Ah, Q4. I mean, er, autumn. The crisp air, the crunching leaves, the long weekend walks where all roads lead to custard. I’ve heard. I wouldn’t know, because, in that other grand fall tradition, I’ve been sequestered under a duvet with an iPad for company. And, while Mother Nature puts on her best show beyond the window and the fash-pack make the most of the optimum bare-legs-big-coat weather, I’m here to tell you that the very best style inspiration right now can be found on the small screen. Telly has never been so well-dressed.
While TV reference dressing used to be a naff, historical business, reserved mainly for Halloween or telling your mate she was *so* Joan Holloway every time she put on a pencil skirt, we seem now to be entering a new era of more interesting on-screen style. This is costuming that feels accessible and real, but all the more desirable for it. As screenwriters try harder than ever to write authentic, complicated and nuanced women, however fantastical the plot, so, too, we’re finally getting wardrobes that don’t fit squarely into one box.
We’re seeing characters who’ll wear a designer dress in one scene and a puffa jacket in the next. Clothes that are aspirational in a “Hey, I could put something like that together” kind of way, rather than the fabled excesses of Carrie Bradshaw’s shoe collection. There are still retro references, of course – but it’s less corset, more statement collar. And, best of all, we’re seeing “sexy” as decreed by women. High-necked sexy, softly tailored sexy, surprising-colour-palette sexy and “Mmm, that’s a comfortable-looking jumper” sexy. Statement blouses and silk scarves are key players on the Q4 moodboard; whether worn by a serial killer or a sex therapist, they’re a wry spin on a power-dressing cliché. The uniform of the strong, sensual, slightly rumpled woman.
Here are the autumn shows serving up wardrobes you’ll want to buy immediately. I’ll be doing that from beneath the duvet, too.
Obviously, Killing Eve. The moment Jodie Comer appeared in that Pepto-Bismol cloud of a Molly Goddard frock, paired with Balenciaga boots and a psychopathic smirk, it cemented her place as a fashion crush. Not since Faye Dunaway’s tight-sweatered turn in Bonnie And Clyde has a murderer’s wardrobe been this desirable.
Together, the two Phoebes (Waller-Bridge, writer and producer, and Phoebe de Gaye, the show’s celebrated costume designer) have cast clothes in a pivotal role. Sandra Oh’s titular spy is seduced by a suitcase of clothes; Fiona Shaw’s shady MI6 agent is all functional overcoats in London and fur-trimmed flair in Russia; even a deadly hair accessory gets a starring part. And, whether in subversive pink tulle, Dries Van Noten tailoring or blood-spattered Burberry, Villanelle’s magic isn’t just in luxe labels and murderous glamour – it’s in the kind of surprising, playful choices that you only get through a devotedly female lens. Maybe we won’t all be wearing brocade suits to work this winter, but you can bet there’ll be a few frothy pink dresses come party season.
Occupying that televisual cosy space of people with slightly more dysfunctional lives but slightly more together wardrobes than you (there are also some very nice interiors), I recommend BBC sex dramedy Wanderlust. For the writing, but also the clothes. Toni Collette stars as Joy, a couples therapist with a wardrobe of print shirts in tones that perfectly complement her macramé plant hangers and Farrow & Ball feature walls. The “power blouse” mood extends to pyjamas, too, and one particularly good tuxedo jumpsuit.
Meanwhile, as chic schoolteacher Clare, Zawe Ashton delivers a masterclass in how to style a midi dress. With a roll neck! With a balloon-sleeve blouse! With boots, shearling coats and statement gold jewellery! Considering how much fuss was made about the show’s depiction of a female orgasm, it’s criminal nobody is writing to Points Of View to applaud it for finally showing a woman doing autumn layering in an achievable, realistic way.
From millennial assassins to 80s KGB agents, The Americans may have wrapped up with a shocking finale back in the spring – but our current appetite for espionage and sports-casual styling means the show is ripe for a late-to-the-party Amazon Prime binge (all six seasons are also available on Now TV).
While everyone else is busy mining the 70s and 90s for new style references, Keri Russell’s parade of bewigged disguises make a strong case for the decade in between. There are slouch boots, camel coats, go-faster stripes, gold buttons, batwing sweaters, ski jackets, acid-wash denim, more than a few Princess Di references and, yes, a whole trunk load of power blouses. The best way to get The Americans look is to copy its costume team and source vintage from the era with all the determination of a Cold War spy – but, handily for capitalists, the high street has plenty of the next best thing.
… and the rest
Because sometimes we do deserve nice things, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is finally returning for a second season – this time, with an armful of Emmys and a nice line in Upper West Side tailoring. Midge’s late-50s silhouette might not look like anything we’ve seen on the catwalk, but that’s part of the joy of a TV style crush (I’m hoping she can inspire a revival in beatnik capri pants).
And, equally uncool but just as easy on the eye, The Good Place is back! But look past Tahani’s infinite supply of sugary, floral-sprigged garden-party dresses to Janet’s retro stewardess stylings, complete with the season’s favourite flourish: a pussy bow.
Hey, even Noel Fielding and Sandi Toksvig are flying the flag for the print power blouse on Bake Off every week. Fashion influencers? Who needs ’em?