How did Seinfeld dress?
September 14, 2016 3:16 PM   Subscribe

I grew up watching Seinfeld, but didn't really have a personal conception of style while the show was airing. I watch reruns, and I think that the costuming is sort of... "dorky 90s department store". However, I'm curious, when Seinfeld was contemporary, how fashionable would those clothes have been? What was being conveyed with the clothing choices of the main characters?
posted by codacorolla to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (54 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
 
What was being conveyed with the clothing choices of the main characters?
... ab-so-lute-ly nothing!

Seriously, I think it was a fairly conscious non-stance. All of the outfits seem "regular" or "normal" for their setting, though a little dorky and 90s in today's eyes, as you mention.

I was about to say that the hipster doufuses of today might call it "normcore", and sure enough: "The characters featured on the television series Seinfeld are frequently cited as exemplifying the aesthetics and ethos of normcore fashion." (WP, two refs therein)

Yadda yadda yadda, badabing, there you have it :D
posted by SaltySalticid at 3:25 PM on September 14, 2016 [13 favorites]


Jerry: man-child, but neat and fastidious. So sneakers, but spotless. Jeans, but tailored. Casual shirt, but tucked in.
Kramer: hipster doofus, of course. Costumes deliberately sized to be too big.
George: neurotic, shabby. Costumes deliberately sized too small.
Elaine: trendy but bohemian, moreso towards the beginning of the series.
posted by supercres at 3:25 PM on September 14, 2016 [23 favorites]


Those long skirts of Elaine's were a thing. I totally wore them. Long patterned rayon skirts. I was a style-less dork too though.
posted by fingersandtoes at 3:26 PM on September 14, 2016 [14 favorites]


For the most part, I'd say that Jerry, George, and Elaine cared about their appearance, but were not "fashion oriented". Iirc, Jerry once said that he looked forward to a future where everyone wore a "uniform" so he wouldn't have to think about how to dress.

Kramer, of course, heard a different drummer.
posted by she's not there at 3:26 PM on September 14, 2016 [4 favorites]


While Seinfeld was airing my friends and I made fun of his clothes. Even during the 90's, a bright Oxford tucked into jeans (often black) with no belt and white sneakers could not have been remotely cool or fashionable. Maybe I'm wrong.

George had more or less normal clothes which wouldn't look out of place today.

Kramer's style was kind of timeless old guy.

Elaine's clothes got better along with her hairstyle.
posted by blairsyprofane at 3:29 PM on September 14, 2016 [11 favorites]


Also, Jerry, George, and Kramer I believe had costumes based off their real-life counterparts: Jerry, Larry David, and Kenny Kramer.
posted by supercres at 3:32 PM on September 14, 2016


Jerry buys three of the exact same thing in different colours from the department store; George goes to the same place but doesn't buy new clothes much; Elaine buys a variation on something already in her wardrobe whenever she goes shopping. All a bit dorky.

Kramer goes to the thrift store and judges the size by the label.
posted by holgate at 3:41 PM on September 14, 2016 [9 favorites]


I was 100% unaware of this as it was airing, but one of my favorite articles on the internet ever is this one on Complex that shows he had different sneakers on almost every episode, with some sneakerhead cred, even.
posted by jeweled accumulation at 3:45 PM on September 14, 2016 [17 favorites]


I remember the nineties! The Seinfeld characters dressed in a dorky way, even Elaine, whose clothes were the kind that you'd order from a vaguely "world" catalogue. (Like the J Peterman catalogue!) Like, what mainstream hippie was to the late seventies, so Elaine's outfits were to the nineties. The long skirts, rayon challis, button fronts and small patterns were definitely a thing, though.

