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, November 26, 2012

Season 4, Episode 1: Call of the Wild

This week's plot makes absolutely no sense to me, not because the events themselves are nonsensical, but because we seem to have rocketed past some major events. Remember how last season, the audience was forced to watch a graduation even though none of the characters was graduating? This season, they open with the revelation that while no one was looking, Sondra and Elvin got married and went on their honeymoon. Wait, what?! Can we say oversight? In what world would we not have at least a full episode about the planning followed by one devoted entirely to the ceremony? It seems preposterous that the writers chose to fast-forward through that whole process. Regardless, Sondra and Elvin return from their honeymoon to announce that they've given up on law school and med school respectively, and instead intend to open a wilderness store in Brooklyn. They promptly find and move into a sub-par apartment. Cliff and Clair deliver priceless reactions throughout.

Cosby Show Huxtable fashion blog 80s sitcom Geoffrey Owens Elvin Tibideaux
Buy camping gear from someone who's obviously never been camping!

When Elvin arrives, there's an obvious effort to give him a bit of a woodsy edge. The jacket has a slightly rugged vibe, while the shirt is maybe what a New York academic would think of as outdoorsy. Something about the print suggests trees or moss or rocks or another incidental pulled from nature (that might even be a bear on his chest) without actually depicting any of those things outright. Unfortunately, camping has little to do with cute clothes, and Elvin supports that end of the bargain as well. The brick red is a little blah for me, and made blah-er by the junky design work overlaid onto it. It's tough to be offended by a khaki jacket, but wearing a collar in a conflicting shade of tan makes it easier. And if you're going to tuck in your shirt, wear a belt. You can try to cover your waist by putting your hands in your pockets, but I can still see that there's no belt there.

Cosby Show Huxtable fashion blog 80s sitcom Geoffrey Owens Elvin Tibideaux
Then again, can you really picture him as your doctor?

At least he raised the game with his apartment-hunting outfit. Those are, I assume, the same jeans, but livened by new surroundings. I applaud this amethyst sweater, especially the use of subtler gray stripes among the black patterning to add depth. The colorful collar popping out from underneath is another triumph. I'm even kind of into the white sneakers, but that's likely because of the retro craze that they have since spawned. Still, he looks presentable and dependable without seeming like he's loaded, which I'm sure helped him in nabbing his affordable living space. Nicely done, sir.

Cosby Show Huxtable fashion blog 80s sitcom Geoffrey Owens Elvin Tibideaux
Come to think of it, I'm not sure what job I imagine him doing well.

For his dinner with the Huxtables, Elvin selects a shirt that I feel was intended to mirror Cliff's episode #1.21 striped number. His whole outfit seems like an homage to his new father-in-law, perhaps as a way of suggesting familiarity and depicting his respect for the doctor's fashion sense. It's a solid look for him, though the palette is too saucy and technicolor once you get close. I like that it's deceptively simple from afar and then has deeper layers on a closer viewing, but the brights are too bright. The pinks and teals are very of their time and could stand to be toned down a bit. It's generally best on a dressier look to choose one standout color and let the rest serve as a tasteful backdrop. At least he's belted this time around.

Cosby Show Huxtable fashion blog 80s sitcom Sondra Sabrina Le Beauf
Girl, you look lost.

Sondra's entrance is marred by a full repeat of her episode #3.09 mistake. Additional points will be docked for her popped collar and limp hair.

Cosby Show Huxtable fashion blog 80s sitcom Sondra Sabrina Le Beauf
Lost in time, apparently.

She veers from rancher back into Romantic with her britches-and-overcoat creation. It could be worse, honestly; while I'd encourage her to scale back the dusty rose in favor of other colors, I don't mind her interest in non-standard shapes like short pants and tunic tops and high-waisted garments. It's really the color scheme that throws her in this case: she could better accentuate the various elements of her outfit by differentiating them with complementary shades. Still, it's a daring take in terms of cut, with care shown for details like the fastenings running up the sides of her pants and the thick belt matched to her maroon undershirt. I'd love to get a closer look at this one-scene wonder.

Cosby Show Huxtable fashion blog 80s sitcom Sondra Sabrina Le Beauf
Or maybe just lost in the irregulars bin.

