Hal Rubenstein knows a thing or two about style. As a founding editor and former fashion director In style Magazine, and is a designer himself, he has seen it all during his career. In his new book, however, Rubenstein tackles a subject he says he hasn’t touched before: costume design for television. “TV is everyone’s home stylist,” Rubenstein tells PEOPLE. “It has so much influence on what hangs in our closet and what we perceive as beauty, style and fashion.”Dressing the part: TV shows with the most style, out now from Harper’s, is a comprehensive look at some of television’s most legendary fashion choices. From The Mary Tyler Moore Show to RuPaul’s Drag RaceRubenstein delves into decades of screen style, as well as their impact on how we understand the world around us.
‘Dressing the Part’ by Hal Rubenstein.
Television helps us to perceive certain moments in time. It shows as Dynastysays Rubenstein, “he defined the way everyone experienced glamor in the eighties,” while others, such as Gossip girl, she was so influential that brands like Chanel and Versace sent unwanted clothes to the set every week, in the hope that the show’s young stars would wear them. Rubenstein also credits Sex and the city because not only does it help reshape the perception of women in their thirties or forties—“they’re still sexy, they’re still powerful,” she says—but it also reshapes the public’s view of New York City in the ’90s.”Sex and the city said: ‘No, this [city] is Disneyland for adults. Everything is bright and shiny and full of fun and cosmos and sex and Magnolia Bakery cookies and all the Manolos you want. This has made brands such as Manolo, such as Fendi Baguette, household names. Even if people [watching] they couldn’t afford a Fendi Baguette, everyone knew what it was,” says Rubenstein.
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The cast of “Sex and the City”.
The Everett Collection
Other television shows have used fashion to make a statement. Rubenstein remembers when Lucille Ball wore maternity clothes I love Lucy, calling it “revolutionary” that she embraced her pregnancy and continued her slapstick comedy. Other shows, e.g Golden girlshe used costumes to represent a certain point in life.
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“I think the show, in a way, was a very important barometer and a very important encouragement for women who are getting older,” says Rubenstein. He also talks about the costume decisions made by Bea Arthur, who played Dorothy, because she was “very self-conscious” about her appearance.
The cast of “The Golden Girls”.
ABC Photo Archives / Getty
“She had in her contract that she could practice barefoot because she was much taller and bigger than the others [of the cast,]”, says Rubenstein. “She always wore flat shoes. She never wore heels.”
Rubenstein was quick to point out the hard work that costume designers put into making a fashion show a success. Friends, he notes, was an interesting challenge for costume designer Debra McGuire, who was tasked with making sure the wardrobes of six very different characters didn’t clash on screen. “You have Chandler in looser suits. You have Joey in a leather jacket. Monica is always in brighter colors. Phoebe is always in earth tones. [Rachel is] probably the classiest because she would work at Bloomingdale’s and she would work at Ralph’s, and she’s the one who came from the money,” says Rubenstein. “Each of them had their own path, and yet when they came together… they made a beautiful picture.”
The cast of ‘Friends’.
Reality and variety television also embrace clothing in an important way. Rubenstein says that RuPaul’s Drag Race is “the most influential fashion TV show in America,” and that the Kardashians have the power to show “different perceptions of beauty” on the runway.
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Another influential show for him was Train of the soul, which Rubenstein watched on Saturday mornings growing up. He writes about the “spectacular” clothes that air in homes every weekend: frilly dresses and frilled pants, shark skin suits and silver capes. “That show taught us how to look, how to dress and how to dance,” says Rubenstein.
“Soul Train” dancers.
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Dressing the partRubenstein hopes, will remind readers how much television has shaped fashion in their own lives. “We all know how powerful television is when we overdo it Bridgerton or such shows,” he says. “But it’s also how much we owe to those people in terms of shaping how we create our own personalities, how we create our wardrobes. How important it is to present yourself to the world in a way that they can understand who you are, that your clothes really matter.”Dressing the part is now available.
Links: Style Expert Hal Rubenstein Praises ‘Gorgeous Tableau’ of Friends and the Importance of TV Fashion (Exclusive) – Tekmonk Bio, Style Expert Hal Rubenstein Praises ‘Gorgeous Tableau’ of Friends and the Importance of TV Fashion (Exclusive) – Kungfutv, Style Expert Hal Rubenstein Praises ‘Gorgeous Tableau’ of Friends and the Importance of TV Fashion (Exclusive) – Hot News