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, February 25, 2013

Season 4, Episode 14: Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star

Rudy is convinced that her teacher hates her because her drawing is at the bottom of the bulletin board and she got assigned the violin instead of the cymbals. While a quick parent-teacher conference clears up the confusion, her longing for metallic percussion remains. Meanwhile, Theo strives to develop his psychic powers so that he can avoid doing schoolwork. This plan is, as you can imagine, unconvincing to Clair.

Since we're working with a three-day story arc with guest stars, we'll have to move pretty quickly to prevent this from becoming a novella.


Kim is back with some serious queen bee swag going on. She has the cymbals, she's going to keep them, and Rudy can deal. Oh, you're inviting me over for rehearsal? Allow me to wear my best-ever outfit, serving multiple patterns, tights in a primary color, and matching suspenders that might not even be attached to anything. She's throwing around cardigans and hair clips and giant polka dots like it ain't no thang, but rest assured, she knows the impact she has. This is some Regina George action. When Kim grows up, she's going to ruin your life hard, and she's going to look cute as hell while she does it.

No one cares how the men on this show dress anymore, huh?

Kenny's back, too, looking real in teal. But his back flap reaches practically down to his knees. Remember when it was a thing to wear a dress with jeans underneath?

Did somebody order a legend?

The real get in the guest star category, however, is Melba Moore as Mrs. Abbott, the teacher who categorically does not hate Rudy. Ms. Moore is a Tony-winning sensation. Go look up her performances on YouTube; you won't be disappointed. It also bears mentioning that she was honest-to-Jesus 43 when this episode filmed. She and Phylicia Rashad must be part of a coven. I didn't look this good when I was in my 20s, let alone now. Anyhow, she's every bit the grade school teacher here: black stockings, below-the-knee skirt, long cardigan, long-sleeved turtleneck. The dark, conservative colors and high level of coverage show her commitment to workplace-appropriate attire. At the same time, she has some chunky jewelry and a stellar short hairdo to let you know that when she's not imparting life lessons to her students, she has serious fashion sense. Applause all around.


Rudy is working the blues this week, making cool tones the centerpiece of all of her outfits. She starts off her in her episode #3.1 cardigan complemented with her #4.3 skirt and a matching shirt. Tights and sneakers in the same color family finish the outfit out. Wearing multiple takes on a single hue is something you can only get away with prior to middle school. Or unless you're completely genius with it. Good thing she's young.

It's not easy being blue, either.

Back in action with the blue! This time she mixes it up with green stripes and some yellow shoes, not to mention that whisper of red in the collar. I would have lost one of the accent shades myself, and I'm concerned about the three different patterns of striping on her top. Oh and the orange bow. Calm down. Edit.

I think I've had nightmares about a creepy doll in this dress.

Her final outfit is true blue mixed with true red. To add interest to a decidedly bland palette, she inserts some inconsistent patterning and an asymmetrical design across the chest. I hate this look. Hate it.

Please never stop wearing things this fabulous.

Vanessa starts the episode with a Denise-worthy foray into the art of gender performance. Her Oxford shirt and striped tie pair impeccably with the blazer that has a little bit of a Louis Vuitton thing happening. By rolling the sleeves, slinging the belt low, and wearing a fuller skirt, she makes this into a fashion moment and not just men's business wear. I'm thrilled to see her shine like this. Also: dangly earrings. Her favorite.

Too late.

Her episode #3.14 cardigan is never going to be my favorite, but she at least places it in a thoroughly plausible context this week. The perfectly matched skirt is both disquieting and appropriate, while the striped shirt adds a collegiate flair to the ensemble. Then the mallard brooch comes in and is all, "just kidding!" She may have invented the hipster ethos with this outfit.

REALLY too late.

She appears only briefly on day three, wearing a sea green thick-wale corduroy jacket that is too sad to examine in detail. That scarf ain't great, either.

His powers of mentalism couldn't fix this somehow?

Theo's first sweater has some of his father's influence. It's more busy than bizarre, I suppose, but there's nonetheless a feel that he's reaching for something more than just carefully knotted yarn here. It looks awfully dreary to me: too many heavy shades as opposed to sparks of brightness. I'd encourage him to think more creatively about his palette.


