TV characters from the dawn of the broadcast era have inspired viewers through fashion. Who doesn’t have a vivid image of Leave It to Beaver’s Mrs. Cleaver and her starched dresses and pearls or the New York high fashion looks of the cast of Sex and City? We have viewed fashion trends through the years on our TV screens and have definitely seen the good, the bad, and the ugly when it comes to clothing. While few would dispute that the sleek, 1960s looks worn on the Dick Van Dyke Show or the glamorous couture on Dynasty defined the times, not all TV shows have led the way when it comes to fashion. And, there have been a number of characters who are best known for their less than stellar wardrobes. They’ve made us cringe, laugh, and gawk at their tackiness and lack of good taste. Here are the top ten worst dressed TV characters of all time.
Portrayed by Eve Plumb, the achingly whiny and insecure middle daughter of the Brady clan, Jan experimented with a wide variety of fashions and accessories over the course of the five years that The Brady Bunch aired on ABC. From macramé vests and plaid bell-bottoms to granny glasses and, of course, the famous black ‘fro, Jan Brady displayed adolescent, early 1970’s style like no other.
With a fondness for mumus, kaftans, turbans, and tacky costume jewelry, Mrs. Roper of Three’s Company fame, clearly deserves her spot on the list. Audra Lindley brilliantly played the role of the outrageously dressed and sexually frustrated wife of Stanley on the wildly popular show that ran from 1977 to 1984. Although Mrs. Roper was only on the show for three seasons, she clearly made her mark on the fashion world with her flowing garb and garish accessories.
Yes, there is yet another member of the Three’s Company cast that would have also made Mr. Blackwell’s worst dressed list. It’s none other than Mr. Furley, played by the hilarious Don Knotts. As the landlord who replaced Stanley Roper, Mr. Furley mixed polyester pastel leisure suits with fabulously ridiculous print wide-collared shirts. Of course, he didn’t stop there. White vinyl shoes, medallions, and of course ascots tied jauntily around his neck were part of his regular get-up. Undoubtedly, his memorable outfits along with his impeccable comic ability have been forever etched into the memories of TV fans forever.
As Mayberry’s auto mechanic on the classic series The Andy Griffith Show, Goober, played by George Lindsey, dressed the part of a dim-witted goofball. His day wear consisted of a dirty work shirt, high-waisted pants cinched with a wide belt, and a beanie that was strangely similar to the one worn by Jughead from the Archie Comics. On special occasions or when visiting Aunt Bea, he would put on a poorly tailored, faded brown suit and a wide, paisley tie and slick his hair back with Dippity Do.
As the eldest character in the long-running series The Golden Girls, Sophia Petrillo became the hit of the show thanks to her rude remarks and put-downs. She was also known for her geriatric fashion sense that included crusty-looking, acrylic cardigans, over-sized reading glasses, opaque support hose, and house coats. Her signature item was, of course, her bamboo handbag that she was rarely seen without.
Serving as an inspiration to countless wannabe pimps, Huggy Bear was the jive-talking informant on Starsky & Hutch who brought “urban” fashion to mainstream America. With a love of oversized bow-ties, wide-brimmed hats, crushed velvet, fur-trimmed coats, and platform shoes, Antonio Fargas made the most of his supporting role. Snoop Dogg brought back the character of Huggy Bear in the 2004 movie version of Starsky & Hutch.
Dressed for purity, as well as for aviation, Sally Field wore highly starched headgear and a habit in her role as Sister Bertrille on The Flying Nun. Unlike her previous role as the perky and cute Gidget, the Oscar-winning actress appeared just strange and bizarre in the show that focused on the misadventures of a community of nuns. With the entire show’s premise centered on Sister Bertrille’s ability to catch a breeze and fly, the show’s writers were hard-pressed to develop storylines, and the show was cancelled after a three year run.
No, Betty Suarez of Ugly Betty doesn’t have the fashion sense of Carrie Bradshaw of Sex in the City. Though Betty, portrayed by America Ferrera, is working for a leading fashion magazine, she is woefully fashion-challenged. Showing up for her first day on the job with a poncho emblazoned with “Guadalajara”, braces, glasses, and pearls, she is taking on the fashion industry with her working class roots and untiring work ethic.
As Drew’s arch-nemesis on the Drew Carey Show, Mimi Bobeck, portrayed by Kathy Kinney, was a visual anomaly in garish makeup fit for a drag queen and clothing equally as startling. Mixing plaids and floral prints with great abandon, Mimi often stole the show from the other cast members. With a love of rock and roll, her claim to fame was that musician Peter Frampton carried a flame for her and had a tattoo of her likeness on his chest. With her over-the-top sense of fashion, this almost seems plausible.
Charo on Love Boat
Ok, so she wasn’t a regular on the Aaron Spelling produced classic hit, Charo most certainly left a fashion impact on Love Boat with her sequined, Spandex wear that left little to the imagination. The Captain, Gopher, Doc, and Isaac couldn’t help but notice. She made a total of eight appearances on the Saturday evening show that ran for nine years. If you haven’t checked out her disco, almost incomprehensible version of the Love Boat theme still shown on YouTube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cls4QP9s12s, it’s definitely worth a peek.
by Julie Trade owner of Sourdough Communications, a Scottsdale PR Agency.