Capital costumes on TV!

I have to be honest: I’m behind the times when it comes to many television programs. There are quite a few shows that are hugely popular, but I am simply not interested in some of them (many comedies, for example). Other shows, I just haven’t gotten around to watching [yet] (I’m looking at you, The Walking Dead and Madmen. I suppose costumed dramas like Downton Abbey should be added to that list, too). Then, there are some shows that I really enjoy and, overall, are visually stunning — however, the costumes leave me scratching my head (Hannibal, in particular).

Daydreaming about costumes all of the time...
Daydreaming about costumes all of the time…

Since I’ve already talked about some of my favorite movies from a costuming standpoint, here are some TV shows that I not only enjoy for their entertainment value, but for their keen costuming, too!

Boardwalk Empire

It’s no surprise that Lisa Padovani and John Dunn, who have worked together previously on Mad Men, a show where the  costumes have routinely been lauded, would do a beautiful job costuming Boardwalk Empire. As a show set in the loosely-historical realm (many of the characters in the show, including Enoch Thompson, Al Capone, and others, are based-off of historical figures) of Prohibition Era  Atlantic City, New Jersey, there are many opportunities to showcase one of my own favorite periods in costume history– the 1920s.  While I adore the great variety of women’s costumes, from conservative to frivolous, it’s actually Nucky Thompson’s and Chalky White’s beautifully-tailored suits that I find especially appealing.

Just some excellent costuming, NBD.
Just some excellent costuming, NBD.

Dark Shadows

Dark Shadows is a throwback — a sort of horror/ mystery soap opera with just a touch of sci-fi (there are parallel/alternate universe/time travel aspects in addition to its supernatural themes) and, while it was kinda cheesy at times, it will always have a special place in my heart. You might be more familiar with the recent Tim Burton movie nod to the series (there were actually a few movies made with the original cast throughout the years, as well), but if you’re looking for a long-running series with TONS of episodes (DS ran Monday-Friday from 1966 until 1971, and there were over 1,200 episodes filmed!), then give this retro gothic treat a try.

Kathryn Leigh Scott as Maggie and Lara Parker as Angelique. Source.

There are numerous times periods traversed over the years the series ran, so there is QUITE the array of costume eye-candy, albeit seen through the lens of the mid-to-late sixties and early seventies styles. The series can thank Ramsey Mostoller for using her costume design skills to keep the cast clothed until 1970, when Mary McKinley took over the helm, with Hazel Roy intermittently helping in the department.

American Horror Story

Soooo, I’m not entirely up-to-date with the most recent season of AHS, but I’ve watched and re-watched the previous seasons, and even if I’m not entirely fond of the story arc (Coven was my least favorite so far, but I still very much enjoyed it! The cast and the costumes were pretty amazing, after all), one of the aspects that I truly enjoy in regards to the series is the breadth of costume it undertakes.

Creating character with costume! Source.
Creating character with costume! Source.

The first season saw Chrisi Karvonides-Dushenko, who also worked on a show that sadly only lasted two seasons, Carnivàle, as the person in charge of costume design. Since then, Lou Eyrich, whose costuming credits include Glee and Nip/Tuck, has been the costuming queen on AHS.

Twin Peaks

This is one of my perennial favorites, and a show that will be returning even after so many years and so many doubts! If you haven’t watched Twin Peaks, do yourself a favor and give this funny, quirky, surreal, tragic series a try.

Where we're from, the birds sing a pretty song....
Where we’re from, the birds sing a pretty song….

From the Log Lady’s seemingly unchanging drab outfit to Audrey Horne’s sweater girl look to Josie’s sleek, fashionably minimal dresses and Dr. Jacobi’s zany pattern and color combinations, series designer Sara Markowitz can be thanked for the stylish impact of Twin Peak’s costumes, which are at the same time understated, frequently timeless, and ultimately unforgettable.


What kind of television shows do you most admire for their costumes and/or sense of style? Let us know in the comments below!

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3 thoughts on “Capital costumes on TV!

    1. Great costuming really puts polish on a show! Of course, I’m usually dissecting things from an design standpoint, though. 🙂

      I have so many hopes for the new Twin Peaks, design-wise, story-wise, character-wise. That series finale still leaves a raw feeling when I watch it!

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