This is a repeat from episode #4.2, though I don't think I talked about it last time, either.

One sweet day.

This is so much better than much of the dreck he's been sporting. I hate to continue grading Theo on a curve, but I also hate to continue crapping on his parade, so there you go. There's a real Boyz II Men vibe going on here, where he's all dapper in his plaid shirt and khakis and cardigan but has left them roomier to add a casual component. The chartreuse and cerulean also change it up and keep him from looking like a brochure for an Ivy League school. He's basically channeling the early '90s ideal of a perfect boyfriend (before the early '90s, even). He's smart but sensitive. He's preppy but casual. He smiles like your childhood best friend but he wears an earring like a badass. If the kids on 90210 had made one black friend, he would have looked like this.

Wow. Wow wow wow.

To complement Rudy's commitment to blue this week, Clair is serving a collection of reds. Her first gift to us is the perfect mock turtleneck scarlet day dress. Those voluminous 3/4-length sleeves are perfectly offset by the carefully tailored waist and only slightly flared skirt. Choosing a single statement piece with that impressive golden amulet (which I hope is suspended by fine thread rather than pinned, but whatever) was a daring but effective option. The overall simplicity allows her to get away with the eye-catching colors and oversized adornments that would otherwise seem glaring. If you walked into a room wearing this, you'd get all kinds of noticed.

Less wow.

Day two draws her a little closer to the professional side of things; she's going to a parent/teacher conference, after all. Other than the utter perfection of that salmon tone, though, I'm not thrilled with this one. The jacket is so wide that the peak of her lapel is probably closer to her physical shoulder than the actual shoulder seam. Everything underneath is just drab. That's not a creative pleat in her skirt, by the way, just a fold from the way she's walking. And the accessories are strange and mismatched. The silver pocketwatch/medal of honor at her chest is kooky, and the giant earrings are... well, I don't even know what they are, other than out of place. It was a nice try, I guess.

And back to wow.

And back to flawlessness. The wrap blouse and thick belt give her body-ody-ody, the slightly shorter skirt adds a flirtatious element, and the combination of red and black almost always communicates a certain sexiness. She classes it up with the gold accents; that brooch is right on the border between arty and awful and I love that she went there. I'm surprised more of Theo's friends don't come over to talk to his mom.

He's developed a pretty good not-having-it face.

Why do we not see more lavender on Cliff? He looks great. 100% great. The suspenders are also killer. My one critique is that he's riding his pants awfully high. Men have to make that choice of going over the paunch or under the paunch with their waistband, and each has its drawbacks, but in this case he's clearly pushed it too far. His fly zips practically up to his sternum.

I wish every sweater could be a legit Cosby Sweater.

Another art sweater! It wasn't until I saw the thumbnail of this screencap that I even caught the stylized face in this garment: I thought it was just a weird, abstract print. It's sort of eerie that what I thought was a bland outfit is actually looking at me. Tricky, Dr. Huxtable. Very tricky.

It's not great. I'm not opposed to the idea of stepping on it.

When I first captured that full-length image, I was sad that it was blurry. Then I realized that no, it's the sweater itself that's blurry. Taking my advice to Theo about bright colors to heart, Cliff spices up this black fluffy number with some neon footprints. It's a well-intentioned idea that unfortunately doesn't quit gel in my estimation. The foot is a bizarre choice for a design element, but at the same time I also think there are too few feet to really sell that selection. If anyone knows the virtue of going all the way with a nutty fashion concept, it's Cliff Huxtable. This was the wrong time to show restraint.

Well, that's done. makes you long for the days when everything happened over a couple hours, huh? Also, let's keep our fingers crossed for more Denise soon. This blog just isn't the same without her. OK, see you next week, all.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Season 4, Episode 13: Bookworm

The DVD placed this episode several weeks ago, but you know how mistrustful I am of the DVD's ordering system. The internet is my source of truth in this world. Anyhow, this story contains two simultaneous plot lines. In the first, Cliff attends an experimental co-ed meeting of Clair's all-female book club. The other men all make excuses, however, leaving the doctor as the lone representative of his sex. Though he convinces his wife beforehand that he has not finished the novel, he wows the other participants with his thorough insight into the work. Still, things go awry when he accidentally steps into murky territory regarding gender politics. In a parallel story arc, the children spend the night at Sondra and Elvin's comically run-down apartment.

