to give his girlfriend Tanya a cheap imitation diamond ring that he bought from an ad he saw during a wrestling match. The woman in question is played by Tanya Wright, who has done her fair share of TV work, including a season of 24 as Patty Brooks and a recurring spot as Deputy Kenya Jones on True Blood. It's a shame we only see her briefly and in darkness, because she might be working with something here. There's too much denim happening, and the shoulder pads are excessive even by '80s standards, but that pink looks pretty outstanding, especially when you take in the possibilities implied by her boots. That could very well be some gut-wrenching footwear. Also, there's a chance that she's repeating Aunt Sarah's episode #2.9 shirt. We'll be left to wonder, though, because details are unavailable. Those pants with the weird cuffs might be high-fashion genius, or they could be a baggy mess. I see potential here, but more questions than answers.

Side note: this scene starts with the two young lovers discussing Ellison's Invisible Man. While they never get beyond saying they both like the book, it's one of the few examples of racial politics getting referenced, even obliquely, in the show.

It's time to go shopping, dude.

I was shocked to learn that Russell is not wearing the same jacket as the dude who hit on Clair in episode #2.9. The placement of the wider bands in the pattern differs between the two coats. While it isn't identical, the resemblance is nonetheless close enough that I have nothing new to add in terms of commentary. We've also seen this shirt before, most recently in #2.17. The pants are too close in tone to the blazer, but I like that he's distancing himself from the plain khaki base by incorporating two distinct plaids.

I probably could have worked harder to get a flattering shot of her.

Rudy has worn this before. I'm including her only because it always feels a little wrong not to.

This is what a Power Ranger looks like without the power.

We don't generally see a lot of straight green in Vanessa's attire, but she makes up for it with this getup. I find it unlikely that the sweatshirt and coat were sold as a set, so she much have bought them separately with the intent of wearing them this way. I'm generally opposed to this kind of uniformity, and I'm a little surprised she went there. Vanessa is all about weird patterns and color combinations, so seeing this little variance from her seems almost retrograde. Also, she never takes that coat off, which ensures completeness in her outfit but makes zero sense in the context of a regular human spending time in her own home. There's not a lot of good happening in this instance.

He likes it, and will put a ring on it.

In terms of hue, Theo's shirt is pretty much ideal; the orange-y pink is dazzling without seeming excessive and adds a noticeable glow to his skin. As we got closer, though, we can see that it's trying to hide its true sweatshirt identity with busy details. Your double collar, oddly placed seams, and superfluous grommets don't fool me.

He's apparently on his way to a beach funeral.

For his date, Theo changes into this, which completely baffles me. It's all beige. ALL BEIGE. I can't stress forcefully enough how wrong this is. Please never, ever, ever in your life wear your three baggiest, beigest garments together. In fact, even owning three baggy, beige garments might be a bad idea. Can you imagine trying to impress someone like this? You do not look your best, dude. You look like you're wearing one of those protective covers people throw over their motorcycles to guard them from the elements. Does this tear away to reveal a better outfit underneath? Are you trying to liken your body to a sexy motorcycle? Because if so, the reference is lost. Mostly, you look like someone who has no idea how to dress himself.

How the mighty have fallen.

When you take a lot of risks, you're bound to make some mistakes. Such is the case with Denise's look today, which is just a head-to-toe affront. The shirt fits like an overcoat, the yellow underneath it is garish and does nothing for her skin tone, and the pants bulge like a diaper. Details like the overlarge cuffs at her wrists and the buttons down her fly only cause further distress to the eye. Just look at the shot on the left. The collar is so hyooooj that this ends up seeming like a shot from onetinyhand.com or something. There's seriously nothing good happening here. Even her hair is a little less put together than it was last week when she debuted this style. I guess maybe the orange head wrap works, though it would certainly be considered the most boring part of one of her good outfits. I'm disappointed.

Check yourself, Clair. Mullets can happen to the best of us.

In another close-but-no-cigar fake-out, this is a different all-yellow, red-belted outfit than the one featured in episode #2.7. The shade is slightly different, the lapels have been adandoned in favor of more buttons, and the belt is thicker and higher than before. I don't think any of these adjustments count as improvements, nor do I necessarily see the logic in having duplicates of this rather simple ensemble. It's sort of "whatever" for me. I like the big wooden beaded necklace.