The getup in which she greets her parents is kind of disorienting. I wish she would have taken that shapeless brown cardigan-ish thing off, because I want to know exactly what's happening with the creamsicle pieces below. It's unclear to me how everything fits together. My guess is that she's wearing pants that extend clean up to her rib cage, but that seam over her pelvis leads me to wonder if maybe the band of fabric across her torso is its own thing. It doesn't appear to be attached to the uppermost portion, which is probably ugly enough to be the devil's crop top. No one could say that she's playing it safe here, but I don't see this risk as having yielded much in the way of reward.

Cosby Show Huxtable fashion blog 80s sitcom Rudy Keshia Knight Pulliam
Wearing playing cards because she already knows that life is a gamble.

The other siblings barely register in this episode; it's all about Sondra and her parents. Rudy's brief appearance serves to remind us that we should be wearing more slacks in bold hues, but should always be careful about the sizing of our Oxfords. She gets some special dispensation for being a growing child; this was likely purchased with the idea that she'll still be wearing it a year from now when she's significantly taller.

Cosby Show Huxtable fashion blog 80s sitcom Vanessa Tempestt Bledsoe
Go back to Party City where you belong!

Vanessa's truncated involvement in this scenario is probably for the best, because this is a nightmare. The shades of purple are all wrong, the vest is a joke, the side ponytail offensive, and don't even get me started on the skirt, which, in addition to having some of the worst construction this side of a hasty Project Runway creation, is marred by what appear to be ribbons just dangling haphazardly from it as if that's acceptable. If I go closer to examine the fit of her shirt, the bunching of her socks, or the jewelry with which she's accessorized, I will almost certainly be thrown into a rage and break my computer monitor. Let's just jump ahead before things get serious.

Cosby Show Huxtable fashion blog 80s sitcom Theo Malcolm Jamal Warner
Zzzzzzzz.

Theo's commitment to giant, uninteresting apparel is still total, it seems. Other than the black and white flags on his big-enough-to-hold-a-book pocket, he's going for plain gray sack up above and plain brown sack down below. The red t-shirt barely evidenced at the neckline is the only thing stopping him from causing narcolepsy in everyone he meets. Most shocking misstep: his top extends well below his waistline, and yet we can still tell that his slacks are aggressively pleated.

Cosby Show Huxtable fashion blog 80s sitcom Clair Phylicia Rashad
Her face is delivering in this episode.

A lot goes right with Clair's first outfit. She seldom veers into baby blues, but the color is superb on her, especially with the support of that high-necked blouse. Sometimes you just have to pick a color and run with it. Not every woman could wear a print inspired by a Bob Ross painting, but she seems to be supporting happy little trees without difficulty. While the skirt is tailored appropriately, the jacket has some problems. Observe:

Cosby Show Huxtable fashion blog 80s sitcom Clair Phylicia Rashad
On the left there, she is literally just saying hello to her husband. No joke.

She's gone with that baggy, wing-shaped sleeve before, but on a garment that's already overlarge, it just doesn't work. Her expanded top half and poufy hairdo conspire to make her head seem shrunken (an effect that she hopes to combat with broadened facial expressions, apparently). For the billowy thing to work, she needs to tighten elsewhere. Then again, on a fabric this strong, she might have to abandon the concept altogether. You can't really do flowy on a winter coat.

Cosby Show Huxtable fashion blog 80s sitcom Clair Phylicia Rashad
She could be posing for the Pieta here.

I also want to quickly point out that she's doing that thing again where she applies a smudge of dark shadow just to the outside of her eyelid. Not sure that I feel great about that.

Cosby Show Huxtable fashion blog 80s sitcom Clair Phylicia Rashad
Not a sweatsuit, because she doesn't sweat it.

When the kids come home to announce that they've found a place to live, Clair is serving up kind of a fashion sweatsuit. She's better off in terms of shape than you'd expect, giving a nice tight legging and a surprisingly slim top, even if it commits the typical crime of shoulder slump paradoxically matched with shoulder pad. The heathered gray accented by fuchsia and green dates this outfit almost more than the tailoring, though: people just aren't into matching like this anymore. In general, you're better off finding pieces that accentuate and build on each other than simply looking for sameness.

Cosby Show Huxtable fashion blog 80s sitcom Clair Phylicia Rashad Cliff Bill Cosby
OK, she maybe sweats in all those layers.

For some reason, Clair never takes her overcoat off when she visits her daughter's place. Nice scarf, I suppose.

Cosby Show Huxtable fashion blog 80s sitcom Cliff Bill Cosby sweater
Legendary.

