The Best TV Shows To Watch For Fashion Inspiration
The best TV shows to watch for fashion include Gossip Girl, Mad Men, and The Crown.
Trying to figure out what to wear on a daily basis is easy; find what isn’t stained and has the least amount of holes. Getting out of that rut can be difficult though, and while it’s easy to turn to social media for inspiration, television shows have influenced fashion since the first broadcast. We may not be able to pull off Margot Robbie‘s runway looks or the fashion Dua Lipa wore for a magazine photoshoot, but these shows can get anyone to look at their wardrobe in a whole new light.
10. Queer Eye (2018 to Present)
In 2003, The Fab Five were unleashed upon America, with experts in cooking, interior design, culture, grooming, and of course, fashion under the eye of Carson Kressly. Though the original is still a good watch, if you want current style advice, stream the Queer Eye revival series on Netflix, which features Tan France as the latest fashion guru.
France was a successful fashion designer before joining the latest Fab Five on Queer Eye, specializing in, of all things, Mormon fashion. His designs can be found under Forever21 and Modcloth labels, proving he has a clear eye for hip looks and inventive ways to style jeans. Every expert has something to add, but France’s guidance on style can be applied to every male body type.
9. Dynasty (1981-1989)
Forget the impeccable suits, the original Dynasty told middle-aged women of the 80s that they could be powerful and fabulous with the greatest shoulder pads ever created. The family of oil magnate Blake Carrington (John Forsythe) created the template later followed by the Real Housewives franchise, with one of the most memorable scenes featuring Alexis (Joan Collins) and Dominique (Diahann Carroll) in a catfight for the ages.
Beyond the drama, and the urge to watch rich people behaving badly, was the amazing costumes. Every week, at least one character would appear in a fantastic dress, which would immediately trigger the American public into hunting down anything that looked similar. Though some of the outfits are dated today, most of them would still turn heads at a formal function.
8. Friends (1994 – 2004)
Friends is one of the most influential sitcoms of all time, and yet, unlike the rest of the entries on this list, its greatest impact was on a specific part of fashion: hair. Every woman in America wanted to look like Jennifer Aniston, setting off a run at hair salons, with “The Rachel” becoming the most requested hairstyle for years.
Other ways the cast rocked the world of fashion included Phoebe (Lisa Kudrow) bringing back the hippie, Bohemian-style look and Ross (David Schwimmer) making leather pants a thing for a moment.
7. America’s Next Top Model (2003-2018)
America’s Next Top Model revolutionized the fashion industry and introduced America to terms including “Fierce” and “Smize,” the latter means to “smile with your eyes.” In addition, it taught everyone how to walk like a model, carry themselves like a model, and dress like a model. Later seasons brought in male models, also held to the same insane standards, but when it comes to avant-garde and fashion-forward looks, few shows are better than ANTM.
Tyra Banks, a supermodel herself, hosted almost all of the seasons, with the one exception being Season 23 with Rita Ora, a model herself, as the host.
6. Project Runway (2004 – Present)
“Make it work!”
Tim Gunn and Heidi Klum brought a new side of the fashion industry to television when Project Runway helped change Bravo forever in 2004. Aspiring fashion designers were given tv-friendly challenges each week to demonstrate their skill (or lack thereof, we’re still not sure what Blayne Walsh was going for in Season 5). The results are inspiring, encouraging, and in more cases than you’d expect, able to be purchased at major retailers.
Project Runway highlights the design process behind fashion, letting viewers at home understand why a dress has a particular type of cut or what accessory goes with which color the best.
5. Emily In Paris (2020 – 2023)
Emily in Paris, starring Lilly Collins as the titular Emily, an American marketer, is the most recent show on this list, which has influenced current fashion and tourism. Emily’s outfits have become to Gen-Z what Dynasty was to Boomers, presenting a series of tasteful, Parisian looks that are stylish yet attainable.
In addition to the fabulous outfits, the locations highlighted by Emily in Paris have reported an uptick in tourism, despite how French citizens consider the show to be displaying the country negatively. Since the show features a woman starting her career in fine fashions and focusing on social media, it’s considered by some to be this generation’s Sex in the City.
4. The Crown (2016 – Present)
The Crown itself isn’t really setting fashion trends as much as it’s bringing them back. Following the British Royal Family, the Netflix series has highlighted some of the most amazing looks of the last century, including those made famous by Princess Diana, played in Season 4 by Emma Corrin and Season 5 by Elizabeth Debicki. Forty years ago, the world was enraptured by Diana, and today, she’s influencing a whole new generation.
The fashion on display in The Crown isn’t just for those that like dresses and gowns, as the suits and high-end tuxedos are also striking. Not everyone has a fleet of designers and assistants or the wealth of an entire nation, but the clean, straight lines of the formal wear seen on-screen can at least help inform what viewers should be looking for before the next company awards banquet.
3. Mad Men (2007 – 2015)
Another drama that glamorizes (or not) a past era, Mad Men brought viewers into the high-end world of advertising in the 1960s. The fantastic dresses worn by Joan (Christina Hendricks) and Betty (January Jones) were just a few of the thousands during the show’s run that brought back a sense of style and glam that lost out to hippie and flower child outfits in popular culture. Combining parts of the 50s with the encroaching influence of the 70s, the dresses brought an old style back for the late aughts.
As with The Crown, the women don’t get to have all the fun, with Don (Jon Hamm) and Roger (John Slattery) almost always seen in timeless suit ensembles. Even when they were supposed to be casual and relaxing, the men of Sterling Cooper looked like GQ cover models.
2. Gossip Girl (2007-2012)
The original Gossip Girl brought us to the elite world of New York prep schools featuring Serena Van der Woodson (Blake Lively), Blair Waldorf (Leighton Meester), and Dan Humphrey (Penn Badgley), and it happened to hit it big just before social media, growing in popularity alongside Facebook. A generation of teenagers was exposed to the latest in fashion in near real-time as first an episode would air, then photos of the real-life look would pop up on computer screens.
Gossip Girl’s revival didn’t have the same impact, again, due to timing, as it came out during the initial Covid-19 pandemic. As with its forebear on this list, Dynasty, there’s something to be said for rich people behaving badly.
1. Sex And The City (1998 – 2004)
Sex and the City hit culture like an atomic bomb, changing everything that came afterward so thoroughly it’s impossible to truly understand the significance of Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker), Samantha (Kim Cattrell), Charlotte (Kristin Davis), and Miranda (Cynthia Nixon). Even today, there’s a discussion in every friend group as to who is represented by which of the main cast. More importantly, a few of the trends started by the series include visible bra straps, nameplate necklaces, Manalo Blahnik shoes, Birkin bags, designer Jimmy Choo, Dior saddle bags, slip dresses, cuffed jeans, berets, pajamas as regular clothing, heels with sweatpants, and the list keeps going.
The revival, And Just Like That, may not have set off a fashion firestorm, but it did manage to tank Peloton stock following the first episode’s shocking marketing moment gone wrong.