"I'm leaving. The kitchen smells like old balls."

She swings by in this coat later, which gets points for sheer audacity if not for actual style.

For him, this entry is already over.

Last and actually least, we have Cliff in another sweatsuit. I'm concerned by his willingness to remain in sub-clothes body coverings when he knows he'll be hosting company. Have a little self-respect, doctor. This is the kind of example that convinces your son to go on dates wearing person-shaped slip covers. Notice that the name Lemire has again been added to an emblem on his chest. She's like Zorro.

That wasn't much of an episode. Not my fault, I'm just reporting what I see. I can't add opulent garb where it didn't previously exist. If you liked the entry this week or other weeks, I'd be thrilled if you could donate a dollar to help me cover my costs. If you can't donate a dollar, I'd be equally thrilled if you would help me spread the word about this blog in some manner. Publicity is better than cash, really: if you can refer people to this site, I will be especially grateful. And of course, I still accept money.



That's all for now, dears. Until next Monday!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Season 2, Episode 22: Theo's Holiday

This is one of those episodes that a few of my friends have mentioned specifically remembering. I think part of its lasting impact stems from the fact that the story resonated equally well with both children and parents, whereas often the balance was skewed toward only one of those audiences. When Theo's borrowing and spending habits become noticeably problematic, his parents warn him about the drawbacks his tendencies will have when he leaves home. He assures them that he will make it in the real world because he intends to become a model when he turns 18, and thus have plenty of money. While he spends the night at Cockroach's place, Cliff transforms their house into the Real World apartment building and enlists the family in enacting scenarios designed to illustrate the holes in Theo's plan. It's zany enough to avoid being mean, while tough enough to make the point stick. Plus, everyone wears crazy outfits. We all win.

"Didn't you and I already cover money management in the first episode?"

We begin in the kitchen, where dinner is being prepared and no one is wearing anything of note. The weekends are pretty low-key at the Huxtable household. Cliff is in sweats that look sort of like vinyl siding.

This knowing glance happens often. Because Mrs. Huxtable knows.

Clair is rocking what I assume is a full pink sweatsuit, though the show's habit of blocking people from the waist down continues to thwart my attempts at a thorough fashion review. Throw me a bone, people. The lavender shirt complements her outfit well. Bonus points for matching her top to her potholder: that's forethought right there.

What in the world is that a jar of?

Denise also exists only in torso form for the first segment. We've seen this top way back in the day: she wore it in episode #1.5 with the sleeves rolled higher to accentuate the pink inside. The hair is new, however, and it's 100% wonderful.

This glance assures us that Theo does not know.

Theo's wearing a green shirt from episode #2.9 and jeans from always.

Vanessa may never know.

Vanessa's the only one in the kitchen with anything different on display. Sticking with her new-found love of all things coral, she's rocking a big weird hoodie that serves as much of her favorite hue as her teenage frame can support. I must be getting a fever, because I sort of love it. Especially with the weird Tic Tac earrings. Her bangs are a frowzy mess, but the top is working.

Rudy's there too, but let's not mention her.

*sniff*

Just kidding! Rudy is my favorite. Look how cute.

Anyhow, I'm going to do the rest of the episode in chronological order so we can see how people's costumes evolve over the course of the day. Since most of the Huxtables portray more than one character during Theo's journey into the real world, they end up making clever adjustments to their base look to indicate a new personality. It's highly theatrical and way smarter than I realized when I first watched it. Let's begin.

The only thing worse than being an underdog is not knowing you're an underdog.

Theo arrives home in a decent if unambitious outfit. He's ready for a day of relaxation, and everything he's wearing was packed in an overnight bag, so it's not surprising that he didn't bring the high fashion. In fact, I'm surprised he bothered to change pants, given the infrequency with which he does so anyway. I like the yellow and gray on him, and the white detailing on the shirt gives this a bit of a tennis club vibe that amuses me. This feels like something a preppy rich kid would put on, you know? Good thing he's wearing twill slacks and not sweatpants, though; he's trying to convince the world that he's a grown-up, after all.

"Hey, neighbor!"

The first person he encounters on his journey is Margo Farnsworth, another resident of the Real World apartment complex. She's been placed to give Theo subtle hints about the social experiment he's about to wander into. I can understand why he didn't immediately recognize her as a denizen from beyond reality, though: these are Vanessa's regular clothes. She wore this exact outfit in episode #2.11.