As a side note: the supposedly highbrow discussion in the book club borders on nonsense at times. An example: the participants begin by complaining that the novel is written in the "second person," which they feel too many modern books are. I'm pretty sure they meant "present tense." Novels written in the second person ("you go to the store, where you buy a bottle of orange juice...") are rather rare. Then again, my BA in English has prepared me to write this blog and that's about it, so I should probably not cast aspersions.

50 Shades of Cover Your Grays

This is the first of six club members were about to meet. She's hosting the event (in the set that also represented Mrs. Hickson's apartment), and I'm sure they gave her a name, but I can't keep track. I also apparently can't keep track of the sweaters! Is this one a repeat? Seriously, I'll give you a dollar if you can find it in a previous episode, because it's killing me. My sweep of the archives has revealed nothing, but I believe in my heart that it's there. The fact that I'm sure it comes from someone else's wardrobe says a lot: it's big on her, awfully dark, and masculine in its styling. Cliff could wear this easily. She tarts it up a little by pairing it with a slim black skirt, and the overall darkness lets her vibrant hair and pale skin shine. Her gold accessories make it dressier and perkier as well. But she would have been better off in a smaller sweater with a slightly brighter tone. The actor, by the way, is Kathleen Doyle, who has had a ton of small roles in movies and television programs.

She knows how to use them.

Hunting this woman down took a little work, because she has no IMDb page. I had to compare the online cast list (which pretends that there are only five guest stars) to the credits on the DVD, revealing that someone named Helen Selby was missing. Searching for that name led me to this weirdly racial commercial. To get back to the task at hand: she's rocking a similar silhouette to our host, but in a much more pleasing manner. Rather than combining her skirt with a giant sweater, she's gone for a jacket, which by nature is allowed to get a little bulkier. She also backs her excess with the courage of her convictions by going all-in with the accessories. The studded necklace would be somewhat daring on its own, but then those bracelets! They're like something out of Alien. I'd comment on her black stockings, but after that L'eggs ad, I'm uncomfortable with the whole topic.

I want those copper pumps.

This is Alva Chinn, a supermodel who broke boundaries by becoming the face of Halston in an era when fashion houses were using almost exclusively white women to represent their brands. She appeared in episode #1.23, but I didn't mention her because there were a zillion women in Cliff's pregnancy seminar and I couldn't be bothered to review all that maternity wear. She's clearly intended to be a different character here, though, as she and the doctor do not recognize each other when she enters. Knowing that she's a model, I'm disappointed in her attire. The chestnut hue isn't terrible on her, and the suede texture lends some real warmth, but the dress feels blah to me, you know? It's not unflattering in terms of its cut, but it's also not really accentuating anything. And other than those white embellishments at the collar and cuff (which are dynamite), there's not much to look at here. I guess we can't always be wearing standout garments, and probably they were consciously avoiding anything too glam, but I can't help wanting to see her in fabulous clothes.


If you'd rather avoid fabulous clothes, look no further than Susan Bigelow. The grandma factor here is intense. The Victorian collar on her blouse, the dusty rose cardigan buttoned all the way up, the dowdy print on her floor-length skirt... it's all so desperately conservative and antiquated! Who did she have to exhume to get this outfit?


You know who's wonderful? S. Epatha Merkerson. You've known about her since she was Reba the mail carrier on Pee-Wee's Playhouse, and you've watched her relentlessly fight crime as Lt. Anita Van Buren on Law & Order. This is her second television acting role. She's got a decent color story happening here: the eggplant blazer plays well against the pistachio getup underneath. I have to question the warring patterns on her pants and shirt, but the tonal unison between the garments helps tie the look together. The collar can't decide if it's a crew neck of a mock turtleneck, and I thus can't really decide how I feel about it. The head scarf isn't my absolute fave, but it's not wrong. She's doing just fine.

