Here's How (and Why) We Became Obsessed With Dressing Like Our Favorite TV Characters
If you haven't been studying Instagram fashion trends these past few months, chances are you've been inspired by the outfits worn by a specific character on a TV series. For me, it's Beth Harmon in The Queen's Gambit, and before that, my fixation was on Rob in High Fidelity. Always a fan of incorporating '60s elements into my look, I fell in love with Harmon's Edie Sedgwick-esque head scarves and Audrey Hepburn capri pants the moment I saw them on actress Anya Taylor-Joy. And Zoë Kravitz is a no-brainer style icon for me, so it was nice to see her tough '90s edge come through for her latest onscreen role, too.
These are aesthetics I've always identified with and considered in my realm of personal style, regardless of the ever-evolving trend cycle. So when I found TV shows to watch with strong leads that basically mirrored my very own fashion dreams, it felt like home. After all, I haven't been out and about appreciating street style these past few months due to the pandemic (no one really has). So why not use TV to fine tune my personal style? Some would say it's the next best thing, but I would argue that using screen style to discover your taste in clothes is the best possible way to tap into your individuality. After all, when we watch TV, we naturally escape into a world of imagination, and all outfits are best constructed with the creativity we might find there.
. . . perhaps we can turn to the screen to spark our enthusiasm about getting dressed.
Now more than ever, we are without regular celebrity street style, since most people are staying home and events are going virtual or cancelled altogether. We have watched as runway trends are reinterpreted to fit a new, more casual lifestyle, and the fashion world even pressed pause on an in-person Fashion Week, with fewer designers showing collections and less buzz surrounding spring 2021 trends. These aspects of the fashion world usually help determine what we are wearing, but without them, perhaps we can turn to the screen to spark our enthusiasm about getting dressed.
Historically, we've done this with shows like Gossip Girl and Sex and the City, which have generated not just outfit ideas but personality quizzes (are you more of a Serena or a Blair? A Carrie or a Miranda?), so we know that it's possible to get our fill of fashion moments from TV. We now expect these to come from the new shows debuting during the pandemic, like Emily in Paris and The Duchess. But where these wardrobes have fallen short, we demand even more from what we're watching next. We're eager to connect with a character who wears the clothes we can imagine in our own everyday lifestyle.
I imagine many of you are on the same wavelength, but there's one person who's a real pro in this field: Chloe Bell of Shop Your TV. The Australia-based content creator has been working alongside her sister Kirsty on the shoppable website since 2011, when an infatuation with Zoe Hart on Hart of Dixie fueled her approach to screen style. She began IDing the clothes Rachel Bilson wore as Zoe and immediately attracted a following of people who also saw the character as a personal style muse and were eager for more relatable style moments they could re-create.
"We've become used to seeing our favorite TV show characters daily — that increases our influence to dress like them, paired with some boredom-fueled online shopping"
Now the Shop Your TV team has expanded to include two additional editors, based in the US and France, respectively, and there are upwards of 500 shows with wardrobe archives that have allowed users to shop clothes episode by episode. Sure enough, when I talked to Chloe, she confirmed that the appetite for screen style has been more prevalent since lockdown during the pandemic. "Perhaps now we are spending so much time at home that we've become used to seeing our favorite TV show characters daily — that increases our influence to dress like them, paired with some boredom-fueled online shopping," Bell said of her growing fanbase.
I chatted with Chloe about what it's like to launch a platform that is universally accessible and appealing, because it collectively represents a whole range of personal styles. Ahead, find out more about Chloe's unique experience in the world of screen style, and it may become clear why you feel more enthusiastic about getting dressed late at night when you're lying in bed, after binge-watching an entire series and admiring a new fashion muse with a strong personality and little to no interest in trends.
POPSUGAR: How do you predict which shows will be a hit with the fashion crowd before adding them to your database?
Chloe Bell: We are constantly searching for new TV shows, scouring TV guides, and reading Netflix, Hulu, Apple, and Amazon releases. We like to try out most TV shows just in case, but we generally avoid shows set far in the past, since they're filled with lots of vintage pieces we can't track down. Once we know a show is a good fit, we create the page on our site and start looking for items in trailers and promo photos. We immediately contact the costume designers to find out as much as we can, and they usually go above and beyond for us. For example, Trayce Gigi Field helped me out with Dead To Me. Lorna Harding shopped almost exclusively at Macy's. Jen Harding's outfits were mainly from Nordstrom Rack or Bloomingdale's, and Judy Hale's outfits were sourced from almost anywhere; however, Trayce was able to track down some killer, very affordable dresses from Amazon.
PS: How did you know your idea for creating Shop Your TV would resonate with so many people?
CB: I first started the website in 2011 while watching Hart of Dixie. Zoe Hart (Rachel Bilson) wore the cutest outfits, although probably not my style these days. I remember seeing an outfit and found it online within a couple of minutes. I was amazed at how easy it was and started cataloging what I could find on an old blogger website. Now it is definitely hard to watch a TV show or movie without thinking about where every item is from.
PS: In your experience, what five TV shows have sparked the biggest shopping craze?
CB: Historically, the most popular shows on our site would have to be Pretty Little Liars, Hart of Dixie, Gossip Girl, and Friends. However, more recently our top shows are Euphoria, Outer Banks, and Dead To Me.
PS: What shows have your fans and followers introduced you to?
CB: We have a Facebook group that we treat as a forum, and fans message us all the time with show suggestions. One such show was teenage sitcom Alexa and Katie. We only covered two seasons, but we quickly realized there was massive interest in the outfits on the show.
PS: Are you seeing any particular brands or trends bubble up across TV shows right now?
CB: A lot of TV shows feature Rails. I think it is such a stylish, yet comfortable line that we've seen pop up in almost every show, whether it be a classic plaid basic, printed tee, or jacket. Shows set in offices usually incorporate a lot of Rag & Bone and Theory. I am so familiar with Theory's range at this point, I can identify a plain white-button down on a show with just one glimpse. When it comes to shows with teenagers or young adults, Urban Outfitters is the most used brand.
PS: Have you seen an increase in traffic to your site since lockdown?
CB: Traffic has increased over the past few months. We chalk this up to people having more time to catch up and revisit favorite TV shows. There's actually been a significant decrease in shows airing, but a huge increase in Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon series debuting.