A cigar is the universal shorthand for slumlord.

Inside, Theo is greeted by Harley Weewax, the landlord. His sweater is an episode #2.2 repeat, but everything else is new to us, I believe. I'm sure I'd remember those shocking red trousers. This is one of those situations where everyone in the family dug into the way backs of their closets to find the stuff that they should have sold at a garage sale long ago. I think the pants, t-shirt, cap, cigar, and belt all work to convey a solid image. Maybe even the suspenders. The cardigan doesn't really make sense for me in this context; it takes him out of working-class mode and back into rich-dad territory. But it is present, I'm sure, to give the audience a recognizable piece of Cliff's actual clothing to latch onto. By including it, the costume department has reassured viewers that the character owns all of these clothes and isn't just pulling things from nowhere, even though the rest was probably purchased new. Good thinking, team.

Also: that's a Magnum, P.I. cap he's wearing, which is a nod to the fact that the series aired during the same time slot as The Cosby Show on CBS.


A wooden spoon is the universal shorthand for home cookin'.

Next, Millie Farquar enters. She's the proprietress of the Chuck Wagon Restaurant. Handy that Clair happened to have an apron with the initials CW embroidered into it, huh? Maybe she bought it or did it herself at the last minute, but it seems a touch too perfect. The shirt is also new, as is the barely seen neon skirt. (It was tough to capture a clear full-length shot of her, but I wanted to make sure you caught that flash of green; it'll be important later.) I'm not sure I'm believing that any of this stuff actually belonged to Mrs. Huxtable before they decided to open a fake apartment building. It's OK, I live to watch Phylicia Rashad play different characters. Clearly, if Clair hadn't been a lawyer, she would have been a Broadway actress, because she sells her roles brilliantly.

"Bitch, I am flawless."

Rudy appears as Mrs. Griswold, who owns the building as well as several banks in the fictitious neighborhood. This outfit is also completely new, and given Rudy's age, it's even less plausible that she would have a backlog of extra clothes to go through. Maybe some of these pieces were Denise's or Vanessa's when they were kids, though the audience should not be asked to accept that they had the hat and glasses lying around. It's a terrific outfit, though, and it serves old lady realness brilliantly.

When Theo gets upstairs, he is informed that his unfurnished studio apartment will cost him $600 a month. To secure the space, he is asked to put down three months' worth of rent: first, last, and security. With inflation, the price would come out to around $1180 a month today, which is actually decent for a studio in Brooklyn Heights. Demanding the last month's rent and a security deposit is maybe a little severe, but I've seen it done before, so his family isn't being totally unfair or unrealistic in their recreation of the real world.

I wish she expressed her mood through her hair in more episodes.

Theo is also told that to get the apartment, he needs to have a job. This is also accurate: filling out a rental application can require anything from a letter of employment to a full credit check. Since he, in this reality, does not yet have a modeling gig, he's sent to the Firestone Modeling Agency, where he runs into Kitty LaRue, the receptionist. Her accent is a marvel: she might be aiming for Texan, but it varies so wildly from word to word that it's fruitless to even venture a guess, really. Vanessa's serving the same shirt, but untucked and without the sweater, allowing us to see for the first time that this garment has buttons down the front and in the back. In other words: this is two entirely separate halves that merge into a single top. Mind: blown. Also, we need to address the belt. This is Sondra's from the opening credits; Denise has also worn it. What I previously missed, however, is that Vanessa sported the same belt in episode #2.15, meaning that all three Huxtable sisters have inflicted this blight on us. When will it end? Who can save us?

More convincing than Janet Jackson in For Colored Girls.

Mrs. Firestone, the head of the modeling agency, is of course portrayed by Denise. Oddly, this is another instance in which we're never offered a full-length shot of the character. Of all the looks, this is the one I'd be most eager to see in total, because I'm dying to know what Denise thinks a professional in the fashion world would wear. Does this purple top go down to the floor, or stop at the knee? Would she go with black leggings, or something crazier? What sort of shoes does she have on? Whose glasses are those? I'm totally willing to believe that she had those giant accessories lying around, but less convinced that the tiger print pieces are hers. Mostly because they clearly come from Mrs. Westlake's episode #2.12 scarf. Thieves and vandals, these kids are. Despite her crimes, Denise delivers a strong visual presentation, not to mention a strong performance. She's one of the only actors on the show who conveys the sense that she's struggling to stay in character: when Theo does something ridiculous, she stifles a laugh and then continues with her lines. It's a subtle, perfect little touch.