X-Files and Buffy captured, at different ends of the nineties, a much more realistic sensibility. Also the film Slacker at the beginning of the nineties - I remember thinking that looked right for bohemia.
posted by Frowner at 3:55 PM on September 14, 2016 [4 favorites]


I moved to New York somewhere around the end of Seinfeld's run and found the idea of any self-respecting New Yorker wearing the giant white tennis shoes that Jerry wore completely laughable.
posted by MsMolly at 3:59 PM on September 14, 2016 [3 favorites]


I disagree with the assessment that George was shabby and that costumes were too small.
Typical look: plaid button up shirt --loose fitting because he's "stocky";
or sometimes a polo shirt..
jeans or khaki pants;
LL Bean type of jacket
posted by calgirl at 4:17 PM on September 14, 2016 [1 favorite]


Seinfeld the character was preppy business-casual with a 'creative' modifier (the sneakers).
posted by zippy at 4:35 PM on September 14, 2016


As someone who adores the 90s and desperately wishes #normcore were a real thing... No, Jerry Seinfeld never dressed stylishly. That's why I love the 90s so much. Elaine was the most stylish, for sure. Kramer was intentionally anti-stylish, almost counter-culturally. George dressed the most normal, for sure. But even that was a joke. He dressed that way because he thought it was how he was supposed to dress, not because he had any real sense. He just watched what other people did and tried to imitate.

It seems hard to imagine now in the age of menswear blogs, but there was a time when straight men weren't expected to have any sense of style whatsoever. That was the whole idea behind Queer Eye. Will and Grace got some mileage out of it as well. Jerry just dressed like a normal dude, not unlike my dad, actually. It wasn't fashionable, but for a straight man to even think of being fashionable at the time was seen as frivolous, so he didn't stand out as particularly unfashionable. At that time, you just did what you did, and if it worked, it worked, and if not, nobody even noticed.
posted by kevinbelt at 4:57 PM on September 14, 2016 [19 favorites]


After just rewatching the entire show - yes, they dressed pretty normally.

Jerry is simplistic but still vain. His shirts are pressed. His sneakers are clean. There's a plot where you changes his number on his waistband because he doesn't want to seem like he went up a size. He's got a bit of a "uniform" because he's a stand-up. (Real life Jerry is the same still, but with more blazers, if you watch Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee.)

George is a bit sloppy. His stuff looks older. He's not sure how to dress his body. There's many episodes about how he can't find clothes to fit his stout stature and on top of it he's cheap. He doesn't see a need for new clothing except when it suits him to get ahead in the world the easiest way possible: "If I had this suit I'd get the job!"

Elaine is the most stylish. It should be noted she works for a clothing catalogue. She's often tagging along giving style advice to the boys. She notes on people's clothing most often. She dresses nicely but also with a bit of business due to her job. Lots of her stuff feels more "on-trend" for the time. Her wardrobe (and hair) changes through the years are the most noticeable and trendy.

Though I wouldn't say Kramer is anti-style. He's actually retro. Most of his clothing is from the 70s - as noted by both the style and the many episodes where he acquires clothing from Jerry's dad and dad's friends and vintage/resale shops. Often noting how they "Don't make 'em like this anymore Jerry!" If you look at the style lines of most of his staple pieces are extremely 70s.

I'm one of those obnoxious 90s kids - and yes, all of my kid pictures with my parents have styles similar to what's in the show. I deeply remember lots of those styles and they match what other shows around that time were doing for "normal" attire. Keep in mind it's "a show about nothing" with just pretty regular people.
posted by Crystalinne at 5:15 PM on September 14, 2016 [16 favorites]


Yeah, Kramer definitely reflected a particular style that wasn’t uncommon among a subset of 30/40-something hipster guys in the ‘90s. It wasn’t just a random thrift-store look, but one that focused on retro-style button-up patterned shirts and bowling shirts, pressed pants, dress shoes, etc. Often accompanied by a mild pompadour and an appreciation of rockabilly, cigars, and vintage men’s magazines.
posted by lisa g at 5:18 PM on September 14, 2016 [15 favorites]


Actually, I think that the suede jacket episode shows that Jerry had at least some sense of style. And I'd say that the white sneakers would indicate creativity with his clothes - remember, in the show, he was a comedian, not a banker.