Starting strong, Cliff pulls out another entry from his sweater-made-of-sweaters collection. These pieces have almost become review-proof: there's nothing to say about an anomalous fashion decision that became culturally iconic, you know? I mean, it's a Cosby sweater. Its greatness is inherent in its legacy, even if it's empirically just weird and maybe even bad. Props to the purple collar and slate pants, though.

Cosby Show Huxtable fashion blog 80s sitcom Cliff Bill Cosby
Wake up! You have to shame your daughter for her income bracket!

This second outfit is just stellar. He has a lot of vibrant plaids, but this one takes the cake, especially since it pairs perfectly with the bird suspenders (which he's worn a lot, but seldom in an appropriate color context). I'm loving this.

Cosby Show Huxtable fashion blog 80s sitcom Cliff Bill Cosby sweater
He has zero patience for poor people.

He finishes out on a low note, however, with this polka-dotted situation. Putting a bright horizontal band around the widest part of your body, especially on a loose garment, is pretty much the worst option available to you. And spots can work, but they don't here. The bigger the circle, the bigger the risk, and he aims too high this time around. Then again, maybe his intention was to be off-putting, seeing as how he spends the whole episode overtly judging Sondra and Elvin.

In another lifetime, I'd love to do a blog comparing the New York of The Cosby Show with the New York that actually exists, or that existed back then. But that's not what we're here to talk about, and since we're out of clothes, it's time to pack it in. See you next week, kids.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Season 4: Opening Credits

The fourth season is upon us. I'm especially excited about this entry because we're about to view my favorite of all the credits sequences. Most people, I feel, are partial to the season 5 opener, which has big dance number that ends with all the spirit fingers parting to reveal Bill Cosby's smiling face. But that's just a bunch of people in gossamer, pastel costumes. What you're about to see, my readers, is fashion.

Cosby Show Huxtable fashion blog 80s sitcom Cliff Bill Cosby
Every girl crazy 'bout a sharp-dressed man.

The first image we get is of Bill Cosby in a full-on tuxedo, top hat and all. The white vest and white bow tie absolutely scream old-school glamour. I mean, sans chapeau, this is what Edward Cullen wore to his wedding. (I had to Google that, by the by. I don't watch those movies.) But honestly, with an initial visual like this, you know you're in for a treat.

Cosby Show Huxtable fashion blog 80s sitcom Clair Phylicia Rashad
Pizzazz.

Sure enough, Phylicia Rashad appears in a sherbet-colored confection of a spaghetti-strapped dress, complete with jewels and gloves, honey, such gloves! I love them so much I'm going to pretend I can't see the cheap-ass zippers on her palms.

Cosby Show Huxtable fashion blog 80s sitcom Clair Phylicia Rashad
Eleganza.

The real triumph in this piece is how it moves. Have you ever seen such delicate rippling? She could be underwater. And the way the light shines through the fabric to change the shade, she might even be wearing water, honestly: it's that supple.

Cosby Show Huxtable fashion blog 80s sitcom Clair Phylicia Rashad
This is art. Absolute ART.

I mean, COME ON.

Cosby Show Huxtable fashion blog 80s sitcom Sondra Sabrina Le Beauf
In this moment, I love her.

Next up, Sabrina Le Beauf gets sent out in a darling little baby pink shrug with delicate black detailing. This item encapsulates the style she should probably always pursue, and sometimes even achieves: slim and traditionally feminine but with an editorial edge. Details like the high collar (and the fact that it's a shrug because who even wears those anymore?) make this unique to her vibe.

Cosby Show Huxtable fashion blog 80s sitcom Sondra Sabrina Le Beauf
Miss Noxeema Jackson would be in heaven.

As Geoffrey Owens gets led in, she shimmies to let us know that this deceptively simple black tube dress is decked out in so much fringe you can't even believe it. The length is perfect, giving just enough skin to accentuate the bold choice of an ankle boot. All the elements of this are singing in perfect harmony. It's so successful I can hardly stand it.

Cosby Show Huxtable fashion blog 80s sitcom Elvin Tibideaux Geoffrey Owens
Please, let this wonder never fade.

It's rare that she wears something so slimly tailored, at it's breathtaking to see. Using what you've got is the ultimate accessory, and don't ever forget it. Take your weirdness and accentuate it! She's a toothpick with wild hair and she owns it and I love it.

Oh, and Geoffrey Owens is wearing a suit. The end.

Cosby Show Huxtable fashion blog 80s sitcom Theo Malcolm Jamal Warner
There's no need for that attitude.