Also, she tells Theo that it would cost him between $800 and $1200 to get a modeling portfolio. We'll work with the median there: $1000 in 1986 would almost double in value by today's standards. That sounds to me like an awful lot for pictures and prints, but things might have been different in the '80s. Present-day digital photography has made it much easier to take, retouch, and print images. It's conceivable that the whole process was more difficult, and thus more expensive, 25 years ago.

Like a lawyer, except... well, OK, nothing like a lawyer.

When he's unable to secure a job through Firestone, Theo calls in a favor and enlists Cockroach to play Horton W. Dansbury, owner of Cockroach Oil. Theo is the company's spokesman. This episode maybe pokes a hole in my belief that Cockroach is there to represent the less wealthy segment of the NYC population, because only the rich would buy their 16-year-old son a well-tailored three-piece suit. This isn't some bargain basement getup bought on the quick for a relative's funeral. This is the real deal. If he owns this, he's got bank. As in, he might literally own a bank. In what world is any teenager equipped with that kind of gear? Maybe he inherited it from his short, slim grandfather? I just don't know. I like that his tie is completely at odds with his shirt. Having nice clothes doesn't mean knowing how to dress.

Is it Mardi Gras?

With his employer in tow, Theo sets out to establish his new home with some purchases from Amanda's Furniture City. Clair delivers another Tony-worthy performance as Amanda, the fast-talking, no-nonsense store owner. Remember how I asked you to keep an eye on the neon green? This is why. Turns out it's a whole dress, and by switching shirts and adding all of Rudy's (I sincerely hope, anyway) play jewelry, she becomes a new woman with a new occupation. Glasses have also played a key part in many of the transformations we've witnessed. Where is everyone getting all these empty frames? Again, I'm not inclined to accept any of this as stuff that already existed in the household. Who would own that top and why?

This moment also interests me because it marks the first time that the show acknowledges Theo's double bed situation. Amanda tells him that it will be $200 to buy both beds, so he asks to buy just one. His request is denied, but it raises the question: why has he ever had more than one? When's the last time he shared a room with someone? They should've gotten rid of one a long time ago, or at the very least pressed the two twin mattresses together to make a king for him, right?

She works hard for the money.

Denise pulls a sly trick on Theo, appearing as Denise Farquar, daughter of the restaurant's owner and member of the waitstaff. Her transformation from the fashion mogul is complete, as the black base of her outfit is almost totally obscured by the apron, fringed gloves, and episode #2.20 jacket. I'm gonna go ahead and express my extreme aversion to the yellow gloves. No need for those to ever see the light of day again. Let's save them for costume pieces, huh? Her demeanor is again what sells it, though: she gives off the weary, forthright edge of a woman who has been on her feet serving customers all day. It wouldn't matter where she was standing in real life: you knew that in her mind, she was in a god damned restaurant.

She's going to feel the burn when Occupy Wall Street happens.

Vanessa comes back as yet another character, this time Mrs. Covington, Vice President of Mrs. Griswold's bank. I question whether she would have had time to get that hair right, but I'll allow it. The blazer is, I'm pretty sure, making its first appearance on the show, which surprises me because it would have been easy to pull something from Clair's wardrobe. At least she didn't have to resort to glasses like some other lazy actors I could name. I'll also point out that the article she's wearing around her neck is properly referred to as a "pussy bow." The term makes me supremely uncomfortable. It looks wonderful, though, and I wholeheartedly promote its use, even if I believe just as firmly that it should be renamed.

Ah, young love.

Cliff and Clair appear as a fresh-faced couple applying for their first loan so they can start a family. They both take the same approach: remove all accessories, wear a new top layer. This is particularly interesting in Cliff's case, because he's wearing David's blazer from episode #1.9. I guess Denise stole more than his scarf.

The episode ends with Theo getting a visit from his real parents.

Remember us? The people who have been tormenting you for the past 12 hours?

Since he hasn't paid the electric bill, they force him to keep the lights off. It's an honor system thing, really; I'm surprised he kept up with it. Once that door was shut, there was nothing stopping him. Anyhow, Cliff is wearing a yellow sweatshirt. Ho hum. Clair, on the other hand, is changing my life.