And there have always been straight men with a sense of style - otherwise, we wouldn't have tie sizes changing all the time. Men's fashions don't change as obviously as women's, but they do change. Anyone who remembers the leisure suits of the seventies can tell you that.

I'd say Jerry, Elaine, and George dressed pretty normally for the time. And I agree with lisa g that Kramer's clothes reflect a certain style that people really did wear - it was just more bohemian.
posted by FencingGal at 5:21 PM on September 14, 2016


The retro style was definitely a thing in the 90s, especially after Swingers, but I never got the sense at the time that Kramer was tapping into that. His style seemed less intentional, like he just held on to a few pieces from his closet 20 years ago (coincidentally, this is my strategy with my Jerry Seinfeld imitation wardrobe), and supplemented them with some fairly random pieces from thrift stores and other people's discards. The Swingers style seemed more intentional to me, a specific Platonic ideal that they were trying to live up to. It was imitative, whereas Kramer was not. And they never seemed to be imitating Kramer. So I wouldn't lump the two together, personally.
posted by kevinbelt at 5:36 PM on September 14, 2016 [3 favorites]


I remember listening to a commentary track on one of the Seinfeld DVDs, in which it was stated that Kramer's wardrobe was authentic thrift-store pickings---but as the series became more popular, it became harder and harder to find that style of "retro" men's wear, since Kramer had made it a look again.
posted by Bromius at 5:39 PM on September 14, 2016 [5 favorites]


I was a teenage girl during Seinfeld's heyday and moved to NYC a couple years after the show ended.

In its heyday, I would have pegged Jerry, George, and most of the men on the show as boring to frumpy "old" men. (Old as in what a 13 year old would consider old, not actually geriatric.) Kramer definitely had a bit of quirky vintage panache which I recognized even as a middle schooler. Elaine dressed like your archetypal office lady but with a little bit of era-appropriate flair. Definitely not "cool" or "on trend".

When I moved to New York I immediately pegged all of the characters' costumes (with the possible exception of Kramer) as looking really Upper West Side. I think there were even still stores selling those clothes on the UWS when I first moved there in 2000. I still feel like the show's costume department really nailed a certain Manhattan aesthetic of the time.

Note that things like "dad jeans", light denim, mock turtlenecks, and roomy cuts of clothing were more on-trend at the time than they are now, but they still read "solid grownup who probably doesn't follow fashion" and not hip at all.

I aspired to dress like Rachel from Friends, whereas I'd have considered it an insult to be told that I dressed like Elaine. If that gives you a sense of the overall hipness.
posted by Sara C. at 6:13 PM on September 14, 2016 [9 favorites]


And I'd say that the white sneakers would indicate creativity with his clothes - remember, in the show, he was a comedian, not a banker.

Big white basketball sneakers were the nadir of style or creativity in the 90s. I'm a 90s kid and just recently bought my first pair of white sneakers since childhood, because WHITE SNEAKERS ARE GROSS was such a no-brainer during my teens and 20s.

Elaine's oxfords and long skirts are a little bit more of a deliberate fashion choice, but again nothing like what hipper characters on more youth-oriented shows were wearing.
posted by Sara C. at 6:17 PM on September 14, 2016 [3 favorites]


I was 14 when Seinfeld went off the air and I have just this minute realized that I dressed/aspired to dress just like Elaine more or less throughout its run. So either Elaine dressed like a 90s preteen or I was a particularly cool preteen (I was not a cool preteen).
posted by mchorn at 6:21 PM on September 14, 2016


My instant reaction/answer to the question is just 'normcore' now, whatever that means.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 6:41 PM on September 14, 2016 [1 favorite]


I was a teenager when the show started, and pretty fashion-conscious, and I don't remember thinking there was anything unusually geeky about Jerry's clothes. They weren't cool, for sure, but they didn't stick out as dorky either. Those jeans that we now see as "dad jeans" and those enormous white sneakers were pretty much de rigeur for your standard white guy at the time, from the jocks at my high school to their dads. Last week when I was in San Francisco I realized like 80% of the guys in their late twenties to early fifties were wearing medium-wash jeans, fitted grey t-shirts, and canvass sneakers. Jerry's standard uniform was sort of the functional equivalent to that - not exactly cool, but not notably dorky either.