You have to have confidence if you're leaving the house like this.

Yes, that was Angela Bassett sitting on the couch in that last shot. I'm not even going to list her credits. You know who Angela Bassett is. She also appeared in episode #1.23, but last time she was playing a regular person, and this time she's playing I don't even know who. I mean, there's so much largess here. The enormous, square coiffure makes her look like a reimagining of Nefertiti. The jacket makes her look like a winged squirrel Frankensteined together from stolen purses. The golden leggings and red undershirt at least match the rest of her outfit, but you can barely see them given how her billowing top layer extends fully down to her knees. I'm sure this was magnificent in its heyday, but it's unfathomable now.

He and Sondra make up limericks for fun. They deserve each other.

Back at the homestead, Elvin hits us with another one of his outdoorsy shirts. We've seen something similar from him before: midtones intertwined into a plaid, with a contrasting khaki collar and unremarkable jeans. He looks like a man who runs a not-particularly-successful wilderness store. Which is exactly what he is, so good job, Sarah Lemire, I suppose.

Fe Fi Fo Fum.

Sondra. Really? Come on. How could she have looked in the mirror and thought this was OK? Her torso is full-on potato-shaped, and the wild white patterning and red stripes are doing everything they can to draw our attention right there. The bulbous waistline also makes her naturally slim legs look extra twiggy, adding to the damage. Her hair aligns with her shoulders so well that it's tough to discern where (or even whether) there is a break. This might be the worst anyone has ever looked on this show. Like, everything here is conspiring to assassinate her body shape. She might as well put on a Grimace costume.

Incredulous. And rightly so.

Rudy's back to her episode #3.11 coveralls, which remain my favorite. Adding to the practicality of this piece is the newly revealed buttoned crotch flap. I had to think about it, but I realized that this is a supremely functional detail, because otherwise she'd have to take the whole thing off every time she wanted to go to the bathroom.

Nothing about this jacket is peaceful, hon.

Oh wow. If you were going to an '80s party, you might wear a jacket like this, and everyone would think that you had gone way overboard, because no one actually wore acid washed denim jackets piled with mountains of crap. That's just an exaggerated memory of what people looked like. But then here Vanessa comes, proving us all wrong. The whole decade was worse than you recall. This happened. Underneath, she's wearing her episode #4.6 shirt (which at least matches) and some basic black pants. But your eyes probably blurred from overstimulation before you could take the rest of the look in.

All I can do is encourage him and hope it sticks.

I'm seeing effort, and I'm happy about it. Theo's sweater this week is a little goofy. It's a little like he's dressing for an exceptionally preppy pagan ritual, but maybe if I could see the image on the front better, I'd think differently. I like him in these subdued pastels, though, and at least he's in cords and a knit top instead of a sweatshirt and jeans. The trouser pleats and meatloafy collar aren't ideal, but this look still maintains a raised standard in comparison to the first half of the season.

How does she read a book a week when she has five kids and a demanding job?

Clair is also going for the big-top-with-tight-pants option. It's like the women on this show all joined the Elaine Stritch fan club. Her husband must have picked this sweater, because it has some of his signature oddity, like the erratic placement and direction of the colors, the single swatch of a contrasting shade, and the detailing in a different material. Blues aren't always great on Clair, but purple is her friend, so that large patch at the neckline is a perfect transition point. The black beads or sequins or whatever those are seem out of place on the knobbly, fleecey fabric; I might have replaced them with another quick burst of red, or a smaller pin maybe. Still, I'll always lob a compliment her way if given the opportunity because she's Phylicia Rashad and she has my heart.

Same question.

Perhaps because he's meeting some of Clair's friends, Cliff scales it way back this week. It's not just that he's given up his usual sweaters; the whole ensemble is rather sedate. The collarless shirt with obscured buttons is nicely streamlined, removing distracting elements to present a sleek exterior. By going gray-on-gray with the base palette, he gets the maximum impact out of the penguin suspenders and matching socks. Those flourishes communicate his personality without detracting from the well-constructed appeal of his outfit. I'm pretty impressed.