Malcolm-Jamal Warner is also wearing a suit, but he's doing it in a sloppy teenager way. The jacket is too big (his shoulders can't go out that far, can they?), and the handkerchief in his pocket is just hanging out all everywhere.

Cosby Show Huxtable fashion blog 80s sitcom Theo Malcolm Jamal Warner
Everyone else is having a good time.

Since the rest of this sequence is so influenced by the 1940s, it's possible that they were going for a bit of zoot suit flare with the shape of his clothes. The shoulder pads and tapered pants evoke the bolder choices of that decade without completely replicating them. I can't tell if I like this subtler approach, or if I'd rather just see him in a totally bright, brazen, five-extra-yards-of-fabric look. I think the latter might actually have been really fun.

Cosby Show Huxtable fashion blog 80s sitcom Vanessa Tempestt Bledsoe
It's OK. You look the best you've ever looked.

Tempestt Bledsoe gets a delightful military-inspired ensemble that recalls the Andrews Sisters, but she spices it up with that perfect shade of satiny, shiny teal.

Cosby Show Huxtable fashion blog 80s sitcom Vanessa Tempestt Bledsoe
Now prance!

The shape of her jacket is impeccable, as are the tuxedo pants. I'm living for this blue, and she's spanning the divide between modern and classic flawlessly.

Cosby Show Huxtable fashion blog 80s sitcom Vanessa Tempestt Bledsoe
Prance, I said!

No, really, perfect tailoring. And the turn she's doing is just precious.

Cosby Show Huxtable fashion blog 80s sitcom Rudy Keshia Knight Pulliam
Awwwwww!

Keshia Knight Pulliam gets a purple dress with an embellished side seam and some slightly-too-puffy shoulders, but who even cares? Her "I'm embarrassed to be on camera" bit is the most adorable thing. Pinch her cheeks, she's the absolute cutest child ever to exist.

Cosby Show Huxtable fashion blog 80s sitcom Denise Lisa Bonet
This can't be the best picture of her they had.

Since Lisa Bonet is starring on A Different World, she will join us for only two episodes this season. As a result, she gets this lame framed picture in the credits instead of an actual appearance, without even a name listed.

Cosby Show Huxtable fashion blog 80s sitcom Cliff Bill Cosby
You're welcome, Carmen Finestra.

Mr. Cosby comes back while the rest of the credits roll, showing off the tails of his coat and generally making you feel like you ought to be dressed better instead of slouching on your sofa in your pajamas.

Cosby Show Huxtable fashion blog 80s sitcom Cliff Bill Cosby
Jell-O Pudding Pops!

Boom. The end.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Season 3, Episode 25: Hillman

I'm not going to beat around the bush here: the season 3 finale pretty much sucks. The intention was to establish Hillman College as a location so that they could promote Denise's spin-off, but they largely fail in that excluding Lisa Bonet, literally none of the series regulars from A Different World appear in the show. Additionally, the script abandons its assumed purpose of making people laugh about midway through and instead presents us with a long stretch of footage depicting a graduation ceremony. No one we know is graduating, mind you: the family is there to support the college's president, since this will be his last year running the school. That's a remarkably thin reason for making the children sit through this ordeal, let alone forcing it on the general public. There is a single saving grace to this interlude, but I'll save it for later. Right now, we have a LOT of recap to get through. Between the guest stars and the costume changes, I have 21 looks to go over, so we'd best get started.

Cosby Show Huxtable fashion blog 80s sitcom Gloria Foster Barbara Bracy Hillman
"And I tell you this, Hillman graduates: don't worry about the vase."

I'll kick things off with an easy one: this is Gloria Foster as Dr. Barbara Bracy, the new president of the school. You most likely recognize her as the Oracle from The Matrix. She only ever wears this robe, but she showed up and gave a long talk, so I threw her into the mix. She's also one of the guest stars in this world who never appears in the spin-off, so I'll take this opportunity to highlight once again how preposterous it was to make the audience sit through her speech.

Cosby Show Huxtable fashion blog 80s sitcom Joe Seneca Zachariah J Hanes Hillman
Why introduce this character if the whole point is that he's going away?

