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Fashion on TV: 6 TV Shows That Will Give You Serious Wardrobe Envy

'Pretty Little Liars,' 'Mad Men,' 'Empire,' 'Sex and the City,' 'Gossip Girl' and 'Daria' Are Our Picks

Movies and television are aspirational. It’s a dream come true, pulled from our minds and broadcast across the airwaves.

TV shows skip the boring, banal moments in life. Instead, they give us only the juiciest, most exciting moments of human existence. Of course, their fashion sense is going to be on-point.

There’s also the fact that traditional advertising is on the decline. Fashionistas and fashion designers are falling all over themselves for inclusion on TV’s dream machine. That is not a bad thing for us fashion lovers, as TV series are much more interesting to watch than commercials anyway. 

If you are looking for some inspiration for your next wardrobe update, you’re in luck! Here’s our list of 6 TV series, bringing you the best of fashion on TV.

“Pretty Little Liars”

We will start our list with one of the most stylish shows in recent years. “Pretty Little Liars,” formerly on Freeform, is like a time capsule of millennial women’s fashion. This teen murder mystery overflows with outstanding women’s fashion, from smart business outfits to edgy punk looks. The fashion on “Pretty Little Liars” should help distract from the fact that they mined a single novel for over 160 episodes. The style is always on-point, even when the drama is over-the-top. 

“Mad Men”

The 1960s were a high point for fashion. People had money to burn. Consumerism helped them forget the horrors of World War 2, as well, for a little while at least. 

The 1960s were also a time of dapper gentlemen in crisp, pressed suits. It was a time of glamorous women, in pencil skirts and evening gowns. It was the picture of elegance, and that picture was captured perfectly in AMC’s Emmy Award winning “Mad Men.”

“Mad Men” takes place in the stylish world of Madison Avenue advertising. Of course, the ad execs are going to look their best. They are selling dreams, after all. “Mad Men” is an essential watch for TV show fashion for women and men alike. Emulate Don Draper’s (Jon Hamm) timeless cool. Take notes from Joan’s (Christina Hendricks) girl boss wardrobe and no-nonsense attitude. 

There is a style for absolutely everybody on “Mad Men.” It’s also a stellar show, so you will want to watch every minute of it anyway. 


Fashion on TV needs to be aspirational to everybody. It also needs to be timely as well as timeless. The worship of “Mad Men” is fine as long as that’s all there is. 

There is no escaping the fact that hip-hop culture is the source of so much of today’s highest-end style. Nowhere is that style portrayed so eloquently as on Fox serialized drama “Empire” (which is concluding next season).

“Empire” follows a record company family named Lyon vying to stay relevant in the shifting music industry. With several generations portrayed in its often over-the-top melodrama, this show is an outstanding source of fashion inspiration for pretty much everybody. 

We all drew a breath when we saw Cookie Lyon’s (Taraji P. Henson) red-soled stilettos. Her louboutin heels were a symbol that she had arrived. In that moment, we all wanted to be her, no matter who you were. 

Add in the so-sharp-you’ll-cut-yourself men’s fashion of Lucious (Terrence Howard), Jamal (Jussie Smottett), and Hakeem (Bryshere Y. Gray) and you’ve got a blueprint for the highest-end hip-hop fashion going. 

“Sex and the City”

No fashion on TV list is complete without mentioning HBO sensation “Sex and the City.” First of all, the ladies’ fashion sense was always on-point for its era for its entire six seasons.

Secondly, there was something for absolutely everybody, as evidenced by how many women find a relatable archetype in its four main characters. 

Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker) is the image of hip, taste-making socialite. Samantha (Kim Cattrall) was a role model for how you could be drop-dead gorgeous at any age. Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) was flawless with her iconic red hair and understated elegance. 

Perhaps the stylish, flattering suits also help explain what Carrie saw in Mr. Big (Chris Noth)?

“Gossip Girl”

For those looking for a more updated New York wardrobe, “Gossip Girl” on The CW (which will be revived on streamer HBO Max in 2020) helped bring those dreams to life. In fact, it was a vehicle for fashion designers to help push their brands in a way no catalog or magazine ever could. 

“Gossip Girl” is worth a watch solely for its capturing of post-millennial New York City. New York Magazine called it the most “restauranty TV show since ‘Sex and the City.'” So not only do you get the always on-point fashion sense of its main characters, you also get to see what the upper crust of NY society looked like in the mid-2000s. 


What’s this, a cartoon? About apathetic Gen Xers, no less? Say what you want, but there is no denying the influence that “Daria” had on a generation. 

“Daria also had something for pretty much everybody. Like “Sex and the City” and “Gossip Girl,” Daria was a time capsule of a particular moment in history. 

There’s the cutesy, preppy style of Daria’s sister, Quinn. There’s the 1990’s goth style of Jane. Then there’s Daria’s fashion sense, herself, ripped from a time before shopping at Goodwill became hip (and expensive). 

The 1990s have been making a comeback in recent years. As more and more millennials start to revisit their childhood years, we’re probably going to see increasing amounts of throwback 1990s fashion. 

So get ahead of the curve now. Start shopping for flannels now, before the inflation. And customize your accessories like the iconic mesh baseball cap by hunting down patches for hats. Fashion is always changing and usually faster than we can keep up. TV is always going to be a mirror into the prevailing tastes and trends. Learn to read between the lines and you will always be on-trend, no matter how what style you prefer. 

Check out the Best Fashion on TV with These Shows!

At Programming Insider, we bring you everything you need to know about your favorite series. We cover everything from streaming services to the latest ratings.  Whether you are looking for thoughts on fashion on TV or about the latest Netflix specials, we bring you news, tips, and reviews every single day. 

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