And that's done. Now everyone go read a book. Or get me a book deal. Or both. Bye!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Season 4, Episode 12: The Show Must Go On

There's no way around it: this episode of the show is not good. The main plot involves Cliff taking Rudy and her friends to a vaudeville-style performance in what is objectively one of the worst-managed theaters in the tri-state area. I guess it's supposed to be amusing that the children find the show so dull, but really I was right there with them. Back at the homestead, Robert has paid the family another one of his surprise visits, and people have to take turns trying to convince him not to plan his lifelong commitment to a girl he only just met.

This getup does not inspire images of upward mobility.

The first person to greet Cliff and his brood when they enter the theater is Pamela, a Jill-of-all-trades who sweeps the floors, seats the patrons, serves the coffee, and runs the lighting board. She is played by Angelina Fiordellisi, who makes her television debut with this performance and has popped up here and there over the years on various other series. It is impossible to be undergenerous in describing her character's level of job proficiency; it's clear from the start that this woman has no idea how to appear professional. She's basically a walking apology for the production. Her outfit broadcasts that same weary, trying-a-little-bit-but-mostly-immediately-giving-up quality. The piano key sweater says "arts appreciation" only in the way that your great aunt enjoys listening to Kenny G albums, while the patterned skirt, dangly earrings, and frowzy hair give off the gloom of a depressed middle school substitute teacher. If you go to a play and this woman is your usher, turn around and find the nearest exit.

He's old!

The first performer, The Great Ballantine, is not a creation for the show; rather, he is a real vaudevillian who I assume is doing the same schtick he did on the road. You might also recognize Carl Ballantine from his role as Lester Gruber on McHale's Navy. He's wearing an old suit with a tailcoat. The end.

He's short!

Next up is Andy Witherspoon III, the Wall Street Comic. His financial jokes go right over the children's heads, but the material would probably have a tough time finding an audience in any age bracket. He's delivering '80s broker realness, though, so his look at least makes sense. It's worth mentioning him mostly because he's portrayed by Carmen Finestra, a regular writer on the show who I had always assumed was female. Not so, it seems.

He's the only tolerable act to take the stage!

The emcee, and only reason to even consider watching this episode, is played by the supremely talented Bill Irwin. His combination of dramatic acting ability and creative clowning technique has made him a standout performer in a diverse spectrum of formats. You might recognize him from Bobby McFerrin's "Don't Worry, Be Happy" music video, or from his supporting role in My Blue Heaven with Steve Martin, or for his Tony-winning portrayal of George opposite Kathleen Turner's Martha in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? His rich, red, ruffly tux with the cream shirt neatly conveys the formality and the antiquity of his role as host. He takes it seriously even though the show itself kind of sucks. We've all seen a situation in which an actor is better than the material but soldiers through anyway. Here, Mr. Irwin is both pretending to do it and actually doing it.

It's not perfect, but it's not more "stand-up" about Wall Street, OK?

In addition to hosting the show, he is also its closing act. The ill-fitting clothing highlights his character's clumsiness and also changes his shape to visually differentiate him from his work as the emcee. He makes similar adjustments facially by adding the glasses and hat. It's a great costume that allows him impressive freedom of movement without obscuring any of his stupendously precise physical comedy.

That hairdo has to be the result of a tragic accident. It's the only explanation.

This is Vanessa's friend Morgan, the object of Robert's affection this week. Though it's suggested throughout the episode that the girls are trying to avoid Robert, I can understand why he keeps chasing: the first time he meets Morgan, she gives him some serious flirt eyes. Maybe people should stop butting in and let the two of them figure this out for themselves! Maybe they'll like each other. The actor, Candy Tolentino, who is incorrectly credited on the IMDb as "Rudy's Friend," has acted on screen five times since this episode. In terms of fashion presentation, she seems to be better on ideas than execution. She's trying a lot of things with the patterned pants, the bright undershirt, the sort of sponged cardigan with only the top button fastened, and the loose, sideswept hair. She's siultaneously going for pastels on top and darkness on the bottom half. This is a lady with thoughts. It crumbles under the weight of itself, though. She looks like she was part of a reality show challenge involving wearing the first three things pulled out of a bin at a thrift shop. Like, she did the best with what she had, but she had almost nothing.