The outgoing president, Dr. Zachariah J. Hanes, is played by Joe Seneca. His career was consistent, if not illustrious, including roles in A Time to Kill and the 1988 remake of The Blob, along with a steady stream of television gigs. He worked until his death in 1996 from a heart attack. His three-piece suit delights me, for the most part. The color looks a little cool in some lights, with more blue undertones than red or yellow, and I would have preferred a warmer shade. But the plaid is terrific, catching the eye without assaulting it, and the patterned plum tie is just the right match. I particularly love the crisp white handkerchief in his pocket; matching his shirt rather than his tie was absolutely the right choice in this context. Well done, sir.

Cosby Show Huxtable fashion blog 80s sitcom Dr Harris Hillman
Cee-Lo Green, Ph.D.

This is Dr. Harris, Cliff's old philosophy professor. He also appears in the pilot episode of A Different World, but after that only pops up once more. It's not as though a character of that size demands an introduction. Nonetheless, here we are in his classroom, having a sizeable discussion about what it was like being taught by him in the old days. And mind you, in real life this man is only three years older than Bill Cosby, so he must have been on the Doogie Howser track at grad school. Anyway, we should check his style. He's going for an interesting approach by matching his jacket and tie and then making the vest the center of attention, unseating one's usual expectations of formal attire. Can't hate that bravado. To avoid letting the train run off the tracks, however, he adheres to a fully conventional palette of navy, brick red, gray, and white. The loud swatch of fabric jutting from his pocket is a step too far, however: everything else coheres so well, and that element is too disparate. Careful with your accent pieces, guys: there's a good way and a bad way to get attention.

Cosby Show Huxtable fashion blog 80s sitcom Phyllis Yvonne Stickney Denise roommate Hillman
Let's just repeatedly say yes to everything that's happening here.

This is Denise's freshman roommate Phyllis, who she apparently never talks to once sophomore year starts because Phyllis Yvonne Stickney (the actress, making her debut here) never had so much as a cameo appearance on A Different World. Which is a shame, because she looks fabulous. Clearly, she's pulling heavily on African influences with her jewelry, and the more-is-more approach works incredibly on a monotone foundation. The abundance of beads adds color and texture, while the use of multiple layers give depth to what could have been an exceptionally flat peach getup. The split in the back of her top shirt is a particularly inspired touch, but I also love the tunic-y length of the one beneath it. She's so sure of her fashion dominance that she's created a crown for herself out of her own hair. Denise and her roommate were obviously the two best-dressed people on campus.

Cosby Show Huxtable fashion blog 80s sitcom Clarice Taylor Anna
A structured sack is still a sack.

Grandma and Grandpa also return to Hillman for this event. Anna opts for a paler pink than I'd have chosen; she looks a little washed out, and could have benefited from a richer hue. The cut of her suit is also extremely conservative: nothing says "prude" like having a coat that buttons straight up to your chin, and the scarf only exacerbates the issue. A widely pleated skirt like that really doesn't do anything for anybody, especially at that awkward mid-calf length. She's worn better before and will hopefully wear better again, because what we have here is a disappointment.

Cosby Show Huxtable fashion blog 80s sitcom Earle Hyman Russell
How to ruin a good suit in three easy steps.

Russell, who seldom struggles to create a flawless outfit, is also a little off his game today. The suit itself is right, but everything else is a bit at war. The rigid blue stripes on his shirt make the strong print on his tie seem too outrageous, and the choice of a differently patterned pocket square throws everything further out of whack. Truthfully, I think that tie is too ugly to wear ever, but it's for sure misapplied here. There's no lineup between any of the colors; things don't have to match, but they should at least coordinate. It shouldn't look like each shade was chosen at random.

Cosby Show Huxtable fashion blog 80s sitcom Sabrina Le Beauf Sondra
I like it when I can like her. Really, I want us to be friends.

Sondra also sneaks in to say hello. Against all odds, I'm going to be largely complimentary in describing her outfit. There's an experimental vibe to this creation that pleases me. The topmost layer is unexpectedly flattering in its tone; she's a little sallow in her complexion and the bright buttercup hue basically turns that problem into an advantage, bringing her natural yellow tones to the forefront to brighten her face. Other than the overly wide cut of that garment, I'm a fan of its shape: the not-quite-a-blazer front opening is unique, and the lack of full arm coverage sets the stage for her next triumph: by wearing a buttoned-at-the-top tan cardigan with past-the-wrist sleeves, she makes optimal use of the negative space created by the jacket thing, playing with the emptiness rather than simply filling it. I'm a little wary of the necklace peeking out under that (enough is enough, lady), but I'll bite my tongue. It's entirely likely that her skirt is perfect, and I wish I could see more of it. From what I can tell, it's high-waisted and draped like the toga on a Roman statue, injecting elegance and grace. Not bad, all around. This is a complicated creation, and it all holds together.