IIRC, those kinds of jeans and those big white sneakers started to go out of style in the mid-90s, and by the end of the decade, people wearing jeans like that really stood out as being unfashionable.

Elaine was very much of her time - those floral dresses with the clunky oxford shoes? So early 90s.

When I moved to New York I immediately pegged all of the characters' costumes (with the possible exception of Kramer) as looking really Upper West Side.


Yes, totally.
posted by lunasol at 8:56 PM on September 14, 2016 [1 favorite]


It was very, very, very East Coast. All of it. Jerry and George were anti-fashion, clothing as covering but still fairly well groomed. Kramer dressed like an old man in Florida, like a retiree kind of. Elaine dressed like a New York woman with an office job in the late 80s, the great big heavy coats, the long skirts and the blouses- all of it. Fashionable mainstream womenswear was much less form fitting and "sexy" than it is now: see also Scully, Dana and Ryan, Meg.

Seinfield did bridge a major shift in fashion: I started HS just outside NYC in 1988 and my classmates had hairsprayed bangs, Liz Claiborne purses, turtlenecks and pegged jeans. I graduated HS in CA four years later and my classmates all had baggy skater pants from a thrift store, vaguely dirty 70s graphic t-shirts and wallet chains. The east coast always lags behind fashion wise and watching Seinfeld in college was like going back in time. Ally McBeal overlapped Seinfied for about a year and her clothing was widely derided as unrealistic for an east coast lawyer. Now it's the norm in TV to show women in those kinds of too short and too tight for work clothes.
posted by fshgrl at 9:13 PM on September 14, 2016 [7 favorites]


I also spent the nineties In long, rayon print dresses and skirts, with chunky shoes and my long hair puffed in front like Elaine's. I wasn't consciously emulating her; that's just what passed for "young, neat, and professional but not stuffy" in the circles I frequented. Jerry dressed like pretty much every boy I went to college with.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 9:21 PM on September 14, 2016 [4 favorites]


I heard that some of Julia Louis-Dreyfus's wardrobe was chosen to hide her pregnancy at one point.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 9:26 PM on September 14, 2016


and found the idea of any self-respecting New Yorker wearing the giant white tennis shoes that Jerry wore completely laughable.

Laughable, sure, but not super-uncommon. That giant white tennis shoes look was a NYC thing.
posted by aspersioncast at 9:50 PM on September 14, 2016 [3 favorites]


Jerry was kinda dorky, kinda unhip, very bland, and way too fastidious. I don't think this was an accident, this describes his character. It's all in the details. It looked funny at the time, but not clown funny. Just "I want to look casual, but am in no way going to be casual".
posted by bongo_x at 11:16 PM on September 14, 2016 [3 favorites]


Elaine worked for J. Peterman on the show, which is and was a real thing. Here's a so-so example of attempts to re-create Elaine Benes fashion. Those are all normal, unremarkable, even stylish outfits for most of the 90s.

They were proto-hipster (or, at that time, man who figured out his style in the 70s and wasn't into changing things up), normal, normal sneaker nerd, conservative nerd.

(Wee NYT article on Elaine style that might be of interest)

I was a young adult when the series was on, watched it in Ottawa and DC. Nobody would have batted an eye at anything -- Jerry's shoes would have marked him as a dork (you like computers, too?) but not hideously so, George's general dress was as somebody's aging father (the most "normcore" of them), Kramer would have stood out a bit (as "quirky," "eccentric" -- we didn't quite have "hipster" then, but I'd agree that Kramer had something to do with reviving certain retro men's pieces), Elaine, quite normal, even fashion-forward as the series went on -- she was certainly not badly dressed.
posted by kmennie at 11:58 PM on September 14, 2016 [1 favorite]


As a pretentiously cool person living on the lower east side of Manhattan, I found Jerry's style especially dorky for New York. The acid washed jeans and big white sneakers marked him as someone from the suburbs who thought he was cool but absolutely was not.