Ditto. I'll assume that they got caught in a fire or something.

Janet is back again and is mostly nailing it. To get them out of the way, she makes two major mistakes with her accessories. First is that thing on top of her head. I question the use of a faux Incan artifact to create a hair volcano. Second, there's that thing on her shirt, which might be a pin but might also be part of the top. Either way: get rid of it. Otherwise, the wider tunic shape over black leggings has fully reasserted itself, so she's doing fine with her silhouette. Also, I can't be certain, but I really hope that those earrings are oxidized copper, which would make the color story for this whole outfit just perfection.

I feel bad for Robert. Will someone just marry him already?

Robert's a fan of a big, plaid shirt, there's no denying it. If it fit him, it'd be an ideal choice: this gray/aquamarine pairing is super sharp on him, and the khakis have a predictable but squarely polished appearance. If the tailoring didn't make him appear so pear-shaped, I'd adore this. Always look at yourself from multiple angles in the mirror before making a purchase, lest you fall into this trap.

Target audience.

There are a lot of kids in this episode. We won't be checking in on all of them.

Maybe this half-hour of television is better if you're eight years old.

I mean, who are most of these people?

Who in New York actually knows their neighbors like this?

The Chiara family is back with a new addition: ultra-talkative younger sibling Paul. His acting career began and ended with this role. None of them are wearing anything that I care to talk about.

Good times.

There was probably a better frame for Kenny, but there was no improving on this facial expression for Rudy, so I went for it. I don't have much to say about "Bud," but I wanted to acknowledge that he showed up and wore a sweater. Rudy, on the other hand, has ruined my day by proving that her leggings from last week have a matching top. And, as you can see even better in the wide shot above, this is a top that's sized to grow into. Lucky us.

I think Vanessa is secretly the most interesting member of the household lately.

Vanessa's sweater is pulling on some Navajo or maybe Mexican inspiration in its patterning, using bold geometrics to create an overall decent impact. The mustard shade that she reflects in her trousers as well is a little loud, but it suits her. Normally I'd be concerned about the complex palette and encourage a judicious edit, but it seems to hang together in this case. It's a shame we didn't get a better view of the detailing at the bottom of her sleeves, because it looks like it might be wonderful and/or a wretched mess. She needs to fix her collar, though.


You were right there, Theo, and then you lost me. I'm on board with the orange stripes. A little Halloweeny? Sure. Slightly too neon? Whatever. But the length of this shirt. The length! It's maybe two inches shy of being a dress. Tailors in the '80s were sick. Utterly sick.

When you hide your face with your hand, people can still tell you're laughing.

Clair spends the entire episode seated, but from the waist up she's delivering repeats: the red top layer (which is so large that she has to roll the left sleeve, though for some reason not the right) is from episode #4.2, while the blouse (which we barely got to see anyway, so I guess it's good that she brought it back) is from #4.9.

I'm bored, and it's his fault.

Cliff brings back his episode #4.10 sweater, though with a different shirt and pants. Gray surroundings don't make it any better in my eyes.

And there it was: another week with the Huxtables. As always, I'll be back next Monday. Sit tight until then, kids.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Season 4, Episode 11: The Locker Room

Theo flips out when one of his friends asks Vanessa on a date because the exaggerated stories in the locker room now apply to his sister. Meanwhile, Cliff tries fruitlessly to figure out how Rudy performed a rather impressive magic trick. This is also the episode that calls Clair's age into question: while it was previously stated that Cliff chose Hillman College because he was following his soon-to-be wife, Vanessa claims this week that her mother is four years younger than her father. Maybe she skipped two grades and he was held back twice? I'm going to need to see some long-form birth certificates. But enough joking: we've got a bevy of guest stars plus two outfits per Huxtable, so it's time to get moving.

Cosby Show Huxtable fashion blog 80s sitcom
I was genuinely surprised at how long they spent dispensing lurid innuendos.

Theo has several friends this episode, though it still feels weird that none of them is Walter "Cockroach" Bradley. This crew, often seen in gym clothes, strives desperately to fill the gap.

