The data is clear: We long to dress like we live in fiction. During the past 18-plus months of pandemic-induced reality-warping, there are few among us who haven’t used Bridgerton’s Regency-era London or Emily in Paris’s comical Par-ee to escape from a real world plagued, literally and figuratively, by misfortune. It’s no wonder we’d seek to inject some of that fantasy into reality through a wardrobe remix.
For decades, Hollywood and fashion have enjoyed a fruitful symbiosis. But with the added impact of a global health crisis, which often postponed or outright canceled runway events, the year’s most-talked-about TV shows often filled the chasm with their own sartorial serves. Global fashion shopping platform Lyst regularly reports on the correlation between viewing habits and spikes in clothing trends, and this year’s findings are particularly eye-opening. Dig through the numbers, and you’ll find a significant increase in searches for corsets, (Bridgerton), halter dresses (Halston), and check print (The Queen’s Gambit).
This Sunday, the Emmys will honor the captivating stories and performances of an eclectic mix of titles, as well as the designers behind the year’s best-dressed characters. Covering numerous decades (and centuries!), the pieces worn on screen are a mix of custom builds, costume house rentals, vintage pieces, and off-the-rack garments. The latter is easier to track down, but the lag time between production and the episode airdate often means your best bet is eBay or consignment to grab an exact match.
But, if you want to channel your favorite show’s closet without a thrift store tour, there are plenty of online options to shop. Below, we break down the signature style of six Emmy-nominated shows (and one that missed the cut)—and give a few options for replicating their looks.
In the mid-‘90s, the explosion of Jane Austen adaptations breathed new life into empire-line gowns in delicate organza and muslin. Fast-forward a quarter of a century to the release of Netflix’s Regency romance Bridgerton, and you get a heightened interpretation of this period’s elegant staples.
The show’s costume designers, Ellen Mirojnick and John W. Glaser III, leaned into the whimsy of the production by mixing a candy-colored palette with 19th-century silhouettes. Free from any frustrating historical accuracy constraints, those of us at home wanted a piece of the opulence ourselves—thus one of the year’s top trends, Regencycore, was born. Buttressed by pearl and feather-adorned accessories and the uptick of corset chic, Regencycore is an adaptable trend for contemporary audiences, one promoted by such celebrity icons as Billie Eilish and Dua Lipa.
The “nap dress” phenomenon that kicked off last year is a Regencycore precursor, and a new collaboration between Hill House Home and the Shondaland series combines the two viral sensations. Three nap dresses and two hairpins make up the pastel limited-edition collection, which is ideal for a leisurely countryside stroll that won’t draw the ire of Lady Whistledown.
Considering the impact Princess Diana still has on the world of fashion more than 20 years after her tragic death, the fervent reaction to her introduction in The Crown was to be expected. Before her closet was packed with designer gowns, Diana (Emma Corrin) was the epitome of Sloane Ranger styling (named after the affluent London district), which favored patterned sweaters paired with pearls and oversized prairie collars.
Throughout season 4 of The Crown, Corrin wears a number of Diana’s most iconic outfits, including the beloved sheep jumper, which luxury knit brand Rowing Blazers reintroduced this year. Yet even as the young woman embraces bolder patterns while her marriage disintegrates, she’s far from the only character to draw a fashion fiend’s eye. The Windsors themselves don timeless Barbour jackets for their trips to the Scotland castle Balmoral; even today the jacket is an ideal autumn purchase. The Crown has also inspired an influx of modern takes on Laura Ashley florals, oversized collars, and pussy bows.
Emily in Paris
One of the Emmy nominations that caused some consternation is Emily in Paris, landing a spot in the Outstanding Comedy Series line-up. But what’s perhaps more surprising is that designer Patricia Field missed out in the costume category. The seven-time Emmy nominee (Field won in 2002 for Sex and the City) has prior Parisian high-fashion storytelling experience (see The Devil Wears Prada and SATC), and her work on Emily in Paris inspired a wave of wardrobe replicas.
Emily’s (Lily Collins) antics while working in the fashion capital saw her sporting a bold mix of leg-baring mini-skirts, enough designer handbags to open a boutique, and a bevy of check-print outerwear that may or may not be “ringarde,” depending whom you ask. After fans wolfed down the wacky series, Lyst reported a 342 percent increase in searches for Kangol-style bucket hats, one of the more affordable items in Emily’s closet. Her beret is also a must, which adds a note of timelessness amongst her black Christian Siriano frocks, neon blazers, or on-the-nose Alice + Olivia prints. It turns out Emily is the influencer the Darren Star series was making her out to be, and season 2 is already making fashion waves before it even hits Netflix.