Everyone else dressed pretty much exactly as Upper West Siders of their character type, as Sara C. said.

I was very much bothered by the amount of time they spent in cars. Those people would not have owned a car. I guess the deal was that Jerry had to travel to standup shows, but he still would not have driven around Manhattan, only driven to get out of Manhattan. Look at Louis CK's show, for example, you never see him driving around unless he's out of the city.
posted by maggiemaggie at 5:24 AM on September 15, 2016 [6 favorites]


I was trying to think of a corresponding style right now that so clearly marks someone as suburban as Jerry's did then, and I can't!

Also, Elaine was nicely dressed and I admired her style a lot. J Peterman was cool, but not really fashion forward.
posted by maggiemaggie at 5:47 AM on September 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


I think Rachel from Friends is a good example of what I would call "stylish" from that era.

Elaine was stylish in the way that Molly Ringwald or Denise Huxtable (Lisa Bonet) was for the 80's - it was indie-stylish, rather than fashion-stylish. Putumayo used to sell women's clothes, and I think a lot of Elaine's clothes mimicked that as well.
posted by Mchelly at 6:58 AM on September 15, 2016 [3 favorites]


acid washed jeans

Jerry Seinfeld has done all sorts of terrible things -- dated a teenager when pushing 40, wooed a woman he met when she was a newlywed, married her, and ended up with his last name on a god-awful cookbook (the author is the world's least believable bottle blonde; the man's taste is lacking all around), and I will make no excuses for the ugly sneakers -- but -- he did not wear acid-washed jeans. Ever. Stonewashed. Sometimes bleached, but never acid washed. I don't think you could easily buy those by the time the show was on. (Bonus hideous non-white sneakers in the photo in that last link. Terrible taste.

Rachel? This? Denim 'shortalls'? Amazing what time will forgive!
posted by kmennie at 7:08 AM on September 15, 2016 [5 favorites]


Rachel? This? Denim 'shortalls'? Amazing what time will forgive!

Ha. I didn't say I agreed with that style - I feel like the 90s were a bit of a fashion wasteland - but I think her look was pretty aspirational for a lot of women. Her hair sure was.
posted by Mchelly at 7:13 AM on September 15, 2016 [2 favorites]


"I think Rachel from Friends is a good example of what I would call 'stylish' from that era."

Sorry to keep commenting, but this is an interesting topic. Friends, in general, provides a useful counterpoint to Seinfeld, as does Frasier in the other direction.

Try to imagine either Frasier or Chandler (who I would argue was the most "normal" in terms of 90s fashion) wearing a Jerry Seinfeld outfit. Frasier would be horrified at how unappealing it is. Chandler (who, granted, is younger than Jerry) would just find it a little old-looking and boring. Joey would make fun of it. Even Ross, whose character is written to be nerdy and self-deprecating, would probably be a little self-conscious wearing Seinfeld clothes.
posted by kevinbelt at 7:35 AM on September 15, 2016 [7 favorites]


Frasier would be horrified at how unappealing it is.

But no one would look at Frasier's clothes and think "hip" or "trendy." He landed squarely in "pretentious middle-aged guy, wanna-be professor, but not" territory. I think you would be more likely to pass unnoticed in a 90s NYC crowd wearing Jerry's clothes than Frasier's.

And I think that's the point: Jerry and Elaine (to a lesser degree; she was a bit more colorful) were meant to read as fairly unremarkable on the stylishness scale. Nowadays people have trouble parsing the idea of characters in a Manhattan show who don't take a SATC approach, but it used to be possible.
posted by praemunire at 8:01 AM on September 15, 2016 [3 favorites]


Jerry: Dorky but not outrageously so, unhip but not in a way that would have stood out, "old" to my preteen eyes. Fastidious (tucked-in shirts and blinding white sneaks.) Not fashionable (there were much hipper sneaker options for men at the time and young urban men wouldn't be tucking into jeans.) Very stand-up comic. Like a dorky suburban dad would have dressed on the weekend, but way more trimmed and tucked in, and bolder stage colors.