Cosby Show Huxtable fashion blog 80s sitcom Denny Morris Elcott
He comes back in later episodes. Hopefully in something worthwhile.

This is Denny, played by Troy Winbush, who you might recently have seen depicting Morris Elcott in the new series Scandal. He is not referred to by name in this episode and never wears actual clothing (gym clothes don't count on this blog). Sorry, Troy.

Cosby Show Huxtable fashion blog 80s sitcom Gerald Brian Grant

Though the IMDb credits this man as Gerald, I'm pretty sure someone calls him Gordon during the episode. Regardless, he's played by Brian Grant, who has a rather scant and sporadic work history. You can't deny that he looks great, though. If I were him, I'd forgo the long-sleeved polo and just rock the white tee and jeans. When you have pecs like that, you shouldn't be hiding them under multiple layers, you should be showing them off in the tightest clothing you own.

Cosby Show Huxtable fashion blog 80s sitcom Smitty Adam Sandler
His performance is unbearably annoying.

Adam Sandler returns as Smitty, who is obviously intended to be a class clown type. I question this shirt. If he were wearing an olive sweater with a rich, watermelon-colored Oxford underneath it, I'd almost be OK with it. But the fact that the striped collar is built in (and repeated as its own stripe-within-a-stripe through the midsection) is too much. That design element might work if the shades coordinated better, but since they don't, he comes off as pushing too hard. The matching socks and clashing cap aren't helping him any.

Cosby Show Huxtable fashion blog 80s sitcom Lyle Thompson Dennis Singletary
He brought flowers. Give him a break.

Last up is Lyle Thompson, the dude with his eye on Vanessa. Dennis Singletary, the man behind the role, has done a lot of one-off work on various TV series over the years. His look here is on the right track, but lacking in a couple key areas. The jeans are perfect (look at the fit across the back!), and the concept of a thin, vertical stripe on a monochrome top is great, but the sweater, or maybe sweatshirt, is too large and that popped collar is unacceptable. If he expects to succeed on a date with a Huxtable girl, he needs to pull those details together.

Cosby Show Huxtable fashion blog 80s sitcom Janet Meiser Pam Potillo
Salmon to watch over me.

Janet Meiser is back; Vanessa gets a recurring friend to make up for Theo's long-lost partner in crime. Individually, the pieces of her outfit more or less work, but they don't cohere in the slightest. The peace sign earrings have a '60s appeal, while the bow in her hair is traditionally girlish. The businesslike blouse communicates a technicolor Sarah Palin persona, while the light, tight, ripped jeans are standard '80s teen chic. Each of these garments could be the basis for a solid presentation, but they don't combine well.

Cosby Show Huxtable fashion blog 80s sitcom Rudy Keshia Knight Pulliam
Stop trying to make clown realness happen.

This getup for Rudy is nonsensical. There's something rather chic about that long plaid top; on a full-grown woman, I could see it being a weird but not inelegant dress. Unfortunately, it's accompanied here by felt circus leggings and chunky boots. I guess it's arbitrary and unfair to complain about a childish outfit on an actual child, but let's face it: this blog is arbitrary and unfair.

Cosby Show Huxtable fashion blog 80s sitcom Rudy Keshia Knight Pulliam
She's representing Luxembourg in the Junior UN.

She gets closer with her second outfit, serving pink-on-pink business casual on top with a looseness that reads as playful without crossing the line into disheveled. The bunchy socks and white sneakers ruin it, though. You're not on a tennis court; you're not 80. Fix it.

Cosby Show Huxtable fashion blog 80s sitcom Vanessa Tempestt Bledsoe
She's fixing the air conditioning at the Junior UN.

Vanessa's first look is a NASCAR pit crew coverall that reminds me of Denise's episode #2.15 flight suit. The tailoring here is a little baggier, but I'm not against it. She keeps the palette fairly tame, going for mostly grays and blacks with only the barest hint of yellow to spruce things up. Overall, there's a tomboyish, relaxed quality to this choice that pleases me. This is also a good time to note that Vanessa is seldom without earrings, usually something dangly. Generally, I'm a proponent of having a signature style.

Cosby Show Huxtable fashion blog 80s sitcom Vanessa Tempestt Bledsoe
What is that pocket for?

