Prime-time chic

Fashion: Some fans see an outfit on their favorite TV show and run out to buy it.

November 21, 1999|By Sloane Brown | Sloane Brown,Special to the Sun

Consider yourself fairly fashionable? Up to date on the latest styles? So, what points you in the right dressing direction? Betcha it's not the latest fashion magazines.

More than likely you use that fashion compass also known as the TV remote control. Sure, we watch our favorite shows because we like the characters and story lines, but some of us also keep a sharp eye out for The Clothes.

With the fall season in full swing, both in fashion and prime time, the tube offers as varied a selection of new offerings and old staples as any well-stocked department store.

Just check out the Juniors section. Many pre-teen or teen-age girls look to "Sabrina, the Teenage Witch" (ABC, 9 p.m. Fridays) and "Buffy, the Vampire Slayer" (WB, 8 p.m. Tuesdays) for fashion tips. Both "Sabrina's" Melissa Joan Hart and "Buffy's" Sarah Michelle Gellar specialize in perfectly put-together "outfits," with Hart looking like she shopped at Nordstrom's Brass Plum juniors department, while Gellar goes upstairs to the hip Savvy section (on Daddy's charge card, perhaps?).

Shopping for clothes is a favorite pastime on "Popular" (WB, 8 p.m. Thursdays). This program shows both ends of the teen fashion spectrum. Carly Pope plays the intellectual but beautiful Sam, who's in the "out" crowd and proud of it. Note the funky Gap-ish wardrobe. And Leslie Bibb is Brooke, a leader of the "in" group with the totally trendy togs (probably displaying tags inside with names like Laundry, A.B.S. and Theory) to prove it.

Finding hip-hop-inspired clothing on prime time network TV is more of a challenge, but Monday night on UPN (Baltimore's WUTB, Channel 24) is a cache of sitcoms about chic young things with clothing to match.

At 8 o'clock, "Moesha" star Brandy and her friends, in kicky stretch knits, look like they give stores like The Express a run for their money. Their male counterparts go more the Footlocker and Champs route.

At 8:30, the look on "The Parkers" is all flash and sass. With Baltimore's own Mo'Nique going to college with TV daughter Countess Vaughn, wild prints, chartreuse platform boots and chunky funk are the norm in this dorm.

And 9:30's "Malcolm and Eddie" gives you a choice -- Malcolm Jamal-Warner in casually cool Armani or Eddie Griffin in hip-hop duds.

Next floor: Casual Chic. NBC standbys still lead the pack. "Friends" (NBC, 8 p.m. Thursdays) will cue you right in to what's hot this season, like cute peasant blouses, lots of midriff and the multiple necklace look.

"That's a show that's important for us to watch," says Metz Feeley, manager of the shopping service at Nordstrom in Towson.

"People watch 'Friends,' see the girls on the show carrying Kate Spade bags and then they come in" looking for the same bags, Feeley says.

Following close behind is trend-setting "Jesse" (NBC, 8:30 p.m. Thursdays). Star Christina Applegate has upped her beauty budget this season, going with glossy garb, like pencil skirts or Indian silk columns with cropped stretch tops. How her character's college-clinic worker-bee salary covers that closetful is just another TV wonder, but a cheaper version could be cloned at Arden B.

"Just Shoot Me" (NBC, 8 p.m. Tuesdays) takes place at a fashion magazine and is suitably in the swing. You'll find "society reporter" Wendie Malik in the same pashmina shawl that all the society types are wrapping themselves in this season.

And that's not all.

"They'll have characters on the show playing clothing designers," says Wanda Draper, public affairs director of Baltimore NBC affiliate WBAL-TV, "and we'll get calls from viewers asking where they can get those designers' clothes."

Brooke Shields of "Suddenly Susan" (NBC, 8 p.m. Mondays) still looks like she's true to Calvin, with a little DKNY on the side, while co-star Kathy Griffin is an explosion of wild Betsey Johnson style.

But for real fashion extremes, Jenna Elfman of "Dharma & Greg" (ABC, 9 p.m. Tuesdays) is out there in more ways than one. Not satisfied with simple '70s retro, Elfman has turned back her locks, along with the clock, to the rolled wing look Farrah first fired up more than 20 years ago.

In the Professional Panache department, a couple of Been There's are still Doing That, and doing it best.

Topping the list: "The Practice" (ABC, 10 p.m. Sundays).

Baltimore-bred, now NYC-based, designer William Calvert says he watches the show occasionally.

"But I don't look to it for inspiration," he says. "Once [a style] is on TV, it's usually what's in stores. But I can see how TV is a fashion resource for the average consumer. They're not wearing Brooks Brothers in 'The Practice.' "

No, they're not. In fact, no one looks better in a designer suit than Dylan McDermott. This season, he sports several with three buttons and three pieces (there's that '70s thing again). Co-star Camryn Manheim has become a role model for fashionable "fat girls" (her words) with a Dana Buchman slant. And Lara Flynn Boyle seems anorexically Armani-fied.

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