George: totally normal middle class office worker guy. Never noticed his clothes.

Elaine: thirty-something office-appropriate, mall-cool, individualistic and slightly bohemian. Put together. A definite style, one that went out of fashion and came back. Memorable. People did dress more or less like that; I imagine thirty-something women in book publishing definitely dressed like that, cuz we still do, or do again.

Kramer: hip-ly vintage but not in a put-together way. When I was a kid and unaware of retro I thought he was supposed to look like the stereotypical "wino/hobo."
posted by kapers at 8:09 AM on September 15, 2016


The Friends crew dressed like Californians. I never saw anyone in denim shortalls on the east coast, ever but they were a high school girl staple in LA in the early 90s. They didn't really look east coast to me at all.
posted by fshgrl at 10:19 AM on September 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


I never saw anyone in denim shortalls on the east coast, ever but they were a high school girl staple in LA in the early 90s. They didn't really look east coast to me at all.

My eighth-grade self in 1992 would like some words with you. I (regrettably now) rocked several pairs of short-alls, often with one strap undone, because I was just that cool. It was a very big look in my East Coast city. In general, I remember thinking that the Friends fashions were pretty mainstream popular (very much mall looks) in the 90s.
posted by lunasol at 10:59 AM on September 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


I can't find it now because I'm at work, but Seinfeld somewhat answered this in a reddit AMA once. He made a point of saying how they superficially tried not to be 'cool' because cool wasn't funny. At least it wouldn't not have been funny for those characters. Not sure if they deliberately tried for dorky.

Now maybe there's something to be said for retroactively making that excuse, but it makes sense to me.
posted by derivation at 11:01 AM on September 15, 2016


We had denim shortalls in the midwest. I did not have any personally.

I did, however, have two pairs of regular denim overalls in college - one very old and worn pale, one new dark denim. I wore the old pair to absolute bits, patched them with bits of wool and brocade and then cut off most of the legs and resewed them into a mini-dress. I wore this with waffle tees or thermals in the winter and baby tees in the summer. And a shrunken fifties beaded cardigan over the whole if I got cold.
posted by Frowner at 11:08 AM on September 15, 2016 [3 favorites]


I did, however, have two pairs of regular denim overalls in college - one very old and worn pale, one new dark denim. I wore the old pair to absolute bits, patched them with bits of wool and brocade and then cut off most of the legs and resewed them into a mini-dress. I wore this with waffle tees or thermals in the winter and baby tees in the summer. And a shrunken fifties beaded cardigan over the whole if I got cold.

This is like the essence of 90s thrift-store fashion. I salute you.
posted by lunasol at 11:35 AM on September 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


I remember reading or hearing somewhere that they frumped-up Elaine a bit to make her look less sexy. Julia Louis-Dreyfus is pretty damn gorgeous, and I think Elaine is supposed to read as sort of normal-pretty.

I also read/heard (possibly in the same place, can't recall) that they deliberately dressed George in clothes that were a size too small, to make him look more nervous and frantic, which I believe was mentioned upthread. His clothes themselves, though, are pretty unremarkable. He's probably the most normally-dressed of the four.

Jerry's clothing choices are hard to describe. That said, I definitely knew middle-aged men in the 90s who dressed kind of like Jerry - light-washed jeans, big white sneakers - but less neat and with fewer blazers, and with the shirt not always tucked-in. Jerry's sort like a gussied-up suburban dad. He's a guy whose instincts are preppy, but he doesn't want to look like a preppy, so he polishes his sneakers. It's a little odd, but it works for the character.

Kramer's basically vintage hipster. I don't think I knew anyone who dressed like him in the 90s, although I was a kid in the suburbs. The guys in Swingers do look like him to an extent, but their choices feel more deliberate and they look more polished. Character-wise, I think Kramer actually does like vintage clothes (see that whole episode about his deal with Morty), but I doubt he thinks very much about it and the main reason he wears what he wears is convenience.