Wearing her best and brightest just to flaunt her opulence in his face.

That image on the right tells you everything you need to know. Can't you imagine her walking into a disco or house party and having the best time ever? The big belt, the pink, the tailoring? Come on. Perfection. She's tried some other one-piece looks that I haven't been as fond of, but this is undeniably great. I can't believe she's wearing it on an evening in; it should be flaunted for the whole city to see.

Glad we ended on a high note there. Unfortunately, this site is not kept afloat by coveralls alone. (But seriously, I can't stop looking at them, can you? Genius. Flawless. Wonderful.) If you have money to spare and want to donate a dollar to assist me, then I'd certainly appreciate it. All it takes is a quick click of the button below. If you'd like to offer non-monetary support, then the best thing you could possibly do for me is to spread the word. Tell your friends about this site. Post a link on Twitter or Facebook. Mention my work in your own blog. Refer to Huxtable Hotness in your next work presentation, loan application, or eulogy. Whatever you can do to direct traffic my way will be enormously appreciated.



My main goal, however, is to get you (yes, you) to return to the site. Come back next Monday, when another juicy new fashion review will be posted. See you then!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Season 2, Episode 21: An Early Spring

The DVD's episode order is once again called into question this week; I continue to defer to the internet's wisdom on such matters. Anyhow, today's story involves another appearance by Mrs. Westlake. The expectant Dragon Lady is torn between giving an important test and giving birth to her baby girl. She manages both. Over an eventful two-day period, Theo and Cockroach learn a valuable lesson about being good students, Vanessa learns a valuable lesson about covering pimples, and Rudy learns how to ride a bike all by herself.

What do you call a baby dragon? Is there an official term? Like tadpole?

Anna Maria doesn't serve a lot of fashion in this episode. To be fair, she's nine months pregnant, so I certainly won't begrudge her any comfort. If she wants to wear sweats and a flannel jacket, she gets to wear sweats and a flannel jacket. I'm assuming that scarf-y, sash-y swath of fabric is somehow reflective of her Brazilian roots, though I have nothing to back that conclusion. It's maybe just one of those baby slings, sans baby. She's prepared.

"Is there a bare minimum of support I can offer?"

The next time we see Mrs. Westlake, she's under Dr. Huxtable's expert care. He's such an attentive practitioner that he even let her husband borrow a sweater. (Cliff wore it in episode #1.23.)

I'm OK with her rocking this post-partum hair outside the hospital.

She spends the rest of the episode in the hospital, though after the delivery, she changes into a nightgown. I won't review her non-clothes, but I will give her props for that little braid. It's kinda cute.

Extra bad: wearing sneakers in someone else's bed.

Cockroach once again brings the puffy socks. They're his signature thing, I guess. He's winning me over with that purple top, mostly because I'm a sucker for contrast stitching. The proportions on it don't seem to be terrible either. We're not given much information on the next two layers of shirt, though. It appears that he has a plain gray tee supporting a patterned black and red number. There's potential there, but I have plenty of reason to remain suspicious. As it stands, I'm not sure that agree with the placement of that central stripe underneath the ripped collar. It almost looks like he's trying to mimic the layout of a buttoned shirt and tie, which is weird in this casual of a setting. That is, of course, an extremely arbitrary reason to hate on an outfit, but this is all arbitrary anyway. I thought you knew.

He kind of also looks like he just had a baby.

The next time we see him, he's wearing a shirt that's inspired by a sports jersey, though I don't think it actually is one. The asymmetry, which is terrific, strikes me as too bold a move for regulation attire. Still, other than the one blue shoulder, it's basic and bland and I don't have a ton to point out about it.

Work that bone structure. Work it.

There's no point in reviewing medical scrubs (though that lavender is lovely), but it's worth noting that the nurse in this episode was played by Garcelle Beauvais in one of her first TV appearances.

"But you always skip me!"

Sorry, Rudy, but you spend 90 percent of the episode in a helmet, elbow pads, knee pads, and sweats. Safety is important when riding a bike for the first time, but it doesn't make for much of a runway look.

"Maybe if you dressed nice once in a while you be in the blog more."

