Sunday, 10 August 2014

STYLE DISSECTION: SEINFELD


One of the best decisions I think Jeremy and I have ever made is to watch Seinfeld, in its entirety, this summer.  I first watched it when I was at drama school, so I have a lot of memories of being exhausted, wearing grubby black leggings and eating humus while watching Jerry and his pals get into mischief.  It was perfect TV, so comforting and hilarious.  It's perhaps the best sitcom of all time, inspiring, and imitated by, so many shows.  Including Friends, something I didn't realise the first time I watched it (I was knackered, sorry) but this time round I'm frequently shouting, "Friends did that!" as we rip our way through the episodes.  

As always the style of the characters is as interesting to me as any other element of the show, and these guys look great.  In 1989 when Seinfeld first aired there wasn't really as much focus on costumes for characters in TV as there is now.  So a lot of what they're wearing is inspired by the wardrobes of the actors - Julia Louis-Dreyfus reportedly dressed pretty similarly to Elaine, and I can't imagine Jerry Seinfeld would have ever thought that hard about what he was putting on.  Apparently they would always dress Michael Richards in clothes one size too big so he looked loose and casual, and Jason Alexander in clothes one size too small to add to his awkardness.  Clever.  Anyway, without further ado lets rifle through their wardrobes.  


ELAINE

Elaine is the bomb.  Her character was based on one of Jerry's real life girlfriends, the model Susan McNabb, and you can read an interview with her about Jerry here.  Warning - tabloid questions prevail.  She was also partly inspired by comedian Elayne Booster (so that's where they got the name from) who is friends with Jerry and Larry David.  In the show Elaine, like her friends, is funny and endearing but also very flawed.  She's the type of woman who will dump someone because of their weight, then when he loses said weight after depression caused by not being with her, will suddenly want to date him again.  She is beautiful and smart and sees loads of guys, but she's also very neurotic, and that trait means she finds it hard to build long-term relationships.  Not that she seems too bothered by that.  

Style-wise Elaine likes layers.  And she loves cropped jackets boosted with shoulder pads, at least in the first couple of seasons.  She isn't that adventurous, you get the feeling she's not that interested in clothes, she has just found a couple of looks and styles she likes and just buys more and more of the same.  NORMCORE.  

That isn't to say she doesn't look fantastic.  Here are some of her jackets, they're usually worn with lacy shirts and blouses buttoned all the way up to the top and drop earrings.






This aztec one above is the stuff of dreams. 



She also wears lots of maxi skirts and dresses, always with a busy floral print.  And she likes an exciting collar.  Two tone shoes are her ideal footwear choice, especially if they're flat.  Lace up or loafers - she's not picky, and she's a fan of the white ankle sock.  The effect is sort of over-grown highly academic pre-teen girl.  Elaine went to a good University (Tufts) and probably hasn't changed her wardrobe since then and is probably quite proud of that, "Look, it still fits!"  Obviously while at Tufts everyone would have been secretly in love with her, pining for her across the library. 

We should also talk about her hair.  I don't know how she gets it so big at the front, backcombing?  Is there some sort in internal structure she's wrapping it around?  So many questions. 








She also has no fear of double denim, especially if the jacket is big and boxy. 




And she has great choice when it comes to backpacks. 



JERRY

If Elaine is Normcore, then Jerry is Normcore +1.  This man loves his high waisted jeans worn with an array of white Nike trainers.  Jerry is a real sneaker head, here is a list of all the shoes he wore during the show.  When he did an AMA on reddit at the beginning of the year someone asked him about his collection and why he got so into Nikes, he replied, "It started with wanting to be Joe Namath of the 1969 New York Jets, who at that time was one of the only football players to wear white shoes. And I wanted to be like him, so I always wore white sneakers. Also, Bill Cosby on I SPY always wore white sneakers. And they were my fashion icons".  

Note to self, do a style dissection of The Cosby Show.  

Below is Jerry in his basic look.  The only thing to ever really change is the top half.  Different coloured bomber jackets and sometimes he wears shirts buttoned all the way to the top!!  Chill out Jerry!





Look how insane this is - Jerry in PLAID!


Obviously some of my favourite Jerry looks are when he has to wear something that pushes him outside his comfort zone.  For example when he unwittingly commits to wearing a puffy shirt on The Today Show as a favour for Kramer's girlfriend.  (You can pay a visit to this shirt at the National Museum of American History if you have a burning desire to see it in real life).  (I do).





Is it bad that I think he looks sort of incredible?  Pirate chic.  