To bridge the gap between seasons (and because of pandemic-induced production delays), Euphoria fans were gifted two Christmas specials in 2020, each of which focused on the aftermath of Jules (Hunter Schafer) leaving Rue (Emmy winner Zendaya) at a train station. The episodes sent searches for designer Collina Strada through the roof.
But it was the Jules-focused chapter, “Fuck Anyone Who’s Not A Sea Blob,” that showed off costume designer Heidi Bivens’s full range. Schafer’s colorful, patterned fashion included a cutesy Iggy NYC unicorn sweater, a Vanna Youngstein cropped tank, and a nod to the ‘90s revival in the form of a pleated plaid mini skirt paired with a pattern-clashing top. Meanwhile, Rue’s psychedelic Stüssy shirt had viewers slamming that purchase button. Even with a limited amount of episodes, Jules and Rue’s sartorial influence was hard to deny.
A mini-series about one of the defining American fashion designers was bound from inception to inspire a fashion revival. The once-impressive Halston empire has previously struggled to recover from its mid-’80s fall from grace, but with this year’s Netflix series about the iconic designer, the brand is enjoying a reincarnation.
Roy Halston Frowick (aka Halston) and his squad of Halstonettes are the original influencers who worked and partied hard during the hedonistic Studio 54 days. Costume designer Jeriana San Juan had the mammoth task of interpreting this heady time, as well as telling the story of Halston’s (Ewan McGregor) rise to fame in the Ryan Murphy-produced series. Glamour is intrinsic to these garments, which saw the former milliner to the stars (including Jackie Kennedy) introduce ready-to-wear garments that clung in all the right places. “They don’t wear the women; the women wear them,” is how San Juan described the power of a Halston garment to ELLE.com, which explains the reignited allure more than 40 years later.
Halter necks, navel baring cuts, and sequins aplenty are all featured in the Halston x Netflix limited capsule collection, for which San Juan consulted. (The collection also includes a glorious caftan named after Halston BFF Liza Minnelli.) Thanks to this series and San Juan’s costumes, Halston has a whole new generation of fans itching to wear disco-ready halters.
The category is…mid-’90s New York realness! Yet another Ryan Murphy-produced project brought the looks this year, as the final season of the groundbreaking FX drama Pose delivered a stunning and emotional closer. The series, which honors the rise of the drag ballroom community, took a time jump to 1994 in its last season, sparking a few key wardrobe shifts. Sure, Elektra (Dominique Jackson) is still dripping in glamorous gold and decked out in high-end frocks (including pieces by legendary Azzedine Alaïa), but fan-favorite Blanca (Mj Rodriguez) spent a lot more time in scrubs this season. When she isn’t at the hospital (the AIDS epidemic is in focus), she favors denim, floral dresses and tops, leopard print, and a dusty pink denim jacket. Whether competing at a drag ball or hosting an impromptu OJ Simpson Bronco chase-viewing party, the frame is always filled with pattern and color.
Costume designer Analucia McGorty had a wedding to design this season, as well as a fairytale ball, and this group of stylish characters rises to the occasion. Because the ‘90s are still having a comeback moment, the looks from 25 years ago resonate with the trends on offer this season.
The Queen’s Gambit
After Netflix’s 2020 fall sleeper hit The Queen’s Gambit took over the streamer’s Top 10 list, chess boards sold out, and Lyst reported a dramatic spike in check-patterned garments. Who could’ve predicted viewers would not only want to play like Beth Harmon (Anya Taylor-Joy), but dress like her, too?
Costume designer Gabriele Binder incorporated a number of predictable black-and-white looks into this coming-of-age journey, but didn’t simply stick to the overtly chess-inspired graphics. Fashion plays a major role in how the troubled young woman presents herself to the world, and she isn’t content with slipping on a black turtleneck during tournaments—though she does have some timeless knitwear in her expanding closet.
To elevate Beth’s look, Binder turned to 1960s icons like Jean Seberg and Audrey Hepburn for Beth’s Parisian adventure, in particular, which sees the young star indulging in retail therapy (when she isn’t drinking away her sorrows). Designers including Pierre Cardin and André Courrèges informed the silhouettes and textures of Beth’s impressive garments, and the unforgettable final ivory outerwear resembles the queen she has become.
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