Cosby Show Huxtable fashion blog 80s sitcom Sabrina Le Beauf Sondra
I'm keeping my fingers crossed for season 4. Maybe it gets better?

While I'm not enamored with her second look, I'd still place it above her usual standards. Most of the credit for that goes to her willowy lavender-gray coatlet which, without shoulder pads, would be completely fabulous. It's bordering on silly, but I'm choosing to enjoy it. The purple dress is decent, I'm sure, but none of the kids get much of a chance to show off their formal duds, so a lot of this is going to be estimation and outright invention on my part. Her main error is the giant necklace, which has an earthy feel that isn't mirrored anywhere else in her outfit. Now is the time for metals, dear. Something silver would have been right, I think.

Cosby Show Huxtable fashion blog 80s sitcom Lisa Bonet Denise Hillman
Goddess.

Denise starts out in another winner, mixing conventional and innovative approaches to deliver a chic impact that isn't too over the top. The trousers look like a runway version of a man's formal attire, while the high-collared vest recalls women's styles at the turn of the century. By combining the two (plus leaving the vest open and wearing a simple t-shirt underneath), she modernizes the whole ensemble. You can tell she thought hard about this by the way she tucks her hands into the giant arm opening of the vest like pockets; she's making small physical moves that highlight the fun details of her look. Since everything is charcoal and cream, the zany, colorful stone necklace keeps things from getting flat. Gold star.

Cosby Show Huxtable fashion blog 80s sitcom Lisa Bonet Denise
So nice she wore it twice.

To dress up for the ceremony, she confoundingly repeats her look from episode #3.20, right down to the inscrutable brown jewelry. I'm not surprised that we're seeing it again, only that we're seeing it in this context. To me, she looks more casual now than she did before; I would have switched the order in which these pieces were worn.

Cosby Show Huxtable fashion blog 80s sitcom Malcolm Jamal Warner Theo
I'm sorry to have captured him making that face.

Theo makes it through the entire episode without wearing something that he had to pull over his head. All buttons, all the time! I'm going to call that a personal victory even though I personally had nothing to do with it. This lilac shirt of his shows potential. A nehru collar is a fresh and unexpected choice, and the seam across the chest might look great. We don't get to see it in full, of course, because he has that sloppy jacket on over it the whole time. He also opts for those gray pants today instead of jeans, even though he's going to change later for the graduation. I wouldn't call this an outright success, but he's at least made some effort. Without the khaki top layer, I'd probably approve of this.

Cosby Show Huxtable fashion blog 80s sitcom Malcolm Jamal Warner Theo
It's tough to catch him not making one of those faces, actually.

None of the children get featured much in the second half of the episode, but Theo in particular tends to get pushed into the background. As a result, I have to make some inferences about his slacks based on limited data. Though it's tough to tell from the brief exposure they get, I'm pretty sure they match his (exceptionally ill-fitting) jacket. At least something matches his coat, because the shirt and tie certainly don't. Both shades of blue stripe are too medium: he needs something much lighter or much darker to contrast with the grayish tan. The black/white print is jarring and grabs more focus than it deserves. Things aren't looking up for this one.

Cosby Show Huxtable fashion blog 80s sitcom Tempestt Bledsoe Vanessa
I don't see buttons on that collar. How does it fit over her head?

Vanessa starts the day in an all-purple mess, but I understand. She's about to get on a plane, she wants to be comfortable! Also, bear in mind that the family wakes up, gets dressed, packs, flies to see Denise, tours the campus, meets with the outgoing president, and watches a procession of graduates all before the sun goes down. It must be 5:30am right now, she shouldn't be expected to make apparel selections at this hour. (Also, whoever's on the other end of the phone can't be pleased if that's the case.)

Cosby Show Huxtable fashion blog 80s sitcom Tempestt Bledsoe Vanessa
And now, we all say "NO" loudly and in unison until the demon is banished.

Playing with proportion can be like playing with fire, and Vanessa got burned. The wide shoulders, low-slung waist, reflective fabric, and confusing bunching all unite to contort her form in nearly impossible ways. She was correct in her assessment that a suit would be appropriate for this occasion, but this one looks like it was made to be worn by a different species. I'd urge her toward a brighter color, too: something more golden or yellow than this wan catastrophe.