Or there's the time he has to turn his beautiful suede bomber jacket inside out to protect it from the rain, revealing this amazing pink and white candy striped lining. 



Seriously, that bomber jacket is gorgeous. 


Jerry's hair stays pretty much the same, although sometimes between cuts it gets dangerously close to being a mullet.  Although it never goes as far as his haircut in the flash back scene of him and George in High School.  Woah. 


Speaking of George..

GEORGE


Oh Costanza, you are your own worst enemy.  George is obsessive, paranoid, judgmental and has a short temper.  He's Biff Loman, he's petty about money, and I love him utterly and completely.  I think we all do - he's so fearless.  I also love the way he dresses.  As with Elaine there is something quite innocent and child-like about his clothes.  Rain macs with the waist tie pulled tight around his tummy and the sleeves a bit too short, thin-soled sneakers, narrow jeans.  He loves a checked shirt. 









George is very into trying out different looks and styles, though sadly they rarely work out for him.  Hats in particular seem to be an area of fashion he desperately wants to be involved in, but he never gets it quite right.  Part of this is his insecurity about his baldness - he's worried about meeting a woman while wearing the hat, and then finding it awkward to remove the hat and reveal his lack of hair.  If only he realised most women wouldn't care. 








I know we're focusing on George here, but Elaine's jacket is superb. 





Of course there is also the occasion he decides to go the whole hog and try out a wig.  Oh boy. 


Or what about George with a moustache instead?


Kind of into it. 

George you rock, I wish there were more people like you, does anyone know a real life Costanza?  Can I be friends with them?




KRAMER

There is a funny point in Seinfeld about four seasons in when the audience watching the show start spontaneously applauding whenever Kramer walks into Jerry's apartment.  I think that is mostly to do with his outfits.  Kramer is a "hipster doofus" he has loads of vintage shirts, he's cool and suave. Unlike George, everything comes easily to him, from dating to landing a speaking part in a Woody Allen film. THESE PRETZELS...He's played by Michael Richards, whose tall, slim physique makes pretty much anything look good, and there is a sort of elegance to him, despite his many incredible pratfalls and other physical comedy expertise.  His trademark crazy hair, his medallion and his unusual jackets all add to the classic Cosmo Kramer look. 

Yeah, he really has some goooooood wardrobe moments. For example his lobster shirt (buy one for yourself here). 


His nautical bells shirt. 


His...I'm not sure what those are on his shirt below, thistles?


His feather and egg (?) shirt.


When he wore a technicolour dream coat and was mistaken for a pimp. 


This fat tie that's just a little bit too short. 


Want a Kramer for yourself?  You can buy a reproduction of the portrait painted of him on Etsy


CAMEOS

I need to talk about some of the "Oh my god it's them!" moments in Seinfeld, because there are so many, and quite often the actors were dressed in something excellent.  Here we have Larry David in a cape. 


And the man he's talking to in the pale blue jacket, George Costanza's father, is played by Jerry Stiller.  Jerry is an entertainer extrodinare and Ben Stiller's real life dad. 

Oh and here is Christine Taylor, one of my favourite comedic actresses, who also happens to be married to Ben Stiller. 


And before Monica Gellar was married to Chandler Bing she dated another New York hero - Jerry, of course.  She's wearing a suitably Jerry-esque shirt. 


That portrait of Kramer I mentioned earlier was painted by Jerry's artist girlfriend Nina, played by Catherine Keener.  Here she is looking rad and '90s with super long hair. 


JAMES SPADER.  JAMES. SPADER. 


Bryan Cranston also makes an appearance, with an extremely impressive beard and sweet tweed jacket. 


And Will and Grace star Debra Messing shows up with a huge clip in her immactualtely coiffed shiny hair.  I mean, that is just the Rachel cut, isn't it?


And perhaps the BEST ACTRESS OF ALL TIME or at least ONE OF THEM, Tammy Swanson/Karen Walker played a rather shy lady opposite the Seinfeld dreamboats.  She looks so Upper East Side in her double breasted jacket and low pony tail. 


Oh and here we have the woman who, while appearing in Frasier, was the most highly paid British actress on American TV: Jane Leeves.  She played a virgin, and did a wonderful job, too. The screengrab below is from the moment when Jerry has just found out Marla (played by Leeves) has not yet lain with a man, but Elaine doesn't know and is talking about sex.  Big time. 


Last one, Jeremy Piven plays George in his and Jerry's sitcom "about nothing".  And does a mighty fine job.  No wonder he went on to be the manager of Selfridges. 


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