It looks like Cliff has fully embraced his role as Sweater Master. This particular piece isn't as desperately wild as some of his others, but there's still a nonsensical quality about the color, stitching, and pattern that make it appropriate as part of his signature style. The boxiness of the stitching is so knobbly; it's weird to look at. While I wouldn't recommend a combination of red, orange, and yellow to just anyone, I'm fine with his choice to do so. The khakis are too sedate to mention, but his whole top half merges into a very Sesame Street presentation that's not terrible. He's out teaching his young daughter to ride a bike, so maybe he's intentionally mitigating her fear of falling with the delight she experiences when she sees what Big Bird would look like if you plucked all his feathers.

His concerned face causes me concern.

Staying at the top of his sweater game, he wears a wonderful, comforting knit to greet Mrs. Westlake after she has delivered her baby. The cool colors and plush texture must have been chosen deliberately as a means of soothing her after the difficult process of childbirth. Look at the deftness with which he has applied the powers of his sweaters. He's a shaman, basically. We've seen the collar of that shirt before, in episode #2.13; it's a fabulous shade that works particularly well in these surroundings.

Opposite the Edge of Glory, you will find the Fringe of Failure.

Clair, you know I love you, respect you, and often try to emulate you. Keep that in mind as I recount precisely why this is a total disaster. As a starting point, that fabric should never have been made into a suit. Upholstery maybe, but never clothing. And once we got around to making this ill-fated suit thing, who was in charge of tailoring? This is misshapen on a level approaching Denise's Gordon Gartrelle knock-off. Look at how that skirt fits her! The waist hits right at her rib cage, but then splays outward immediately, and is it just me or is it actually higher in the front than in the back? Speaking of backs: her coat's rear half is shaped exactly like a wide, dumpy butt. I rarely mention shoulder seam placement anymore because I recognize that it's a losing battle, but so much effort was put into embellishing this one that I have no choice but to reprimand her for starting her sleeve midway down her bicep. And we haven't even begun to discuss the severe violet fringe happening. So much fringe. Too much fringe. This is not the right time for fringe, dear. I will, however, rejoice at the reappearance of her episode #2.14 necklace.

I love when the family washes dishes even though they have a dishwasher.

She's better off, though not necessarily good, with this situation. I'm seldom sold on the idea of matching your pants to your shirt. Surely there are other ways to avoid clashing. Still, she's not too far out of bounds here: the sizing is fine, the bricky hue of the cardigan is assertive without shouting, and the taupe base is too plain to be considered objectionable in any way. She's not shooting for the stars, but at least that way she doesn't miss.

In the darkness, she waits for you.

We do get to see this look once more, though, in the dead of night. This reveals good and bad details. Good: the shirt's collar with its unexpected button placement. Well done. Bad: the cuffs on those pants. Sweatpant cuffs on a twill pant? Why? This was bad when Vanessa tried it in episode #1.3. What would make an intelligent, stylish adult do this? Don't do this.

Outside? In public? Shameless. Flagrant.

Cliff and Clair both wore sweatsuits this week as well. Even if I were in the habit of talking about these garments, I still wouldn't mention hers because it's comprised entirely of repeats: the orange base was seen in episode #2.17, while the green piece is from #2.18. While I'm not sure if Cliff has worn these before, my suspicion is that he hasn't because I think the image of him in such snug attire has been seared indelibly into my retinas. You stand warned: we're talking full Cosby package. What has been seen cannot be unseen.

Here to save us from mundane selections. Like sweatsuits.

Denise might need a time out from that turtleneck. We've seen it a bunch. It suits her, but she's resting on it too easily. The shirt works well on her, but it's actually Theo's from episode #2.14. Still, despite the repetition, she once again proves to us that she has a strong point of view and a deft sense of how to juxtapose pieces in a unique and eye-catching manner. The deep purple sheen of the blazer's rolled sleeve transitions beautifully into the mottled hue of the rest of the coat, only to find an exciting counterpoint in the choppy plaid and minty sweater. The simple jeans (which are barely seen, hence the lame screencap) finish the look off in a casual way while continuing to question gender barriers. I love when she works the edgy beauty of traditionally masculine styles.

This look is from nowhere in particular. It's Zamunda's native garb or something.

