When I heard the news that Netflix had signed on to a four-episode continuation of Gilmore Girls, I had a thought that I believe everyone else should have had: I hope they hire a new costumer.
The outfits that the Gilmore Girls wore every day were so offensively terrible—even for the generally fashion-unfriendly early aughts—that they often distracted from what would otherwise be essentially perfect television. (I know that Gilmore Girls had a race problem, and a food problem, and a monogamy problem; and yet, it’s still the only show I never tire of watching, no matter how fast they talk or how outdated their references become.) It’s impossible to believe that such savvy and quick-witted women would dress like confused kindergartners so much of the time.
Although there are too many to count—at least one, and usually more, per episode—here are the eight worst fashion mistakes the Gilmore Girls made in their inaugural TV tenure.
It’s as though Rory woke up and thought, “I know, I’ll wear a normal t-shirt, like plenty of people wear in the summer months.” And then, inexplicably, she continued that thought with, “You know what would be great? If I put on this weird, too-small tank top OVER the T-shirt. That would really make people notice me in the way I want to be noticed.” What’s even worse about the whole layering disaster is that the tank tops are always the worst tank tops you’ve ever seen. They’re always shrunken racerbacks from the clearance rack of the junior’s section of Sears. How did these tank tops get made in the first place, let alone end up in Rory’s dresser? It’s impossible to say.
When Lorelai is at home, she likes to wear a t-shirt and jeans. That’s her look. For example, in Season 1, Episode 7, she wears a pair of acid-washed jeans (!?), pink clogs (!?), a blue hair bandana, and a tie-dyed, three-quarter-sleeved T-shirt (you get it) while she calls the refrigerator repairman. I don’t know where she got anything so sincerely tie-dyed after 1972, but she managed it somehow, and she added it to her collection of likewise horrifying cotton shirts, which include shirts that have rhinestones on them, shirts that have bubble letters on them, and shirts that have weird, Claire’s-imitating-Urban-Outfitters decals on them. I don’t know why Lorelai has all these ugly shirts to wear at home. I think she thinks they’re “fun” and “quirky,” but they are not.
Although Sookie is not technically a Gilmore Girl, she gets a spot on this list because her pink-and-purple jacket is actually the worst article of clothing that has ever been made for any woman in all of history. Let me describe this jacket. It’s quilted and sort of regal purple, and it’s lined with pink fur that one can only assume came from a slaughtered Muppet. When I say, “lined with,” I mean that the collar is pink and puffy, and the inside is pink and puffy, and the cuffs are enormous (ENORMOUS!) and pink and inexcusably swollen. Sookie wears this atrocity in multiple episodes. It is not a sick experiment or one-time-only inside joke. It actually hung there, like the corpse of Liberace’s fantasies, on the costume rack for years. There is no excuse.
I don’t care how stressed out Rory is at Yale. There’s no reason for her to pick out a t-shirt, a button-down, a cable-knit sweater, and a cargo jacket, and to put them all on at once. There’s no excuse for wearing a Yale baseball cap without irony, ever. I have visited Yale. No one wears a Yale baseball cap. I can’t imagine anyone wears a Yale baseball cap unless they’re in a child’s play about a baseball player who goes to Yale. Which, by the way, is a terrible and uninteresting premise for a child’s play. Also, the cable knit sweater that has one of those collars that middle-aged soccer moms wear when “the weather gets nippy.” I’m not trying to say that Rory is like a middle-aged soccer mom, but also, I’m not NOT saying that.
For some reason, Lorelai feels like she should wear hats sometimes. This is really never a good idea—even a knit cap is dangerous in the post-era of manic pixie dream girls. But Lorelai wears hats that are difficult to conceptualize of, period. There’s an episode where Lorelai wears a powder pink leather cap. What guy was sitting in a room and thought that newsboy caps in general shouldn’t have ended with Christian Slater? Was he a sadist? Did he have some kind of alternate agenda? Lorelai wears this hat with a matching blazer, a pink floral work shirt, and magenta-brown jeans. Magenta-brown jeans merit a lot of the same origin questions as the newsboy cap, but one must pick one’s battles.
While Lorelai’s at-home shirts are bad, her work shirts are infinitely worse. It’s as though she has selected a perfectly presentable professional dress shirt (a button-down with a collar, for example!) and said, “OK, now make the sleeves look really weird.” She has weird sleeves of every stripe: There are weird bell-bottom sleeves, weird peasant-puff sleeves, weird slit-down-the-middle sleeves, and weird pom-pom poof sleeves. A lot of times, it’s hard to fathom how her sleeves don’t get in the way of her daily life. For example: How can she dip chips into guacamole when her sleeves are so wide and long they would smother the dip?
Rory loves inexplicable prints. She wears them all the time. This really gets in the way when she decides to wear a dress, though. Because when Rory wears a dress, she picks one that has the loudest pattern imaginable—a print so impossible to ignore that you forget to laugh at Kirk because you’re so distracted by how terrible Rory’s dress is. And, unfortunately, she likes the peasant cut (which should have been made extinct as soon as peasants were, if not earlier).
Luckily, Rory spent much of the first three seasons of Gilmore Girls at Chilton, where she wore an average schoolgirl uniform, mostly preventing her from committing fashion faux pas. But when she wore her regular-girl clothes, she brought on a face-palm faster than almost any other character, as she was apparently preoccupied with her unfaltering desire to stay virginal-looking. Like: She was into pleated khakis. She was into turtlenecks. She wore sweaters that belonged on 300-pound men. It was as though she was trying to say, “I would prefer you didn’t think of me as a person with skin.”
It is apparently very cold in Star’s Hollow, so it’s important for the Gilmore Girls to wear scarves a lot. That’s fine: Who doesn’t love a good scarf? Let me answer that question: Rory and Lorelai Gilmore don’t love a good scarf. They love, exclusively, bad scarves. The most common bad scarf that both Rory and Lorelai wear is an impossibly skinny knit scarf that is between 20 and 30 feet long. Nothing about this sort of scarf makes any sense. First, there’s no way that a scarf that’s skinnier than the wrist of a baby could possibly keep anybody warm. Second, how do they not constantly trip on those things? They have to wrap them around their necks multiple times just to keep them from grazing the ground? And while the skinny-long scarf is by far the most common scarf infraction on Gilmore Girls, it’s not alone. Rory occasionally wears a chunky-knit green scarf that looks like a lobster bib, and Lorelai has a gray, moldy-looking scarf that she flings over her shoulders like a rag, which was possibly salvaged from the 10 cent bin at a thrift store.
Sophie Lucido Johnson is a writer, illustrator, and comedian in New Orleans. She is the editor-in-chief of Neutrons Protons, and she blogs and makes comics at her website. Illustrations by the author.