Cosby Show Huxtable fashion blog 80s sitcom Keshia Knight Pulliam Rudy
Even at this age, she was world weary.

I'm sure Rudy has worn this before, but I might not have captured it last time. She also has other pink and yellow outfits, so I might be getting confused. Regardless, I like this, and if I reviewed it before, I probably liked it last time, too.

Cosby Show Huxtable fashion blog 80s sitcom Keshia Knight Pulliam Rudy
It's dresses like this that wore her out.

Someone in this family, either Rudy or one of her parents, has a real fondness for ruffles. This, however, is out of hand. I don't think it's necessary to make small girls into Victorian dolls when putting them in formal situations. She looks preposterous.

Cosby Show Huxtable fashion blog 80s sitcom Cliff Bill Cosby
I rarely mention it, but it still bothers me that they wear shoes in the house.

Cliff brings back his episode #3.20 suspenders (the ones with the flying birds) but pairs then with the wrong shirt: the bluish-greenish hues are too close for comfort. Otherwise, this is a fairly sedate look for the doctor. Without a lunatic pattern somewhere, I almost don't recognize him!

Cosby Show Huxtable fashion blog 80s sitcom Cliff Bill Cosby sweater
I didn't realize until I paused it how bad his handshake face was.

There it is! Once he gets to Hillman, he puts on a Cosby Cardigan. I love that he's branching out, bringing the bizarre to new corners of his wardrobe. There's something comforting about the wild cardigan. Part of it is that it's a cozy garment in and of itself, but I think there's also a psychological component. You can see more of the shirt underneath, anchoring you by assuring you that you're still in the real world where people wear real clothes. Also, this can be taken off more easily than a pullover sweater, which is no doubt a relief. While I love the mixture of various textures, I outright hate the cruddy-looking knit that runs from his shoulders down the tops of his sleeves. Everything else looks like it could stand on its own, but that section looks filthy, like it was used to line a litter box or something.

Cosby Show Huxtable fashion blog 80s sitcom Cliff Bill Cosby
Even when there's only a sliver of her, I'd always rather look at Clair.

God, I hate reviewing suits. It's all just shirt and tie choice, maybe with something in the pocket. Should these be added to the list of things I don't talk about on this blog? No, maybe I'm just saying that because this entry has gotten really long. Anyhow, everything's dark and blue, and then there's a little bit of red. The white collar leaves me torn; I like the concept, but think it's too much brighter than everything else in this particular instance.

Cosby Show Huxtable fashion blog 80s sitcom Clair Phylicia Rashad
From the side, it turns out that this lean against the door isn't sexy at all.

This is not the all-yellow getup Clair wore in episode #2.23, though the impact is remarkably similar. The fabric here looks thinner (I'm judging by those wrinkles at her hips): maybe linen? It's also got a higher collar and an off-center opening that gives it a slightly Asian feel. If she's cold, she needs a different colored sweater, though; the red necklace and orange cardigan make this appear costumey, as if she's going out for Halloween as "fire" or trying to invoke a desert goddess. Too much in the same family for me. Where's a purple or a blue or, dare I invoke it, a neutral when you need one? She's capable of better.

Cosby Show Huxtable fashion blog 80s sitcom Clair Phylicia Rashad
Pure radiance.

I'll say this about Mrs. Huxtable: she knows how to dress up. I'm not usually eager to support overlarge items, but the tent-like white coat works for me somehow. I think it's the giant, bunchy end of the sleeve that takes this from "oops, I bought something three sizes too big" to "I meant to do that and you love it." It's impossible to argue with black and white solids: they'll always look classic. Obviously, she'd look even better in a well-tailored suit. W, but wouldn't we all? I'm making do with what's available, and I don't have it in me to hate on Phylicia's clothes twice in row.

And now, as teased in the first paragraph, the reason to watch this episode at all: Phylicia Rashad singing! Coming from a Broadway background, she's no stranger to delivering a live vocal, and this rendition of "All Good Things Will Be Added Unto You" is so delicious that it gets replayed while the credits roll. If it's good enough to end a season of The Cosby Show, then it's good enough to end a season of Huxtable Hotness, so I've included the video below. Watch and enjoy. (If you're like me, you'll watch it a hundred times. You'll also notice that the brief opening with Cliff is from season 4, and that will get you excited in advance for next week's entry, in which I review the new credits sequence!)