She lays the gray on pretty heavy this week, making it the main focus of her second outfit as well. And see what I mean about the earrings? Really going for it. The seams and tiny zipper seem like distracting details rather than thoughtful embellishments, however. Plus, as the wide shot will soon illustrate, the sizing on this is nuts.

Cosby Show Huxtable fashion blog 80s sitcom Vanessa Tempestt Bledsoe
Looking back.

That view from behind? Total ogress, am I right? Don't crop a top in the front if you're not going to crop it in the back. Otherwise, this nonsense happens. Also, the looseness of a crop top doesn't translate well when applied to long, heavy sleeves, because then you have to bunch them up and you get sausage arms. Just wear a nice shirt that complements your shape and call it a day. Not every innovation is an improvement.

Cosby Show Huxtable fashion blog 80s sitcom Theo Malcolm Jamal Warner
Am I having a stroke or is this kind of OK?

You know what? I'm happy to see Theo returning to a place where he's taking risks. In fact, I'm so pleased with the leap into foreign territory that I'm going to choose to enjoy his creation. The foundation of jeans and an electric blue plaid would be great on its own. While I usually wouldn't have a great deal of praise for the mustard smock covered in pie charts, I feel like its wildness is maybe its own justification. I'll let him have it.

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

I don't typically review athletic gear, but it has to be noted that Theo wears a belly shirt to gym class.

Cosby Show Huxtable fashion blog 80s sitcom Theo Malcolm Jamal Warner
Step and repeat.

Theo's second real outfit is a rehash of his episode #4.8 shirt, albeit this time unbottoned with a cream tee beneath it and blue jeans swapped for black pants. A solid if unremarkable choice.

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

Let me start by saying that a different close-up of Clair would have offered a better view of the details on her shirt, but I wasn't about to pass up that facial expression. You're welcome. Anyhow, this is a frisky take on at-home casual. Sure, it's a lanky tee, but the low hem and twisty details give it some charm. Also, it has a literal charm dangling there at the collar, and this is a woman who should never be denied a little sparkle. It's a hair dowdy, but she pulls it off.

Cosby Show Huxtable fashion blog 80s sitcom Clair Phylicia Rashad
She's representing God at the Junior UN.

These outfits kind of make me wonder where Clair was taking Rudy. I love that the costumer decided for herself, without any real indication from the script, that Clair and Rudy had somewhere fancy to be. This dress isn't anything magnificent and is maybe even too prim for Ms. Huxtable. She doesn't need to be styled this matronly. The off-white collar peeking out to overlay the wider lapel is a helpful touch, but the heavy fabric is adding too much heft. It's not that she looks bad: it's that I know she could look so much better.

Cosby Show Huxtable fashion blog 80s sitcom Cliff Bill Cosby sweater
Not good-bad. Just bad.

While I usually rave about Cliff's crazy sweaters, this one has left me cold. Beyond the bigness problem that plagued this decade, he's fallen into a color scheme that does nothing to catch the eye. Similarly, these horizontal-ish bands aren't daring enough to garner notice. His patterned pants only add to the trouble by failing to match the tan knit in the way he intended. I have to call this one a total loss.

Cosby Show Huxtable fashion blog 80s sitcom Cliff Bill Cosby sweater
He's never once pulled something out of those cargo pockets. A waste.

My favorite genre of Cosby sweater is the art sweater. You know the kind: the ones that wouldn't look out of place painted onto a canvas and hung in a frame. This is one of those, with an abstract design and unexpected palette combining to form a piece that almost looks like it isn't supposed to be worn on the body. And what is that gray thing that forms the central image on both the front and back? The devil's coffee grinder? A futuristic toilet? I'm sure it's not supposed to represent anything in particular, but my mind craves meaning! Side note: that collar isn't an undershirt, but rather a built-in mock turtleneck. I'm weirdly enjoying it. Also, I'll give him bonus points for well-selected pants.

And that, my dears, is that. These episodes that span multiple days are so draining! Good thing I had half a bottle of wine to keep me going. It's like trail mix in its energy-instilling properties. (Don't you judge me.)