I was very much bothered by the amount of time they spent in cars. Those people would not have owned a car. I guess the deal was that Jerry had to travel to standup shows, but he still would not have driven around Manhattan, only driven to get out of Manhattan. Look at Louis CK's show, for example, you never see him driving around unless he's out of the city.

This sometimes bothers me, too. I don't find it too unbelievable that Jerry and George would own cars (Jerry especially; he's supposed be pretty successful), but the extent to which they use cars to get around the city is just unrealistic. However:

-Seinfeld IRL is a car nut. I suspect this may have had some influence on the writers' room.
-Seinfeld and Larry David are outer-borough/Long Island guys, not native Manhattanites. While they probably weren't driving around Manhattan, because nobody with any sense does that, a lot of the car/driving-related stuff in the show would feel very familiar to someone from the outer boroughs or the NYC suburbs. It's a take on a very specific kind of local car culture that doesn't exist so much in Manhattan, but very much exists in Brooklyn and Queens and Long Island. So it's sort an outer-borough thing that gets shoehorned into Manhattan for the show.
posted by breakin' the law at 12:02 PM on September 15, 2016 [4 favorites]


I lived on the Upper West Side in 96/97, and I was so excited to move there because I loved Seinfeld. But in terms of fashion, it was a desert and in that sense, the characters are very real. At the time, I was in my early 30's, and I saw Elaine's style as slightly out-dated and timid fashion-wise (which worked well in the series).

At the time, my unattainable dream would have been Tom Ford for Gucci - but in real life I bought cheap clothes from stalls at downtown parking lots which were all very neo-70's, in synthetic materials and tight-fitting, and also real 70's vintage stuff. Brown, orange, bold flower patterns, block heels on boots. For some reason I often wore tight-fitting dresses over flares. My best outfit was a tight-fitting long leather jacket in blue with red details, and matching boots. Worn with brown flares, mostly. (I also wore boot-cut jeans and navy college sweatshirts with sneakers for relaxing or taking the subway at night). Generally, the 70's were rediscovered in the 90's - both in high-fashion, mainstream and streetwear. So not so far off from Kramer, just much more sexed-up than he was.

Rachel from friends, not so much… I don't remember New York as being a stylish place back then (apart from the very rich and fashion models), even to the extent that it was not cool at all to be stylish in that way. Elaine looking like Rachel, or Jerry like Chandler would have been obviously fake from a NYC point of view.
posted by mumimor at 12:42 PM on September 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


This is like the essence of 90s thrift-store fashion. I salute you.

I was sooooooo into 90s thrift store fashion. Now I am older and somewhat fatter but more importantly thrift stores are entirely picked over around here, so I've had to move on to eBay. Ah, the thrift stores of my youth - in the late nineties, my local Saver's (the thrift DEPARTMENT store) had two giant racks of vintage, plus racks and racks of good clothes - silk blouses, wool jackets, the occasional cashmere sweater. I got a Bonnie Cashin for Coach bag there once. And vintage jewelry! Deciding what not to buy on any given visit was the hard part.

I never go thrifting anymore. I think I've been maybe three times in the past few years, almost all of those with a friend who is really only looking for books and household oddments. But even the book selection is worse.

You kids today - you'll never know what it is to go home with a fifties velvet opera coat and a beaded cashmere sweater and a couple of silk blouses and a couple of vintage necklaces and some skirts and maybe a couple of vintage tshirts for about $30.
posted by Frowner at 1:16 PM on September 15, 2016 [8 favorites]


At the time, my unattainable dream would have been Tom Ford for Gucci

oh my god yes. I have an ongoing search on ebay for his feathered jeans - a pair finally turned up this year, but yeah, that's not happening.
posted by Mchelly at 1:58 PM on September 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


Frowner, I know. I used to have a closet absolutely stuffed with items gleaned from thrift stores around the country, each bought for under $10. The Twin Cities were especially great (RIP, Metro Mart).

