Before there was Living Single and Sex and the City there was the The Golden Girls. Yes, the quirky ‘80s sitcom was one of the first to zero in on the special bond between women — and the unbridled humor that can come from such close friendships. For seven seasons Blanche Devereaux (payed by Rue McClanahan), Rose Nylund (played by Betty White), Dorothy Zbornak (played by Bea Arthur), and Sophia Petrillo (played by Estelle Getty) befriended the world with their unique takes on life, sex, and fashion. The latter subject has been a particularly popular one of late. The Golden Girls style component has recently gained quite a bit of buzz on Instagram and the internet in general for its pioneering of uber-trendy looks. And, as a die-hard TGG fan, I can’t say I’m surprised. Shoulder pads, glistening gowns, chunky cardigans, and sherbet-colored frocks and suits are all over the runways right now, but they were on my favorite Miami residents first.
I’ve always been one for color and bold patterns so watching the show as a little girl I always connected to the clothing and the fearless use of sequins and jewel tones. As a single adult living alone with her dog, I found myself using the past year indoors to revisit Blanche, Rose, Dorothy, and Sophia, and The Golden Girls fashion is inspiring me in a whole new way. I’m now noticing the structural elements of Dorothy’s androgynous wardrobe and the strong shoulders she rocked well before similar silhouettes graced the runways of Balmain and Balenciaga. And what about Rose’s sugary-sweet Midwestern style which included cotton-candy-colored suit sets and wrap dresses, akin to the modern collections of LoveShackFancy and Ellery. Sorry Carrie Bradshaw, but credit must be paid to The Golden Girls for making “granny chic” the trend that just keeps reinventing itself.
If it seems like I’ve given the show’s fashion influence on pop culture a lot of thought, that’s because I have ... and I’m not done. Ahead, check out the four fashion trends I’ve picked up from each cheesecake-loving Golden Girl, and how I plan on incorporating them into my fall 2021 wardrobe.
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Blanche Devereaux: All That Glitters
The sex-positive Southern spitfire is known for making quite a scene, largely because of her often sequins-clad wardrobe. Like Devereaux, I love a glittering, glamorous ensemble and luckily, that’s just what’s on the menu for the upcoming fall season. Designers like Susan Alexandra and Halston are embracing shimmering fashion pieces, pairing crystals and shimmering fabrics with neon color ways and dramatic, floaty silhouettes.
Rose Nylund: Pretty Pastels
St. Olaf’s proudest citizen has a sweet tooth that starts with cheesecake and extends into candy-colored ensembles. Nylund loves her pastels and often wears them head to toe. I’m following suit this coming season, eyeing watercolor babydoll dresses and mint handbags that would make the Minnesota queen proud.
Dorothy Zbornak: Shoulder Pad Central
In rewatching the show as an adult, I see now just how influential and ahead-of-her-time Zbornak is. Her quick wit and independent spirit is inspirational for the modern woman, as is her androgynous wardrobe. I love how the divorcee embraced bold silhouettes, like a strong shoulder. Yes, shoulder pads are synonymous with the ‘80s, but Zpornak wore them in a fresh and versatile way that still reads chic today. Just ask designers like Balmain and Christopher John Rogers, who’ve embraced the strong shoulder in recent collections.
Sophia Petrillo: Cardigan Queen
One mustn’t forget the sharpest tongue in Miami. Offsetting Petrillo’s vibrant Italian spirit are the cozy and understated cardigans she wears religiously. And you can’t deny the impact of a solid chunky sweater, especially come fall. I plan on channelling my inner Sophia with all the comfy knit cardigans — and a big bowl of bolognese.