When she's not thinking about the male/female dichotomy, she's thinking about how to incorporate pieces from other traditions into her wardrobe. She wore this hat the first time Mrs. Westlake appeared, in episode #2.12. The overall outfit doesn't seem tied to any exact cultural background, but is a more generalized "not-from-here" presentation. Her shirt and coat are probably Indian-inspired; they're not a kurta and sherwani, but they're headed in that direction. The rich eggplant shade of them is divine. This is one of the rare instances when I'll accept a single-tone look because the tone itself is just that good. In terms of accessories, she's daring me to question the use of two giant dangly things, one of rough cloth and one of carefully crafted metal. Well, I won't rise to her provocation: I like them both and think they both deserve a place here. She knows when to pull back: notice that she went with a simple earring rather than a large hanging piece. There's maybe a touch of discord between the sash and the hat, but I'll overlook it.

Has he already worn this coat? He may have. Sorry if this is a repeat.

I've avoided reviewing Theo's UMass Amherst sweatshirt previously (in case you're wondering, it's a nod to Mr. Cosby's actual alma mater), so the only new thing here to talk about is the jacket. This is another out-of-control shoulder scenario. Too much. I'm also not sold on the styling of this piece. It's not a blazer so much as a short trench coat, and that's weird to me. (I'm making that distinction based on my assessment of the material from which it's made.) The printed inner sleeve is good, though, and adds some interest at the cuff. The color is fine. I'm not thrilled, but not angered either. It can stay.

Nope.

We've seen shoulder buttons from Theo before. I can get behind them; I once had a button-shouldered sweater myself, and kind of miss it now that I see these episodes repeating. What I don't miss are Hammer pants, or whatever they were called before MC Hammer took 1990 by storm. The color is interesting, like the ocean at night, but looks less appealing next to those purple socks. I'm not feeling this overall. Oh, and details matter, folks: brown buttons on the shirt matched to black shoes? No, ma'am.

We're all here! Because nothing's more soothing than a roomful of teenagers!

Theo reappears briefly at the end of the episode to present Mrs. Westlake with a card from the whole class. It's in the shape of a parallelogram to prove that they learned to identify at least one shape correctly. The shirt is big and loud and doesn't work for me; the jacket is fine. Mostly, this screencap fills me with a sense of deepest relief. Imagine if I had committed to reviewing everything worn by every person that appears on the show! I don't have the strength. Still, I'll point out a few things. One: Cockroach is not there. Later in the scene, he magically appears right next to Theo, but he was clearly not present initially. Two: that girl in yellow is serving Molly Ringwald realness. Three:

Go toward the light, Carol Ann.

Can you even believe those shoes? I can't.

Not amused.

Vanessa begins the episode in a look that could easily be misconstrued as pajamas. However, everyone else in the house is awake and dressed, and she's taken the time to put on earrings and hair clips, so I'm going to assume that she's wearing this in earnest. The three pieces were obviously bought as a set, as they are all adorned with matching prints of what I believe are women doing aerobics. This whole getup just looks a little too loose and sloppy for me. She justifies it partially with the pleasing effect of the baggy sleeves rolled into each other, but mostly this comes off badly, from the limp collar to the untucked shirt to the sickly spoiled salmon color of the matching overshirt and pantaloons. Not her proudest moment.

Mildly amused.

I love this continuity detail. Vanessa asks her sister for help covering a zit, so Denise lends her a headband. What she ends up wearing is actually Denise's headband from episode #2.15. The sweater is also Denise's, from #2.7. Just like the first time we saw it, this piece continues to reshape people's bodies in odd ways. Vanessa seems so perfectly pear-shaped here. Also, I'm seeing a lot more teal than I need to. Rather than adding another shirt, she should probably have worn just the sweater and the turtleneck. (She's loving the salmon this week, huh?) It overall seems like she created this entire outfit simply to justify the headband, and while that's an accurate reflection of the episode's plot, it still leads to a sub-optimal outcome.

Thanks for tuning in each week, guys. People often ask me why I write this blog, usually with a deeply worried expression, so it's nice to know that there are people out there reveling in the hotness. I'm laying out the donation button in case you want to throw a dollar at me like you would to one of those dudes who sings on the subway or does the living statue thing on a street corner. This fashion recap is my dance to earn your pennies. If you don't feel like giving me money, consider commenting on an entry. I'd love to get some feedback, hear your opinions, or receive anecdotes about the Huxtable-inspired fashion choices you've made recently.

OK, now gimme your lunch money.

See you again next week.