People rag on 90s fashion, but it was really eclectic as you can see in this thread - there was a wide variety of kinds of clothes that were acceptable in different circumstances, or worn together (see: my signature 1995 outfit of polyester floral skirt, chucks, ringer T, and old-man cardigan, which seems hideous now but which I regularly got compliments on), and I think that was partially due to how much good stuff was in thrift stores. my theory about that is that the 90s was the perfect moment where fast fashion was on the rise so people were more willing to get rid of old clothes, but there were still enough older, quality clothes around to buy in thrift stores. It was also in the late 90s that bigger buyers started picking over thrift stores, and then there was ebay.

I think this also partially explains why Kramer's look was so popular among that kind of guy in the 90s!
posted by lunasol at 2:17 PM on September 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


Frowner; I feel for you. I have returned to my thrifting habits of my youth. The Goodwills in this part of Georgia are pretty amazing. My wife is totally into it too, having never engaged in California (and that's were I fell out of the habit).
posted by bongo_x at 2:24 PM on September 15, 2016


I recently laughed when a younger friend commented that George's shirts were very stylish -- they *definitely* always read frumpish at the time! he was the guy who wore his dad's colorless cast-offs when that was not at all cool. guy who couldn't be bothered with style, to his own detriment. Jerry, not stylish, but average guy, a little on the preppy side.
posted by acm at 2:25 PM on September 15, 2016


my signature 1995 outfit of polyester floral skirt, chucks, ringer T, and old-man cardigan, which seems hideous now but which I regularly got compliments on

That's not hideous! That's....a...perfectly normal outfit. I used to make stenciled or india-ink drawn tees for myself on thrift store shirts (I had a Crass one on a pink heathered ringer tee, and one that said "commie fag" and a contradictory anarchist one, etc) and then I'd wear a floral or plaid or black skirt and either my grandfather's old cardigan or the cashmere fifties one that I literally wore long past when the enormous gaping holes in the elbows developed (I still have the fragile old rag it's become) and then tights and combats.

Or alternatively sometimes I wore pleated high waisted wool pants and a turtleneck and platforms.

Although actually I didn't have that many clothes back then. Now it's all basically the artier end of preppy menswear but I have a wardrobe absolutely groaning with shirts.

I do miss altering my own clothes - I drew or painted on a lot of my stuff and cut/patched the rest. I had this big old army surplus backpack of a kind that you pretty much can't get anymore and I sewed all my punk patches on it, plus wrote memorable and important song lyrics and bits from books on it in pen.

My parents thought my clothes were a huge disgrace, naturally, and occasionally refused to be seen with me unless I changed.
posted by Frowner at 2:36 PM on September 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


Seinfeld and Larry David are outer-borough/Long Island guys

This is a very good point. I once dated someone from the Queens/LI border who was not only one of only a few people I knew in the city who had a car, but also hands down the only person I ever met in New York who would actively choose to get around by car.

(The real reason, I suspect, is that the show was written and filmed in Los Angeles for a national audience, and nobody knew or cared how little New Yorkers drive.)
posted by Sara C. at 5:44 PM on September 15, 2016 [2 favorites]


Jerry's style of dress didn't read "Dad" so much to me as it did "kid." In keeping with his arrested adolescent persona.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 6:36 PM on September 15, 2016 [3 favorites]


I think a lot of working comedians had cars because to get to gigs you needed one, or someone with access to one. Whenever comics on Marc Maron's show talk about their early years, it's all about driving out to East Nowheresville just to scrape together enough money or experience emceeing or opening until they get discovered.
posted by Mchelly at 6:40 PM on September 15, 2016


On the Seinfeld DVD commentaries, both Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Jason Alexander mention keeping clothes from the show. For Louis-Dreyfus I don't know if it was as keepsakes or to wear, Alexander says he was still wearing the shirts (at the time the commentaries were done anyway). Assuming he wasn't joking, I think it demonstrates that the "George" clothes were pretty normal.
posted by pianissimo at 3:56 AM on September 16, 2016


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